After Mechanic Shop Visit, Check your Car’s Hood Latch!

Firm News | January 31, 2011

A recently published letter in the Chicago Sun-Times described the terrifying experience of a local commuter. The Chicago-Area driver recently had her car’s muffler inspected after the exhaust system started getting noisy. Since the repair estimates were substantial, the motorist decided to leave the shop with an estimate and think about it.

The next day, the woman was driving to work on I-90 when her car’s hood suddenly flew up, smashing her windshield and blinding her vision! The driver coolly – but not calmly – got her car across three lanes of traffic and avoided a highway accident by pulling safely onto the shoulder. An Illinois State Police Trooper showed up and asked her if she had recently had the car in the shop. Unsurprised by her response, he wrote up a police report for her.

Not surprisingly, the car shop didn’t admit to the mistake, but conceded that they do routinely pop the hood for an inspection. Presumably, a mechanic at the muffler shop forgot to properly secure the hood latch. While this story leaves an it-will-never-happen-to-me feeling, it can provide a safety lesson.

After Anyone Inspects Your Vehicle, Do a Brief Check Yourself

Mechanics are human beings and they can make mistakes. There are a few things you need to do before driving away from the shop or rental car company.

  • Check your hood latch – the hood should not give when you pull up on it. If it does, open the hood all the way and close it.
  • Inspect your tires – do the tires appear fully inflated? Most reputable shops keep the area clear of sharp objects, but it never hurts to check.
  • Check your seat position – before you start driving, make sure your seat is at the correct setting. If you are too far from the pedals, it could be dangerous.
  • Check the caps – if you had your oil changed, make sure the oil cap is screwed on tightly. A missing cap can make a mess under the hood, and even end up destroying your engine.

Sometimes motorists may put a little too much blind faith in mechanic shops because they have little car knowledge themselves. However, a short self-inspection can save one some time, money and maybe even their life.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times