The Aftermath of a Car Accident: Is My Vehicle Drivable?

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While the topic is complicated and based on the variables of the accident, Preferred Mutual’s Auto Claims Team has put together a list of significant signs of damage to help you make informed decisions about whether you should drive your car after an accident or get it to an autobody shop immediately!

At Preferred Mutual, we recognize how stressful a car accident can be for everyone involved, especially if there is damage to your vehicle. Even if no one is injured, one of the main concerns that many people have after a car wreck is whether or not their vehicle is drivable or if a towing service will be needed.

As a driver, it will be your responsibility to ensure that your vehicle is safe to drive, but more importantly, if the car is in need of repair, your car insurance carrier may not cover any of the damage if you get in another accident before you get the original damage fixed.

Here’s a list of ways to determine whether or not you should drive your vehicle yourself to either a repair shop or home.


Are any fluids leaking?

  1. YES - Call for a tow (driving without coolant can cause irreparable engine damage)
  2. NO - Proceed to #2.

Are all the wheels pointing in the correct direction?

  1. NO - Call for a tow (suspension damage has occurred, driving the vehicle is not safe)
  2. YES - All four wheels appear to be aligned – Proceed to #3.

Did any airbags deploy?

  1. YES - Call for a tow (driving a vehicle with a deployed airbag is not safe).
  2. NO - Proceed to #4.

Do all the doors/hood open and close freely and without excessive force?

  1. NO - Call for a tow (doors need to function properly so occupants can exit the vehicle if needed. Damaged/unlatched hoods may pop open at speed).
  2. YES - Proceed to #5.

Are the headlights and mirrors intact/functioning properly?

  1. YES - The vehicle is likely drivable, using caution, drive the vehicle to the nearest service center for further evaluation.
  2. NO - Use common sense – if headlights/mirrors are broken at night in a remote location, you should call for a tow. If you have a broken headlight/mirror, and there is ample daylight, and/or you are near a service center, you can likely drive the vehicle.


  1. Smell - Notice any unfamiliar/burning scents?
  2. Feel - Does the vehicle “feel” like it is driving properly?
  3. Hearing - Is the vehicle making any unfamiliar noises?
  4. Sight - Keep an eye on all gauges (engine temperature, oil pressure, check engine light, etc.)

Making the decision to drive after an accident is an important one. If there is any doubt, have your car towed to a body shop for the safety of yourself, passengers, and other drivers on the road. Your car insurance carrier may even cover the cost of the tow and rental!

Did you know that Preferred Mutual has a Direct Repair Shop Program in New York?

That’s right! Your car insurance policy with Preferred Mutual is more than a document to keep in your glove compartment – It means you will have access to guaranteed I-CAR Gold Certified repair shops to maximize convenience and high-quality service to save you time and give you peace of mind!

Take Preferred Mutual and your car insurance policy with you on the go! Download our MYPreferred Mobile app today from the App Store or Google Play today!

 This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.

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