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Car Repair: Read about the many auto parts that your car may need over its lifetime...

Car Repair

It's been a good car. You don't have to do much besides put gas in it. Then one day TRAGEDY STRIKES!!!

One day it breaks down, and it couldn't be at a worse time. Then the cruelest cut of all! The mechanic at the auto repair shop you go to says it's going to cost hundreds of dollars to fix your car...HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS YOU DON'T HAVE!


I once boasted that I'd never broken down in my car. As soon as I said it I realized it was kind of a lie: the truth would have been I never had a breakdown that SURPRISED ME! A good example is tires: I've run some bald and beautiful in my time, and when one of them blows I can't really shake my fist at the sky. I've let a leaky water pump slide too long and had to pull over because the belt broke. The point is, I by no means broke down far from home: these vehicles all failed very locally. Why? I knew they had problems and would never venture far from home with any of them. I also know when to stop when something breaks, so I'm only fixing the small problem: not a big problem brought on by the small one! READ ON: YOU CAN DO THIS TOO!

The modern car should last well in excess of 100,000 miles, with mileages of more than 250,000 being common. This is mileage without MAJOR drive train repairs.

There are a number of components which do not last as long, however. Knowing what these components are and when they are likely to fail, and then fixing them before they leave you stranded can save you big bucks!

There are 4 vital engine parts things which wear out way before the engine does. Your water pump (unless you have an air cooled car) can fail in two ways: the bearings can fail and eventually either freeze up or throw the belt off. Or it's seals can fail and leak engine coolant. The alternator which keeps the battery charged and powers the electric stuff on the car can fail in a number of ways. Your starter one day will start to drag, click, or refuse to do anything at all! A fuel pump can fail with little warning, and in some cases pump your crankcase full of gasoline, destroying your engine and possibly starting a fire!


All of the above parts will fail before 150,000 to 200,000 miles. Their bearings, brushes, rubber parts, etc. just don't last that long. I can't tell you which one will go out first. I can guarantee you this: By the time you hit 10 years or 100,000 miles, you will have one of these things fail. By the time you hit 200,000 miles you will have replaced all 4 of them. Check out the highlighted links above to find out how to check these 4 vital parts.

But you're not safe yet!

Many cars have a timing belt. If it breaks it can destroy your motor in certain cars. Timing belts should be replaced every 50,000 miles. They break any time after 60,000 miles or 7 years. They rarely last 100,000 miles. Bad CV JOINTS on front wheel drive cars won't destroy your engine, but they're expensive to replace. CV joints have rubber boots which keep the grease in them and keep dirt out. These boots are supposed to be replaced and new grease put in the CV joint every 50,000 miles. If you do this, the axles should last 150,000 plus miles with 50,000 mile services. (this would be about every time you do the front brakes or set of tires.) In addition it's important to check the 4 rubber boots regularly, especiallly before a long trip. They'll destroy themselves fairly rapidly, they will start making a clicking noise on turns, and then you have to replace the axles!

Most of the time you see a car on the side of the road it's because of something made of rubber. Rubber (like your tires and belts) wear out with time and mileage. Something made of rubber that is over 10 years old is likely to be bad no matter how much it's used. THESE ARE THE BIG CAR KILLERS!

Radiator hoses as well as the often ignored heater and bypass hoses can fail after 50,000 miles. This can overheat your engine, causing serious damage: especially in this day of aluminum engine parts!

The thermostat can stick shut and overheat an engine. If you ever blow a hose or get the engine hot, the thermostat can be damaged. It works for a while then sticks shut, overheating the engine again. It's not a bad idea to replace the thermostat whenever you replace the water pump or when you change all the hoses.

Transmission cooler lines, especially flexible rubber ones, can leak , as well as many other vital seals and gaskets. It's a good idea to look for leaks and discover their source. Also notice any loss of fluids when you CHECK YOUR FLUIDS MONTHLY OR EVERY 1000 MILES!!!!!!!!!!!!


When that oil pressure light goes on, shut the engine off. Your engine can run with that light on about as long as you can live without a heartbeat. An exception is if you are slamming on brakes hard or cornering fast. In that case, stay off the gas. If the light goes off quickly, continue on, take it easy, and add oil AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

When your TEMPERATURE light comes on,it's not as urgent as the oil light, but almost. Turning on the heater can provide additional cooling. (Your heater is just a small radiator under the dash.) A stop to let your car cool off and check out the problem can save you a lot of expense.


Any new squeals, taps, knocks, or rattles might be a warning sign. Remember: at Economechanix we'll always take time to ride around the block with you, look under your hood, and see if we can spot something wrong.

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