Indy Auto Man
Indy Auto Man
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Programmed Aging: Why New Cars Break Down More Often Than Old Ones

why new cars break down more often

The era of truly reliable cars is a thing of the past. World-famous status, an illustrious name, and other concepts that are attractive to a wealthy audience can now ring hollow. Car owners tend to see this as a conspiracy by manufacturers who want to make extra money on the sale of components and service maintenance, as well as increase car turnover. How justified are such suspicions?

Why do new cars break down more often? Structural causes of malfunctions

Automaker policies have indeed changed over the past decades. However, this is not only due to the desire to make more money from car owners. Most frequent breakdowns are due to the changed design of cars, new materials, and increased requirements for driving comfort.

Until recently, the car owner carried a whole repair kit: spark plugs, hoses, gaskets, alternator belts, and much more. Today, design has become so complex that even minor problems require the intervention of a specialist and any serious problems can only be corrected in a workshop.

The Indy Auto Man car experts list several reasons why the service life of vehicles reduced significantly:

  • Efficiency and environmental friendliness standards. Any gaps and distances between engine parts are kept to a minimum. The desire to save materials makes the engine unrepairable: if a part fails, it can only be replaced with a new one.
  • Requirements for reducing fuel consumption. Buyers want to purchase engines with a power of 150 hp and more, while they should consume the same amount of gasoline as their predecessors with 60 or 70 hp. Because of this, it is necessary to complicate the fuel injection system, install a turbine, and use computer control. This increases energy efficiency but reduces reliability.
  • Abundance of electronics. Previously, a car, figuratively speaking, consisted of a body, wheels, and an engine; now, each component requires electronic control. Sensors record performance indicators; any failure requires urgent repair.
  • Installation of the on-board computer. It significantly simplified the driver’s work and began to control all parameters, but as a result, reliability decreased. An alarm indicator lights up on the dashboard in case of any, even minor problems.

Automaker policies also play a role in the lifespan of vehicles. Sales of spare parts and services are significant sources of profit for large concerns. They are interested that after the end of the warranty period, the driver contacts service centers to replace parts and a few years later, buys a new car. If parts last 20–30 years, this will lead to a loss of profit and a reduction in production with negative economic consequences.

As a result, new vehicles are typically designed for 3–5 years of continuous operation without major breakdowns and a maximum of 10–15 years of use before replacement. If the car begins to fall apart, many drivers prefer to trade it in and buy a newer model that will not require regular repairs.

Technical features that reduce reliability

One of the reasons for the service life reduction of cars is the increased requirements for speed and environmental friendliness. Because of this, manufacturers replaced the durable cast iron cylinder block with an aluminum alloy. Thin openwork cylinder walls with a separate arrangement according to the Open Desk scheme are subject to geometry deformation - usually observed after 50-60 thousand miles.

It was necessary to cut the cylinder volume to reduce weight and improve the environmental friendliness of the engine. And to increase power - apply the principle of turbocharging. The load on the cylinder group grows, and the service life goes down.

A turbocharger is a complex unit with many systems: it controls lubrication, cooling, and other parameters. If a manufacturer uses two compressors to increase power, this further complicates the design and increases the risk of failure. The more complex the system, the higher the risk of breakdown.

Several other design solutions which improved performance but reduced car reliability:

  • The turbocharger is often combined with the exhaust manifold. This solution makes it possible to reduce the turbine response time. However, because of this, any breakdown leads to high costs since the unit has to be disassembled and completely repaired.
  • The timing chain drive in many machines is located between the last cylinder and the flywheel - this helps reduce torsional vibrations. However, as a result, to replace the timing chain, you have to remove the engine - this is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.
  • Instead of a neutralizer, a catalytic collector is installed under the floor. This technology has made it possible to increase environmental friendliness and to produce autos in accordance with the Euro-5 standard. As a result, with gradual wear of the converter, solid particles begin to destroy the cylinders. The problem is often typical for Korean Hyundai/Kia cars.

The increased sensitivity of cars to fuel quality has become an equally grave problem. If previously it was enough to fill up with gasoline or diesel fuel at any gas station, now low-quality fuel quickly leads to filter clogging and engine malfunction. Contamination of the particulate filter has become a problem for diesel engines. Refueling with low-quality gasoline leads to engine power decrease, disruption of operation, and accelerated wear of parts.

How to extend the life of a car?

how to extend car's life

Although car manufacturers initially assume a short service life, one can extend it by caring for and replacing worn-out components. On the roads, you can find cars that have been in use for more than 30 years, and drivers maintain them in fully operational condition.

The following actions will help extend the service life by years:

  • Strict adherence to maintenance regulations. Small, regular expenses can prevent costly repairs. The manufacturer sets terms for replacing filters, lubricants, and consumable components. Compliance with them, or servicing even a bit in advance of the prescribed terms, will help protect the engine.
  • Regular control of working fluids condition. Engine problems can be detected at an early stage. If the oil turns black and acquires a burnt smell before the planned wear period, you need to find out the reason and also change the lubricant.
  • Maintenance only at specialized stations and reliable dealerships. It will be more expensive than a “garage” service, but it guarantees the quality of the work performed and the consumables used. There will be no need to contact the technician a second time to fix the same problem, this will prevent unnecessary expenses.
  • Tire condition monitoring. Uneven wear indicates various issues with the chassis that require urgent attention. If the tread is severely worn, the tires must be changed on time.

Modern cars have indeed become less reliable than previously produced models. This fact has a whole list of marketing and technical reasons. However, careful operation and compliance with maintenance regulations can significantly extend the vehicle's life and prevent premature breakdowns.