Who is at Fault When a Mechanical Failure Causes a Car Accident?

March 17, 2022Car Accidents

Some car accidents are caused by a mechanical failure rather than another driver’s negligence. If mechanical failure is suspected as the cause of an accident, many parties may be at fault. 

Potentially Liable Parties for a Car Accident Caused by Mechanical Failure

There are several parties who may be at fault for a car accident involving mechanical failure: 

The Car Manufacturer 

If a car is inherently dangerous due to its design or a defective part, which leads to an accident, its manufacturer may be liable for damages. Examples of car parts or design defects include faulty tires, brake failure, electrical issues, etc.


If a mechanic performs negligent repairs, they might be partially or entirely responsible for a collision. Examples of negligent repairs or vehicle maintenance include installing incorrect parts, making unnecessary or the wrong repairs, failure to identify repairs, or allowing an untrained technician to perform repairs. 

The Driver

Car owners are responsible for maintaining their vehicle and ensuring it is safe for use. If a driver fails to inspect or perform routine vehicle maintenance, they may be liable for an accident caused by mechanical failure, especially if they knew of a problem and failed to fix it within a reasonable amount of time. However, it will depend on the nature of the defect and the degree of negligence. 

Common Mechanical Failures That Cause Accidents

There are several types of mechanical failures that commonly cause car accidents. 

Brake Failure

Brake failures include more than a total loss of braking power. Some of the common causes of brake failures include: 

  • Worn brake pads and discs: Failure to repair and replace worn brake pads and discs can decrease braking performance, causing the vehicle to take longer to stop completely. 
  • Faulty or worn brake lines: Brake lines in need of repair can leak brake fluid, significantly affecting a driver’s brake ability. 
  • Malfunctioning anti-lock braking systems (ABS):  ABS systems are designed to prevent skidding caused by the brakes locking up. When it fails, a vehicle can skid and cause a driver to lose control. 

Tire Failure

Tire malfunctions often occur due to poor manufacturing, but the quality and age of the product can also be factors. Tire malfunctions are commonly caused due to: 

  • A lack of enhanced components
  • Improper tire repair or wall punctures
  • Design flaws
  • Inadequate tire suitability to the vehicle
  • Poor retread post-purchase
  • Tire damage during the mounting process
  • Manufacturing defects prior to purchase

These defects can potentially lead to crashes—for example, if a design defect caused the tread on a tire to separate, causing a blowout. However, old tires are also a common reason for car crashes because of the extreme pressure or decline of product performance.

Steering Issues

Accidents caused by mechanical failure can also be due to steering, suspension, transmission, and engine-related issues. For instance, steering failure can cause a loss of control over a vehicle and may lead a driver to swerve and crash. 

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