Will the state of Utah pay for my pothole-damaged wheel rim?

Ah, the first whiff of spring is in the air! Trees are budding with pink and white blossoms, daffodils are poking their heads out from beneath a blanket of snow, the birds have come home after a long winter to have their babies…..and there are potholes all over the roads.

After a long, snow-filled, icy winter, the relentless freezing, thawing and consequential snowplows leave deep scars on Utah and Salt Lake City’s roads. Some of those potholes are so deep, you can see China through them. And once you hit them, the sound alone tells you your vehicle has sustained some serious damage.

Obviously the state is responsible for maintaining the roads, but just how far does that responsibility extend? That pothole that you avoided yesterday but managed to plough right into today - was it your fault for not missing it or Utah’s fault for not repairing it immediately?

At Salt City Wheels, we constantly see and repair wheel and rim damage from some truly monstrous potholes in the Salt Lake Valley and Park City area. And we’ve wondered ourselves at times, shouldn’t the state be paying out for this damage? After all, it’s the taxpayer who’s paying the state to keep the roads in a ‘roadworthy’ condition - if they aren’t doing their job to the point that your vehicle gets damaged, shouldn’t they be the ones shelling out for that damage?

As with so many things, the answer is both simple and not simple. Morally, the answer seems obvious. And yet, when you consider the factors involved, the issue becomes less clear.

Thousands of Utah residents each year have to grit their teeth against a stream of expletives as they bounce through the horrendous potholes that pockmark our streets in the springtime. Only a small percentage of these actually file a claim with the state. Do they succeed in reclaiming their wheel-repair outlay?

If you’ve ever tried to file a claim against UDOT (Utah Department of Transportation), you likely received a letter containing the gist of the following statement: 

“UDOT is not required to maintain the roads in perfect condition, free of potholes at all times … (and is) not responsible for every bodily injury claim or automobile physical damage claim that occurs on its roads.”

Blood-pressure raising stuff, eh? The sad reality is that the vast majority of claims against the state because of pothole damage go unpaid. UDOT’s policies require it to pay verifiable claims for pothole damage - but only if it can be proven that they knew about the pothole before the incident occurred AND that a ‘reasonable’ amount of time passed without them attempting to repair it. What’s a reasonable amount of time? Supposedly three to four days. But even if you personally report a pothole (so you know they knew about it) and drive over the same, unrepaired pothole five days later, your claim is not guaranteed to be paid. In fact, over the the past five years, only two percent of pothole claims to Utah state were paid out; that’s just seven out of 318 claims. But even in those instances, the payouts didn’t actually go towards repairing the damage to a vehicle - they were to cover legal fees associated with damage to OTHER vehicles and people as a result of hitting a pothole.

UDOT’s reasoning on not paying out for most pothole claims is pretty simple. Since they are funded by taxpayer money, logically any payouts come out of that same taxpayer money. If they paid out for every pothole damage claim they received, taxes would have to go up to cover the resulting costs. And that’s just the few hundred pothole claims they currently get each year; imagine if everyone put in a claim because they heard UDOT would pay. Taxes would skyrocket to cover those claims (which can be several hundred dollars apiece).

Put in those terms, it seems at least a modicum more reasonable that UDOT doesn’t pay out for most claims. But what of the damaged roads? Don’t they have a responsibility to repair them pronto?

Well yes, but also reasonably, UDOT services thousands of miles of roads and they can’t repair a pothole they don’t know about. Which puts the onus on the driving public to notify them when a pothole appears. You can do this quickly and easily on UDOT’s Click N’ Fix website:



In the meantime, what can you do about a bent and twisted wheel and an alignment that is anything but aligned? Salt City Wheels are Salt Lake City’s mobile wheel repair heroes. Our mobile wheel repair experts will come directly to you (so your poor vehicle doesn’t have to wobble or limp its way anywhere) and repair pothole damage on the spot. We are also specialists with custom wheel paint and finishes, so if the pothole messed up your rim’s gorgeous finish, we’ll have it looking good-as-new in no time.

Give our Utah mobile wheel repair professionals a call now at 801 425 3044 to schedule your custom wheel repair.