Here Are Signs Your Car May Not Be As Reliable As You Thought.

When shopping for a new car, it’s easy to get carried away with all the special features and amenities, or mentally calculate how much money you’re going to save with the car’s superior fuel economy. But over time, both the excitement and the smell of a new car disappear, and the most important feature becomes whether it can safely get you from point A to point B.

This is something that Consumer Reports (CR) experts have been taking into account since 1952 , the year the magazine published its first report on the reliability of most major car manufacturers sold in the United States at the time. In the process of compiling data for this report, the CR team will learn a lot about whether certain vehicles are more or less reliable than others. Here are some of the signs that your car is not as reliable as you think.

Signs that your car may be unreliable

When the CR team investigates vehicle reliability , those who had problems in 17 specific aspects and areas during the first three years are more likely to run into serious problems later. In other words, even if your machine performs well at first, be alert to problems with these parts and systems. Here are the top 10 from a list compiled by John Linkov and Stephen Elek for CR, in order of severity:

  1. Engine (major problems) : Engine repair or replacement, cylinder head, cylinder head gasket, turbocharger or supercharger, timing chain or belt.
  2. Engine (Minor Problems) : Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, knocking or ringing in the engine, difficulty filling the gas tank, fuel leaks, oil leaks.
  3. Engine Cooling : Radiator, cooling fan, water pump, thermostat, antifreeze leaks, overheating.
  4. Transmission (main problems ): repair or replacement of transmission, torque converter, premature clutch replacement.
  5. Transmission (minor issues) : Gear selector and linkage, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, transmission slip, leaks.
  6. Drive System : Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/4WD components, transmission vibration, electrical failure, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC).
  7. Fuel System/Emissions: Sensors (O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (including EGR), fuel injection system, fuel gauge/sensor, fuel pump.
  8. Electrical Systems : Alternator, starter, hybrid/electric battery replacement, hybrid/electric battery related systems, conventional battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, spark plugs and wires failure.
  9. Climate system : AC compressor, blower (fan) motor, condenser, evaporator, heating system, automatic climate system, electrical failure, refrigerant leak.
  10. Suspension/steering : shock absorbers or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, centering, tie rod (including rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or pneumatic suspension.

Of course, this is a general list and your experience with your own car may vary. But if any of these problems (or the other seven on the CR list ) come up early and/or become a chore, it’s better to learn it early rather than get stuck on the sidelines.

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