Automobile manufacturers recall tens of millions of vehicles every year to address known defects. Most drivers operate their vehicles under the assumption they are reliably constructed and that the only hazards on the road are other drivers. This mindset does not reflect reality, however. Vehicle defects can and do exist and cause many accidents every year. The following details highlight a few of the most commonly seen vehicle defects.
Problems with a vehicle’s steering column, power steering system, hydraulics, wiring, or other steering components can cause a driver to lose control of his or her vehicle. General Motors recently issued a recall for more than 1.5 million vehicles due to a steering system defect, and these types of defects can cause serious accidents.
Fuel System Defects
A problem with a vehicle’s fuel, including the fuel pump, gas tank, or fuel filtration system can lead to fire hazards as well as post-collision fires. Defects of this nature can cause serious burning injuries or explosions. The manufacturer Mazda recently recalled almost 70,000 of their RX-8 sport model vehicles for a fuel system defect.
A vehicle’s tires do more than just allow the vehicle to roll forward; they also keep the vehicle in contact with the road surface and ensure safe levels of grip, so drivers may steer reliably. Defective tires can lead to tire rot, unexpected blowouts, tread separation, tire de-treading, ruptures, tire bead failures, zipper failures, and faulty tire stems.
Airbags are one of the most important safety features of modern vehicles and help cushion the impact of a collision, preventing many fatal injuries. Airbags can also cause serious injuries in some cases due to poor construction or defects in the bag material. Takata, one of the largest manufacturers of vehicle airbags, recently had to issue a recall for more than 70 million vehicles with Takata airbags. This is one of the largest and most complicated product recalls in history, and Takata reports that the recall should complete by December of 2019.
A vehicle’s internal computer manages many aspects of vehicle performance, from speed control to heating and cooling to sound system usage. A defective vehicle computer can not only cause problems with vehicle comfort options like these, but also performance issues like cruise control. A defective computer can cause the cruise control to continue accelerating beyond the driver’s intent and create a serious hazard on the road.
A vehicle’s seats perform vital safety functions, and a problem with a seatback can cause the seat to collapse in an accident. Rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of vehicle accidents and a defective seatback can cause serious injuries to any of the vehicle’s occupants, especially those in the back seats. Since children typically ride in the back seats of a vehicle, a defective seatback can cause serious or even fatal injuries to younger passengers.
Modern vehicles feature extensive wiring to control the electronic components of the vehicle, from under the hood to inside the passenger cabin. A defective wiring system can cause electronic systems to malfunction or cease operation while the vehicle is in motion. For example, if a wiring defect causes the car’s headlights to shut off while driving at night, this creates an incredibly dangerous situation for the vehicle and other drivers nearby.
Seatbelts are crucial safety features of modern vehicles. A seatbelt defect can not only cause serious injuries to adult passengers but may also compromise the safety of child car seats that require seatbelts to fasten them securely in the vehicle. A defective seatbelt may come unlocked due to the force of an impact, rendering them functionally useless and unsafe.
These are just a few of the most commonly seen vehicle defects in the United States. It’s important for drivers to do careful research before purchasing vehicles and to stay up to date with the latest news from vehicle manufacturers. Once a manufacturer becomes aware of a vehicle defect they must notify vehicle owners and offer remedial action, such as free repairs or replacements. If you have questions about a vehicle manufacturer’s liability for an accident caused by a vehicle defect, speak with your attorney about product liability law.