car repair

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Determining the average lifespan of essential car parts is important for planning ahead. You want to know just how long you have until your engine or transmission will begin wearing down. As that time approaches, you will need to pay more attention to how your car behaves and be certain to keep up with necessary maintenance. It would also be a good idea to begin saving for your replacement as the part reaches the end of its cycle. Here are three essential car parts and their average lifespans.

  1. The Engine

What car part is more essential than the engine itself? The lifespan of the engine has been steadily increasing over time. Most modern car engines have a minimum expected lifespan of 100,000 miles. But even that is a fairly conservative estimate. If properly cared for, the lifespan can extend as high as 350,000 miles. Overall, the average lifespan of the modern car engine is closer to 200,000.

Several factors will influence the lifespan of your engine. Some of those factors are beyond your control. For example, the year that the engine was built and if it was previously used before your ownership. Also, the manufacturer of the engine is important to consider. Not all engines are created equal. Some engines are made from iron and those have a slightly longer lifespan than similar engines made from aluminum.

The influencing factors that are completely in your control are how you drive the vehicle and how well you care for the engine. Driving carefully and properly maintaining the engine can easily add an extra 150,000 miles to its lifespan. In terms of DIY maintenance, fresh fluids and filters are a must. Even with these, you should still visit a mechanic for regular inspections at least once a year.

A major problem with engines is how abusively the vehicle is driven. Driving to a point of overheating the engine or until the engine stops could result in permanent damage. Pushing the engine to its limits to tow heavy trailers will cause the engine to work harder and die faster. Too much revving of the engine or rapid braking can also severely limit the engine’s lifespan.

There are a few common signs that your engine is suffering from some form of damage. If you notice excessive smoke from the tailpipe, tapping sounds, or excessive oil consumption, then it’s time to visit a mechanic. Driving too much after noticing these symptoms could lead to more severe damage. An inspection and necessary repairs should be an immediate priority, or you’ll find yourself paying for a new engine too early.

  1. Transmission

The transmission is a crucial part of any vehicle and one that is rather expensive to repair. Luckily, the average transmission can make it between 100,000 and 300,000 miles with very little maintenance. Most reports indicate that a maintained transmission will work for at least 150,000 miles. However, with a little bit of extra care and lubrication, you can push that number much closer to 300,000.

Of course, as with any part, if not properly maintained that number will drop significantly. A transmission that is given no maintenance at all will be lucky to last more than 30,000 miles. There have been a few reports of transmissions failing after only 7,000 miles. A transmission does not require much maintenance so there is really no excuse for having such a short lifespan.

The number one killer of an automatic transmission is overheating. By driving properly and without a “lead foot” you can expand the lifespan of the transmission. That means keeping the RPM as low as you can while driving. Always follow the guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Check the level of transmission fluid regularly and refill when necessary. This is a simple job that you can perform yourself.

The filter will need to be changed at least once every 20,000 miles or every 18 months. You may also need to have the transmission flushed every 40,000 miles or 2 years if driving a newer model car. Both of these jobs have been performed by a mechanic in a very short period of time and at a very low cost.

  1. Timing Belt

The timing belt is a lot smaller and cheaper than a transmission or an engine, but it is an essential car part nonetheless. Its lifespan is generally short than both of the previously mentioned parts and there isn’t much that can be done to extend that life. Many car owners have no idea what a timing belt is or what it does. They don’t learn of its existence until it breaks and their car stops working.

The average lifespan of a timing belt is anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 miles or up to 10 years regardless of the mileage of the vehicle. However, it’s advised that you have the timing belt replaced after 80,000 miles. This is because you do not want to be driving on the road when the timing belt reaches the end of its lifespan.

Replacing the timing belt properly is not a simple job. It takes around five hours on average and is best left to a professional mechanic who has experience with your particular vehicle manufacturer. There are differences between timing belts from most of the major car manufacturers. How the belts interact with the engine and various tension rods will vary from one model to the next.

Much older vehicles will have a timing chain instead of a timing belt. If you have a vehicle from the 50’s or 60’s then you may not need to worry about a timing belt. Timing chains have a much longer lifespan and generally do not need to be replaced. However, the downside is that they are much louder than a rubber timing belt. You can find timing belts at Car-partsdirect.com

Beat The Average

Remember that you can always exceed the average lifespan by practicing proper preventative maintenance. The timing belt is the only one of these components that cannot be regularly cared for and maintained. For the rest, remember to drive carefully, don’t push the car to its limits, and always check the necessary fluids.