Which car parts wear out the fastest?
What Parts of My Vehicle Will Wear Out First?
If you are car or truck owner, it is likely that you have had to deal with the various car parts breaking down. Every vehicle has about 30,000 interconnected parts that all have to work together. Some of these parts are meant to wear down, while others might be more prone to failure early on in a car’s life. We’ll go over which parts are likely to fail when.
Oil and Filter
Your car’s oil is designed to lubricate the engine components so that they don’t grind together, reducing friction and wear on car parts such as pistons or bearings. Proper car maintenance includes changing your car’s oil regularly by having a professional technician do it or doing it yourself with the right tools. Not doing so can allow dirt and debris to build up, which will eventually lead to engine failure.
The car’s oil filter is responsible for trapping any of this debris before it enters the engine. Though some technicians will replace an oil filter every time the oil is changed, the industry standard is every other time you change the oil. Also keep in mind that synthetic oils are designed to last longer.
Average Lifespan: Around 3,000-5,000 miles for the car’s oil and around 10,000 for its filter.
Windshield wipers are essential car parts that most people take for granted until they stop working. They help keep your windshield clear of rain, snow, or debris while you’re driving. You can’t drive if you can’t see where you’re going. If you live in a climate with lots of different kinds of weather, then you already know how important your wiper blades are.
Wiper blades should be replaced as soon as they show signs of wear. If your car is equipped with a rear wiper blade, consider replacing that too. You might not use the rear wiper as much or rely on it as often, it still will wear down faster than you expect.
Average Lifespan: Around six months of regular use.
This is probably the first one you thought of, and for good reason. After filters and wiper blades, the battery is one of the car parts that is most likely to fail early on. It is responsible for starting the car and running all of its electrical systems.
If your battery is starting to show its age, you might want to consider replacing it. A good technician will check this often and steer you in the right direction.
Average Lifespan: 4-6 years with normal use with average climatic conditions.
Brake pads are made to wear down, so it should be no surprise that they make this list. They are designed to slow down or stop your car by applying direct contact to the rotor. This contact causes friction, causing them to gradually get thinner with use.
Average Lifespan: 4-6 years with normal use, or around 40,000 miles
Let’s talk more about friction. The parts of a car most likely to wear down the fastest are the ones that create or experience friction. Just like brake pads, your vehicle’s tires are made to wear down as they provide traction to your car.
Average Lifespan: 6 years, for average use.
Some car parts will wear out over time because of the nature of their job. Spark plugs are designed to create sparks that ignite fuel in a vehicle’s engine. This repeated sparking will eventually wear the spark plugs down and they will need to be replaced.
Average Lifespan: 20,000-30,000 miles
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Common Car Parts That Need Replacing
What are the most often replaced auto parts? The parts that may have to be replaced on your vehicle will depend somewhat on the year/make and model of your vehicle, the kind of driving you do (city or highway), the number of miles you put on your vehicle annually, and the climate where you operate your vehicle.
Normal wear and tear will cause certain auto parts to wear out at a fairly predictable rate, while other factors such as how you drive your vehicle and where you drive your vehicle can increase or decrease the rate at which certain parts wear out and have to be replaced. Even your driving style can be a factor. An aggressive driver will obviously wear out the brake pads on his vehicle much more quickly than someone who is a more normal driver.
The following list of auto parts that are often replaced is based on frequency (most often to least often), and are based on the average wear a typical vehicle owner should experience under normal driving conditions. It doesn’t mean the parts on your car will necessarily have to be replaced at the following time or mileage intervals, but it can give you an idea of what to expect down the road as your vehicle accumulates mileage and wear
For more information about what goes wrong with cars and when, Click Here.
Most Often Replaced Auto Parts:
Oil and Oil Filter — Every three to six months, or every 3,000 to 5,000 miles
Windshield Wiper Blades — Every year or two (less in hot climates if a vehicle sits outside and is exposed to sunlight and high ambient temperatures).
Air filter — Every three or four years, or 30,000 to 50,000 miles. Filter life can be much less if a vehicle is driven on dusty gravel roads.
Brake Pads — Every three to five years, or 30,000 to 70,000 miles. Replacement frequency can vary greatly depending on the type of vehicle (larger, heavier vehicles wear out their brake pads more quickly than smaller vehicles), the type of original equipment brake linings (semi-metallic and ceramic linings usually last much longer than nonasbestos organic linings), the type of driving you do (stop-and-go city driving increases pad wear dramatically), and your driving style.
Battery — Every four to five years (mileage doesn’t matter). Less in really hot climates (maybe only three years).
Headlights and/or taillight bulbs — Five to seven years, depends on how much nighttime driving you do. Driving on rough, bumpty roads can also shorten the life of conventional bulbs with filaments (no effect on Xenon bulbs which do not have a filament inside, or LED taillights).
Tires — Every five to seven years, depending on number of miles driven annually, the type of driving you do, and the wear rating on the tires (a higher wear rating number means the tire should last longer). Hard cornering and aggressive driving can increase tire wear dramatically. So can wheel misalignment.
Spark Plugs — Platinum and iridium plugs should normally last 100,000 miles, or about 8 years if you drive 12,000 miles/year. Spark plugs may have to be replaced sooner if short trip driving causes them to foul, or your engine is burning oil due to worn rings or valve guide seals.
Belts — The serpentine belt should last 75,000 miles or about six years, and the timing belt (if your engine has one) should last 100,000 miles or about 8 years.
Brake Calipers, Wheel Cylinders and Master Cylinder — Typically last 100,000 miles or more, but eventually succumb to internal corrosion and deterioration of the rubber seals. Need to be replaced is leaking or sticking. Often replaced at second brake job (seldom necessary at first brake job).
