It typically doesn’t take more than hour or two of highway driving before the average motorist will come across a broken down vehicle. Sometimes the problem is unclear just from looking at the car, as would be the case with a dead battery or faulty fuel pump, for example. But sometimes, the problem is obvious even to the untrained eye.
Have you ever seen a vehicle on the side of the highway with a missing wheel or a badly blown-out tire? What about a vehicle with one of its wheels twisted completely out of alignment with the other three? Most of us have. It happens far too often. My first thought is always “how lucky is the driver that this didn’t end up being a total wreck”. It’s probably true that driving skill also has something to do with these situations not turning out much worse.
The statistical problem lies in what we don’t see. How many “single vehicle accidents” are the result of a malfunction in critical mechanical parts, such as the wheels, axels, ball joints, or bearings? How many occur because of ignored warnings, when a vehicle was giving its driver ample clues that it was experiencing engine trouble only to shut off unexpectedly at highway speed? Some estimates place the implication of mechanical failure in car accidents as high as 10-15% of all accidents.
What can you do about it? Trust your senses! A shake, a rattle, a squeak, a thump… these new or worsening symptoms are a cry out for maintenance from your car. This also goes for strange engine noises or behaviours, a steady pull to one side or the other, vibrating noises that change depending on which way you are turning, maintenance lights on the dashboard, dimming lights or electrical abnormalities – really, anything unusual.
When it comes to your car, thinking ahead really should be the first investment for your safety and for the safety of those who ride with you, such as your children. Our local area is lucky to have honest and hardworking mechanics working in garages that are well equipped to serve you. Be confident that you can trust them for your routine maintenance, and repairs when something goes wrong. It’s a decision that could – literally – save your life.