Is your car safe to drive after an accident?
In an unfortunate turn of events, you were involved in a car accident on the way home from work. Thankfully no one was hurt but you’re not too sure about your car. Is it safe to drive after the wreck? You can plainly see body damage that will need repair but how do you know if further mechanical damage exists that could make the car unsafe or cause more damage?
This is one of the most common accident-related questions and one piece of standard advice is if in doubt, have the car checked before using it. There is also a variety of assessments you can make before returning your car to the road. Consider the following to gauge a car’s post-accident health:
Are the headlights and taillights working?
Driving with broken headlamps, taillights, or turn signals is dangerous for you and other drivers, and is also illegal. Chances are high you will be stopped by law enforcement if you drive with broken lighting.
Are side mirrors intact?
If both of your car’s side mirrors were damaged or sheared off, the car is not drivable. It is far too dangerous to drive without functional mirrors and inability to see traffic around you runs the risk of another accident. However, if the passenger side mirror is damaged but driver’s side is okay, the rearview mirror can compensate.
Is fluid leaking all over the place?
Leaking fluid from your car after an accident is a serious concern. Oil, coolant, antifreeze, brake fluid and other critical liquid leaking can cause major engine damage and also potentially be hazardous to yourself and other drivers. Don’t worry about a few drips but anything more means a call for a tow truck.
Can you close and lock the hood?
If the hood of your car is damaged in an accident, check to ensure it can be locked before driving. An unlocked hood will gather air pressure and can cause the hood to suddenly pop open while driving. This of course turns you blind to the road and will almost assuredly inspire an accident.
Make the smart choice
If you are in any kind of doubt about your car’s safety after an accident, have it towed. Limping a damaged car home is far less important than your safety and that of other drivers. Getting into another accident is terrible on many levels and will only complicate matters with claims and future repairs.