We’re going to continue with our “Top 10 countdown” (in no particular order) with what can go wrong with your vehicle, component wise, and when. Like we mentioned last time, we realize that were being prognosticators, and numerous other factors can come into play. This list is meant to be a guide.
Fuel Pump; Depending on year, make & model, this part of a vehicle can be a little tricky. The original fuel pumps on domestically-built vehicles (GM, Ford & Chrysler) tend to fail at any point from about 85,000 miles on, while some fuel pumps in Asian makes have been known to last quite a bit longer. We’ve also seen a complete reverse on this scenario as well! This is not to say that one make is better than another.
The bottom line is, at some point, they do fail – one minute your driving along just fine, and the next you’re stranded because the fuel pump died. Fuel pumps often give no warning that they are about to fail. Some may buzz or cause hard starting, hesitation or stalling problems. But more typically, they just quit working. The fault may be something other than the pump (such as a bad electrical connection, faulty power relay or plugged fuel filter or line), so accurate fuel pump diagnosis is essential to avoid replacing a pump unnecessarily if the engine is not getting any fuel. Late model cars use electric fuel pumps that are usually located inside the fuel tank. That makes the pump more difficult and expensive to replace. The price of a new fuel pump & the labor costs that go with it vary greatly, so we’re not going to touch on that here.
Gaskets; The engine has a number of gaskets that can fail as time and mileage add up. Like fuel pumps, it can vary depending on year, make & model. We’ve seen gaskets start to fail as early as 60 to 70,000 miles or last as long as over 100,000 miles! One of the most common gaskets that fail is the intake manifold gasket. The engine will develop a coolant leak in the in this area which is towards the top of the engine. The bummer with this repair is not the cost of the parts, which can range from $45 to $120 dollars – it’s the labor time to get the job done properly. The repair involves replacing both the upper & lower intake gasket which means taking apart the top portion of the engine, as well as removing (and putting back) all the other engine accessories that are in the way.
Rubber gaskets and seals tend to harden and shrink as they age. After 10 or 12 years, they usually start to leak no matter what you do. The only way to stop the leaks are to replace the old gaskets or seals.
Most vehicle owners cringe when they here about this last type of gasket – the head gasket. The good news is, many head gaskets will last the life of the engine. But on occasion, after 110,000 miles, some head gaskets start to leak coolant or lose engine compression. This will cause the engine to overheat. Pressure testing the cooling system can verify the problem. Sometimes the leaking coolant will foul a spark plug, and/or dilute the oil in the crankcase. A leaky head gasket can sometimes be fixed by adding a cooling system sealer or similar product to the radiator. But you never know how long the “fix” will last, if it helps at all. The only real fix is to replace the head gasket, which can cost upwards of $1200 or more for parts and labor.
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