Common Vehicle Malfunctions and How to Handle Them

Vehicle malfunctions are often sudden, unexpected, and frightening. Poor maintenance practices can increase the risk of a malfunction, but properly maintained vehicles also face changing variables on the roads that can cause tire blow outs, steering issues, and other commonly reported malfunctions. Knowing how to handle a vehicle malfunction when it happens to you can help you react appropriately and minimize the risk of being involved in an accident. Here are some of the most common causes of a breakdown or malfunction:

Battery Trouble:

A dead battery can leave you stranded at the grocery store, on vacation, or at a random gas station in the middle of nowhere. Battery malfunctioning and issues are so common that many people carry jumper cables or a jump starter that can be used without another vehicle present. Keep one or the other on hand, and avoid leaving lights or other battery draining processes running when your car is not in motion. Ask for or perform the recommended maintenance tasks on the battery. Most batteries will last 4-6 years when properly maintained.

Tire Blow Out or Flat:

Blowouts and flat tires can be caused by punctures, wear and tear, or improper inflation when the seasons start to change. Unless a road hazard causes your flat tire or blowout, the cause may be preventable. Keep a small tire pressure gauge on hand, maintain the right level of pressure in your tires throughout the year, and change your tires regularly when the treads have worn to 2/32” or before then if you frequently drive in hazardous conditions.

What to do if it happens to you: If you are on the road when your tires malfunction, immediately turn your hazard lights on, avoid pressing the brakes, and focus on steering your vehicle with small movements. Allow the car to slow itself, and move to the side of the road when it is safe to do so.

Steering issues:

Steering malfunctions can be caused by a number of different factors. Tire pressure, alignment, brake trouble, steering column damage, drive belt damage, power steering issues, and other causes may be to blame. Steering difficulties can range from significant vibrations to total loss of control, and may require extensive troubleshooting to discover the root of the problem. Routine maintenance can help prevent the majority of steering malfunction causes and prevent devastating car accidents.

What to do if it happens to you: If your steering goes out suddenly while driving, signal other drivers using hazard lights and your horn. Try to move toward the side of the road, and bring the car to a gradual stop with the brakes or by downshifting.

Brake malfunctioning:

Having your brakes fail on the roadway can make even the best driver panic. Brakes that have worn through their pads or are experiencing a component malfunction can lock up on drivers and fail to perform. Avoid brake malfunction by listening to your car and taking it in for an evaluation if you start to notice unusual sounds, squeaking, or grinding. Have your brake pads replaced regularly, and replace your brakes when necessary.

What to do if it happens to you: Try pressing down on the brakes to see if any part of the system is functioning enough to slow you down. Turn on your hazard lights, and downshift or use your emergency brake to slow down the vehicle. Once you can slow the vehicle down, move over to the side of the road to call for help.

There may be times when you are not sure what is causing your vehicle to malfunction. Hazard lights and your horn are your best friends when this happens. Do whatever you can to work your way out of traffic, and lower your speed to lessen any impact with other vehicles. If you’re vehicle malfunctions due to another persons actions or a possible issue with the vehicle manufacturing, contact a seasoned car accident attorney to see if you have a case.

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