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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 any defective or damaged equipment before it’s too late. 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

The constant miles truck drives travel inevitably leads to wear and tear on the tires, resulting in balding where the tread is significantly reduced or even nonexistent.

Bald tires on a truck pose a higher risk of punctures, potentially leading to dangerous blowouts on the highway. Typically, truck tires should be replaced every three to six years. Additionally, overloading and under-inflation are common factors contributing to tire baldness in trucks.

Furthermore, it's essential for technicians and inspectors to ensure proper alignment of all trucks. Misalignment causes uneven weight distribution, placing excessive pressure on the tires and increasing the likelihood of tire issues.

2. Brake Failure

The brakes of a commercial truck are undeniably among its most critical components. With trucks carrying loads of up to 80,000 pounds, the ability to stop effectively is essential.

Brake failure is especially dangerous on downhill gradients, in which drivers' proficiency in utilizing runaway truck ramps to halt their uncontrolled descent is key. Brake imbalance, where certain areas of a truck's brakes exert more or less force than others, often leads to jackknife accidents, representing a prevalent cause of brake failure.

Moreover, brake failure can stem from driver inexperience. Excessive braking at high speeds or while bearing heavy loads can result in brake fade, wherein the brakes lose stopping power due to overheating.

3. 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 signs 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.  

4. 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

5. Trailer Coupling Failure

The coupling system of a truck connects the tractor unit, including the driver cab, with the trailer containing all the cargo. This linkage is facilitated by the truck's "fifth wheel" and the kingpin.

Failure to properly attach the trailer to the tractor unit by a driver or maintenance worker can result in cargo becoming uncoupled and detaching while on the road, potentially causing significant accidents. It is especially crucial for truckers to ensure that hazardous cargo remains properly secured while on the highway to mitigate the risk of fires, explosions, and chemical spills.

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 was the cause of 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 office today to speak with a New Mexico truck accident lawyer and fight for fair compensation.

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