12 car parts you need to replace more often
Unless you live in the heart of a city with good public transit, you need a car to get around for work, school and life. Buying a new car is difficult, and you want to make sure the one you’re driving lasts as long as you can, and stop problems before they start. No matter how careful you are, bits of your car will need replacing over time: Here are the ones you’re most likely going to have to replace, according to AA1Car, Champion Parts and Proctor Cars. And if you have a career in Automotive Parts and Service Operations like the one Centennial College can help you get, then parts like these will become your main business.
An Alternator is what keeps your car’s battery charged, and sends power to your electrical system. It can fail after five or six years of driving, but on the other hand, it’s also often misdiagnosed as the source of your car’s problem, so you’ll want your mechanic to test it before you replace it, to make sure it’s really causing problems.
2. Air filter
Your car’s air filter is there to keep dirt out of your engine, so it stays running efficiently longer. Since it’s made of paper, it needs changing on a regular basis, but how often varies, depending on how dusty the area you live in is. Changing it once a year if you live in a dusty place seems to be the rule, and it’s not a bad habit to get into in any case.
Without a battery, nothing on your car works, and you’ll be stranded somewhere when it’s dead (though, if that happens, another car can give you a charge with jumper cables, which you should use to head straight to an auto shop). Depending on how you drive, and if you remember to leave your headlights off, your battery should last you three to five years, or less if you live someplace really hot. You’ll know it’s time to change it when it starts taking longer than usual to start your car.
4. Brake Pads
If you know anything about driving, you’ll get why having good brake pads is so important. They get a bit more worn every time you use them, so they’ll need replacing sooner or later. You’ll need new brake pads every three to five years, or less if it’s a big, heavy vehicle, or you live in the city since urban traffic will make you use your brakes more often. You’ll know that you really need to replace your brake pads when you hear the screeching of bare metal when you brake.
5. Timing Belt
Your timing belt is an essential part of your engine, and if it snaps, the engine could end up with major damage. That’s why you need to make sure you replace it every eight years. It’s a long time between changes, but it’s particularly important. Check your owner’s manual; if your engine has a timing chain instead of a belt, it won’t need changing.
6. Fuel pump
Your fuel pump moves gas from the tank to the engine, and so it’s pretty much constantly at work. Aside from the regular wear and tear, it can also become damaged from rust or dirt in the fuel tank. Without gas, your car won’t run, so you need to make sure it’s working. One thing you can do to keep it from being damaged is not to drive around when your tank is close to empty, and instead, fill it up sooner. Many of them last the lifespan of your car if you adhere to this rule.
7. Water pump
The water pump has the job of circulating coolant through your engine, to stop it from overheating. It’s another car part that, if you’re lucky, will last for the full lifespan of your vehicle, but could also need replacing every six to eight years, especially if it starts leaking.
You need your turn signals to blink, and you need your headlights to shine at night. Both run on pretty standard light bulbs, which will eventually burn out, usually once every 1,000 hours of operation, or five to seven years, depending on how much night driving you do. There’s usually a bit of a trick to getting burnt out bulbs out of your car to replace them, but your car’s manual can show you how.
Every car needs its oil changed regularly, and most shops will put a sticker on your windshield to remind you when you need your next change, which is typically every three to six months. You need that oil to keep your engine lubricated, and to absorb excess dust and debris. Here’s an important tip: If your car itself starts warning you about your oil needing a change, you need to change it right now, or it will be damaged, as that dashboard light is the absolute last warning you get.
10. Spark plugs
Spark plugs literally generate the spark that starts the fuel-powered mini-explosions that run your engine. It’s important to have clean, intact sparkplugs to keep your car running at its best. Dirty or damaged ones lead to bad gas mileage, slow acceleration, and trouble starting your car. Modern sparkplugs last about 160,000 km or eight years, but if you’re having car troubles, they should be one of the first things checked.
You need to keep your tires inflated, and make sure they don’t get worn, to help you burn less fuel, drive safer in rain or snow, and avoid a tire blowout. Most tires last for 80,000 km, or five to seven years, and you should have separate sets for summer and winter.
12. Wiper blades
Naturally, you need to have a clear view of where you’re going when it rains or snows, so you need to make sure your windshield wipers are in top shape. As soon as you see streaks when you use them, buy new ones!
Want to know more? Taking Centennial College’s Automotive Parts and Service Operations program will give you the know-how when it comes to the parts that make your car run, as well as the business skills to make a career out of it. It’s the first post-secondary program of its kind in Canada and teaches you through hands-on experience, and co-op placement. Taking part will help you keep yourself and others on the road.
Written by: Anthony Geremia