What Are The Riska Of Driving An Old Car
Vehicle safety is a crucial factor when it comes to driving. In the United States, car crashes are the leading cause of debilitating injuries. As such, how risky is it to drive an old car?
Drivers need to ascertain their vehicle contains as many safety measures as possible to prevent the occurrence of fatalities and death during car accidents. The age of your vehicle contributes to the severity of injuries upon the event of a crash. According to the Highway and Safety Administration, driving a car that is older than 18 years, increases your chances of dying in a car crash by 71% as compared to one driving a two to three-year-old vehicle. This article explains the risks involved in driving an old car.
However this survey was published in 2013, meaning the cars were biult around the early 1990s. There does not seem to be an up to date survey on this matter.
Is it dangerous to drive an old car?
Despite the significant technological advancements in the automotive industry in the US, there are plenty of junk cars on our roads. The average life span of a vehicle in the US is only 12 years. Not only do old cars cause inconvenience, but they also have a degrading effect on the environment.
My take on this is a simple one. I owned a 2006 BMW 320 diesel for around 4 years from 2016. This car had covered over 240,000 kilometres when I bought it. It is the first image above. It drove like new. Looking after an older car need not be the end of life. As long as it is serviced regular and the brakes and steering are checked yearly you should feel as safe as is possible in your car.
The latest cars have a new type of safety bar built in to the framework incase of an accident. However the cost of these modern cars is way more than what many people can afford. By purchasing an older car and looking after the maintenance on a regular basis, it should perform well if it was a good solid car when you bought it.
The older and rusty vehicles pose a serious threat to any driver as well as to other road users. Some of the dangers of driving an old car include:
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
More than 400 people die from inhaling poisonous gas every year. Also referred to as the silent killer, this toxic gas creeps through the rusted floors and exhaust system of an old car, causing a severe and potentially deadly case of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Igniting an old vehicle in an enclosed area could also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. It is advisable always to ensure there is adequate ventilation and that your old car has no leaks.
Driving a worn out and run down vehicle could result in a severe fire. As a vehicle’s age increases, fuel leaks from worn out fuel pipes are common, and they could ignite a fire in the engine compartment. Even if you opt to change the fuel lines, the car’s old wiring could short circuit, leading to a potentially fatal situation. As such, replacing such old cars would be in your best interest.
A prompt and effective braking system is vital in ensuring road safety. They offer you confidence while you drive as you are assured of reliable stopping power whenever you pull on them. Old cars contain an inferior braking system, thus weak braking power. As such, you cannot rely on them, even though you maintain it as much as you can. It is advisable not to drive such old vehicles in modern-day traffic.
Excessive gas emissions
Air pollution is at its peak in the United States. Old cars contribute to air pollution since they emit carbon and other harmful gases by releasing the dark smoke. These toxic gases go up in the air, and we breathe it in unknowingly. Such old cars also make loud noises which are quite frustrating to other road users. As a result, getting rid of such rusty old cars is not only suitable for the conservation of the earth but also your overall health.
Lack of passive safety
There have been tremendous advancements in the field of vehicle safety in recent years. With numerous airbags, curtain bags, and knee bags, modern cars are incredibly safe to drive. Car manufacturers invest in innovative methods, such as stiff body construction, AI systems, and other new materials, that provide maximum safety to car drivers and passengers.
In the past, vehicles did not have this level of security. With our roads becoming bigger and made with advanced technology, old pickup trucks and previous generation cars are not advisable for use.
Signs that your old car is too old for the roads
Lacks safety equipment
Modern cars have numerous new safety precautions that minimize the impact in case of a crash. From higher performing brakes to multiple airbags to more technologically advanced seat belts, modern cars observe a higher standard of safety as compared to old cars.
To determine whether your car is too old to drive, check on things like the tires, windshield wipers, and your brakes to ensure they are in good condition. Ensure your vehicle has good quality tires and windshield wipers that can adequately handle the type of weather in your area. If you find you frequently have to repair such auto parts, it is probably time to give up your old car.
Constantly in need of roadside assistance service
Even though you repair and maintain your junk car by using all available alternatives, there comes a time when an old car has no more horsepower. Old car models are most likely to leave you stranded in the middle of the road, without any resolution in close range.
If you find yourself, many at times, in need of roadside assistance services, it may be time to let go of that old car. Some drivers, especially those who drive for long distances, enroll in reliable roadside assistance programs which in turn give them the confidence and peace of mind to drive their vehicles.
