Cars are complex machines. The performance of your car can be affected by many factors, from the age of the car and its various parts, to how it is driven. Because of all the factors affecting your car and how many moving parts it has, eventually something will break. It is less a matter of if, but when.
It was with that question of ‘when’ in mind that we decided to investigate which repairs are more likely based on the time of the year. To do this we reviewed the frequency of quotes for repairs requested by customers in each month of 2017. Quotes provide a larger sample size than the number of repairs booked. From there we organized the results by season and focused on the repairs that were most common in specific seasons.
Read on to find out more about the most popular results of each season.
First up in the analysis is spring. 3rd and 5th place go to wheel speed sensor and trunk latch, which are standard parts known to experience gradual wear and tear over time. On the other hand, nearly 44% of timing chains were replaced in the spring, with very few being carried out in fall or winter. This is likely due to spring and summer being far more dry seasons, resulting in a lot more dust and grit getting into the oil that coats the timing chain. This dust and grit could potentially reduce the timing chain lifespan.
Interestingly, window repairs are very common in this period, with 1st place going to a failure involving either the window motor or regulator. Spring is, of course, the time when temperatures begin to rise after the lows of winter, so people are likely attempting to open their windows for the first time that year only to find them inoperable after months of being ignored. Likewise, a brakes, steering and suspension inspection makes sense as people are preparing for the summer (a common time for taking road trips).
The top result for summer repairs is unsurprising. When it is hot people use their AC more and AC systems have a lot of points of failure. AC repairs could be anything from straightforward fixes like a standard recharge or problems with the condenser fan or compressor relay, to more complicated issues like general AC system failure.
In the months leading up to summer it might be a good idea to get your AC checked – thereby avoiding the risk of not having it when you really need it! Summer is also the busiest time of year for auto repair, so you may not be able to schedule service as quickly as during other times of the year.
The other problems in this list are almost as predictable. Repairs involving the general window assembly are more common in summer because people are operating their windows more often in the heat, and issues with temperature-focused parts like the cooling fan and fan clutch come as little surprise.
Fall is a slightly less predictable time for repairs. Heater problems sneak into the top five in 4th place, likely due to people firing up their heater for the first time in a while only to discover previously unseen issues.
1st belongs to broken air springs. AAA found that an incredible 79% of Americans planned on taking a road trip over summer ’17. This increased mileage likely had a large effect on the suspension of many peoples’ cars, explaining this result.
Interestingly, window problems have again appeared in the rankings. On this occasion, it is likely due to people having spent the spring and summer getting a great deal of use out of their windows and wearing them down, eventually resulting in a failure. 2nd and 3rd go to issues with the distributor and the timing cover gasket, both of which are also likely caused by summertime wear and tear.
Finally, it’s time to grab your coats, gloves and scarfs as we enter winter. That the top place is taken by heating issues will not come as much of a surprise to anyone - the large drop in temperature leaves us heavily reliant on our heating systems during the colder months. 4th place goes to headlight bulb replacement, an understandable repair considering the longer nights mean that people get a lot more use out of their headlights than in the summer. 5th is also explained by the weather: deteriorating conditions mean that people have to use their wipers far more often than in summer.
Places two and three, meanwhile, are a useful reminder that fluids often thicken and sometimes even freeze in cold conditions, explaining the increase in problems with windshield washer pumps & reservoirs and oil cooler lines.
Many of the trends we found underline the importance of regularly having your car checked. You often won’t know that there is something wrong with your car’s various components until you need them; this can be at best a minor inconvenience and at worst a major catastrophe. Make sure to plan regularly scheduled maintenance with a reliable mechanic and you’ll avoid the risk of a problem occurring when you least expect it. Hopefully you can use these lists to help you predict the best time of year to get the different systems of your car checked, thereby preempting any potential issues.
If you would like some more detailed information on the top seasonal repairs you can find tables of the data here.