New Study Shows Most Common Seasonal Car Repairs

  • Do seasonal car repairs exist?  
  • A new study examines the most common repairs by season. 

Are certain parts in your car more prone to breaking down depending on the season? Are there such things as seasonal car repairs? Mobile car repair company YourMechanic came up with a study that covers the most common car repair issues by season. They analyzed the most frequent service requests and revealed some interesting yet unexpected results.

“While some of the results of our analysis are to be expected, it’s interesting to see there are other more unexpected issues occurring at certain times of the year,” said Rob Francis, VP, Growth & Operations, YourMechanic.

Top Seasonal Car Repairs

According to the study, spring is the most common time to experience issues with the window motors, window regulators, timing chain, and wheel speed sensors. The timing chain in particular accounts for 44 percent of repairs and will most likely be replaced during the spring.

By comparison, summer is not just about road trips, beaches, and refreshing drinks. The study also revealed that HVAC failure, broken cooling fans, timing chain repairs, and window lift motors are the most common car issues when the weather gets toasty. During the fall, plunging temperatures will cause problems with the air springs, engine distributor, timing cover gaskets, and heater system.

The frosty winter season is not without its usual challenges. During this time, your car’s heater system, oil cooler lines, windshield washers, and headlight bulbs will require extra attention.

Expert Analysis On Seasonal Car Repairs

“A lot of the issues listed are unpredictable,” explained Brandon Grade, Service Advisor at Findlay Toyota in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Regular maintenance and inspections can help a problem be caught before a catastrophic failure happens. But I don’t believe you are going to be able to prevent a window motor failure, regardless of how well you maintain your car.”

“The YourMechanic data is interesting, but also sort of misleading. For example, the data puts a lot of emphasis on failing window lift motors and regulators,” said Rocco DeMas, Parts Manager, VW Parts Vortex. “In my experience, this is a common problem all year long. Any drop-off in window repairs in winter is due to people using their windows less, and therefore unaware when a window lift motor or regulator fails.”

The data was analyzed by comparing the total number of each quote YourMechanic offered for different repairs in 2017 by season. From there, seasonal percentages were derived to uncover the most heavily weighted quotes by season. Only services with a minimum of 1,000 quotes were analyzed for the seasonal car repairs study.

Timing Is Everything

Interestingly enough, there is a consensus when it comes to timing chains. Timing belts, by comparison, will need to be replaced anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 miles, but timing chains are a bit different. Yes, they are made of metal and are more durable than rubberized belts. This means a lesser chance of the chain snapping off unexpectedly as you drive.

The chain is situated inside the motor and constantly lubricated by the engine oil. Replacement is not necessary unless a serious problem develops. For some manufacturers, the timing chain is not included on the service list. For the purpose of clarity, the symptoms of a bad or failing timing chain are engine misfires, a rattling sound during idling, and metal shavings in the oil.

According to YourMechanic’s study, timing chains are most susceptible during the spring and summer.

“This is likely due to spring and summer being far more dry seasons, resulting in a lot more dust and grit getting into the oil that coats the timing chain,” YourMechanic writes in the study. “This dust and grit could potentially reduce the timing chain lifespan.”

Seasonal Swings

It’s a common misconception that winter is the hardest season for a car. Although understandable, our experts have different opinions regarding the matter.

“I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our winters are mild compared to a lot of the country, especially when it comes to cars. We rarely get freezing temperatures or snow but our summers are brutal,” Grade explained. “Anything that was mechanically weak before the heat hits, fails. At times we will see consecutive weeks of 110 degrees plus.”

DeMas says it’s not so much the engine during the winter, but the actual body of our cars that take the biggest brunt of the season.

“Winter is hard on cars because of collisions and corrosion, but people tend to drive less when it’s cold outside, so there’s less normal wear,” DeMas said. “People also like to let their cars warm up more, and that’s usually good for a lot of the parts in the powertrain.”

Owner’s Manual or Dealership: Which Knows Best?

There are times when the owner’s manual and the service department at the dealership will have a different take on vehicle servicing. In general, expensive repairs can be averted if you keep your car in the best possible running condition. Thus, under normal circumstances, you can expect thousands of miles of driving bliss.

“The people who built the car will know what should be done to maintain it. Knowing what the owner’s manual says will help you maintain your car properly,” Grade said. “As a service advisor, I try to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines as close as possible.”

In addition to reading through the owner’s manual, communication is also important.

“Ensure you plan regularly scheduled maintenance with a reliable mechanic and should any unknown issues happen, get in touch with them immediately,” Francis said.

“The dealership usually knows more about wear and tear in the local market, so it’s a good idea to listen to their recommendations. Still, everyone agrees the scheduled maintenance recommended by the automaker is the bare minimum,” DeMas added. “If you can build a relationship with a dealership for all your maintenance work, they’ll give you good advice and help you avoid spending money on work you might not need.”

In contrast to a traditional service department, YourMechanic does “house calls” seven days a week. The mobile car repair company covers over 600 maintenance and diagnostic services on average. Photo: YourMechanic.

Don’t Sweat It Too Much

In light of these most common seasonal car repairs, it begs the question: is there anything a normal person can do to prevent some or all of the maintenance issues found in YourMechanic’s study?

“As far as some of the listed failures per season, no,” Grade said. “This is why I highly recommend an extended repair warranty or extended maintenance contract with the dealership.”

