Most car accidents are caused by driver errors, such as speeding, following too closely, or running red lights.  However, deadly auto accidents can also be caused by vehicle defects.  Could one of the most dangerous defects be lurking in your car or truck?  Philadelphia car accident lawyer Brent Wieand sifts through PennDOT data to uncover the top five auto defects that cause the most crashes in Pennsylvania.

What Are the 5 Most Common Auto Defects that Cause Car Crashes in PA?

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Every year, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) releases a report on auto accident trends in Pennsylvania.  Though the 2016 report is not yet available, last year’s report provides valuable data about the role of auto defects in car accidents during 2015.

Defects caused 2,558 accidents in 2015, which is just over 2% of the 127,127 total accidents reported for the year.  The nature of the defect was unknown or unspecified in 67 of the accidents, but in most instances, PennDOT was able to identify the defect which caused the crash to occur.  According to PennDOT data, here were the top five defects that caused the most car accidents in 2015.

  1. Suspension Defects – 89 crashes
    • 07% of total crashes (127,127)
    • 5% of defect-related crashes (2,558)

Warning signs your car may have a problem with its suspension system include uneven tire treads, excessive bouncing while you’re driving the vehicle, greasy- or oily-looking shocks, and a sensation that the car is drifting or pulling when you try to make a turn.

  1. Powertrain Failures – 266
    • 2% of total crashes
    • 4% of defect-related crashes

A vehicle’s powertrain, or powerplant, is made up of its engine, drive shaft, transmission, and other parts that supply power.  Warning signs your car has an engine problem and may need engine repairs include lit up warning lights, oil puddling beneath the car, knocking or banging sounds, and smoky exhaust.

  1. Total Steering System Failures – 360
    • 3% of total crashes
    • 1% of defect-related crashes

The steering wheel is the most important feature of your car’s steering system.  Warning signs of steering failures include stiffness in the steering wheel, high-pitched noises when you try to turn the wheel, and delayed response to input.

  1. Brake System Defects – 757
    • 6% of total crashes
    • 6% of defect-related crashes

Brake defects are some of the most dangerous defects a vehicle can develop, as reflected by the high number of crashes.  Warning signs of brake failure in a vehicle include lit up brake lights (when the parking brake is not engaged), grinding or squealing noises when you apply the brakes, and changes to the way your brake pedals respond to pressure – for example, immediately flattening to the floor when they used to resist the weight of your foot.

  1. Wheel and Tire Defects – 916
    • 7% of total crashes
    • 8% of defect-related crashes

Defective tires gained attention as a national driver safety issue in the early ‘00s when Bridgestone recalled 6.5 million Firestone tires in the second largest tire recall in U.S. history, citing defects that could cause the tires to fly apart at high speeds while the vehicle was being driven.  The Firestone tire defects caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.  Warning signs your tires may be failing and are due for replacement include worn-down treads, cuts and cracks, and lumps or bulges.

Other, less common types of defects involved in crashes included:

  • Unsecure or Shifting Loads – 50 crashes
  • Body, Hood, and Door Defects – 32
  • Headlight and Tail Light Defects – 21

If these numbers sound small, keep in mind that they reflect accidents “where a vehicle defect was the primary contributing factor.”  Defects may have played a smaller, less direct role in contributing to hundreds or perhaps thousands of additional accidents not reported by PennDOT.

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Philadelphia Product Liability Lawyer Handling Car Accident Claims

Automotive manufacturers are responsible for designing and testing their products for safety, and labeling hazards clearly.  When an automotive product is defective, and the defect causes a car accident, the manufacturer and other parties may be liable for the victim’s injuries.

If you were injured in a truck accident, a motorcycle accident, or any other type of automotive accident that you believe was caused by a defective vehicle part, you may have a personal injury claim based on the defective product.  As a highly experienced product liability attorney serving Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Brent Wieand may be able to help you get compensated for your medical bills and other damages.  Call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (800) 481-5206 to talk about your car accident claim if you suspect your crash was caused by a defective part or accessory.

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes.  It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.  The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*