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A car is made up of thousands of components, which naturally experience wear and tear. However, here are some components that you never thought would spoil.

Category: Car Maintenance Advice


As drivers, we know that the complex machineries, which we drive daily, are subjected to wear and tear. Much like how appliances will eventually spoil with prolonged usage, the various components of a car will ultimately degrade, and require to be changed. Certain parts, however, do not seem like they will ever spoil, simply because they aren't moving parts that face obvious stress. However, nothing lasts forever and they will eventually fail due to many reasons.

Here are the parts in your car that you never thought would spoil.

Most window tints fade over time and would require to be replaced
Window tint

Most cars on this sunny island have tinted windows to reduce glare in the day while making the heat here much more bearable at the same time. Unlike moving parts, most will assume that these window films will last indefinitely or at least for the duration of the COE. If you have ever wound down the tinted window of an old car, you will probably notice the much darker shade on the edge of the tint that is covered by the rubber seals. As you would find out as you read on, the UV rays from the sun is the culprit for the wear on many parts of your car such as this.

Unless your car is already tinted with high-quality ceramic window films, chances are they would have faded over time under constant exposure to the sun and would hence need to be replaced.

There are a few types of window films in the market; the most basic ones are simply dyed pieces of vinyl sheets that can fade to a purple hue with just a couple months of constant exposure to sunlight. At the other end of the spectrum are high-tech ceramic films, which are able to block out UV rays and glare without fading over time.

Average Lifespan:
-Dyed window films: Less than a year

-Hybrid window films: Eight years

-Ceramic window films: More than 10 years

How to prevent it: Opt for high-quality ceramic films, which are usually covered with a lifetime warranty and avoid the low-grade dyed window films that don't last long, and try to park your car at sheltered areas.


Your headliner is not supposed to look like a magic carpet; sagging headliners usually need to be reupholstered by professionals
Headliner

The headliner is yet another part of a car that does not seem to have an active role in your day-to-day driving. It is simply a piece of upholstery that decorates the top of your car; most will seldom even touch it for most of the car's lifespan. One would assume that these will be the last things to spoil on a car, but it is clearly not the case.

Headliners are usually made of fabric bonded to a foam backing, and over time, the foam and its bond with the fabric degrades. This is also accelerated by the heat and humidity of the environment. The tropical climate here definitely doesn't help the situation. Many cars here thus face the issue of sagging headliners.

While it happens to various makes and models of cars, sagging headliners are a common issue that cars like the Volkswagen Scirocco and Honda Civic FD2 Type R face.

Fixing such an issue usually requires the reupholstering of the entire headliner as there is simply no reliable way to attach the sagging headliner back.

Average Lifespan: Six years

How to prevent it: As heat and humidity are contributing factors, parking the car in sheltered area would help increase the lifespan of your car's headliner. However, for the commonly affected cars, there is no certain way to avoid this issue entirely.

Exposed to heat and humidity, the dashboards made of some materials could deform into a shiny and sticky mess
Dashboard

The dashboard of a car doesn't usually see much wear but being situated right underneath the windscreen, it is perpetually exposed to sunlight where the UV rays, as mentioned earlier, can cause premature degradation of many materials.

Soft-touch materials used in the interiors of many cars have a tendency to melt and become sticky or even crack when exposed to heat and UV rays.

A quick search online would show that many Toyota cars were affected by this issue, with Toyota even issuing a recall for melting, sticky dashboards in the U.S.A after receiving countless complaints and multiple lawsuits filed. This is an issue that affects various cars, especially those that use soft-touch materials on their dashboards.

As the surface of the dashboard has degraded into a shiny, sticky mess, there is no way to restore it to how it was. The usual method of fixing this issue, aside from replacing the dashboard, is to reupholster it. On the bright side, you can now opt for fancy leather or sporty Alcantara material and give your interior a fresh new look.

Average Lifespan: Six years

How to prevent it: Get a quality window tint that can reject UV rays, avoid unsheltered parking areas, and use a sun shade when parking in such locations. However, for the commonly affected cars, there is no certain way to avoid this issue entirely as it could be due to the materials' characteristics.

Without proper care, leather seats often crack and tear, making your car's interior look unsightly
Seats

The seats in a car experience a lot of abrasion in our day to day usage and are subjected to constant wear and tear.

Most of the seats found in mid-range cars are made of vinyl, which does not hold up well in extreme sunlight or temperature, and tend to crack and tear easily. Even real leather seats could crack and get damaged if not cared for. While fabric materials tend to be the most lasting of all, if used on sporty seats with good support, they tend to wear out sooner.

While this is not a car-specific problem, vinyl seats are usually not as durable as fabric or leather seats.

