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Car Accidents Caused by Mechanical Failure

by Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP
August 12, 2020
Personal Injury

Most people know that reckless, drunk, and distracted drivers cause an inexcusable number of car accidents each year. But what you might not expect is that mechanical failure is also up there in the leading causes of crashes. Past National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that up to 12% of all car accidents could involve some form of mechanical failure.

What are some of the most common car problems that could cause a crash?

  • Tire ruptures: If the threading or walls of a tire wear thin, then the tire can explode without warning while the vehicle is in motion. The driver could lose all control of their vehicle as a result.
  • Brake failures: There are few auto part defects more dangerous than a brake failure, which could cause a devastating rear-end collision. It is believed that about 5% of all car crashes in the U.S. – or more than 5 million collisions – involve at least one vehicle with ineffective or defective brakes.
  • Engine sputtering: A poorly maintained or defective engine can sputter as air mixes with the fuel. Too much sputtering could cause the engine to stall, stopping the vehicle in the middle of traffic.
  • Steering wheel shaking: A misbalance between a car’s tires and the steering wheel can cause the wheel to shake at high speeds, potentially causing a loss of control.
  • Airbag bursts: Technically, catastrophic airbag failures are among the most common mechanical failures because millions of cars were recalled in recent years due to dangerously defective Takata airbags. An unstable chemical component in the airbags could cause the airbag to explode without warning. Several people around the world were killed by shrapnel thrown in the blast.

How Can You Check Your Car for Problems?

Preventing a car accident caused by a mechanical failure can begin with recognizing problems with your vehicle. Of course, there are issues that you will never know exist until they are suddenly and dramatically apparent. But with a couple of pointers, you could be able to identify the warning signs that some part of your vehicle is defective and need repairs or replacement.

Keep these tips in mind to check your car for mechanical issues:

  • Pay attention to warning lights: Your car’s dashboard is equipped with an array of warning and vehicle status lights. Pay attention when one of them lights up, including the vague “engine” light. Unless the problem lies within your vehicle’s internal self-diagnostic system, the warning lights are often the first, reliable sign that there is a problem with your car.
  • Check your tires frequently: Tire defects are among the more easily recognizable mechanical issues in a vehicle. Usually, a problem with a tire can be linked to an internal pressure imbalance. Look at the inside of your driver’s side door panel for the recommended tire pressure for standard tires used with your vehicle. Use an off-the-shelf tire pressure gauge to see if the amount is higher or lower than recommended and make adjustments accordingly.
  • Look underneath for puddles: Another quick way anyone can check on the health of their vehicle is looking underneath it for fluid puddles. There should never be anything dripping from the undercarriage of your vehicle unless it recently rained.
  • Listen to the engine: The typical car engine is designed to run as quietly as it does smoothly. If you are noticing popping, banging, clunking, squealing, or grinding sounds when your vehicle is in operation, then there is almost certainly some sort of mechanical failure happening, likely within the engine. Arrange to bring your car to a trusted mechanic as soon as possible for a check-up.
  • Check for recalls: When in doubt, head to the official NHTSA website – https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls – to look to see if your car’s make, model, and year have been recalled for mechanical failures. The website has a simple-to-use VIN lookup feature. Type in your VIN and find out if your car has a recall within seconds. To locate your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), look at the lower left of your windshield. It might also be located near the tire pressure indicators inside the driver’s side door, or it could be stenciled on an easily viewable part of the engine.

Does Full Car Insurance Coverage Apply to Mechanical Failures?

“Full coverage” auto insurance is a bit of a misnomer because it has plenty of coverage gaps, including mechanical failure damages. The average full coverage policy does not pay you anything for vehicle repairs caused by a mechanical breakdown or defect. In order to receive insurance coverage for mechanical failures, you will likely need to purchase “mechanical breakdown insurance” from your car insurance provider as an additional monthly premium.

To get compensation after a car accident caused by a mechanical failure, you will probably need to speak with a car accident attorney. Insurance companies and automakers will likely resist paying you anything after your crash, which is why teaming up with a legal professional is highly recommended and practically a necessity.

To manage a mechanical failure accident claim in Los Angeles, you can call (213) 232-4848 and work with Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP. Our attorneys have secured more than $10 million on behalf of our clients, many of whom came to us after a serious car accident. Let us see what we can do for you, too, starting with a free initial consultation with our team.

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