After years of experience in the automotive industry, I can confidently say that certain car parts are more prone to failure than others. Here are the top culprits:
Regular maintenance and inspections are crucial to avoid costly repairs and unsafe driving conditions. Don’t wait until it’s too late!
As a car blogger, I can confidently state that every car owner dreads a vehicle breakdown. Regardless of the make, model or year of the vehicle one owns, it is essential to be mindful of the most common part failures to avoid getting stranded on the road. After studying years of data, it has been observed that the following parts fail the most: timing belts, brakes, radiators, alternators, water pumps, shock absorbers, and CV joints. In this article, I will delve deeper into each of these parts, highlight their functionality, and the possible reasons why they fail.
Timing belts: the most common culprit
The timing belt’s primary function is to ensure that the engine’s camshaft and crankshaft rotate in sync. A timing belt’s lifespan is around 60,000-100,000 miles, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation. In case the belt’s teeth shatter or break, the engine fails catastrophically, leading to a costly rebuild. This is why it’s important to replace the timing belt according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Other reasons for timing belt failure can include contaminated fluids, worn tensioners, and idlers, which allow the belt to rub against other engine parts. For example, if the water pump, which is driven by the timing belt and is responsible for moving coolant through the engine, fails, it can cause severe damage to the timing belt leading to its failure.
When brakes break down: the failure of the brake system
The brake system is one of the most critical safety features in any vehicle. It is essential to keep the brakes in good condition and replace worn-out pads or shoes and damaged rotors or drums regularly. If the brake system fails due to a leaky brake line, a blown master cylinder, worn-out brake pads or shoes, or a seized caliper, it can lead to catastrophic consequences.
Listed below are a few things to check if you suspect brake failure:
- Brake pedal feels spongy or unresponsive
- Vehicle pulls to one side while applying brakes
- Grinding or squealing sound while braking
- Brake warning light is on
Overheating warning: the radiator’s hoses and the radiator
The radiator and its hoses are essential components of the engine cooling system. Radiator hoses connect the engine block to the radiator, and they have to be flexible enough to compensate for movement between the engine and the radiator. If the hoses become damaged or worn-out, it can cause coolant leaks leading to engine overheating.
Radiator failure can lead to engine overheating too. A typical radiator’s lifespan is around ten years, and cracks or leaks can occur due to corrosion, vibration, or a clogged cooling system. If the engine is overheating, it’s essential to check the radiator for signs of damage or leaks and replace the faulty parts.
Alternators: crucial for electrical power
The alternator plays a vital role in charging the vehicle’s battery and supplying power to other electrical components, including lights, radio, windows, and air conditioning. An alternator typically lasts between 80,000-150,000 miles, but it can fail due to worn-out brushes and bearings, corrosion, or a broken drive belt.
Here are some tell-tale signs that your alternator is failing:
- Dashboard warning light is on
- Difficulty or slow start while starting the vehicle
- Dimming headlights or flickering interior lights
- Battery losing its charge frequently
Pump it up: water pump issues
The water pump is an essential part of the engine cooling system responsible for moving coolant through the engine. If the water pump fails, it cannot circulate coolant, leading to overheating the engine. A water pump lasts around 100,000 miles, and common reasons for failure can be due to worn bearings, leaks or breakage of impeller blades.
Bumpy ride: the failure of shock absorbers
Shock absorbers play a vital role in providing a smooth ride to the vehicle’s passengers. It absorbs the bumps and shocks while driving and maintains tire contact with the road. Shock absorbers typically last around 50,000 miles, and they can fail due to worn-out bushings, leaking fluid, or reduced damping.
A failing shock absorber can cause the vehicle to bounce excessively or experience body roll, leading to potential vehicle stability issues. It’s essential to replace the worn-out shocks to keep the vehicle safe.
CV joints: common causes of vibration / shaking while driving
CV joints or Constant Velocity joints are essential components of the drivetrain responsible for transferring power from the transmission to the wheels. CV joints last around 100,000 miles, and they start showing signs of wear and tear with vibration or constant shaking while driving.
Listed below are a few signs to check for CV joint wear:
- Clicking or popping sounds while making turns
- Vibration or shaking while driving at high speed
- Loud clunking sound during acceleration or braking
In conclusion, being aware of your vehicle’s common failure points and checking them regularly can prolong the lifespan of your car and avoid costly breakdowns. Ensure you schedule regular maintenance and heed the manufacturer’s recommendations to keep your car running smoothly.