Responsible Driving Starts with You: How Frequently Should Your Car Be Serviced?

More than 6 million vehicle accidents take place on America’s roadways each year according to recent reports from both the traffic safety and insurance coverage sectors. Almost 3 million people are injured on a yearly basis and close to 100 people lose their lives each day to these incidents. While a number of causes lead to deaths and debilitating injuries, the most prominent of which are driver distractions, mechanical failures also play into the picture.

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How Do Vehicle Malfunctions Factor into Automobile Accidents?
Not very long ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looked into just such situations. Based on reports on the matter, an estimated 44,000 accidents could have been attributed to vehicle-related reasons during the timeframe investigated by the NHTSA. This category is a broad one, but some issues falling under these circumstances include:

  • Tires
  • Wheels
  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • Engine
  • Transmission

Electrical Components

Anyone of these aspects could lead to an accident; at the same time, they may stem from a number of issues. Faulty engineering, manufacturing defects and sub-par mechanics are common causes of malfunctions, but they’re not the only ones. In some cases, vehicle owners can be held responsible for resulting damage and injuries after they’ve been in a car crash.

When Can a Vehicle Owner Be Held Liable for a Vehicle Malfunction?

Vehicle owners can be held accountable for malfunction-related accidents in a couple scenarios. In the event the owner was aware of a serious problem with the vehicle but failed to have it taken care of promptly, he or she can be deemed at fault. If the owner carried out repairs rather than taking the vehicle to a professional, and this at-home mechanic work ultimately played a role in the accident, he or she can be held responsible.

No one is saying repairs shouldn’t be performed at home; in fact, countless shade tree mechanics have successfully carried out their own vehicle maintenance and saved a good bit of money for their efforts. That being said, it’s important to have at least some level of automotive knowledge and experience going into the process.

On the other side of things, automotive work can be expensive. Not everyone has several hundred dollars waiting in the wings to cover major repairs. Sometimes, you just have to save up for a few weeks or months, and that’s completely understandable.

Vehicle maintenance logs are the furthest things from people’s minds after they’ve been in a car crash. Other matters take precedence and rightly so. Still, they could be brought up once the dust has settled, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

How Often Should a Vehicle Be Serviced?

Generally speaking, experts recommend having a vehicle serviced at least once a year or every 12,000 miles. Those who spend a great deal of time on the road should shoot for six-month intervals or every 6,000 miles. This varies by vehicle, so it’s advisable to check the owner’s manual for specifics.

As noted in a write-up by the National Auto Parts Association, several factors play into determining how often any given vehicle should be serviced. Either way, a thorough and experienced technician can spot potentially detrimental issues during a routine service visit.
Most vehicles readily let their owners know when certain problems are at hand via their warning lights, but not every malfunction comes with this type of advance notice. Owners should try to get to know their vehicles well enough to pick up on issues based on changes in the way they sound, feel or respond.

Bottom Line

Any number of things can go wrong while on the road. Reckless, distracted and impaired driving are the foremost causes of accidents, but they’re not alone. Mechanical failures occur every day. Though they’re often the result of someone falling short during the design, manufacturing or repair process, vehicle owners can also be held liable. Routine maintenance and prompt repairs go a long way toward preventing not only injuries and loss of lives under these circumstances but the emotional, legal and financial repercussions to potentially follow.

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