Most of the cars released within the past several years are built to last 250,000 miles or more with simple routine maintenance. Vehicles have come a long way – historically, odometers have only advanced to 99,999 miles before zeroing out.
According to R.L. Polk (IHS Automotive) the average lifetime of modern cars is trending up. In 2009, the average lifetime of a vehicle on the road was 9.4 years. In 2013 that number increased to 10.8 years and again in 2015 to 11.4 years. Engineering standards for automotive engines have vastly increased within the past 15 years, which has done much to prolong the useful life of an engine.
How long will my engine last?
The answer is both simple and complicated: It comes down to parts. An engine is made up of several intricate parts that need to be functioning in high order to ensure longevity.
Some parts on your car are made to wear and be replaced (tires, brake pads, rotors, etc.). The engine and it’s parts are mad to last the life of your vehicle. If parts of an engine fail, they will need to be replaced or you risk damaging the engine beyond repair.
Replacing engine parts typically isn’t cheap and they aren’t easy to fix, either. In most cases, engine trouble leads to a driver to seriously consider purchasing a new vehicle. The decision comes down to economic value of a vehicle and it’s useful life.
So, how long will your car last? If you purchase a vehicle with a good engine, then it’s really up to you.
Influencing Factors on Automotive Engine Lifetime
1. What’s it made of?
Everyone knows that engines are made of metal, but the type of metal determines durability. Engines are commonly made of aluminum, iron, or a combination of aluminum and iron.
Iron tends to be more durable because it can withstand higher temperatures better over time. Aluminum is substantially lighter, and is often used in parts like the headers, while iron is more commonly found in the engine block.
2. Driving Habits
The degree to which your engine has to work greatly influences lifetime. Rapid acceleration or deceleration, redlining RPMs and towing heavy loads can put excessive stress on an engine, shortening its lifespan.
3. Advancements in Technology
Engines produced now have higher common standards than ever before. They are rigorously tested, built with better materials and have more innovative designs than ever before. These advancements are the result of the EPA and similar regulatory forces around the world setting higher emissions standards.
New standards lead to increased efficiency, reduced emissions and less wear.
Much like driving habits, this factor is entirely dependent on you, the vehicle owner. Stay up to date on routine maintenance for fluids and filters, and be aware of the systems that your engine depends on. Keep an eye on oil and ensure your oil pressure sensor is working.
The engine also works in tandem with other car systems, including exhaust, cooling, transmission and electrical systems. If these systems aren’t functioning properly, the engine may have to pick up the slack, reducing its effectiveness over a long lifespan.
You might not be aware of this but your car’s probably wasting fuel without you even knowing it. And this isn’t just about poor driving habits you’re probably familiar with by now. It’s about car problems you’re not even aware of. For instance, did you know that a possible engine misfire, incorrect oil viscosity, or even slow oxygen sensors may be causing your car to burn excess fuel fast? Even the amount of humidity in your car engine can be one reason why you’re wasting a lot on gas. Let’s dig in deeper to expose some of the more unfamiliar reasons why you’re wasting fuel:
1. Leaking / Unclean Fuel Injectors
Fuel injectors put fuel into the engine, so if there is a leak somewhere, then the engine will take in lesser gas. This makes it run inefficiently, making it work harder and using more fuel in the process. What’s more, your car can accumulate fuel varnish inside these injectors, especially if you’re using low-quality fuel injection cleaners. This causes the mixture of air/fuel to lessen, creating misfires and wasted fuel.
2. Malfunctioning Oxygen Sensors
Oxygen sensors monitor the air/fuel mix so the powertrain can increase or decrease its fuel when needed. If your oxygen sensors are not working properly, then chances are your engine isn’t getting enough air than it should be taking in. Here’s why: Your engine needs oxygen (air) to burn fuel. When it’s not getting enough air, then it will compensate by taking in more fuel to continue burning. Also, oxygen sensors tend to get more unreliable as they age, and can get less responsive to air/fuel content. In some cases, it indicates to the computer to add more fuel when it really doesn’t need it, wasting fuel in the process.
Humidity is actually connected to what we discussed earlier. Ever heard of the Ideal Gas Law? It states that gas in a given pressure and temperature, when contained, has a volume with a constant number of particles. So if there is an increase in humidity, then the amount of water vapor in the surrounding air will also increase. Moreover, the gases present, such as nitrogen and oxygen, are replaced by water vapor. When this happens, then the amount of oxygen decreases, which, as we discussed earlier, will result to wasted fuel.
