10 Most Common Car Repairs

A well-maintained and regularly serviced car will last longer!

common car repairs



There are a reasonable number of car owners who keep their vehicles well maintained. However, many people neglect maintaining and servicing their car because they perceive that new cars are "bulletproof", or they might not be able to afford it. Our message is that even the latest model cars are not impervious to faults and breakdowns, and regular maintenance can help prevent many of the 10 most common car repairs we see at Auto Care Kilbirnie. Here's the list, together with some suggested preventatives:


1. Brakes

The majority of vehicles that come into our garage for a WOF or servicing need brake repairs. This means new brake pads and new or machined rotors. We have our own brake lathe for this purpose. You can't stop brakes from wearing but you can prevent premature wear of the rotors by changing brake pads more regularly. People generally wait far too long to get their brake pads replaced. If brakes are making any sort of audible noise, then it's definitely time to get them looked at. The best way to preserve your brakes is to drive more smoothly, and avoid braking heavily.

2. Cooling system issues

(Radiators, water pumps, and overheating.) To maintain your cooling system, change the antifreeze or coolant regularly. This can prevent corrosion and sediment build up, in the cylinder head and head gasket, as well as premature wear and tear on water pump seals and radiator cores. You should also make sure you're using the right type of coolant. We check the chemical concentration of the coolant because over time the coolants get depleted and don't do their job any more. Most of the engines we deal with these days have plastic components, and these can crack if the coolant and hot water flowing through them isn't kept right.

3. Breakdown

Many private cars these days are highly spec'd with a lot of electronics, and they do fail from time to time. Breakdowns can be due to things like electrical or sensory failures, including in crankshaft and camshaft sensors, or airflow meters. These can stop the car in its tracks, or a warning light will come on. There's not a lot you can do to prevent these random events, but don't drive around with an engine warning light on.

4. Drivetrain

(This includes CV joints, axles, and wheel bearings.) If you detect noises coming from the steering when going around corners, get it checked out. It could be something as simple as low power steering fluid, but it could also be more serious, such as a wheel bearing that's about to fail. Bad wheel bearings can cause uneven tyre wear, which means you'll be forking out more for rubber. At worst, the wheel can seize up completely. With the time for a WOF moved out to 12 months and beyond, many drivetrain issues are slipping through the net.

5. General servicing and WOF

When cars come in for a scheduled warrant of fitness, generally there will be different faults that need attending to. Issues with brakes, tyres, suspension, and ball joints are commonly discovered during the warrant check.

6. Suspension problems

Cars these days tend to have soft suspension bushing that may not last very long. Sometimes with as little as 20,000km on the clock we see flogged inner suspension bushes, and leaking shock absorbers. New Zealand doesn't tend have the most smoothly tarsealed roads in the world, either, which can put extra stress on shocks and steering bushes.

7. Cambelts

Between 90,000km and 100,000km, or much sooner, depending on what is recommended for your vehicle, it's imperative that the cambelt on your car is changed. When a cambelt breaks it can do $3000 to $5000 worth of internal damage to the engine. At Auto Care Kilbirnie, we don't just change the cambelt without looking at the components associated with it, which are also subjected to wear and tear. So, we change the crank seals, cam seals, and water pump seal when we change a cambelt. This results in a longer-lasting, more efficient system than if only the cambelt was changed.

8. Transmissions

(Includes slipping clutches and manual gearbox problems.) Automatic transmissions can fail without a lot of warning. They should be serviced every 40,000km, and the oil changed and bands adjusted, unless the transmission is in a totally sealed unit.

9. Body-related problems

We see quite a few issues with the bodywork on cars, such as a rear hatch door not closing properly. A lot of the new people movers have electric sliding doors on the side, which have problems with actuators and micro-switches, so the door only opens half-way or not at all, or the cables inside the door can break.

10. Exhausts

Any car made from 2000 on is likely to have a stainless steel exhaust system, so we don't see many exhaust problems any more, but if we do need to repair an exhaust, we farm the repair out to our specialist. They can make the system we need, which works out more cost effectively for the customer than trying to do it ourselves.


Our 'ambulance at the top of the cliff'

We provide a service, even for cars with a 12-month warrant of fitness, whereby we send out a reminder every six months to come in for a general once-over. Then we can let you know if we think something on your vehicle isn't going to make it to the next WOF, including tyres, ball joints, and wheel bearings.


Book in with us today to get your vehicle serviced, helping to avoid expensive repairs down the track.

Servicing & Repairs

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