These are the parts that you should frequently inspect and maintain as they are
most likely to fail on older cars:
· Timing belts: The belt’s teeth can
sheer off or it can snap in two or more pieces, leading to catastrophic engine
failure and costly full engine rebuild. Warning signs: The loss of power or a
loud rattling/knocking noise.
· Braking system: Brake pads can
wear down completely, damaging brake discs and leading to complete loss of
braking power. Warning signs: Grinding noise of metal to metal, preceded by an
apparent loss of brake fluid due to a drop in the brake fluid level - a clear
indication that the brakes are worn down. Brake hoses or brake system
seals: Leaking or ruptured hoses and seals can lead to brake system
failure. Generally intended for a five-year service life. Warning signs:
Deterioration can lead to blockages and/or leakages at joints as well as either
a spongy or hard pedal feel with limited stopping effect. Brake fluid:
Absorbs moisture during use, which reduces the resistance to heat during
braking and can lead to brake failure. The brake system can also deteriorate
internally, requiring costly refurbishment. Brake fluid is considered old at
the two-year mark. Warning signs: Brake fade (the vehicle takes longer to
stop). Spongy pedal feel, or hard pedal feel. The brake fluid in the reservoir
· Radiators and radiator hoses:
Numerous heating and cooling cycles could see the radiator and hoses
deteriorate and fail. Resultant overheating could lead to engine failure.
Warning signs: The temperature gauge is in the red. Hissing sound from the
radiator cap. Hoses can display signs of bulging or collapse. A loss of power
may also be experienced.
· Alternators: Failure means that
the battery and the electrical system won’t be kept at the necessary charge,
leading to electrical failure. Warning signs: Loud screeching noise from the
alternator if its bearings are failing. The vehicle’s charge/battery light may
be on constantly. The vehicle may also struggle to start.
· Water pumps: Failure will result
in the insufficient circulation of the coolant in the engine, causing the
engine to overheat and, if not rectified, engine failure. Warning signs:
Elevated temperature reading. Signs of water leakage at the front of the
· Shock absorbers: Failure will cause
an inability to efficiently control the vehicle. Generally designed for a
service life of approximately 80 000 km. Warning signs: Poor ride quality.
Reduced directional stability, increased braking distance, nosediving when
stopping, poor handling and increased tyre and brake wear. Fluid leaking from
the shock absorbers.
· CV joints: The CV can collapse,
causing the vehicle not to move and requiring removal and replacement. It’s
best to replace CV joints on both sides of the vehicle. Warning signs: You’ll
hear a loud clacking sound at low speed when turning sharply.
· Clutches: A slipping clutch
will not allow the gearbox to engage fully with the engine, leaving limited or
no drive. Poor driving skills, such as riding the clutch, make a clutch wear
faster. Warning signs: Shuddering on pull away, the engine revs without the
· Engine and gearbox seals:
Failure leads to loss of lubricant and engine or gearbox seizure. Warning
signs: Oil leaks from the front or rear of the engine, or rear of the gearbox.
High oil consumption. Oil dripping onto the road surface. Total loss of
· Starter motors: Bearings wear out
over time, causing an increased effort to turn the engine and, very quickly, a
flat battery. Warning signs: The engine will turn sluggishly and take time to
start, with symptoms similar to those of a flat battery, even when the battery
is still charged.
· Oil pumps: Failure means
insufficient lubricant to the engine, parts seizing/engine failure. Warning
signs: The oil pressure gauge or oil level warning light will indicate low oil
pressure. It’s imperative to stop immediately.
· Engine and gearbox mountings:
Failure results in the engine and gearbox not being kept in their correct
position/alignment, causing damage to engine and gearbox parts. Warning signs:
Engine - a loud knocking sound or vibration on start-up and pull away. Gearbox
– a knocking sound or vibration during pull away and gear changes.
· Wheel bearings: The wheel bearing
can disintegrate and cause the hub assembly to detach from the vehicle. The
wheel, literally, comes off, resulting in no steering control. Warning signs: A
shudder in the steering wheel during braking or cornering is an early warning.
A good shake of the wheel top to bottom with the wheel jacked up off the ground
will indicate a slight knocking feel or sound as well.
· Universal joints (in vehicles
with rear or all-wheel drive): Failure will lead to the prop shaft dropping out
of the vehicle, causing serious damage to the rear differential (“diff”) and
other undercarriage parts. Warning signs: A vibration through the floor of the
vehicle at speed. This is similar to the symptoms of bad wheel balancing, which
should be eliminated first.
A good extended or pre-owned mechanical warranty is a smart
investment to make. It can also help you out of a pickle when it comes to a
rental vehicle and/or accommodation when you’re stranded far from home.
For Assistance with a quote on your existing or new car
please contact us on 031-5021922 or visit our website www.esbrokers.co.za/contact-us.
We also offer extended Vehicle warranties
Article first appeared on Cape Talk, written by Ricardo Coetzee,
Head of Auto & General
Es brokers would like to thank our Business partners for sharing such valuable