Not unlike dashboards and headliners, when reupholstering your car seats, there is usually a wide range of choices in material and design that you can go with to alter the look of your car's interior.

Average Lifespan: Eight years

How to prevent it: Using sun shades and parking in sheltered area, away from the sun will prolong the lifespan of vinyl seats. Keeping leather seats clean and using leather conditioners will ensure that they last. Avoid placing sharp objects on the seats and be cautious of clothing with sharp objects like buckles or buttons that could damage your seats. For sport seats, avoid rubbing on the side bolsters when entering and exiting the car to prevent excessive wear.

With many years of usage, the seatbelt's retractor mechanism might spoil, causing it to get stuck and unable to be retracted
Seatbelts

With such frequent usage, seatbelts can fray and their mechanisms can fail. Over time, the retractor spring for the seat belt weakens, which is often the cause for seat belts to get stuck and not being able to be retract after extending. Seatbelts that are used during accidents could also be damaged from the impact and are deemed to be unsafe for further usage.

Seatbelts are subjected to wear and tear and issues tend to arise after many years of usage, which is why seatbelt issues occur more frequently on older cars.

Frayed seatbelts have to be replaced as they could break and fail to keep the user safe in the event of an accident. Although the retractor mechanism can sometimes be taken apart and fixed by winding up the retractor spring manually, it would be best to replace the entire seatbelt and retractor mechanism.

Average Lifespan: 12 years, or after an accident (Recommended to be checked, and replaced if needed)

How to prevent it: Avoid excessive force when extending the seatbelt, which can place undue wear on the mechanism


Central locking is a function that we use daily, but give little thought to, until they stop working
Central Locking System

Most cars nowadays come equipped with a central locking system, which makes locking and unlocking the doors as easy as the press of a button on the remote. It is a function that we use every day but give little thought to. That is, until it stops working.

A car's central locking system is operated thousands of times a year, and it is not surprising for it to fail after years of usage as it is subjected to wear and tear.

The central locking system consists of electrical components, which monitor the radio frequency and send the power to the actuator to lock or unlock the door when you press the button on your key fob.

With many components involved, it is not uncommon for the central locking system to break down, especially with such an integral role in the daily operation of the car. Luckily, when it spoils, you should still be able to lock and unlock the individual doors with the your car key or the emergency key found in your key fob. Depending on the type of car you have, these systems could be costly to repair, with some costing upwards of $3,000 to replace.

Average Lifespan: 10 years

How to prevent it: Avoid dropping and damaging the key fob. Most parts of the central locking mechanism are subject to heavy usage and wear and tear, and there is no certain way to prevent them from failing.

The power window system is usually powered by a motor, which can spoil due to wear and tear 
Power windows

Most cars nowadays are equipped with electric power windows, which allow the windows to be lowered and raised at the press of a button.

A power window system consists of the window regulator, which is the mechanism that moves the window, and the electric motor that powers it. A faulty power window could be the result of problems with the window regulator that can cause the window to jam or fall inside the door, or simply caused by a spoilt motor that does not run.

Similar to central locking systems, a car's power window is used frequently and hence wears out over time. Thus, older cars with an ageing power window mechanism tend to experience these issues.

Depending on which part is faulty, the individual window regulators and motors can be changed to repair the power window mechanism.

Average Lifespan: 12 years

How to prevent it: Avoid exerting pressure on the window pane when it is lowered and avoid lowering or raising the windows unnecessarily.


Polycarbonate plastic head light lenses get oxidised by the UV rays from the sunlight over time and often become hazy or yellowish
Foggy/Hazy head lights

Unlike cars in the past, which mostly had glass lenses on their head lights, most cars nowadays come with head lights that have lenses made of polycarbonate plastics. Despite being strong enough to deal with the occasional stone and other particles kicked up by other vehicles on the road without cracking or shattering, they too, have their shortcomings. Over time, as these plastic lenses are exposed to the UV rays from the sun, their surfaces will start to oxidise, which results in those hazy and yellowish head lights that you see on many cars.

Hazy and yellowish head lights not only cause a car to look old and unsightly, they also reduce your visibility at night as the light doesn't shine as well through the lenses, which are now almost opaque.

Almost all cars utilise polycarbonate plastic head light lenses, as such, these cars could face the same problem of yellowing and hazy head lights.

To make these head lights clear again, the top layer that has oxidised and became hazy will have to be buffed off with sandpaper before being polished to a smooth finish, it is a delicate process that takes a lot of time. Head lights that are too oxidised to be repaired will have to be replaced.

Average Lifespan: Six years

How to prevent it: Avoid parking your car in unsheltered areas with direct sunlight. Using UV protection coating for head lights would help preserve their clarity as well. 

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