A car’s health is very similar to a person’s health: as your car gets older and racks up more miles, it is at risk of needing different repairs and replacements to continue functioning at optimal levels. Of course, regular maintenance helps minimize emergency situations, but it’s just about unavoidable that your car will face some problems as it ages.
A Consumer Reports survey asked readers to note the problems they faced when their cars were three, six, and nine years old, and the results are clear. Suspension, brakes, and power equipment cause the most problems for cars that are nine years old or more.
The term is misleading, but suspension really refers to your ability to control your car. Suspension essentially maximizes friction between the tires and the road surface so that your car glides along without speeding out of control. In a perfectly simplistic world, suspension would be unnecessary because the roads would be flat and devoid of irregularities like turns and potholes. Of course, we don’t live in a simplistic world, so suspension in a car absorbs excess energy from road bumps, minimizes the transfer of your vehicle’s weight, and helps you take sharp corners without rolling. If you sense your car feeling every single bump, pulling to one side, and giving you a difficult time steering, you may have suspension problems forming.
It goes without saying that brakes help your car stop at every red light and stop sign, so it’s critically important to stay in tune with the signs that might be warning you of brake troubles. Brakes, especially when used heavily in city and rush hour traffic, wear down and eventually cause more serious problems if not replaced quickly. Brake issues make themselves known in screeching, grinding, and squealing sounds, vibrations and pulsations in the pedal and steering wheel, and sometimes a pungent burning smell. Never ignore these signs!
The power equipment in your car encompasses everything from the radio to the windshield washers. With time and use, these elements simply become worn out. It could be the tire pressure monitor, the alarm, or the keyless entry. You may not be able to notice signs before the actual damage occurs, but at least these are easier to fix.