According to a recent study by S & P Global Mobility, American drivers are holding on to their vehicles for longer. The average age of a light vehicle in the US is at its highest of 12 – ½ years. This means that these vehicles will begin to see more signs of wear and tear, despite having a strong maintenance routine. In this month’s blog, we focus on the effects of aging on three vehicle systems including the transmission, suspension, and the brakes.
The Impacts of Wear and Tear
Vehicle wear and tear comes in many forms to your vehicle. The three more common factors that affect an aging vehicle are temperature, motion, and corrosion. Let’s briefly consider each of these and the impacts on your vehicle:
- Temperature: Your vehicle is subjected to high heat during operation. It is also subjected to temperature extremes in the weather elements where you live and drive your vehicle. Heat has a significant impact on your vehicle, especially if your vehicle fluids are not maintained at necessary levels. Various vehicle systems use fluids to regulate temperature and avoid cracking or other damage from heat.
- Motion: When the vehicle is in motion, it creates a lot of friction between parts. Without proper fluids and lubrication, this friction could easily damage engine parts that may rub together.
- Corrosion: Corrosion can come from chemical reactions with the components of your vehicle, such as salt from winter road surfaces. Dirt, rust, or grime can make your engine parts prone to corrosion. Over time, parts will weaken and components will become compromised and fail.
The best way to manage the impacts of wear and tear is to establish and stick with a routine maintenance plan for your vehicle. This includes periodic inspections of vehicle systems, replenishing or changing vehicle fluids, and replacement of worn or broken parts.
Let’s highlight three vehicle systems that are subjected to wear and tear and aging.
Your transmission is a hard-working component of your vehicle. Over time, leaks may occur throughout the system that require your attention. Gears may also become worn or damaged or you can develop clutch issues that need repair or replacement.
Common signs of a failing transmission include:
- Grinding gears
- Unusual noises
- Check engine light illuminated
- Leaking transmission fluid
- Unresponsive shifting or slipping of gears
The suspension is responsible for carrying the weight of your vehicle and helping to maintain handling and stability while driving. The suspension and its components are designed to withstand a lot of abuse from the road and many driving hazards. However, wear and tear over time can cause problems with your shocks, struts, or springs. You may also develop problems with bushings, joints, or bearings in the suspension.
Common signs of a failing suspension include:
- Vehicle bouncing
- Front-end dipping when braking
- Unusual noises like squeaking, squealing, or clanking
- Steering difficulty
- Pulling to one side while driving
Your vehicle brakes are a critical safety component and should always be well-maintained. By nature of their function, brakes are easily susceptible to regular wear and tear. This is especially true if the tires are uneven, or misaligned. Braking components such as the pads, calipers, or rotors become damaged or worn. Additionally, a leak may develop in the brake lines.
Common signs of failing brakes include:
- Brake light illuminated
- Soft or hard pedal when braking
- Squeaking, squealing, or grinding sounds
- Lowered braking performance
- Shuddering or vibration when braking
If you are planning to hang on to your vehicle for longer than anticipated, make sure that you have a regular maintenance routine to keep the vehicle in top shape. Become familiar with signs of potential problems and have them checked by a service professional. If you would like to develop a maintenance program for your aging vehicle, or would like to have it inspected, contact us at Best Western Transmissions to schedule an appointment.