A car accident doesn't always result in a totaled vehicle. For a minor fender bender you may be able to drive the vehicle away from the scene. The problem occurs when you have to wait for repairs, either because you need to get estimates or because you are waiting on the insurance agent. If this is the case, the following tips can help you ensure your car is still safe to drive until you can get it fixed.
Tip #1: Get a safety inspection
Many body shops will perform a quick safety inspection for low or no cost if they know you are waiting for the insurance settlement. A few things you should ask them to check include the following:
The alignment and axles. Minor damage to the alignment or axles can affect how well the car handles, especially at highway speeds. If there is damage, you will want to avoid driving or at least take it slow until you can get it fixed.
Safety systems. If the car seems drivable, chances are no safety systems like the airbags were deployed. Have the shop check that there are no sensors that have been exposed or otherwise moved to an area where they could be tripped.
Fluids. An accident can crack oil pans or cause hoses to come loose. This can result in fluid leaks, which could cause an engine to blow or a transmission to seize. A quick check can ensure that you are safe.
Tip #2: Secure loose pieces
You don't want a loose bumper cover or torn piece of fiberglass fender flopping around as you drive down the road – this is a hazard to you and others if it comes loose. Secure loose pieces with a rope or zip ties. This works well for tying up bumpers. You can use duct tape to tape down other loose parts, but keep in mind the adhesive can damage paint. If you are worried about paint damage, then use an automotive painters tape instead.
Tip #3: Fix lights
Don't try to drive a vehicle without working tail lights, brake lights, or headlights. Replace the bulb if the housing still functions, even if the plastic covers are broken. Once you are sure the lights are operational, you can use tail light tape, a red tape available at auto part stores, to cover the broken lenses. If you do have a tail light or headlight that no longer works, avoid driving the car after dark. If the brake lights don't work, avoid driving at all until you can get the car fixed.
Talk to a local collision center like River's Truck Center for more help.