As time goes on, cars can often be a constant source of questions. One of the biggest is deciding whether to repair a vehicle that's beginning to show its age, or to go with an all new model. If frequent breakdowns, odd smells and frightened passengers have finally forced you to make a decision, it might help in the future to know what exactly the years can do to your ride. Classic cars are the products of hefty amounts of costly restoring, so before you go down that route, or choose to abandon the path entirely, here's our list of the top 5 car problems that come with age.
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#5 Timing Belt failure
Timing belts are a wonderful signature of the precision in car making. Helping to synchronize crankshaft and camshaft rotation, timing belts are a modern successor to timing chains, which were notably more expensive and noisier. The old chains were more durable however, with their new counterparts prone to snapping and failing suddenly, without warning. Because of problems caused by old age, adjacent oil or water contamination, timing belts do require routine replacement.
Solution: The condition of other components in your car may affect your timing belt's lifespan. For example, if your car is over 6 or seven years old, it may be wise to replace the tensioners, idlers or water pump, which can cause the belt to move of its pulleys when if they seize.
#4 - Rust
A familiar no brainer, rust is something that can start out as a troublesome spot on a car, but can quickly spread as the metal underneath is further exposed to moisture and air. Rust far too often sends perfectly good cars to rest, and whilst it begins as a simple stain caused by driving through a puddle, the technically named iron oxide can work its way through untreated, raw sheet steel and iron in just a few years.
Solution: The first thing to treating rust is to try and prevent it. Washing you car regularly and keeping it free of road grime, salts and dirt will stop corrosion from taking hold, as will checking the drain holes along the bottom of doors. When you first start to see surface rust, immediately make plans for either your or a professional to remove the paint around the rust with a sander & cut through the rust build-up, before applying primer, paint and buffer to make it good as new.
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#3 - Disc Brake Braking
The otherwise reliable car disc brake is itself prone to braking over time. Whilst this can be due to simple wearing out on most cars, it's can also be due to corrosion caused by a build of rust in infrequently used cars left in damp conditions. Eventually most front discs wear out and become too thin, hence why most vehicle manufacturers specify a minimum thickness. Not replacing a disc brake at this time is a serious threat to motor safety - the 'judder' it causes can lead to a complete wheel lock-up and loss of control of the vehicle.
Solution: Rotor cracking can be put down to poor manufacturing or just eventual wearing out. Either way, inspection for excessive build up of corrosion can be done either by yourself (you can find a guide in the video below), or by a trained mechanic.
#2 Fuel Economy
Less a safety issue than the last three points, and more a monetary one, it's a fact that old cars rarely get fuel economy the way modern ones do. Rising repair costs are often seen as a key reason to get a new vehicle, but likewise your petrol bill should factor into your "repair or replace" formula.
Solution: Opting for a more modern make of car that averages more miles per gallon makes a careful balancing act of our whether to drive an existing car into the ground, or immediately strive for a more efficient model. Consider different variables relevant to your driving habits; model type, age of current model, distance driven annually etc. Keep track of your fuel economy by noting the odometer reading and the number of gallons purchased each time you fill up, and remember that more modern cars make easier work out of this practice.
#1 - One, Dead Car Battery
If your car battery is older than three or four years, you should start preparing yourself for problems. Most car batteries come with a manufacture date on them, and are supposed to be sold within six months of that date. The normal factors that drive down battery life include vibrations from frequent rough travel or poor-securing, extreme heat or 'acid stratification' caused by undercharging due to frequent short commutes & brief trips.
Solution: Paying regular attention to your car's battery, perhaps conducting the odd test and observation from time to time heavily reduces the chances of finding yourself stranded. In general, batteries are one of the most cost-effective car parts, considering how much they deliver in a single life time.
If you have any of your own thoughts regarding the obvious problems of an aging car, you can let us now through the Launch Tech Facebook page, Twitter and/or Google+.