5 parts in your car that will eventually need replacing.
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The alternator in your car keeps your battery continually charged as you drive. It takes a lot of power to get and keep a car running, and without the alternator your battery’s reserve power would quickly be used up. Besides this, as part of your car’s electrical system, the alternator powers the starter, ignition and electricals in your car.
The alternator is likely to fail as your vehicle gets older. Some warning signs:
- Dim lights. Find yourself relying more on street lights when driving at night? Dim headlights could be caused by a failing alternator, as there is less electricity available to power things in your vehicle. Dimmed dashboard lights, under-powered electric windows and seats are other warning signs.
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- Dashboard warning light. Depending on how many accessories you have eating up electricity, and how much life is left in it, a failing alternator may trigger a warning light on your dashboard — most likely the battery warning light.
- Weak or dead battery. Your car battery only has a lifespan of 3 years at best, so it will die eventually. However, a prematurely failing battery could indicate a problem with the alternator — have it checked by a professional to determine the root of the problem.
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The water pump in your car is an integral part of the engine cooling system. Despite its’ name, the water pump actually circulates coolant — not water — around the engine block, keeping your engine at a consistent operating temperature so it doesn’t overheat and break down.
The water pump, like the alternator, receives constant use as it works to cool your running engine, which means it will break down over time. It’s important to spot water pump problems as soon as possible, as engine overheating can cause serious damage.
Here are some signs of a failing water pump:
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- Coolant leak. The water pump contains gaskets and seals that keep the coolant contained in order to circulate it. When these seals — which are made of rubber — dry out and break, coolant leaks out. Watch out for red or green fluid leaking from the front of your car, as leaks can often be repaired before it causes any real damage.
- Whining sounds. This whining sound could be coming from a loose belt caused by the water pump pulley coming loose, or the bearings within the pump failing. If you hear a whining sound from the front of the motor that gets louder as you accelerate, get it checked as soon as possible.
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- Engine overheating. Your engine temperature gauge should ideally hover somewhere around the middle during operation. If you notice the needle straying up towards the red “H” zone more often, it could indicate a problem with the water pump.
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The timing belt is an critical internal engine component that rotates the engine’s cam and crankshaft in sync and ensures each cylinder fires at the right time. Larger engines have a timing chain instead of a nylon-rubber belt, which generally lasts longer.
The timing belt is subjected to a lot of force, and thus needs to be replaced regularly.
Symptoms of a timing belt in need of replacement:
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- Engine won’t ignite. If your timing belt has broken, your engine won’t be able to ignite. You may hear the starter motor engage, but as the timing belt operates the crank and camshaft, these will not turn as they should. Most times, the timing belt will break while the engine is running, but if it does, it can cause damage in the internal engine compartment.
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- Engine misfires. Popping, banging sounds, accompanied by engine shudder are signs of an engine misfiring. You may also notice the smell of gas, coolant or engine oil. Misfires happen when the timing belt slips on the camshaft drive and causes one cylinder to open or close earlier than it should.
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Spark plugs provide the much needed spark that ignites the air and fuel mixture within the cylinders, creating the combustion that runs the engine. This continuous ignition is what keeps your car moving on the road.
Most cars have between 4 to 6 plugs, depending on how many cylinders your engine has. These are always replaced as a set.
Signs your spark plugs need to be replaced:
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- Engine has a rough idle. Your engine is idling when it’s started but stationary. In this state it constantly produces around 1000rpm, but if your spark plugs need replacing, you may feel and hear your engine stuttering and producing larger vibrations. This can cause internal damage to your car.
- Trouble starting engine. Spark plugs produce the spark that gets your engine going — if they’re malfunctioning, your engine won’t be able to ignite. They could also be causing your battery to drain, so get these both checked if you’re experiencing this problem.
High fuel consumption. If you find your vehicle consuming more petrol than usual, faulty spark plugs could be the cause. In this case, fuel consumption can increase up to 30% due to incomplete combustion.
Drive belt aka Front End Accessory Drive (FEAD) belt
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Not to be confused with a timing belt, which operates the camshafts, the drive belt powers the alternator, power steering pump, water pump and the air conditioner compressor. Unlike the timing belt, which is hidden under the engine cover, the drive belt can be seen and inspected just by opening your car hood.
A drive belt typically lasts for 70,000 to 100,000km, or 3 to 5 years, but should be inspected regularly for wear. Running the engine with a broken drive belt can cause damage to your engine as it will overheat due to the water pump not functioning.
Signs you need a new drive belt:
- Noisy drive belt. If you hear a squealing noise coming from your engine, you should have your drive belt inspected for wear. It could just be water on the belt, which may be the case if you’ve been driving through rain. But if the squeaking is due to spilled or leaking oil on the belt, it will need to be replaced, and the source of the leak investigated.
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- Belt wear. Watch out for chunks missing on the ribs facing the pulley. A few missing is fine, but if there’s a lot missing, or you notice any fraying and cracking, it’s time for a replacement.
Every Maxx ‘N Go mobile oil change service comes with a free 15-point car check, to pinpoint any issues that may affect your car’s function, safety and driveability. You can also stop by the Maxx ‘N Go Service Center for all of your major service, repair and parts replacement needs.
Download the Maxx ‘N Go app via the App Store or Google Play store, or go to our website to learn more.