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3 of the Most Common Vehicle Defects and How to Spot Them

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Spotting vehicle defects can be surprisingly challenging.  However, this is a process that’s really important to get right.  For example—what if you’re car shopping, and need to figure out if a particular car has any issues?  What if you’re buying a car from a private seller, and need to do your own inspection to make sure that you’re not buying into something that’s going to be dangerous or problematic later on?

Sometimes, getting a good deal on a car can quickly turn into paying a lot of money for expensive repairs that you never saw coming.  Or, even worse, vehicular defects could lead to you needing to get a personal injury attorney in the event that you get injured! Seriously—none of this is good for anyone! But to be honest, one of the best ways to head this problem off before it becomes serious is to learn how to spot common vehicle defects before they really become an issue, and/or before you even purchase the vehicle

This is especially important if you’re planning to utilize ride-sharing services to make some extra money.  For example, if you’re going to drive for Uber or Lyft, you really need to make sure that your vehicle is solid and safe.  So let’s dive into it and talk about 3 of the most common defects, and how to spot them. 

1. Seat Belts That Don’t Work

This may seem like a simple thing, but don’t be fooled. Malfunctioning seat belts can be incredibly dangerous.  Plus, this problem is a lot more common than you might realize. Thankfully, you can usually find evidence of malfunctioning seat belts with a basic inspection of the belts, latches, and the ‘retraction’ mechanisms that keep them working properly. If you find that a seatbelt is malfunctioning, you should definitely bring it to the attention of the seller, or get the problem fixed if you already own the car. This can be a surprisingly expensive fix. So you should definitely bring it up during the buying process if you don’t yet own the vehicle. You’ll want the seller to pay for this or give you credit for it in the final sale price. 

2. Steering Problems

This is another one of those problems that, thankfully, is pretty easy to detect with a test drive. While you’re driving, take note of any weird ‘feelings’ or ‘vibrations’ in the steering wheel. 

  • Does the car seem to shutter back and forth a little bit? 
  • Do you feel clicking or knocking when you turn the wheel to take a corner? 
  • Do you feel like the wheel is a little bit too difficult to turn? 
  • Does just turning the car feel generally unsteady or problematic? 
  • Do you feel weird vibrations in the steering wheel while the car is driving straight ahead? 

These could all be indications of deeper underlying steering wheel, steering column, or even front axle or alignment issues.  And one of the worst things about this type of defect is that the problems can tend to get worse over time if they’re not addressed.  These can also be expensive problems to solve. So don’t buy a vehicle that shows any of these types of signs. 

3. Door Latch Issues

This may seem like more of a cosmetic issue, but it’s actually quite important for general overall safety.  If the door latches on your car aren’t operating up to a safe standard, this can actually put you at quite a bit of risk. For example, what if you were driving and the door suddenly came open and hit another car or a pedestrian? 

What if you took a corner and your door opened, threatening to eject you or a passenger from the vehicle?  You should do a thorough inspection of all door latches before buying any car.  Try the door latches out by opening and closing the doors and checking for any irregularities.  If you detect some kind of issue, definitely bring it to the seller’s attention.  If you already own the car and have identified a door latch issue that’s creating a concern, you should definitely take it to a mechanic and get it checked out.  This can be a surprisingly dangerous problem.


Hopefully, this post has helped you to understand how to spot some of the most common vehicle defects, and what you should do to help take corrective actionNobody wants to find defects in their vehicle. But unfortunately, it happens. And when you do detect them, it’s always in your best interest to get them fixed as quickly as possible.

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