Like underwater mines, potholes filled with water pose a threat to damage tires and wheels, and they can wreak havoc on wheel alignment.

The City of Missoula is warning drivers to use caution when driving through puddles of water, because they may hide potholes, that, depending upon speed, can cause hundreds of dollars in damage.

City of Missoula Streets crews are responding to standing water and slow or clogged storm water drains as well as repairing potholes through the weekend.

Residents can call the Street Maintenance Division at 552-6360 through the weekend to report standing water and blocked or slow storm drains, as well as potholes. Staff members are monitoring the phone line from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Pothole reporting is easy online – just two clicks. Visit www.ci.missoula.mt.us and click on AT YOUR SERVICE. Select Report a Pothole from the list. Crews make every attempt to respond to pothole reports with repairs within 24 hours.

Pothole work is focusing first on the major streets that carry the most traffic at highest speeds.

Owner and manager of the Midas Shop in Missoula, Hank Deeringer, said on Saturday, March 8, that his staff has seen an increasing number of vehicles with pothole damage.

"We've seen some broken tires," Deeringer said. "Last week, I think we saw eight broken or bent wheels."

Deeringer said replacing a tire and a wheel can be expensive.

"Some of the tires today are expensive, they can be upwards of $200," Deeringer said. "Most wheels are between $50 and $150 to replace, and if it's one of the newer style wheels, they can be even more expensive."

Deeringer said often when a vehicle experiences pothole damage, an alignment is necessary to restore proper performance to the suspension.

"If there's a suspension part that's damaged, we'll take a close look at it first to see if there's a problem," Deeringer said. "Most alignments can run anywhere from $50 to $80."

Deeringer said many new potholes have been uncovered after the snow began to melt around his shop on Orange Street, but that the more well-traveled streets have been most affected, such as Brooks, Reserve, 5th and 6th Streets.

Midas Shop Owner and Manager Hank Deeringer