Planning to keep your car for a while? These are the parts you should check

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JOHANNESBURG – The older your vehicle, the higher the risk of a mechanical breakdown – often with parts that are expensive to repair, Auto & General head Ricardo Coetzee says.

Auto & General and the Tyre, Parts and Equipment Association, helped put together a broad list of parts that are more likely to fail on higher mileage vehicles and which should be frequently inspected and maintained:

Timing belts: An old belt’s teeth can sheer off or snap in two or more pieces leading to catastrophic engine failure and a costly engine rebuild. Warning signs: loss of power or loud rattling and knocking noises.

Braking system: Worn brake pads can damaged brake discs and leading to loss of braking power. Warning signs: grinding noises of metal to metal, preceded by a drop in the brake fluid level. Leaking or ruptured brake hoses and seals can lead to brake failure. Deterioration can lead to blockages and or leakages at joints, so keep an eye out for a spongy or hard pedal feel with limited stopping effect.

Brake fluid: Brake fluid is considered old at the two-year mark, so look out for brake fade (the vehicle takes longer to stop) and spongy pedal feel or hard pedal feel, and a dirty murky appearance of the brake fluid.

Radiators and coolant hoses: Overheating could lead to engine failure. Warning signs: the temperature gauge is in the red, there’s hissing from the radiator cap, hoses bulge or collapse and there’s a loss of power.

Alternators: Failure means the battery and electrical system won’t be kept at the necessary charge, leading to electrical failure. If you hear loud screeching noises from the alternator, its bearings are failing. The charge and battery warning light may be on constantly. The vehicle may struggle to start.

Water pumps: Failure will result in insufficient circulation of the coolant in the engine, causing it to overheat and may lead to engine implosion. Warning signs: an elevated temperature reading and water leakage at the front of the engine.

Shock absorbers: Failure of these will cause an inability to efficiently control your vehicle. Warning signs: poor ride quality, reduced directional stability and increased braking distance.

CV joints: For the front-wheelers. your CVs (constant velocity joints) can collapse, causing the vehicle not to move. It’s best to replace CV joints on both sides of the vehicle. Warning sign: loud clacking sounds at low speed when turning sharply or lock-to-lock.

Clutches: A slipping clutch will not allow the gears in the transmission to engage fully, leaving limited or no drive. Warning signs: shuddering on pull away, or the engine revs without the vehicle accelerating.

Engine and gearbox seals: Failure can lead to loss of lubricant and engine or gearbox seizure. Look out for oil leaks from the front or rear of the engine, or rear of the gearbox. High oil consumption could also be a sign of dodgy seals.

Starter motors: Bearings wear out over time causing increased effort to turn the engine and, very quickly, a flat battery is in order. Warning signs: the engine turns sluggishly and take time to start.

Oil pumps: Failure means insufficient lubricant to the engine, parts seizing and, eventually, engine failure.

Engine and gearbox mountings: Failure results in the engine and gearbox not being kept in their correct position or alignment, causing damage to engine and gearbox parts. Warning signs: a loud knocking or vibration on start-up and pull away and between gear changes.

Wheel bearings: The bearings can disintegrate and cause the hub assembly to detach from the vehicle, resulting in no steering control. Warning signs: a shudder in the steering wheel during braking or cornering.


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