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Tar Splatters on the Road Serve in the Name of Cost-Effective Road Repair

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The road most or even least traveled is rarely smooth. There are bumps, cracks, potholes, and what look like tar spills or lines that drivers have to navigate while journeying to their destination. The bumps and cracks and potholes make sense—wear and tear caused by other vehicles and Mother Nature’s wrath are all reasons why the road literally crumbles. But, exactly what are the tar squiggles and could they be damaging to your car?


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Well, according to HowStuffWorks.com writer Patrick J. Kiger, those tar squiggles and lines are in service to drivers and actually supply a well-needed purpose in the name of road repair. Even though they don’t look pretty, the tar designs seal cracks in the road.

“It’s a time-honored technique for remedying the damaged road surfaces, without inflicting even more pain upon taxpayers by tearing up and repaving the entire road,” writes Kiger.

Kiger who refers to the California Department of Transportation advisory guide for help, heavy traffic and weather-related temperature changes as well as mistakes in construction or design cause cracks to surface in the pavement.

And, the cracks differ in scope and maintenance requirements. According to Kiger, fatigue cracking dictates intense repairs because it “turns the highway into something resembling an alligator’s hide,” while reflection cracking “results from movement between the road’s asphalt and concrete layers and looks like a jagged gash.” Last but not least, is edge cracking, “in which rows of wavy, curved cracks parallel the road shoulder.”


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Even though it looks like tar and probably smells as bad, the black material used to seal all types of road cracks is probably comprised of a high-performance polymer-asphalt mix, reports Kiger.

The black caulk-like substance will seal cracks, but it does not typically return smoothness to the road, which leads motorcyclists to refer to the squiggles as “tar snakes” that some contend actually are damaging to their bikes and the source of mishaps and accidents on the road, according to Kiger.

News Source: HowStuffWorks