Top 10 Most Replaced Vehicle Components After Three Years

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

Unfortunately, new cars don’t stay new and it comes a time when parts need to be replaced. If you’ve just bought a new set of wheels and are curious what might go wrong first, the team at J.D. Power and Associates has compiled a top 10 list of the most commonly replaced vehicle components after three years of ownership.

Based on data gathered from its 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study, the following components were replaced by the highest percentage of owners in the 12 months leading up to when the survey was conducted.

Coming in 10th place were fuses, requiring replacement by 0.8 percent of those participating in the survey. Compared to last year, that’s a 0.4 percent improvement. Most fuses used in automobiles are blade fuses, also known as spade or plug-in fuses. They feature a plastic body with two prongs that fit into the sockets. At least the good news is, most fuses are cheap – it’s finding the one that needs to be replaced that could be troublesome.

With more and more vehicles investing into keyless entry technology, more and more owners are having issues with their door handles and locks. According to the 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study, 0.9 percent of owners had their door handles or locks replaced 12 months prior to taking the survey. Though it’s an improvement of 0.3 percent over last year, having issues getting into your own car can never be a good start to the day.

Similar to the previously mentioned door handles and locks, remote keyless fobs aren’t exactly fool-proof. Thankfully, only 1 percent reported that it was a problem, an improvement of 0.5 percent over 2012. Many of the issues with the remote keyless entry keys reside with their battery life, and most vehicles will issue out a warning before hand.

A common component to keeping your car running healthy and efficiently is a fresh set of spark plugs. 1.5 percent of owners indicated the need to change their spark plugs in the 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study, which was an improvement of 0.3 percent over last year. If you care about your vehicle though, spending a few bucks on a new set of plugs before three years is a great way to maintain a long-term relationship with your car.

Perhaps technology strikes again, but headlight component replacements actually saw an increase of 0.3 percent from last year, to 1.8 percent. It’s worth noting however that headlights required less frequent replacement than other exterior lights on 2010 model year vehicles, though the rise in replacement undoubtedly comes from the increase use of LED technology, which not every automaker is spending top dollar on.

Ever since an act was passed in America called the TREAD Act as a result of the Firestone recall in the late 1990s, all light motor vehicles (under 10,000 pounds) produced after September 1, 2007 were mandated to include a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). Despite 2.8 percent of vehicles owners reporting that they had to replace their TPMS in the year leading up to the survey, its benefits outweigh any hassle that TPMS sensors could cause. The 2.8 percent reported was an improvement 0.4 percent compared to 2012.

Not attributed to technology, having to replace a windshield mostly boils down to having bad luck. 3 percent of vehicle owners had to replace theirs 12 months leading up to the survey, a slight increase of 0.1 percent from last year’s study.

As part of normal wear and tear of owning a vehicle, 3.6 percent of drivers reported having to replace their brake rotors in the 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study. That’s a 0.6 percent improvement over last year which could be attributed to more efficient brake calipers and pads being used by automakers. Or perhaps all those hybrids and EVs roaming the streets just can’t get fast enough to really wear down their brakes.

Naturally something that all vehicle owners can relate to: having to change a light bulb on their car. Whether it’s a tail light bulb, brake light, turn signal light, or any other exterior light (except the headlights), 4.8 percent of owners reported having to change replace a bulb 12 months leading up to the survey. That’s a slight increase of 0.3 percent over last year.

Finally, the number-one replaced component on 2010 model year vehicles according to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study is the car’s battery. Six percent of owners reported having to replace their vehicle’s battery a year leading up to the survey, marking a 0.4 percent improvement over last year.

That said, now would probably be a good time to check your vehicle’s battery with some easy steps. First, disconnect your battery after shutting off the engine so you can work on it safely. Clean off any powdery deposits you can find on the positive and negative terminals by using some baking soda on each terminal and an old toothbrush. Next, dry everything with a clean, lint-free rag while avoiding to get any of the powdery substance on your skin or clothes. You can then reconnect the battery terminals (positive first, negative second) and check to make sure your cables and clamps aren’t damaged. Lastly, do a physical check to make sure your battery doesn’t have any noticeable cracks or obvious damage on it. If so, replace it right away.

Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

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  • Invalid-Username Invalid-Username on Apr 16, 2013

    Wait, what? Brake rotors are #3, but brake pads don't even make the list? Or are they not considered a vehicle component, in which case why are light bulbs and keys taken into consideration?