How to protect your tires from potholes that damage your car -- and your wallet

Potholes can be jarring for any driver, but they can also do serious damage to your car and your wallet. And, Consumer Reports says those pothole repairs are costing more than ever before.

More than 3 million drivers experience pothole-related damage to their cars each year -- everything from tires and rims to shocks and struts -- costing more than $3 billion.

Sometimes you can’t avoid a pothole until it’s too late,” warned Consumer Reports Tire Expert Ryan Pszczolkowski.

So, when you have to drive through a pothole, Pszczolkowski offers this advice:

  • Slow down as much as possible without catching the driver behind you off guard.
  • Hold the wheel firmly.
  • Drive through the pothole.
  • If something feels amiss, safely pull over and inspect the tires.

Pszczolkowski says if you find any cuts, blisters and bubbles during your tire inspection, it’s important to replace the damaged tire right away because driving on it could lead to a potentially dangerous situation like a blowout.

MORE: Consumer Reports’ Pothole Survival Guide

Consumer Reports says a new trend in tires could be leading to more pothole damage, meaning more repairs for car owners.