Car Facts Episode 2 – Shopping For Vehicle Wear Parts
No one likes sinking more money than they need to into their car. Vehicles have so many moving parts that there’s simply no way all of them could last forever. That’s why the concept of vehicle wear parts was introduced. Vehicle wear parts are components that are able to be replaced, as their main function has them deteriorate over time. Oil becoming dirty or brake pads wearing down are example of vehicle wear parts that need to be replaced in time. There are a lot of different options out there for these parts, so Gary’s is here to help make sense of it all.
The oil in your engine is useful because it keeps everything running smoothly. Your oil lubricates all the moving mechanical parts in your vehicle and keeps them from overheating. Generally, when replacing oil, its a good idea to also replace your oil filter. Your oil filter catches tiny bits of metal that are worn off your engine during use and prevents them from clogging anything up. There are two major types of oil, synthetic and conventional.
A point of some confusion in motor is the numbers and letters system. For example, a common oil type is 5W30. What does this mean? This number is a measure of an oils viscosity at both low and high temperatures. The first number is its measure at low temperatures (the w means winter) and the second number is a measurement of its performance in high temperatures. Synthetic oil is generally seen as being better for your car, with better viscosity performance. The synthetic properties allow the oil to last longer and lubricate better than conventional oil. The downside to synthetic oil is the price, with an average synthetic oil change typically costing double that of a conventional oil change. When considering oil as one of your vehicle wear parts, synthetic is worth the extra cost. You shouldn’t buy oil based on a lower or higher number, as your car is designed to take a specific type of oil. Check your service manual for your vehicles oil type.
When changing your oil, it is also a good idea to change your oil filter. This prolongs the life of your oil and protects your engine from any metallic debris that may have accumulated inside. An oil filter is normally shaped similar to a soda can, and is position in the oil system so that all the engine passes through it at some point. Oil filters are composed of either fabric, fiberglass, or fine metals that create a mesh like filter. This material is folded inside the filter, and oil is run through it. There are two types of oil filters, cartridge based and spin on. A spin on oil filter has the same filters and gaskets as a cartridge, only the entire unit is simply screwed on to the car in place of the old filter. A cartridge system requires your to remove the old cartridge and replace it. Neither system has a functional advantage over the other, with modern car using both types. The only real advantage is that screw on oil filters are somewhat easier to change.
Many people don’t know that the suggested lifespan of wiper blades is about a year. Most of us notice we need new wiper blades on the snowiest, rainiest days of the year. When shopping for wiper blades, it’s important to first check your vehicle service manual for proper sizing. Most wiper blades will include all the needed clips and adapters for your specific make/model, so really as long as you have the right size you’ll be OK. How much you want to spend on these vehicle wear parts is really up to you. More advanced one piece frame-less wiper blades may cost you more, but may also offer better performance in harsh conditions. some vehicles feature headlight wipers, and shopping for them is no different than shopping for regular wiper blades.
By their design, brake pads that didn’t need to be replaced would eventually become completely ineffective. Before you shop for brake pads, you must first determine if your vehicle has disk or drum brakes. Most modern vehicles will have four wheel disk brakes, but some may have rear drum brakes. Disk brakes offer better stopping power than drum brakes, but since the front wheels on your vehicle do the majority of the stopping, costs can be saved by substituting drum brakes on the rear wheels. If you determine you have disk brakes (disk brakes mean literally that, you’ll be able to see large disks, known as rotors, behind your rims) you then need to consider the type of brake pad you need.
There are 3 major types of brake pads: Organic, Semi-metallic, and ceramic. They are called this because of the composition of the material that contacts your brake rotor. Organics are made from things like rubber and kevlar, semi-metallic from bits of metal can ceramic, and ceramic from a fully composite ceramic blend. Organic brake pads aren’t part of some granola folk movement, they simply present a cost effective way of creating brake pads. They are typically used on smaller vehicles that do not do much sporty driving. Semi-metallic pads are often more durable than other types of pads, and are typically used in heavy duty applications. The downside to Semi-metallic pads is the possible damage they can cause your rotors, and they can be louder than other pads. Ceramic brakes seem like a no-brainer, with better performance in a wider range of temperatures, and cleaner, less damaging performance. The downside is, as with many vehicle wear parts, they are more expensive than other pads. Brake pad changes are normally better left to the experts, and they do require a bit of know-how to accomplish.
The Expensive Vehicle Wear Parts – Tires
The only part of your vehicle that is exposed to rough pavement, coarse dirt, frozen ice, and everything in between is your tires (at least it should be). Tires are designed to grip the road and cut in when conditions get bad. This action causes them to leave behind some of their rubber, and over time they need to be replaced. New tires are an unavoidable expense when owning a vehicle. There are a number of options when shopping for tires, from thick and knobby off road tires to thin and slick racing tires. What you need depends on your vehicle, and how you intend on driving.
Once you’ve decided on an appropriate and safe tire (putting big off road tires on a hatchback is not recommended for safety concerns) finding the exact tire can be tricky. Tires have some information on them in regards to their specifications, and knowing how to read them can be a big help. Lets look at a typical tire:
1) Tire Type – This refers to the type of tire. For example, P typically refers to a passenger vehicle. LT signifies a light truck, and T stands for temporary (or spare).
2) Tire Width – How wide the tread (part of the tire that contacts the road) is. Wider tires offer more grip, but hurt fuel economy.
3) Aspect Ratio – This is essentially the measurement of the side wall (part of the tire that doesn’t contact the road) height. It is a ratio of sidewall height vs tire width. A smaller number here means a lower profile (thinner) tire.
4) Construction – Tires are more than just chunks of rubber with grooves in them. Underneath that rubber are pieces of steel. How that steel is arranged determines the tires construction type. R is for a radial, B is for belted, and D is for diagonal. The majority of vehicle tires will be radial.
5) Wheel Diameter – This shows you the size of wheel the tire is designed to fit. If you have 16 inch wheels, then you’d want this number to say 16.
6) Load Index – While you generally won’t have to worry about this number, it can be good to know if driving a pick-up truck or van. Different weight ranges are given an index number, and this number is printed on the tire. 97 doesn’t refer to any actual weight, but rather the weight range in the index.
7) Speed Rating – How fast your tires can safely travel. This scale ranges from A (the slowest) to y (the fastest).
With this information, you should be able to successfully pick out the perfect tire for your needs.
Vehicle Wear Parts – Just The Beginning
These are the most common vehicle wear parts, but they aren’t the only ones. Other items, like spark plugs, air filters, belts, and headlights can all require a change after driving for a few years. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll have no problem approaching your local auto parts store or mechanic, confident that you’re getting the absolute best service. To make that search easier, book with Gary’s Automotive for high quality, low cost service every time!