Guide To Asphalt Driveway Rutting

A rutted asphalt driveway is ugly, but it is also a sign that there may be more major problems than just looks. Understanding the cause and repairs of asphalting rutting is necessary.


Rutting is caused by a combination of issues with the asphalt and the way it is used. Subgrade rutting means that the ruts have formed in both the asphalt and in the base material below. Above grade surface rutting only affects the surface asphalt and the base material is still sturdy and in good condition.

Base issues can occur due to improper installation. In this case, ruts will appear in the months or the first few years after installation. Older driveways experience subgrade rutting when the base material begins to fail. Surface ruts are the result of stress put on the pavement, often soon after installation when it is still soft. Heavy vehicles parked or driven on the same area repeatedly are the most likely cause.


With subgrade rutting, the main concern is that the base material is failing. As the base gives out, the asphalt may begin to settle unevenly. Cracks and potholes will eventually form on the surface. The asphalt will degrade and break down until the only option is to tear out the entire driveway and replace it.

Surface rutting can eventually lead to subgrade issues. Ruts collect water, and standing water can weaken the porous surface of the asphalt. If the water freezes and expands, cracks and potholes begin to form. Eventually, these expanding surface cracks extend into the base material so that water damage can begin to eat away at the subgrade and you end up with a crumbling driveway.


If subgrade rutting is occurring on a newer driveway, check to see if it is still under the installer's warranty or guarantee period. If so, then the best solution is to insist that the entire driveway is torn up and rebuilt from the base up. For a localized problem, it may be possible to only replace a portion of the base but the repair and patchwork will be visible.

Surface rutting can sometimes be repaired by resurfacing the driveway. Your asphalt service will grind down the top inch or two of the asphalt. They will then apply a fresh layer of hot asphalt and smooth it. Make sure to follow the recommendations for allowing the asphalt to cure before driving on it, otherwise, ruts will reform.

Contact an asphalt paving service in your area if you are having issues with rut marks on your asphalt driveway.