4. Faulty Engine Thermostat
This small device sits between the radiator and car engine, and its main job is to stop the coolant from flowing into the radiator until the car engine has fully warmed up–that is, if it’s functioning properly. If not, then it wastes gas. Here’s how: When the thermostat is faulty, it usually doesn’t close tightly (or not at all), and the coolant continues to circulate as the engine warms up quickly. This delay the engine from warming up or reaching its normal operating temperature, which can delay the powertrain module’s operation. This uses up more gas to compensate for the added work
5. Inappropriate Oil Viscosity
“Oil viscosity” is almost similar to the term “oil thickness.” It’s important to keep in mind because they can also affect how much fuel you use. As a rule of thumb, most late model passenger car engines use 5W-20 or 5W-30 viscosity motor oil. It’s important that the viscosity level of your oil is correct; otherwise, you reduce almost 5 to 10 percent of your fuel economy just by using a heavier viscosity oil.
6. Clogged Up Air Filters
Who would ever think that clogged up air filters can waste fuel? These filters are prone to getting clogged up by dust and small debris, which makes the engine work harder, and draw in more fuel to do the work.
7. Engine Coolant Sensor (Defective or Inaccurate)
This sensor helps monitor the engine’s internal temperature and signals the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) if the engine is cool, warm, or normal. When the PCM gets a signal from a defective coolant sensor, it will always read cold, prompting the computer to make the fuel mixture richer until it becomes warm. The problem is that once the engine becomes warm, it still keeps on pumping fuel because the PCM still reads it “cold.” This wastes fuel in the process.
8. Exhaust or Converter Obstructions
Exhaust systems is the piping used to lead reaction exhaust gases away from a controlled combustion inside the engine. Any obstruction will cause back pressure, which requires more power and fuel to work
9. Grimy or “Burned Out” Spark Plugs
Spark plugs may be small, but they’re important. In fact, your car won’t even start without them, so you shouldn’t take them for granted. When clogged or worn out, they can also cause engine misfires that will lead to wasted fuel.
10. EGR Valve or Intake Manifold Leak
The intake manifold is that part of a car’s engine that supplies the air/fuel mixture to the cylinders. Its main function is to evenly distribute this mixture to every port in the cylinder heads. The EGR Valve’s job is recirculate a certain portion of an engine’s exhaust gas back to the engine cylinders, reducing nitrous oxide emissions in petrol or diesel engines. When the intake manifold gasket has a leak, the air/fuel mixture leans out and causes the engine to misfire and give poor fuel economy. And when the EGR valve does not close at idle when not under load, it can let the exhaust leak back towards the intake manifold, causing poor fuel economy and waste.
11. Low Compression
There are many reasons why your car has low compression. It could be worn out or failing piston rings, intake or exhaust valve problems, or a crack in the piston head itself. Whichever the case, you might unknowingly be wasting fuel just because your engine doesn’t have the same compression it once had.
The last thing any vehicle owner wants is to hop into their car and turn the key– only for it not to start due to a dead battery.
Everyday life takes its toll on a car’s battery. Vibrations from driving, supporting accessories like GPS and MP3 players, extreme temperatures, short trips or underuse and overcharging all affect the life of a car battery. That’s why car batteries typically last about 4 – 5 years before they need replacement.
Keep in mind: colder climates are conducive to battery longevity, so battery life varies depending on where you live.
How do you make sure you don’t end up stranded with a dead battery? The trick is paying attention to your vehicle to catch a dying battery before your car won’t start.
Here are seven signs your car battery needs to be replaced:
If your battery is 3-4 years old, it may be in jeopardy of dying out even if nothing seems wrong. Have your mechanic or dealership check it out or keep an eye on it yourself for other signs that the battery is on its last leg.
2. Check Engine Light is On:
Your check engine light could be on for a number of reasons. One culprit? Your battery needs replacing.
3. Low Battery Fluid Level:
Look in the translucent part of the battery case. The fluid level should not be below the energy conductors, or lead plates.
4. Swelling Battery Case:
A swollen battery case is usually the result of extreme heat. This can shorten the life of your battery.
You may see some chemical build-up on an old car battery. Corrosion can be removed with a solution of baking soda and water. It should be handled safely; either with gloves and goggles or by your mechanic or dealership.
