Thousands of motorists could be driving around in potential death traps because of hidden damage to their wheels caused by Britain's pot-holed roads.
Motorists who continue to use their vehicles after suffering a severe impact from a pothole, without having the wheel checked by an expert, are putting their lives and others at serious risk.
> An investigation by body repair experts Fix Auto and AOL Cars has found many wheels they've checked, which looked cosmetically sound, actually had underlying structural problems.
The firm's MD, Ian Pugh, exclusively told AOL Cars that these wheels could fail at any time, often at high speed, resulting in a tyre blow out and serious accident.
He said: "Whenever a piece of metal is struck at reasonable velocity, structural damage may well occur. As an alloy wheel is made from metal and a tyre is reinforced by a steel cord, clearly they are both susceptible to damage.
"Even a hairline crack caused by a pothole can deteriorate and be detrimental to the structure of the wheel and unfortunately that is likely to fail at high speed. The consequences of which do not bear thinking about."
"As a BSI Kitemark-accredited operation, every alloy wheel being refurbished by one of our centres is inspected," added Pugh.
"My fear is that motorists who do not use credible centres will drive away with their wheels looking cosmetically new, but structurally compromised.
"A motorist rarely, if ever, sees beyond the front face of a wheel and while externally it may look polished and pristine, on the inside it could be a whole different story and one which could well create a severe or even fatal accident."
Many drivers neglect their alloy wheels and Fix Auto experts explained that something as simple as kerbing an alloy could lead to potentially deadly damage.
"Our advice would be to always get your alloy checked if it has been impacted in any way," explained James Poste, boss of Fix Auto Petersfield, the centre currently in charge of refurbishing our Project Peugeot 205 GTi 1.9.
"People often only get their alloys looked at when they look unsightly after a kerbing – the problem is the damage could be there even if you can't see it."
Edmund King, president of The AA, told AOL Cars: "The springs on my Mercedes broke as a result of pothole damage, so the consequences can be potentially dangerous. If a driver feels they really have hit a pothole hard, then it is worth getting tyres, tracking, wheels and suspension checked out.
"We need local authorities to sort out our pothole plagued roads otherwise the bills for damage will keep escalating."
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