Struts don’t need to be replaced unless your vehicle is bouncing like it’s on a pogo stick or bottoms out in potholes and over railroad tracks, or unless a mechanic finds that they’re leaking fluid or have been damaged.
In a strut-type suspension, the struts are the “shock absorbers” mounted inside coil springs. They control the amount of bouncing created by bumps, dips and peaks in the road and making a hard or sudden stop. Shock absorber is a misleading term, because the springs actually absorb the road shocks. The struts limit the resulting bouncing caused by the springs compressing and releasing. More correctly, they should be called “dampers.”
Worn ball joints allow too much movement in the suspension, so the driver may feel more vibrations — or hear squeaks or rattles on bumpy surfaces or when turning — caused by looseness in the suspension. Other signs of worn ball joints include uneven tire wear and steering that wanders instead of going straight.
Because these symptoms also can apply to other suspension and steering issues, any or all of the above are good reason to have a thorough inspection conducted by a qualified mechanic before pointing the finger at the ball joints. Some ball joints have wear indicators, but others have to be checked by raising the car off the ground and seeing if the wheels allow excessive play. In addition, some ball joints have rubber dust covers that, if torn, can allow dirt and water in. That can damage the joint.
The answer to that question hinges on several variables, including how many miles a vehicle is driven, on what kinds of roads it’s driven, and whether it’s driven gently or with abandon.
Those variables make it virtually impossible to assign a number of years or miles as a broad stroke, though we would expect shock absorbers (or struts on vehicles with strut-type suspensions) to last at least four or five years, unless the vehicle has been subjected to extreme use. It’s also not unusual for shocks to last 10 years on a vehicle that has lived most of its life on smooth pavement.
When it comes time to replace windshield wiper blades, does it serve you best to spend more money on pricier brands?
Prices depend mainly on type and brand. There are three basic types of wipers. The most common is the frame type, which uses a metal framework to support the wiper. This is the most widely used and most affordable style of wiper.
Ten or 15 years ago, auto technicians would rebuild hard parts for customers right in the shop. Today, that system doesn’t work, because consumers don’t have time to wait and don’t want to pay for the additional labor. Remanufacturing now solves these problems, and as such, it is one of the largest product categories in the automotive aftermarket. The entire remanufacturing industry generates approximately $65 billion in sales, with the automotive segment representing $37 billion of that total.
Here’s a hot tip about car batteries: Warm weather is the time for major car-battery problems. Heat, not cold, shortens battery life. The average life of a battery is three and a half years, and even shorter in warmer climates.
Excessive heat and overcharging are the two main reasons for shortened battery life. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which damages the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate. That can mean a slow death for a battery.
Water turns to a vapor or boils at 212°F. For every pound of pressure we put water under, it raises the boiling point 3 degrees. 15 lbs of pressure would raise the boiling point of water from 212°F to 265°F. (These numbers are all altitude sensitive.) So 15 lbs of pressure created by the radiator cap multiplied by 3.5 degrees will move water’s boiling point upwards 45+ degrees. So under pressure, your radiator liquid will boil at 245-265°F and not at 212°F.