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5 Common Equipment Failures That Cause Truck Accidents

Commercial trucks have several components that must work to ensure everyone’s safety on the road. It’s up to the drivers, employers, and inspectors to catch defective or damaged equipment before it’s too late. A decoupled tractor-trailer or runaway truck could be devastating and cause a multi-car pileup. If an equipment malfunction causes your accident, investigators can help gather evidence to support your claim.

Here are the five most common equipment failures and how they could prove negligence in your claim.

1. Defective Tires

Trucks travel hundreds of miles per day and thousands per week. Over time, a truck’s high mileage causes wear and tear on the tires, resulting in balding where tires have minimal to no tread left.

A truck with bald tires is more susceptible to punctures, which could result in a severe blowout on the highway. Generally, truck tires should be replaced every three to six years. Overloading is another cause of balding truck tires, especially when the tires are under-inflated.

Lastly, technicians and inspectors must ensure that all trucks are correctly aligned. Misaligned trucks tend to carry more weight on one side, which also puts pressure on the tires, increasing the likelihood of malfunctioning.

2. Brake Failure

A truck’s brakes are arguably one of the most essential parts of a commercial truck. Trucks carry loads weighing up to 80,000 pounds. When drivers cannot stop, their commercial vehicle turns into an unstoppable freight train.

Brake failure is especially dangerous when trucks travel on a downgrade, so drivers must be trained to utilize runaway truck ramps to stop their uncontrolled descent. A common cause of brake failure is brake imbalance — an issue where a truck’s brakes are stronger or weaker in some areas compared to others, often resulting in jackknife accidents.

Another reason for brake failure is driver inexperience. Excessive braking at high speeds or under heavy loads can cause brake fade — reducing stopping power due to overheated brakes.

3. Trailer Coupling Failure

A truck’s coupling system connects the tractor unit, including the driver cab, and the trailer containing all the cargo. These two units are connected by the truck’s “fifth wheel” and the kingpin. Despite the name, the fifth wheel is not a rotating tire but rather a stationary coupling device located on top of the back wheels of the tractor unit. The kingpin is a metal piece that goes into the fifth wheel and is often referred to as the truck’s pivot point because it allows the truck to make turns while keeping the trailer attached.

If a driver or maintenance worker fails to attach the trailer to the tractor unit properly, cargo could uncouple and detach on the road and cause a significant accident. It’s even more vital for truckers to ensure hazardous cargo doesn’t come uncoupled on the highway, which could lead to fires, explosions, and chemical spills.

4. Engine Failures 

It may seem obvious, but a truck’s engine is the heart of the vehicle, and proper maintenance is essential to avoid a blowout on the road. Overheating is one of the leading causes of engine failure, and its underlying issue is often neglect. Failing to change oil regularly, inspect the vehicle’s engine, or immediately address the symptoms of engine failure could lead to severe consequences.

If the engine lacks power, is constantly running, or is burning excessive fuel, it could be a sign that it needs maintenance.

5. Suspension Failure 

A truck’s suspension serves multiple purposes. Primarily, the suspension provides overall stability for the truck. It also allows the truck’s tires and axle to operate independently to absorb any impact on the wheels and cushion the ride. Any malfunction in the truck’s suspension. Federal regulations detail specific guidelines for a commercial truck’s suspension. The law states that the following pieces of equipment should not be cracked, broken, loose, or missing:

  • Axles
  • Adjustable
  • Left springs
  • Coil springs
  • Torsion bar
  • Air suspension
  • Air exhaust controls

How Can Equipment Failure Prove Negligence? 

All commercial trucks should be inspected at least once a year. Inspectors must closely analyze all truck components to ensure it is safe for the road. The inspector could be liable if an investigation reveals that equipment failure caused the accident.

Similarly, all drivers and their employers must ensure the trucks receive proper maintenance and address safety concerns. If employers put unsafe trucks on the road, and an equipment failure causes an accident, the driver or their employer could share fault.

Injured by a Truck? Call the Law Giant 

If inspectors fail to notice damaged equipment or employers knowingly allow defective trucks on the road, these parties could be liable if you’re injured in a truck accident. The Law Giant has the resources to investigate your accident and identify all responsible parties. Contact our New Mexico truck accident lawyers today to fight for fair compensation. Call 505-900-0000 and schedule your free consultation.