Top 5 Catastrophic Car Failures of 2020

Top 5 Catastrophic Car Failures of 2020

The year 2020 certainly brought out the good, the bad and the ugly in all of us as we navigated a year that will ripple through our future generations. The Covid-19 global pandemic is a catastrophic disaster, but everyday we carry on, whether it’s work, school or fighting the virus on the frontline. Within our own “bubbles” we continue to function as normally as we can, so we still need to use the car to get out – buy shopping, to go to work and the last thing anyone needs on top of the pandemic stress is a big car repair bill. So in an attempt to help raise a little awareness and ensure you pay a bit more attention to your vehicle; getting your car checked by a mechanic when a problem arises to avoid a costly mistake, we have listed our top 5 worst car failures of 2020. For the proactive or cautious readers, we’ve included a few links to our best content on DIY car maintenance – lots of great tips to help maintain your car yourself.

Brake Disc – What’s Left of It

Broken Brake Disc

Our first catastrophic disaster to make it to our top 5 was this poor brake disc. What you see in the picture is something that resembles a rounded metal comb. It should actually be a large round disc, which is smooth and solid. What has happened here is that the friction material on the brake pad, which should be no less than 1.5mm, had completely ground its way through the outer face of the brake disc, exposing the central core. The driver would not have had the optimal stopping power with brakes in that condition and the owner and put themselves and others at risk. There would have been some noticeable indication that this disc or the braking did not feel right. It should have been looked at by a mechanic as soon as the owner felt a difference. Check out our blog: “Car Maintenance Checks – Extend the Life of Your Car” and look at handy bullet number ten, which describes how you can check your brakes.

Water Pump – Got Totally Fried

Broken Water Pump

What happened to this water pump? It looks like it’s had an acid bath. The picture shows you the inside of a water pump and you can see the remains of the steel impeller. In this extreme case it was caused by heat damage as there was no coolant in the pump. An efficient water pump ensures the coolant keeps moving through the engine and radiator and maintains a good temperature. This article from haynes describes it best and what happens when the pump is faulty. Bottomline, if the water pump doesn’t maintain a good temperature you risk overheating your engine and that could lead to a costly repair such as a blown head gasket. If you notice a change in your temperature gauge, or you can’t hear the cooling fan working, don’t hesitate to get it checked out immediately and always keep an eye on the level in your coolant reservoir.

Trackrod End Retaining Nut – One Bad Nut

Trackrod-end-retaining nut

It’s small but mighty! The trackrod end nut holds the trackrod end to the wheel. If the nut fails then the wheel is no longer connected to the steering wheel. A very dangerous situation if the nut fails whilst driving. As you can see in this picture, the nut is very perished and could have failed at any time, potentially causing a nasty accident. Rust is a car’s kryptonite and regular washing to remove salts would help to prolong these essential parts. This link to our blog post: “Future Proof Your Car” offers up a few tips on rust and general maintenance.

Sump Plug Metal Particulates – That’s a Lot of Metal

Metal particulates in the sump

When you top up your engine oil, it is first collected into the oil sump. The oil sump has a plug, which you remove to drain and change engine oil. The plug has a magnet built into the end for the purpose of collecting any stray particulates. In this picture the amount of metal collected shows something is failing. If that metal should travel around with the oil into any moving part that comes into contact with the oil, such as the engine, crank shaft, bearings and pistons, it would cause irreparable damage. Maintaining the vehicle’s oil or full service will help to limit potential unforeseen damage as the contaminated oil is changed out. Check out our “Vehicle Service” page if you would like to get in touch for a quote.

Clutch – It Was Only a Year Old

Very Worn Clutch

Eventually parts will wear out and fail with age. Some parts are much more hard wearing than others and they should see many years of use. But this clutch has made it to our top 5 as it’s only one year’s old! The picture shows the friction plate has completely exploded, the link between the engine and the gearbox is destroyed. You wouldn’t expect this level of damage after only one year of use, so it shows maybe lack of care will destroy even the most hard wearing of parts. Understandably, if you are buying a used car you might worry about the unforeseen such as this clutch, which was “ragged”. So if you are buying a car, have a look at our blog: “What to Look for When Buying a New Car – 10 Tips”.

Treat Your Car Like Your Pet

Okay, the reality is that unless you have a deep sentimental connection to your car, or it’s very high end and expensive or even a classic, your likely not going to bother too much. You’ll maybe give it a clean if you have to because you can’t see out the rear window. You’ll try to remember to service it each year as you lost the manual and actually you aren’t too sure how many miles it can go before it needs an oil change. If that’s you, then hopefully with the help of some useful tips in the blog posts we’ve shared, you might start to give the car a little TLC, or at the very least we have raised a little awareness and you will action anything out of the ordinary. If issues are not caught early they could lead to catastrophic failure and large repair bills; a more difficult repair for the mechanic. So on that note, let’s hope our top 5 does not become a top 10 this year.


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