Most car accidents are minor, often happening when two drivers collide in a parking lot or while creeping through traffic. Although no one really gets hurt, property damage is common. Here’s what you need to know to remedy the situation.
The Standard Auto Accident Advice
In any emergency, you need to take care of your own safety first. If no one is injured, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road; do not be an obstruction to the normal flow of traffic. Know and practice quick clearance strategies to reduce the risk of additional injuries.
Auto insurance will pay for some or all damages, but you must do your due diligence as well. Contact the police and file a report. Never run from the scene of an accident. Get everyone’s information and document the damage with photographs. Contact the insurance companies to file a claim as soon as possible.
Problems You May Encounter
A common temptation is to just get back in and drive away after the investigation is complete, but there are some reasons why you shouldn’t do this:
- Cuts in the sidewalls of the tires weaken them and increase the likelihood of a blowout
- Broken glass impairs your vision and is unsafe to look through while driving
- Damage to the hydraulic lines of your brakes will make it impossible to stop
- Leaking coolant from a broken hose can cause your engine to overheat
- Hanging body panels may tear off while driving and become a hazard to other drivers
If it looks like you cannot safely drive the vehicle, then call a tow company to have your vehicle delivered to a repair shop.
Perform a Quick Roadside Inspection
Before you get your car back on the road, you need to make certain it is in safe operating condition. Walk around the car and visually inspect for:
- Marks or cuts on the tires
- Hanging body panels
- Broken glass
- Fluids leaking on the ground
- Vapors venting into air
Don’t assume everything is going to work like it ought to when you pull away. Instead, start the engine and test the functionality of the mechanical systems.
- Turn the steering wheel to a full end stop in either direction to test your steering range.
- Listen for odd noises coming from the engine compartment.
- Pump your brakes several times, and check for firm foot pedal response.
- Look at your mirrors, and make sure you still have full visibility around your vehicle.
- Allow your vehicle to idle for several minutes, watching the coolant gauge for overheating.
- Look at the dash for warning lights for the engine, antilock brakes, or airbag systems.
Start out driving slowly, and take note of how the car handles on the road. You may discover there are additional vibrations or steering irregularities.
- Look at the alignment of the steering wheel. Is it still centered?
- Does the vehicle pull to one side?
- Are there vibrations in the car that weren’t there before?
If there is any reason to think your car is not driving like it should be, pull over immediately and do not take an unnecessary risk. Contact a tow company instead.
Do Not Wait to Get Your Car Repaired
Insurance companies are pretty good about processing claims that are documented properly. Problems arise when vehicle owners are missing information or wait too long to file. With fraud rampant, claims filed more than 30 days after an incident are looked at with suspicion. Report your accident to your insurance provider immediately. To speed things along, Sun Devil Auto can help you by providing an estimate for the cost of repairs.
If you have been in a collision and are unsure of what to do, give us a call. East Valley customers can reach us at (480) 739-5044. If you are in the West Valley, call one of our service centers at (623) 552-7470.