All the good things about the car have disappeared
You know your car has become too old for the roads when you discover that all the shine it once hard has disappeared. For some people, there worn out cars evoke some nostalgic feelings. It could be their first car, or they were gifted the car by their grandmother or parents. This attachment means they have a hard time letting go of the car even if they know it no longer adds value to them.
If your car has more duct tape holding it on, then it is time you gave up the ghost on the car. In some states, you will get penalized driving a car with cracked windshields. This is because the windshield obscures the drivers vision and in case you hit a serious pothole it will come crushing on you – causing a road accident or bodily harm.
The other things you need to watch out for are broken turn signals. If your signals are so old that one cannot know which way you are going then it is time to sell your car. This extends to those cars that lack side mirrors and rearview mirrors. This is a safety risks as you cannot see cars behind you. If the paint on the exterior has become soo faded that you cannot tell what color your car is then it is time you sold it. This extends to the interior plastic surfaces. Such cars are often a good breeding ground for rodents.
Smoke coming from your exhaust
You can identify a jalopy by the kind of smoke that it emits. If you notice constant smoke from your tailpipe then it could mean your head gasket is blown and you are leaking coolant. The type of smoke will determine the kind of repairs that you need. If it is black then it means your combustion chambers are not burning fuel efficiently. It could also be a case of a carburetor problem or blocked air filter.
If the smoke is bluish in color then the issue is oil finding itself into the combustion chambers. It could also be problems with your cylinder or rings. White smoke could be an indication of broken head gaskets. The kind of repairs that your car needs will determine whether you should continue using it or sell it.
Old cars are also susceptible to fluid leakages. You will often spot some liquid underneath the hood or spot lines of fluid as you drive. The fluid can range from coolant, to the transmission fluid. The color of the fluid will determine the type of problem. Brightly colored liquids signal that your coolant is leaking. The transmission fluid is red or pink in color while new oil is amber in color while used oil is dark in color.
Loud noises from the car
It is time to let your old car rest if at any time you drive your car, you notice that there are clicking, grinding or squeaking noises. If you are constantly been embarrassed by your car due to the load noises it produces then it is time you sold it. These noises could be a symptom of faulty transmission, rods or brakes falling apart. It is very dangerous to drive the car at this time as the engine can blow up at any time.
Difficulty handling the car
If you find yourself constantly holding your steering suddenly to prevent it from veering off the road then your car is beyond salvage. Some of the problems associated with loss of power steering fluid or wheels that misaligned. If this persists you will find yourself involved in some serious accident as you cannot properly control the car.
The other issue is rough gear shifts- especially for manual cars. A normal car should have smooth gear shifts but if you experience some loud thud whenever you try shifting gears then the car is just too old. If the car is an automatic you may notice some sudden gear shift without you pressing the acceleration pedal. The car may also feel like it is struggling to gain speed.
This can be very dangerous as if you put the car on drive you may find it veering off the road. At times there is some delayed engagement in between gears. The car takes some time to move forward or there is some pause when you put it on park.
It is time to let your old car rest if all the metallic parts are rusty. If you do not take care of the rust you will start noticing that roof or floor parts keep coming off. With time the doors or bonnet will refuse to open or they do with lots of effort. Such a car is an embarrassment and offers little protection during accidents.
In fact, a car with so much rust will also be experiencing rain leakages further making the situation worse. If you notice that you need a bucket to remove excess water from the car floor then know that your old car is no longer safe for driving. Besides, getting fined such a car can hide a lot of mold.
Leaking fuel lines
This can be a danger sign if you are driving an old model car where the fuel lines are leaking. The fuel lines could be old and thereby have small leaks. If this are not solved immediately they will catch fire and cause you irreversible damage.
The other thing you will need to be on the lookout for include damaged ball joints. It such cases it can feel that you are using so much force to turn your car. In such cases you will often hear the drivers saying that they need the car to just make it for summer then they sell it.
You should also be on the lookout for your headlights. As your car ages the headlights become duller and this posses serious problems in the night. Headlights can be cleaned otherwise you are going to have problems seeing and been seen at night. While you may love your classic car when you start experiencing some of this challenges it is time to give it up and buy a new one.
Road safety begins with you. By observing the rules of the road and always paying attention to other road users, drivers can avoid accidents. The decision to replace your old car or fix it also depends on you. The government does not have any laws about driving old cars.
However, it is not of any harm to take precautions on the safety of others and the environment by getting rid of risky junk cars. They are a menace on the roads, and they are harmful to the environment. On the other hand, there is no problem with keeping your old car in your garage as a memoir. You can also opt to donate the junk car to recycling companies as scrap metal.