Routine vehicle maintenance includes replacing car parts that fail due to normal wear and tear or a lack of proper maintenance. The following ten car parts are the ones that are most commonly replaced on cars and trucks.
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.
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. Any bulbs that have burned out need to be removed from behind the housing, replaced, and tested again for proper operation. Your user manual will tell you the proper way to get to the faulty bulbs.
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.
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 new glass installed. More extensive care instructions and safety information can be found in our article on windshield repair and replacement.
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.
Working headlights are essential for nighttime safety. If your lights don’t provide enough brightness, the resulting low visibility puts you at risk for accidents. Keep yourself out of harm’s way with these fixes to common problems:
• Replace burned out bulbs when a single headlight goes out.
• Check the relay, fuse, wiring and switches when both headlights aren’t working, and replace car parts as needed.
• Have the alternator checked if headlights are dim to rule out issues with the charging system.
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. This is an inexpensive repair and it’s not too difficult to replace the plugs on your own. Check your owner’s manual to locate the plugs, and look for any visible wear and tear. Carefully unscrew the old plugs, clean the threads inside the terminal, and lubricate the threads of the new plugs before installing them.
Remote Keyless Entry
Although keyless entry can be a lifesaver when you’re heading to the car with an armload of groceries, these systems are no stranger to issues. 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. If the system doesn’t work at all and the battery isn’t the issue, have your mechanic check for a bad circuit, as well as the motor in the vehicle’s door lock.
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.
If you experience continued problems with your windshield wipers, flashers, heater and other vehicle instruments, you could be dealing with a failing fuse. To tell for sure whether or not this is the problem, locate the fuse box in your car and check for any black fuses. You can also hold fuses up to the light to see if the interior wire is broken. Blown fuses can’t be repaired, but in most cases you can replace the damaged part yourself.
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.
Which of these parts have you had to replace on your own vehicle?