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Common Car Mechanical Failures

Updated February 27, 2019 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

There’s a lot that can go wrong on the road, and when anything goes wrong, even a safe driver could get into a car accident. When it comes to car accidents, the other driver is often to blame. They might have been impaired, distracted, or just not watching carefully enough. Sometimes, the weather can be to blame for unsafe driving conditions, no matter how careful you are. In some cases, though, your own car could be to blame for your accident.

Mechanical failures cause about 13% of all accidents on the road. When accidents happen, it’s not always the fault of the owner or operator of the car—especially if they’ve been maintaining the vehicle properly. An investigation into the accident’s cause is necessary, but there are cases where a manufacturer, repair shop, or dealership could be liable.

Five Common Mechanical Failures

Keep an eye out for these common motor vehicle mechanical failures.

Wipers and Defrosters

Being able to see out of your windshield is important for safe driving. It can be difficult to see in rainy and snowy conditions, which is what your windshield wipers and defrosters help with.

Your defrosters should direct air at the windshield when they’re turned on. If they don’t, there might be problems with the ductwork, fan, door, or something else that a mechanic needs to look at. Your windshield wiper blades need to be replaced every six months to a year and should be replaced if they streak, miss large areas, chatter, or are cracked or torn. If the wipers don’t work at all, it could be a problem with the motor.


Lights are another part of the car that help with visibility, especially at night. Dim or broken lights make it harder for you to see other drivers and for other drivers to see you. All of your vehicle’s lights—the brake lights, turn signals, headlights, and taillights—should be working, and you should check them about once per week.


Your tires aren’t just there to get your car to move. They’re also supposed to help your vehicle safely grip the road and give you control when turning, accelerating, and braking. Tires could blow up on the road if not taken care of or properly manufactured, which could lead to rollover accidents or other serious injuries.

Check the pressure in your tires about once per week and before you go on long trips, and be sure that they’re inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Under-inflated tires could overheat and fail. Have your mechanic inspect your tires regularly and look for cracks, loss of pressure, bulges, and bubbles. Loose lug nuts and worn ball joints could also lead to accidents. Replace your tires when necessary, or at least every six years.


Your brakes should be regularly maintained, and you are responsible for making sure brake pads and other parts get repaired or replaced when needed. However, there are cases when brake pads can fail without necessarily being worn from daily use. Brake pads could crack or the asbestos could come unglued from the metal that holds the brake pad in place. In these cases, the manufacturer or auto repair shop could be liable.

It’s not just brake pads, either. Other components, whether mechanical or hydraulic, could wear out, break, or rust. Any brake-related warning lights that come on in your vehicle are a sign that a problem needs to be diagnosed and repaired. While driving, if your breaks make noise, feel too low, or sink to the floor, these are likely signs of trouble as well.


Steering is essential for maintaining control of your vehicle and protecting you from accidents. Steering system faults are generally the responsibility of a car manufacturer. There are many parts to a steering system, all of which can wear out or fail: steering linkages, the suspension, ball joints, tie rods, and power steering fluid lines all play a part in controlling your vehicle.

A mechanic would be able to tell you what’s wrong, depending on the problem you’re experiencing. Take note if your vehicle is wandering to one side or the other while you’re driving straight. Also be aware of any noises, growling or vibrating sensations, looseness, or other loss of control while you drive your car.

Contact a Products Liability Attorney Today

If you regularly maintain your car, you shouldn’t run into problems with it on the road. If an accident occurred because a part of your car didn’t work the way it was supposed to, it might be time to bring in legal help.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a defective car part, contact the Indianapolis Products Liability Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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