Nobody wants their car to break down. To keep your vehicle running well, you need to provide it with regular service. Have the oil changed a few times per year, rotate the tires, and check and replace the brakes as needed. A good auto care service will take care of all these maintenance tasks for you. However, you may still want to know more about the processes they follow, when service is needed, and what other types of services may help your car last longer. We've build this website for people like you — responsible car owners who just want to learn more. Enjoy!
It's a common trope in media of all kinds: the old car sitting in front of a house, leaking a toxic medley of fluids onto the driveway. Unfortunately, this trope has a strong basis in reality. Anyone who has owned a car outside of its warranty period knows that many vehicles tend to develop leaks as they age. Loss of coolant, oil, or other fluids can be an inconvenience that ultimately leads to costly repairs.
With vehicle reliability improving so much every year, why is it that leaks are still so common? As with most automotive maintenance and repair issues, the answer is more complicated than it may seem at first glance.
Common Leak Sources
Part of the reason that leaks are so common is that there are many potential sources. Your car uses fluids for cooling, lubrication, and hydraulic pressure, and none of these fluids stay in one place. Instead, they travel from component to component via hard and soft plumbing, with many fittings, clamps, and other hardware pieces along the way.
Just as with your home's plumbing, any joint or connection is an area where your car might spring a leak. Older vehicles often used adjustable metal clamps to attach power steering or coolant hoses, and these clamps could loosen and cause leaks over time. Newer cars sometimes use plastic fittings or one-use clamps, but these can also break or become brittle.
Likewise, gaskets and o-rings help to seal fluid where two components meet. Age and heat can often wear away these components, creating the potential for small leaks. Valve cover leaks are a common occurrence on many cars, for example. Gasket leaks can be particularly insidious since they often lead to fluid ending up far away from the leak's actual source.
The Role of Time and Age
Many of the gaskets, o-rings, fittings, and hoses in your engine bay use rubber or plastic. These materials are durable and long-lasting, but they can wear out over time. Age, along with repeated heating and cooling cycles in your engine bay, can plasticize rubber and turn plastic brittle and hard. Eventually, these parts can leak or fail.
Because age alone can cause rubber and plastic to wear out, old cars with few miles can still be susceptible to leaks. Whatever the ultimate cause, you should never ignore leaks, no matter how small they may seem. Leak severity can increase suddenly, and running too low on coolant, oil, or any other essential fluid can lead to expensive damage or even make your vehicle unsafe to operate. Contact a car repair service for more information.Share
9 October 2020