Your car’s health and longevity are heavily dependent on the maintenance you provide through the years. Fortunately, most types of maintenance are simple and require very little time. For example, you’ll need to change the oil every 5,000 miles (or longer, depending on your owner’s manual). You’ll need to periodically replace the air and fuel filters. You’ll also need to check the fluid levels and tire pressure on a regular basis. If you’re diligent about doing these things, you can keep your vehicle operating smoothly for many years.
Unfortunately, old age eventually comes regardless of what you do to hold it at bay. Auto parts fail and will need to be replaced. Below, I’ll give you a list of the components you can expect to replace down the road.
The Fuel Pump
Your fuel pump is responsible for delivering gasoline to your fuel injection system. If it fails, your car’s engine (or specifically, the combustion chambers) will not receive the gas required for the combustion process. If you’re driving a domestic vehicle, you can expect to replace the pump at approximately 50,000 miles. If you own a Toyota or Honda, you may never need to replace it.
The bad news is that this component is usually installed within the gas tank. As a result, it takes time to replace. While the pump itself might cost $200, the labor might cost twice as much.
A transmission failure is expensive. While small problems, such as leaks, can be fixed easily and inexpensively if they’re identified early, a failure usually means replacing the entire assembly. This is because a lot of transmission shops are unwilling to perform a complete overhaul due to the time involved.
Transmissions that are installed within most late model vehicles can last past 100,000 miles. Keep in mind that is merely a guideline; some will fail much sooner. The cost to replace the assembly can exceed $2,500, including parts and labor.
The Braking System
The more aggressively you drive, the sooner you’ll need to have your brakes repaired. Most brake jobs focus solely on the pads. The pads wear down and need to be replaced before they begin grinding against the rotors. When that happens, you’ll need to have the rotors machined.
The brake pads on light vehicles should only need to be replaced every 50,000 miles or more. Heavy SUVs, on the other hand, might need to have them replaced at 35,000 miles. The pads usually cost less than $80 and can be installed at home. However, if the rotors need to be machined, you’ll need the tools and expertise of a mechanic. Expect to pay up to $500 (and maybe more).
Car batteries typically last between three and six years. While their durability depends largely on the brand you purchase, the climate in which you live can also play a role. Warm temperatures, such as the heat you might experience in Arizona, can dramatically shorten a battery’s life – often to three years.
Fortunately, batteries are inexpensive (usually less than $100) and can be easily replaced without the help of a mechanic.
There are many other components and systems that suffer wear and tear, and eventually need to be repaired or replaced. For example, your car’s engine should operate smoothly for over 100,000 miles, but that will depend on your driving habits and diligence in changing the oil. Your catalytic converter should last over 150,000 miles, but a rich fuel blend in the engine can shorten its life.
Consider your vehicle an investment. You’ll need to replace parts as they fail. The key is to stay on top of regular maintenance items (i.e. check fluid levels, change the oil, replace filters, etc.) and have problems fixed quickly. By doing so, you’ll prevent small problems from turning into large repair bills.