Alternator — May last the life of your vehicle, or it may fail after 5 or 6 years of driving. The alternator keeps the battery charged, and supplies voltage for your vehicle’s electrical system. High demand applications typically shorten alternator life. Alternators are a frequently replaced item, and also a frequently misdiagnosed car part. Charging problems can often result from poor electrical connections (battery cables or alternator wiring harness). An alternator should always be tsted BEFORE it is replaced to determine if it is good or bad.
Fuel Pump — May last the life of your vehicle, or it may fail after 5 or 6 years of driving. The fuel pump runs constantly, and can be damage by rust or dirt inside the fuel tank. Running the fuel tank dry or driving with a very low fuel level inside the tank may starve the pump for lubrication, causing it to fail. Fuel pumps are also a frequently replaced item, and also a frequently misdiagnosed car part. Fuel delivery problems are often caused by plugged fuel filters, bad fuel pressure regulators, or wiring or electrical problems.
Water pump — May last the life of your vehicle, or it may fail after 6 to 8 years of driving. The shaft seal inside the water pump wears, and eventually starts to leak. The loss of coolant will cause your engine to overheat.
Fuses — You may never have to replace a fuse on your vehicle, but fuses are a frequently replaced item because of electrical problems. Fuses protect againt current overloads, so if a fuse has failed the circuit or component that the fuse protects may have a short or overload. Replacement fuses MUST be the SAME AMP RATING as the original fuse. Never substitute a fuse with a higher amp rating as this may increase the risk of a car fire!
Engine Sensors — Most sensors should last upwards of 150,000 miles, but accumulated time and mileage can cause some sensors to fail much sooner. A bad sensor will usually turn on the Check Engine Light and set a fault code. Oxygen sensors on late model cars should usually last upwards of 100,000 miles, but may be fouled at any mileage by coolant leaks or an engine that is burning oil. Throttle position sensors can develop worn spots causing erratic readings. Crankshaft Position Sensors can develop internal cracks or shorts from exposure to engine heat that affect their output. Same for coolant sensors. Mass airflow sensors may become contaminated with dirt or fuel varnish.
Muffler — Most late model original equipment mufflers are stainless steel, and will typically last 10 years or 100,000 miles (or more) depending on environmental exposure to road salt and moisture.
Shocks & Struts — The shocks and struts on many vehicles are NEVER replaced during the life of the vehicle. But after 50,000 to 75,000 miles of driving, many shocks and struts are getting noticeably soft. Replacing these parts is often recommended to restore like-new ride and handling. Shocks and struts may also be replaced at any time to upgrade performance handling.
Clutch — Varies greatly with how the vehicle is driven, but normally should last up to 100,000 miles with normal driving. Towing, aggressive driving and poor driving habits (such as «riding the clutch») can drastically shorten the life of this component.
Automatic Transmission — Should last the life of your vehicle, but may fail at any point from 70,000 miles on. Towing, aggressive driving or anything that causes the transmission to run hotter than normal can shorten its life and lead to failure.
Ask a Technician: What Happens to Car Engines as They Age?
What happens to a car engine as it ages? The easy answer: it wears out. The much more complicated answer: certain parts wear out before others. Here’s what you need to know about them (and how to keep them healthy as long as possible).
How does an engine work?
The standard everyday vehicle engine is a reciprocating engine. This means that a series of pistons push down on a crankshaft, which transforms the pushing and pulling motions of the pistons into a rotating motion that is passed on to the gearbox and then to the car’s wheels.
A lot of engine components either reciprocate or rotate at very high speeds and high temperatures. Luckily, modern engines have been designed to handle this fact—the parts that wear out quickly are also (usually) the ones that are easy to replace. The first big thing that’s likely to wear out in most vehicles is the camshaft drive belt. If it fails, the pistons can smash into the valves, resulting in a big repair bill. All carmakers have a preset mileage at which the camshaft drive belt should be replaced, and some cars even have maintenance-free chain drives that don’t have to be replaced at all.
Spark plugs are another thing that need to be replaced at a set interval, as the plugs themselves can burn out or become too dirty to work properly. These are usually a quick fix, as they can be changed like a light bulb. (Unscrew the old one, screw in a new one, and you’re good to go.)
Wear and (some) tear is good.
The main wear inside an engine comes from all its moving parts. When correctly maintained, the oil in a car’s engine fills the tiny spaces between the moving parts so the parts themselves aren’t actually touching (much like the cartilage in your joints). Some wear does occur, especially in the early days, when the engine is “breaking in.” This is merely the process where all the different parts wear ever so slightly so that they all work smoothly together. That’s why most automakers suggest that you not treat the engine too harshly or run it to extreme speeds for the first 1,000 miles or so.
. But be aware of these signs
In the long run, the cylinder bores will wear out the piston rings. These rings keep the oil in the engine from getting into the top of the cylinders where the fuel is being burned. That’s one of the main reasons why old or poorly maintained cars have a dark smoky exhaust – that smoke is oil that has gone through the cylinder heads and then out the exhaust.
The engine’s bearings can also wear out. These are metal inserts in the rods that connect the pistons to the crankshaft. If they begin to wear out, it’s easier and cheaper to replace the bearings (as opposed to the entire rod).
These last two types of engine wear—piston rings and engine bearings—should occur over a very long time period, unless there is some sort of manufacturing defect or a lack of maintenance, such as not changing the oil and oil filter at the prescribed intervals. Oil collects all the tiny bits of metal that can wear away in an engine and the filter removes those bits from the oil flow. So not only does oil keep your engine running smoothly, it also keeps it clean and free of stuff that can increase the wear rates.
Engines do wear out, but unlike in the old days, modern ones can last for a significant length of time if proper maintenance is carried out. You can prevent expensive repairs and keep your engine running smoothly with the Volvo Cars Silver Spring service department—contact us today for more information.