Crash Bytes Newsletter October 2009 2019-11-07T13:56:01-07:00

WHEN BRAKES FAIL BUT DON'T CAUSE THE ACCIDENT

How often have you heard your Insured say -- after having run through a red light and into another vehicle -- that the brakes failed, causing the accident? We know. . . . it's far too common. Investigating further, you typically find that the brakes were functioning normally at the time of the accident. Oh well . . . on to the next file in the stack.

Sometimes, though, you can be surprised. Recently, we investigated a brake failure claim on a 2007 Chevy Tahoe and found that the left front brake hydraulic line was severed, leading to a loss of half the vehicle's braking capability. This damage had clearly occurred prior to the ensuing accident (yes, we can tell the difference). However, the brake failure was not the cause of the accident in this case. Can you guess why?

Inspecting Chevrolet Tahoe for brake and suspension failure

Close inspection of the vehicle's steering, braking, and suspension components revealed that a failure in the lower left ball joint (an important load-bearing part of the front suspension) had allowed the control arm to drop, simultaneously tearing the brake line and jamming the steering control. The driver in this case was suddenly riding in a vehicle he could neither steer nor stop. Although the culprit in this case was a suspension failure, from the driver's perspective only the brakes failed as all heaven was braking . . . err breaking . . . loose.

Sometimes it does pay to investigate those pesky "my brakes failed" claims!

Inspecting front end suspension components of Chevrolet Tahoe
Inspecting brake fluid reservoir
Inspecting damaged front suspension ball joint

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