Mechanical Failure Analysis
Mechanical failures on any vehicle can be expensive as well as dangerous. The necessity of the parties to find out what went wrong and why - usually to see who is going to foot the bill, often leads us to spend some time in the laboratory - CSI style, conducting metallurgical tests and analyzing engine components, brake system components and lubricants for clues that help solve the mystery.
 
We often employ these methods to ascertain the validity of an insurance claim, where damage to the vehicle / component is suspected of being there prior to an incident or to determine the cause of a component failure.
 
In the example below, an objection to our findings, contained within his objection documentation to the OSTI, a fleet operator claimed that the severe deformation of a brake component was due to accident damage and not from the abnormal wear caused by extensive neglect of the vehicle's maintenance as described in our report on the accident.
 
A closer look at the parts' molecular structure under a stereoscopic microscope soon helped prove our point, assisting us in determining without any doubt that damage was abnormal wear and that the lack of maintenance of the brakes was the primary cause of this major traffic accident for our clients, a major Insurance Company and The SAPS.
A lot of the scientific procedures and methods we see being used in the forensic labs in shows like CSI are real as seen here and they are available to us to use whenever the circumstances dictate.
 
Laboratory science can answer many vehicle related mechanical questions - the vital component in using this tool is having the knowledge and experience to know what questions to ask and that we have.
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