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The 10 Most Commonly Replaced Car Parts and When to Change Them

Routine vehicle maintenance includes replacing car parts that fail due to normal wear and tear or a lack of proper maintenance. Continue reading to learn more about ten of the most commonly replaced vehicle parts.

Battery

When your vehicle’s battery starts to age, performance suffers and risk of failure increases. Should this happen when you’re away from home, your car will likely require a jump start to get going. Acid stratification and low charge are the most common causes of battery failure, although poor driving habits such as leaving lights and air conditioner running when the car isn’t started and taking trips that are too short to allow the battery to fully charge can also cause problems. A good rule of thumb is to replace the battery every four to five years and check it every so often for dirty terminals, damaged cables and physical defects.

Exterior Lights

Brake lights, turn signals, taillights, and other small external lights are car parts that tend to fail more often than headlights. Since you can’t see when this happens while sitting inside the vehicle, you should inspect the lights on a regular basis. Have a friend stand outside while you test each of the aforementioned lights.

Brake Rotors

Girodisc Brake Rotors for Subaru STi. Image courtesy of Ryan Gsell on Flickr, hosted under CC BY 2.0.
Girodisc Brake Rotors for Subaru STi. Image courtesy of Ryan Gsell on Flickr, hosted under CC BY 2.0.

Rotors prevent your vehicle’s brake system from overheating during use. However, over time, friction from the brake pads and calipers causes the rotors to become less efficient. If they are too worn down, you run the risk for a possibly dangerous brake failure. Pay attention to squealing, grinding and growling noises and any “pulsing” sensations when braking; any of these could indicate damage that will require you to check the each of these car parts immediately.

Windshield

Flying dirt and debris that hit the windshield while driving can cause dings or stress cracks in the windshield. Accidents may crack or completely shatter the glass. Regular cleaning of an intact windshield can prevent surface scratches, but more extensive damage should be addressed immediately. Prevent stress cracks from spreading by applying clear tape and keep the car at as consistent a temperature as possible until you can get the new glass installed.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Maintaining proper tire pressure is easier when you have a working tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), but battery failure can cause this safety feature to stop working prematurely. There are two types of systems: indirect systems read tire pressure from sensors in your anti-lock brakes, determining if pressure levels are correct by monitoring the number of rotations of each tire relative to the others, while direct systems have their sensors located inside the tires to provide more accurate readings. Should the system stop working, you’ll need professional help.

Headlight Components

Working headlights are essential for nighttime safety and bad weather. If your lights don’t provide enough brightness, the resulting low visibility puts you at risk for accidents.

Spark Plugs

Performance problems such as difficulty starting your vehicle, slow acceleration, rough idling and misfiring or surging of the engine may indicate that it’s time for new spark plugs.

Remote Keyless Entry

One of the most common issues affecting keyless entry is battery failure in the remote, which is easily fixed by replacing the depleted battery with a new one. Another common issue is caused by improper storage of the remote: unintended activation of the locking mechanism or panic alarm when buttons are accidentally pressed happens much more often than you might imagine.

Door Handles and Locks

Door handles and locks are one of those car parts that many don’t remember when thinking of the most commonly used parts of the car. Repeated use of manual entry can cause door locks to wear down and fail. The mechanism inside the lock that makes entry possible is called a lock cylinder, and there are several signs that indicate it may need replacement:

• The key gets stuck, even breaks off in the lock
• The key unlocks some doors but not others
• Keys go into the locks but won’t turn

These problems are generally mechanical in nature and should be fixed to ensure your safety and the safety of your passengers.

Fuses

A fuse box. Image courtesy of Henrique Pinto on Flickr, hosted under CC BY 2.0.
A fuse box. Image courtesy of Henrique Pinto on Flickr, hosted under CC BY 2.0.

If you experience continued problems with your windshield wipers, flashers, heater and other vehicle instruments, you could be dealing with a failing fuse.

To preserve safe, reliable operation of your car or truck, it’s important to check these car parts on a regular basis, looking for signs of wear that may indicate that a replacement is in order. Diligent maintenance keeps your vehicle running the way that it should and provides the best driving experience possible.

If it’s time for routine maintenance, or you are experiencing issues with your vehicle, schedule a service visit below.