YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – After the slick conditions from weekend snow and ice, drivers need to be on extra alert for potholes. We spoke with the Mahoning County engineer about how they’re addressing the issue, along with a car expert about the dangers potholes pose to your car.

Since there has been a number of milder days and cooler nights so far this winter, pothole season appears to be starting up early this year. After relatively warm temperatures last week, things froze up almost instantaneously. This type of weather can contribute to potholes.

“Any water that’s trapped in the cracks or crevices of the road, it’s going to freeze, expand and start popping the road out. Then as the weather temperatures fluctuate, plow trucks going over top, it’s gonna open the roads up a lot quicker than in summer months when you have constant temperature,” said Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti.

Ginnetti says the freeze-thaw effect really wreaks havoc on potholes. This time of year, he says they have all their trucks out on the plow routes salting and plowing. Their other crews are on pothole patrol, circling the county, trying to address the worst ones.

“The goal is to get them all but this time of year, the plows will even help accelerate the pothole creation as well,” Ginnetti said.

“Living in the area we live in, it’s pretty much inevitable we’re going to hit a pothole. It’s going to happen,” said John Berena with Berena’s Automotive Center.

Berena says hitting potholes can become quite pricey.

“The damage that can occur is going to be tire damage, premature suspension wear,” Berena said.

Berena encourages drivers to have their cars inspected regularly. He also says keeping your tire pressure where it needs to be all winter long is crucial.

“If you run low tire pressure, it’s more pronounced you’re going to blow a tire, it’s going to damage the suspension. If you run your pressures where they need to be, it’s going to help you a lot,” Berena said.

Slowing down also protects you and gives you a better chance of protecting your car if you do hit a pothole.

Ginnetti says they’re continually trying to be more aggressive about addressing potholes each year. He asks drivers to call the Mahoning County Engineer’s Office (330-799-1581) with pothole concerns since they’re a complaint-driven department. He says his crews can’t be everywhere at once, so oftentimes if a pothole pops up, if drivers let them know, they can get out there quickly to fix it.