Ladies Car Care Clinic – Common Wear Items on Your Car and What to Watch Out For

Here is a list of the items that we see and look for every day at our shop. These things are normal wear parts, and almost every vehicle will need replacement at some point.

Steering and Suspension Components:

1. Ball Joints
2. Tie Rod Ends (Inner and Outer)
3. Shocks & Struts
4. Control Arm Bushings
5. Coil Springs
6. Sway Bar Links
7. Power Steering Lines
8. Rack and Pinion Unit

If you are told any of the above parts need replacement, ask to see the bad parts. Fact is, no matter what, you should always ask to see the old parts. And if you aren’t sure the part is bad or if it’s even your part, ask to take it with you. That way you have the opportunity to have it inspected. You should notice a visible looseness in the wheels when these components are worn. Looseness may also be accompanied by a ‘rattle’ clunk or metal on metal sound over bumps. Noise is a very good indicator that these components are worn out.

Cooling System Components:

1. Radiator
2. Water pump
3. Thermostat
4. Hoses and Belts
5. Heater Core

Except for the thermostat, most of these components will last well over 100,000 miles, given proper maintenance. If your vehicle is not providing good heat in the winter, chances are your thermostat needs changing. This is normal at around 50,000 miles. If you are not seeing a green or pink watery fluid under your car and someone tells you one of these components needs replacement, get a 2nd opinion.

Engine Components:

1. Timing Belt
2. Water Pump
3. Oil Pan
4. Valve Cover Gasket
5. Cylinder Head Gasket

With the exception of the timing belt and possibly the water pump, your engine should not need any of the above parts on a regular basis. These are only replaced on a vehicle that has a serious problem, and not part of everyday wear items. If you’re told that you have a bad head gasket, ask to see the test results. There are several good tests that will prove or disprove a head gasket leak diagnosis. If you are still not convinced, get a 2nd opinion. This is one of the most common miss-diagnosed problems in our industry.

Brake System Components:

1. Brake Pads
2. Brake Rotors
3. Calipers
4. Brake Hoses
5. Brake Shoes
6. Brake Drum Hardware
7. Brake Drums
8. Master Cylinder
9. Brake Lines
10. ABS Wheel Speed Sensor
11. ABS Pump Motor
12. Wheel Bearings

Of all these components, the most common wear items are in the brake category. Brakes are exposed to the road conditions (Salt, water, grime) and extreme temperatures, hot and cold. Brakes can easily get to over 400 degrees when used to stop a fully loaded vehicle. ‘Riding’ the brake or ‘panic’ stopping are the best ways to insure brake problems and added vehicle expense.

What to watch out for:

Be on the lookout for anyone that tells you your brakes are ‘shot’, even if they feel soft to you, this does not mean they need replacement. Often times a simple cleaning and adjustment of the brakes will restore proper operation. If your brakes are worn they still should stop the vehicle efficiently. If you are experiencing long stops then most likely there is something else wrong. The most common brake repair of all is replacement of the brake pads, and rotors. If someone tries to tell you that your calipers should be replaced too, ask them to show you why. And again, if you are not convinced they need replacing, get a second opinion. This is the ‘red’ flag that and inexperienced technician is working on your vehicle. Unless your vehicle has well over 100,000 miles on it, it’s not likely that your calipers need replacement.

Next time we’ll talk about how to change your tire the easy way. Thanks for reading.