Q I was born and raised in Chicago. I have lived in San Jose for 10 years and have never encountered a pothole. I have never seen a pothole anywhere in California. Personally, I am not sure Californians know what a pothole is. Could you please tell me the location of a pothole so I can drive over there and see it?

Paul McDowell

San Jose

A OK, but first define a pothole.

Q Potholes are usually about two feet in diameter and about six to 18 inches deep, depending on the deepness of the asphalt and how long it has been wearing down. If the bottom of the hole is asphalt and not the substrate, it is not a pothole but just a scar in the asphalt. As cars go through potholes they get progressively bigger since there is no hard surface at the bottom.

Nobody in Chicago would report an asphalt scar as a pothole until it jerks your chin to your chest, blows out your tire or the frame of your car hits the road when you drive through it. I have experienced all three. But never in San Jose.

I think the survey you cited just says that California people complain better than others. Please find me a pothole. I will be shocked if you can find one.

Paul McDowell

A Paul is reacting to a recent column where a national study concluded that drivers in the South Bay top the national charts for additional vehicle operating costs due to poor pavement conditions, with drivers here paying $756 a year. Of the 13 cities where drivers pay the most for repairs caused by road damage, eight are in California, with Los Angeles No. 2 ($746), San Francisco/Oakland No. 3 ($706) and Concord No. 5 ($692).

Now, can we find some Bay Area potholes for Paul to check?

Q As someone who lived in the Detroit area for many years, San Jose roads are orders of magnitude better than roads in Detroit. In San Jose, if you hit a pothole, your car is likely to make it out of the other end of the pothole. I could not say the same thing about Detroit.

Jeff Paprocki

San Juan Bautista

A Try Pittsburgh.

Q I grew up in Pittsburgh, and we were nationally famous for our potholes. Driving the 101 where the divots grab your tires and toss you around makes Pittsburgh potholes look like nothing.

Kimberly McKinnis

Sunnyvale

A And ...

Q On the cost of road repairs, considering the problems I have had, I think the $756 figure is accurate. I have had tires and rims damaged, and the odd item was the ignition key switch having issues from the weight of the keys vibrating in the ignition.

Jayson L.

San Jose

A We need some good news.

Q WOO HOO! Last week the ramp from Interstate 280 onto Highway 87 south was repaved, eliminating the six-inch drop-off and the six potholes which I had to swerve and dodge every day. Also the northbound ramp from Curtner onto 87 was repaved, eliminating more potholes, which I had to try to spot and dodge while merging into traffic. I had previously broken a steering tie rod hitting a pothole on the 87 ramp (cost: $260.94).

Nick Nomm

San Jose

A You may have gotten off cheap.

Q New Jersey is bad, too. Infrastructure is crumbling. Roads and bridges are horrible. State is broke. Governor Christie is still rotund.

Richard Semuta

A And ...

Q I challenge anyone to drive roads in Indiana, and then say that California roads are worse. California roads are a dream compared to those in the Hoosier state.

John Atkins

A Forget the Hoosier state. How bad is it in the Golden State? I wrote this two years ago:

"California faces a staggering $293.8 billion shortfall over the next decade to maintain its crumbling roads, outdated freeways and cash-strapped transit agencies. The California Transportation Commission's first review of transportation needs since 1999 paints a scenario through 2020 that is beyond bleak and suggests that today's jammed and pothole-riddled roadways may one day seem like the good old days."

Follow Gary Richards at Twitter.com/mrroadshow, look for him at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.