Is It Okay to Drive Your Car After an Accident? Your Post-Crash Checklist

woman looking at car in need of collision repairs

You’ve just been in a car accident, the police have been called, and you’ve exchanged insurance information with the other driver. Now what? Whether it’s a minor fender bender or a more serious collision, your first instinct may be to get back in your car and drive away. But is it really safe to do so? What if you need collision repairs?

In this guide, we’ll answer these questions and provide a post-crash checklist to help you navigate what to do next.

Stop Driving Until You Assess Your Vehicle

Before you get back behind the wheel, you need to assess the damage to your vehicle. If you were involved in a more serious accident, it may be clear that your car won’t be drivable until after collision repairs. However, even if the damage seems minimal, underlying issues could make driving extremely unsafe.

Your Step-By-Step Post-Crash Checklist

Use this checklist to ensure you take all the necessary steps after a car accident.

Safety First

Your first priority should be your safety and the safety of others involved in the accident. Make sure everyone involved in the accident is safe and unharmed. If there are any injuries, call for medical assistance immediately.

Assess Your Vehicle Damage

Take the time to examine your vehicle for any damage thoroughly.

  1. External Damage Inspection: Start by walking around your car and looking for any visible damage, such as dents, scratches, broken lights, signs of structural damage, or smoking parts.
  2. Check Your Engine for Leaks: Open your car’s hood and check the engine for any visible damage or leaks. If you see any leaks or fluids pooling under your car, do not attempt to drive it until it has been inspected by a professional and undergone collision repairs.
  3. Assess Airbag Deployment: If your airbags are deployed, your car is no longer safe to drive.
  4. Examine Tire and Wheel Damage: Check your tires for any punctures or damage and make sure your wheels are not bent or misaligned.

Evaluate Your Vehicle Functionality

Even if your car looks okay from the outside, there may be hidden damages that affect its functionality. If any of the following checks fail, do not drive your car until it has been inspected and undergone collision repairs.

  1. Test Lights and Signals: Make sure all of your lights and turn signals are functioning correctly.
  2. Check the Engine Response: Start your car and listen for any strange noises coming from the engine. Check to see if it accelerates smoothly.
  3. Test Brakes and Steering: Drive your car at a slow speed and test the brakes to make sure they are functioning correctly. Also, pay attention to any unusual vibrations in your steering wheel.
  4. Assess Air Conditioning and Heating Systems: Make sure your air conditioning and heating systems are still working correctly after the accident.

The Next Steps: Should You Call a Tow Truck or a Professional?

What happens next? The answer depends on the severity of the damage to your vehicle and your safety.

If Your Car is Drivable: If your car passed all the functionality tests and appears safe to drive, you may continue driving it. However, we recommend getting a professional inspection and any necessary collision repairs as soon as possible to ensure your safety.

If Your Car is Not Drivable: If your car fails any functionality tests, it’s unsafe to drive. Call a tow truck to take your car to a professional collision repair shop for inspection and repairs.

What To Consider Before Driving Again

After the accident, it’s normal to feel a bit shaken and anxious about getting back behind the wheel. Here are some things to do before driving again:

  • Insurance Considerations: Contact your insurance company and inform them of the accident. They will guide you through the claims process.
  • Mechanical Concerns:  Even if your car appears to be functioning normally, it’s always a good idea to get it inspected by a professional after an accident.
  • Personal Health: Your physical health and emotional well-being should be a top priority.  If you feel any discomfort or pain, seek medical attention immediately.

Call Valley Collision for Collision Repairs

At Valley Collision, we understand the stress and uncertainty that comes with being in a car accident. Our team of experienced technicians is here to help you get back on the road safely and efficiently. From minor dents to major repairs, we have the expertise and equipment to restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition. Contact us today for a free online estimate.

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