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Which Car Parts Cause the Most Accidents?

October 28, 2021

car parts

There are many factors that can cause a car accident.  Bad weather, hazardous road conditions, or another driver’s recklessness are all common causes of a car accident.  One component of an accident is the car itself; when parts of the car that are designed to keep us safe fail or malfunction, the result can lead to a dangerous situation.

Spanning several years, a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently revealed the most common mechanical parts of a car that, on failure, will lead to an accident.  If you own a vehicle, it is important to keep these items in mind at your car’s scheduled maintenance to help keep it operating properly, as well as ensuring the safety of yourself and your loved ones.

Tires and Wheels

Tires are the first point of contact a car makes to the road, so keeping them in top shape is imperative to your safety.  In fact, the NHTSA has reported that over one-third of car accidents have been caused by worn or defective tires.

If a tire’s treads wear down substantially, the tire will not provide the necessary grip to keep the car going in the intended direction.  It may also cause the vehicle to slip or skid, particularly when the weather is wet or icy.

There are several reasons a tire can be worn down prematurely.  If a tire is defective, it may wear quicker than normal or blow out easily, especially if the side wall is compromised.  This can also be said if the vehicle is out of alignment, or the wheel is bent, causing the tire to rotate abnormally, thus wearing on the edges.  Drivers who notice an issue with their tires, such as abnormal wear patterns, bubbles on the sidewall, or the tread is frayed or dry rotted, should have them replaced immediately.


The NHTSA’s study also found that faulty or worn brakes have caused over 22 percent of vehicle accidents.  Brakes play a major role in driving, as the ability to stop when needed is paramount to the safety of everyone on the road.  When the braking system of a car is not operating fully, the ability to stop or slow down is compromised, reducing a driver’s reaction time and causing the car to be uncontrollable.

There are many moving parts in a car’s braking system, and a defect within any of them can cause an accident.  Defective brake pads can wear too quickly or break apart when put under pressure, as well as the brake rotors.  Faulty brake lines can leak brake fluid, which would reduce the overall performance of the braking system as well as the anti-lock brake system.  Malfunctioning calipers can cause the brakes to lock up or not function at all, causing loss of braking.  Brakes need to be checked regularly, especially before longer trips.

Suspension and Steering

Another system of a car that can cause a car accident is a faulty suspension.  The NHTSA reports that poor suspension causes about three percent of car accidents.  Coil springs, struts, control arms, and sway bars are integral parts of the steering and suspension system, and all must be in operable condition to work together.  If a part of this system wears out or malfunctions, it could cause other parts of the vehicle to fail as well.  Furthermore, a bad suspension component can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle when performing simple maneuvers such as going over a bump or turning down a street, likely causing an accident.

Exterior Lighting

A vehicle’s lights are a good way to communicate to other drivers, as well as provide visibility.  In fact, studies of shown that using headlights during the daytime reduces the chance of an accident by 10 percent.  Broken taillights or failed headlights cannot signal to other drivers either your presence or intention to turn or brake, which can cause another driver to react poorly and cause an accident.

An average of 150 accidents occur each year because of a blown bulb or malfunctioning indicator.  Fortunately, the dashboard normally will alert the driver should a light be out, or the driver should notice an issue when driving at night.

Additionally, a broken headlight when visibility is poor can only make matters worse, such as in the fog or while driving at night.  Exterior lighting should be checked regularly and should be replaced as soon as it malfunctions.  Fortunately, replacing a bulb in a vehicle is simple and should not require much time at all.  Bulbs can blow because of poor wiring or a malfunctioning ignitor, so while having a bulb replaced, have the mechanic or technician check if any wiring may have caused the blown bulb.


Many modern vehicles are equipped with lifesaving technology, such as backup cameras, lane change assistance, and adaptive cruise control.  Drivers have now grown dependent on this technology, so they may be unable to adapt should any of the systems malfunction.  It is important for drivers to keep in mind the basics of driving safety, such as still checking mirrors and their blind spot whenever possible.  Over-reliance on technology could lead to an accident should an issue occur.

Airbags and Recalls

Airbags have played a pivotal role in vehicle safety since becoming a requirement in cars decades ago and have saved countless lives since.  However, when airbags malfunction, it can lead to injury or worse.

Many years ago, there was an widespread airbag recall that affected several different car manufacturers.  An issue of shrapnel entering the cabin area when the airbag deploys was identified, and the affected airbags were then replaced by dealerships worldwide.

It is important to have your vehicle checked at the dealer for any pending recalls, as recalls are safety related and are meant to protect the consumer.  Some car manufacturers notify their customers by mail as well.

It is imperative to keep up with your maintenance schedules, state inspections, and checkups, especially if you are not too sure to look for.  Modern vehicles are better at telling the driver if there is an issue with one of the systems; even so, a driver needs to do their own due diligence to make sure their vehicle is safe enough to be on the road.

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. Help Those Injured by Negligent Drivers

Taking care of your car is just as important as operating it safely.  Unfortunately, some drivers fail to do so, neglecting the major safety items on their vehicle that help protect themselves and others.  If you have been injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver, contact the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. immediately.  Our knowledgeable and experienced team will help protect your rights and get the compensation you rightfully deserve. Call us today at 215-569-9100 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.