“Most of the stuff listed in the YourMechanic article you can’t really plan for,” DeMas added. “There’s no required maintenance for the climate control system, or window regulators, or most of the other items listed.”

Preventive Maintenance Is The Cure

It’s not a matter of certain parts breaking down per season, nor is it about expecting the AC to intermittently blow hot air inside the cabin during summer. Yes, those things can and do happen, but the key to long vehicular life starts often with the most common maintenance items: things like oil and filter changes and tire rotations for example.

“Maintenance saves you money. If you ignore your low tire pressure warning light or ignore tire rotations, your tires will wear out faster. Instead of buying a new set every 50,000 miles, you’re buying a new set in 30,000, DeMas said. “If you decide to skip a fuel filter or air filter replacement, your engine will waste fuel. You save twenty or fifty dollars on a filter, but you waste five on every tank of gas. Before long, you’re in the hole.”

The idea is to do a little before you have to do a lot.

“Maintenance is spending a little bit of money now to save a bunch of money later,” DeMas continued. “Usually people don’t save anything when they skip or ignore it, at least not in the long run.”

“Leaving any concern unchecked can not only make a problem worse, it can also be dangerous,” Francis added. “Especially while out on the open road.”

Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine. 

Club 3633: Alexa Moeller, BKT Tires

Alexa Moeller, marketing coordinator for BKT Tires

As a native of what was once known as the rubber capital of the world, Alexa Moeller is no stranger to the tire industry.

Moeller, who is in charge of BKT’s associate dealer program for its agricultural tire segment, started in the industry over a year ago, and has so far loved the innovation in the industry and the people.

“I think one thing that is really unique that people don’t realize is that there is so much innovation and technology in creating a tire,” she says. “At the same time, you go out and meet dealers and distributors, and they’re very down to earth and value your relationship with them. I get to see two completely opposite sides of the spectrum.”

Currently, Moeller is taking part in helping revamp the company’s dealer program to “make it more of one that rewards growth.” In between facilitating other marketing activities, she said it has been a learning experience to work with the sales team to better understand what can be improved with the program.

“I’ve learned that just because something is working well doesn’t mean it can’t improve,” she says. “It’s important to be open to other people’s suggestions and not let ego get in the way.

In the future, Moeller sees herself one day being a marketing manager or director, continuing to follow the best piece of advice she’s received.

“Never be comfortable,” she says. “In order for you to grow in your career, you have to push yourself to become better.”

Fun Fact: Alexa has a pet hedgehog named Oliver.

TPMS System – Ricks Free Auto Repair Advice Ricks Free Auto Repair Advice

TPMS System

What is a TPMS System?

A TPMS System is required on all passenger cars, light trucks and light buses built after September 1, 2007. The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) detects tire pressure in one of two ways; direct and indirect.

History of TPMS systems

After a series of fatal sport utility vehicle crashes that resulted in 271 deaths, Congress passed the Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability Documentation (TREAD) Act of 2000. The deaths were attributed to vehicles being driven with low tire pressure. The legislation required the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop a rule requiring all new vehicles to be equipped a warning system to alert the driver when a tire is significantly under-inflated.

The rule stated that as of Sept. 1, 2007, all new passenger vehicles, trucks and light buses are required to have a sensor-based TPMS system that alerts the driver of a condition where one or more tires is under-inflated by 25% below the car maker’s recommended tire pressure.

Prior to this legislation, some car makers voluntarily installed TPMS systems that were either indirect or direct. So the legislation ended the voluntary compliance are required all car makers to move to direct TPMS

Indirect TPMS

An indirect TPMS system uses the ABS system’s wheel speed sensors to detect an under inflation condition. An under inflated tire has a smaller diameter than a properly inflated tire. Since the ABS braking system compares the rate of rotation of all wheels, it can also detect when a wheel is consistently rotating fewer times per mile than the other tires. In these systems, the ABS system can light the low tire pressure waring light based on revolutions per mile

Direct TPMS

In a direct TPMS system, a tire pressure sensor with the valve

TPMS system sensor

Types of TPMS system sensor mounting: stem mount and band mount

stem is installed on the wheel rim in place of the older style rubber valve stem, or the sensor is installed on a band connected to the center of the rim.

The TPMS sensor reports via radio frequency to a receiver in the vehicle if the tire pressure falls below 25% of the car maker’s recommended tire pressure for that particular vehicle.

What is a TPMS sensor?

Most TPMS sensors are mounted in place of the valve stem and are held in place by a threaded nut. However, other types are held in place in the center of the wheel with a band. The TPMS sensor holds a pressure transducer, radio, battery and electronics. The battery has a projected lifespan of 7-10 years and is not replaceable because the entire unit is sealed in epoxy.

When the battery approaches its end of life, it sends a low battery signal to the receiver. At that point it must be replaced.

TPMS replacement cost

You do NOT have to return to the dealer for a TPMS replacement! Any tire store can fit an aftermarket sensor in your vehicle and program it to your car or truck. Aftermarket TPMS sensors typically cost about 1/3 less than an OEM sensor and they’re almost always made the same vendor. A TPMS sensor replacement from a tire store usually costs around $60 for the part and the labor is often free if it’s installed when you’re getting a new tire or a tire repair.

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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TPMS System