The Causes of Automotive Fastener Failure and How To Prevent It

Fasteners, in general, are what holds a car together and make it work as it is designed. However, like any mechanical component, automotive fasteners are prone to failing and breaking for various reasons. In this article, we will discuss the most common causes of automotive fastener failure and how to prevent it.


Improper Matching

The unwritten rule is that the fastener should match the material it is attached to. For example, if you use high-quality steel screws but plastic washers, it is quite possible that the washer will fail over time, and you will be left with loose screws and potential mechanical failure. So, when installing a fastener or designing a whole assembly, it is crucial to match the materials and have basic knowledge of the forces the fastener needs to withstand. So far, engineers have realised that most of the fasteners used in the engine bay or suspension need steel since they are exposed to extreme heat and chemicals. At the same time, fasteners used in the interior or for holding the specific body panels are usually made from plastic. So, mixing and matching fasteners might be fun but will quickly result in a failure.

Poor Quality

Quality plays an enormous part in the world of automotive fasteners. Just because two pins or clips look the same doesn’t mean they will perform the same and have the same life expectancy. Manufacturers like those that we have specially sourced invest a lot of time and effort in high-quality materials, thoroughly tested in various conditions and then of course by AUTO-FASTENERS. The price difference is not there by chance, and inexpensive fasteners are often not worth it. Don’t be surprised if the reason for fastener failure is simply poor quality materials used in manufacture or poor production/testing processes.

Installation Process

Even though most automotive fasteners are simple mechanical devices with pretty straightforward installation procedures, this is still one of the main reasons for failure. The most common problem is over-tightening of bolts and screws, which can make them crumble and fail. Sometimes, fasteners are misplaced and installing the wrong one in the wrong application could result in failure and potential mechanical troubles. If you are unclear how to install the fastener in question, always consult the manufacturer or experienced technician for advice.

Extensive Heat or Vibration

Even the best-designed fasteners made of the highest-quality materials are prone to fail. Bolts, nuts, and screws are especially prone to vibrations and even the slightest amount can be devastating over a prolonged period of time. No matter how tight they might be, if the vibrations are strong enough, the fasteners will fail eventually.

Aggressive Chemicals 

There are numerous cases of plastic fasteners affected by aggressive chemicals used in a car wash or detailing process. Even though the plastic is made to be durable, it is generally not tested for absolutely all chemicals used in car cosmetics. It is a rare occurrence, but it could happen, and it is mainly down to the poor quality of fasteners installed and overly aggressive chemical compounds used.


Working with us, a global fastener sourcing and supply partner, can help prevent many of the causes of fastener failure. This is because we insist on quality and will only source, stock and distribute OEM and TS16949 quality fasteners.

As a highly specialised automotive sourcing, supply chain management, distribution and logistics company we have to ensure that quality at AUTO-FASTENERS not only applies to our own services but also to our many manufacturing suppliers and service providers. In that regard quality at AUTO-FASTENERS itself is managed to both ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004 and VDA 6.3 standards, whilst all our manufacturing suppliers operate to the internationally recognised ISO TS16949:2009 quality standard. In addition, we undertake annual audit inspections of all our suppliers and actively encourage and support our customers to undertake their own quality inspections and audits.

We exist to connect with its automotive customers as a partner, not just a parts supplier. Our aim is to really understand the problems you are facing, to collaborate with you and to help you solve that problem. AFL supports both automotive OEM and aftermarket customers across a whole range of segments including car, truck, commercial, motorcycle, construction and defence.

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