6. Slow Engine Crank:
If your car takes longer to start than normal when you turn the key, your car battery may be on its way out.
When a car battery is frozen or overcharged, it often emits sulfuric acid. If you smell something like rotten eggs under the hood of the car, get your battery replaced immediately. Sulfuric acid can eat away at other parts of the engine and result in a major problems for your vehicle.
Checking your car battery should be part of routine maintenance for your vehicle. However, everyday life and wear and tear can stir up problems between service appointments. If you experience any of the signs of a dead car battery, make a service appointment here, or call to speak with a service specialist.
Think of your car as a human body that needs food, oil, water, and whatnot. The car doesn’t just run on fuel but other things that ensure it’s smooth operation and oil is one of them.From servicing thousands of cars and speaking with thousands of customers we have realized that one of the hardest parts of checking your oil is not only knowing how to but also remembering to do it. While you might be able to get away with not checking for a couple of months, a good rule of thumb is to perform this task once a month.
1. Park your car on a flat leveled ground.
If it’s on a slope, the readings won’t be reliable. If you need to move the car to a better location, wait 10 mins before reading the oil level so that all the oil in the engine has a chance to sink back down to its reservoir.
2. Open your car’s bonnet
This is usually done by pulling a lever located in the driver’s footwell. If you can’t find it, check your car’s manual, which should explain whereabouts the bonnet release is for your particular model.
3. Prop your bonnet
Owning a car is great. Owning one in a great condition is even super cool. But owning a car and keeping it in a great working condition doesn’t come by chance.
Car maintenance is not something that should be left to car mechanics alone. However, a lot of people do not worry about the health of their car until something goes wrong. They seldom clean it and give little thought to their vehicles, as long as it gets them where they are going. These set of people, we must say, are hurting their cars.
The following are ways people hurt their cars. How guilty are you?
Using the wrong oil or stretching the time of oil change
Oil is the blood of the car engine. There are different kinds of engine oil, just like there are different car engines too. Each car engine is designed for a specific oil thickness. The thickness of the engine oil affects how the oil does its job on the car. It is therefore important to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendation when it comes to the engine oil you use for your car. Using the wrong engine oil for your vehicle is the beginning of problems for your car. Also, allowing your engine oil drop to a really low level can spell trouble. If you do not check and change your oil regularly, your engine will not be getting as much lubrication as it needs.
Ignoring the signal lights on the dashboard
The light signals that come on on the dashboard are not just there as part of the beautiful aesthetics of the car. They are actually warning signals that show the state of your car, serving to let you know the immediate actions you need to take. Ironically, some drivers do not even know the meaning of some of these signals. As long as the car has not stopped moving, they assume there is no problem. How wrong they are! Those signals are there to let you know of an issue with the car, which should be checked or fixed, as the case may be. Never wish these signals away, as they can lead to bigger and costlier issues.
Driving on an empty fuel tank
How many of you are guilty of this? Majority of drivers only fill up their fuel tank when the warning light comes on. Running on an empty or nearly empty tank is setting the car up for major problems in the near future. The fuel tank helps to cool down the fuel pump and the engine of a vehicle. So, not only are you at the risk of getting stranded in the middle of the road, you are putting your car in danger. Trying to save money on gas this way is not such a smart idea. As soon as your car hits the ¼ mark, refuel it immediately.
Not slowing down for bumps or potholes
Your shock absorber, wheel alignment, and suspension are at a risk every time you do not slow down for speed bumps or potholes. If you start to feel the steering wheel of your car vibrate when you are driving, then chances are you have been exposing your vehicle to bumps and potholes, and your wheel alignment needs to be fixed. Usually, you will end up spending quite some money to fix this.
You may also like: 6 Reasons Why You Must Insist On Genuine Car Parts
Ignoring the strange noises
Quite guilty of this, right? Of course, everyone knows how their car sounds. Like a dog picking up on strange noises, that’s how quickly we can pick up a strange noise coming out of a car. The “strange” noise could be coming from the bonnet of the car or from the back tire. Wherever the noise is coming from, do not ignore just because the car still moves. A knocking sound in the engine or a squeaking brake is usually never good. Ignoring these signs could cost you a large sum for repairs or, in extreme cases, lead to a fatal accident.
In all, realizing that you are causing harm to your vehicle is the first step to protecting your car and yourself from harm.
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