In 2018, cars operate much like a computer network. Signals travel through its various systems, causing parts to operate and alerts to be issued. Yet in some cases, the pathway is not always smooth and can’t produce clear results, leading to vehicle performance failure. In a best-case scenario, your car might not start but in the worst cases, the failure can cause an accident, resulting in damage to other vehicles, property and personal injury to individuals. Unfortunately, these events are often out of your control.

According to figures from NHTSA’s 2015 Crash Stats report, such sources of car accidents fall under “pre-crash events” – a mere two percent of the total. However, statistics don’t tell the whole story. Based on NHTSA’s accompanying statements, the lack of vehicular component inspection likely lowers these figures.

Common Causes

mechanics inspecting vehicle If your brakes got stuck, your steering wheel suddenly didn’t work or your tires blew out before you hit another car, a mechanical or part defect could have contributed to your accident. As you work your way through a claim, here’s what you should know about the possible causes.

Tire Failure

When vehicular failure is directly responsible for the crash, the reason is the tires in over one-third of all cases. Blow out – encompassing over- or under-inflated tires, a flat resulting from debris, sudden temperature changes and excessive wear – generally prevents you from adequately controlling your vehicle. Even if the sidewalls are intact, worn-out or balding tires pose additional hazards, especially when you’re driving through snow, rain or other inclement weather. The lack of grip causes your vehicle to slip or hydroplane, increasing your chances of hitting another car or pedestrian.

In both of these instances, checking the pressure and changing your tires reduces the risk. Yet, it’s not always as straightforward. Tires can experience manufacturing defects, potentially resulting in tread separation, cracking, bulging, leaks and belt failures.

Brake Failure

Based on NHTSA’s findings, just under a quarter of all mechanical-related car accidents involve defective brakes. Regardless of the issue, defective brakes increase a driver’s chances of a rear-end collision. Common causes include:

  • Worn-out or faulty brake lines, which deplete the fluid.
  • Malfunctioning ABS system, which may cause a car’s brakes to lock up and the vehicle to slip.
  • Worn pads and discs. If below state limits, these increase the distance and make it harder to stop your vehicle.


Your car’s computer system is susceptible to outside interference. Once a third party cracks the software, exploits its vulnerabilities and starts to make changes, your vehicle’s entire operation and safety is compromised. A relatively new issue, software hacks may prevent you from braking, affect your steering system or could cause your car to stop suddenly in busy highway traffic.

Steering System Defects

When it comes to car operation, the steering, suspension, transmission systems and your engine are all interconnected. While they only account for three percent of all parts-related accidents, any defect causes you to lose control of your car. Unfortunately, these defects may be harder to detect after a crash occurs. In fact, someone assessing your vehicle could downplay the issue to simple wear and tear. Yet, several issues increase your chances of getting into an accident:

  • Steering and suspension issues make it harder for you to control your vehicle.
  • Issues with the transmission system affect how well your car accelerates. In extreme instances, you could be left stranded at an intersection or on a highway.
  • Defective ball joint and snapped steering relay influence how your tires move and perform.
  • Poorly assembled steering wheel may potentially detach from the column, preventing you from directing the vehicle.

Visibility Factors

What happens when you can’t see ahead on the road? When your windshield wipers fail to perform or your head or tail lights suddenly go dark, you cannot fully see what;s in front of you. As such, when one or more of these parts fail – especially in rain, snow or other inclement weather – your chances of hitting something to the front or side drastically increase.

Who’s Responsible?

When part or system failure results in an accident, multiple parties may be at fault:

  • Driver or Owner: If you own the vehicle or were driving it, you are expected to maintain and keep it at home when it’s not drivable. Often, mechanical failure goes back to inattention or failing to follow your vehicle’s maintenance schedule.
  • Mechanic or Technician: Did you recently get your car serviced, only for your vehicle to lose control or stop suddenly? A mechanic’s poor job, negligence or intentional damage may have been the cause.
  • Manufacturer: In recent years, we’ve seen what happens when a manufacturer fails to recall its vehicles over a defective function – the case with General Motors’ Chevrolet Cobalt and similar models – or a deadly part – such as the Takata airbags found in Toyota, Hyundai and Honda models. Whether a manufacturer fails to issue a recall or takes over a decade to notify owners, your vehicle poses a hazard to yourself and others on the road.

Was a defective part or malfunctioning system behind your car accident? If you’re recovering from injuries and facing an insurance carrier who places most of the blame on you, bring your claim to Trantolo & Trantolo’s car accident lawyers.