Common Mechanical Failures that can Cause a Car to Crash

In the majority of car crashes, the problem is due to inattention by one of the drivers. But there are some crashes that happen due to mechanical failures on a vehicle. Whether due to vehicle negligence, normal wear and tear, or a fault in the part, these unexpected failures can cause even the best driver to get into a crash.

In particular, there are five systems that cause the majority of these mechanical failure crashes. Here’s what they are and what you can do to maintain them so you can reduce your chances of getting into a crash.


Tires make up about 35% of the crashes where vehicle failure was the cause. It is the most common fault. Tire failures come in two varieties: blowouts and worn tires. A blowout is a sudden loss of air pressure in a tire which usually pulls the vehicle sharply in one direction. But worn tires are more insidious. Worn tires lose their grip over time. This makes it harder to stop suddenly or to control the car when the roads are wet. If your tires have low tread, you’re increasing the chances you’ll be in an accident.

Keeping your tires properly inflated and aligned will lengthen the lifespan of your tires, but all tires do fail eventually. That’s why they need to be replaced when the tread gets too low.


Brake failure makes up around 22% of all vehicle-caused accidents, though this number jumps in rear-end collisions. The danger in bad brakes is simple to see. If you can’t stop the car, you can’t stop hitting what’s in front of you.

A number of different things can cause a brake problem. Worn pads and discs will reduce stopping power, but a leaky brake line or an ABS malfunction can also put you at risk. As a matter of course, most mechanics will tell you if your brake pads are getting thin when they do an inspection. Once your pads have passed 30,000 miles, it’s time to start saving up for replacements.


A steering failure is the last major cause of vehicle failures. Anything that compromises the ability to steer, from the suspension to an engine fault to a broken joint falls into this category. Steering failures are rarer compared to the other two categories, though that may be because it’s much harder to see a steering problem after a car is wrecked.

Other than doing regular maintenance on your vehicle, there’s not a lot that can be done to prevent steering accidents. But if you keep the vehicle in good repair it’s not likely that a failure of this sort will leave you stranded in the middle of an intersection. If your mechanic uses electronic diagnostic tools, it would be a good idea to ask for a full inspection at least once a year to check for any hidden faults your on-board computer has found but hasn’t affected performance yet.

Wipers and Lights

Wipers allow you to see out of a car during wet weather. But when blades break down they can’t do the job. Replacing blades is part of basic vehicle maintenance and should be done as blades start to degrade to prevent an accident. A lack of good blades on your vehicle, while a mechanical failure, could be used to show that you were negligent in taking care of your vehicle.

The same idea applies to the lights on your vehicle. If you have a broken light, other drivers can’t see you. Officers will pull people over for broken lights to warn them about the dangers. And if you don’t get them replaced and get in an accident it can jeopardize your chances for compensation.

Personal injury lawyers in Pittsburgh estimate that about 13% of all car accidents happen because of a mechanical fault, internally or externally. Taking care of your vehicle can help you cut your car accident rate. Not only will you reduce the chances that your vehicle will fail and cause an accident, a good vehicle can help you dodge out of the way of another that isn’t paying attention. Get your vehicle inspected regularly.