By on July 21, 2012

Just Imagine What I Can Do To Your Car!

Everybody wants a deal. But precious few people are willing to change their habits to make their deal last longer.

The casualties of the rough and reckless are expensive and almost always preventable. For every person who complains about an automatic transmission giving out, there are ten people who still insist on shifting from reverse to drive while the vehicle is in motion.

Moments like that make me feel like this behavior is just…

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not economically viable.

I sometimes tell folks that doing that to a car is like walking backwards and having someone punch you in the square of the back. Enough hits in the back at that same place, and you’re going to need surgery.

Machines, like us limber humans,  shouldn’t have to deal with such stress issues.

Does the mpg’s stink? Sometimes it’s the fault of the manufacturer. But other times, more often than not, it’s because the owner abuses the vehicle with jackrabbit starts, hard braking, and outright neglect.

Steering and suspension components don’t last? Tell the screw behind the wheel to loosen up a bit, and watch the road ahead.

Waste costs money when it comes to cars. So what should we do if our father, cousin or former roommate are the automotive Kevorkians of the modern day?

Plan ahead… and hope that a few low-cost technologies become as common as these modern day Kevorkians.

1) The Shelf

 

You would think that I start this weekend’s column with some whiz bang technology that requires a computer and a circuit. Truth is a lot of folks eventually screw up the interiors because their stuff is all strewn about. They get used to having their transportation serve as a mobile romper room where anything can be chucked anywhere for any reason.

A well placed shelf in the rear of most hatchbacks has the effect of keeping everything in place and nearly doubling the available space you have to haul and store your cargo. This is important from an owner’s standard because the easier it is to keep things tidy, the more inclined we are to do it. An empty soda can in a clean room will usually be thrown away while the same can in a messy place will usually just blend in with the scenery.

A good shelf opens up a lot of space, and helps keep a car tidy.

2) Oil life monitoring systems.

This technology has been around for over 20 years and yet the overwhelming majority of cars still don’t have them.

The benefits of this are obvious… and yet as of 2010, only 40% of manufacturers use them in their cars.

If an automotive Kevorkian wants to ignore this technology, so be it. But putting this in cars would likely save a lot of folks hundreds of dollars and several unneeded oil changes. Multiply that by all the folks in need of it, and we could retire the debt of California… or at least Stockton.

3) MPG monitors: Instant and average

 

What can you do on a long, miserable commute home?

Daydream, listen to the radio, drive, talk on a hands free phone… and that’s about legally it.

Why not keep score?

Of course not all folks will do this. But offering a simple button or switch that makes this possible could alter the driving behaviors of at least a few errant drivers.

Besides, when you’re bored in stop and go traffic, frugality can be the only cheap fun out there.

4) Shift interlocks

I am stubborn on my belief that most CVT’s that will go south in the coming years can endure if their new owners learn how to shift properly.

Reverse, stop, shift. Drive, stop, park. Don’t shift in motion. Stop. STOP. STOP!!!

A shift lock mechanism that keeps the car from shifting while it’s in motion would help undo a learned behavior. That and the four figured premiums of replacing those transmissions.

5) Simple maintenance access

If an automaker wants to enshroud their engine in plastic, that’s fine. But no manufacturer should have the arrogance and gall to prevent access to the tranny fluid, claim that it is a ‘lifetime fluid’, and then whistle the tunes of warranties gone by once that transmission goes kaput.

Lifetime should mean lifetime. End of story. If a manufacturer wants to play the “What is a lifetime?” game, then at least give owners an easy means to replace the fluid.

 

Do you know of anything else that can be cheap or helpful? I have a few other ideas. But in the meantime, feel free to share any technologies or Kevorkians you have come across in your travels. As Judge Judy says, “You can’t stop stupid.” But perhaps a well-deigned shift interlock can slow it down.

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108 Comments on “Five Simple Technologies For The Long Haul...”


  • avatar
    bufguy

    Great article, unfortunately you are probably preaching to the choir…your readership being much more sensitive to these issues.
    BMW is a huge culprit in this attitude. When they began their bumper to bumper 4 year warranty that included all maintenance, suddenly many items became no maintenance! Lifetime tranny fluid, differential, gearbox, 100,000 coolant. This was both a marketing ploy and an action in response to lease holders who “throw away” their car after 3 years. My 2007 BMW Z4 with only 20,000 miles has had all its fluids changed as I plan to keep the car a long time.
    As for the oil life monitors, both my Honda Element and BMW have one…I assumed all cars did these days.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      My wife’s 2012 Mini has gotten oil changes at 2,500 (initial break in) and 7,500 miles. We’ll go with a 7,500/6 month OCI interval running Castrol synthetic unless an oil analysis from Blackstone says otherwise.

      Also, the autobox’s fluid will be done every 3 years or 30k miles.

      BMW/Mini recommends 15k oil change intervals and lifetime transmission fluid. Not gonna happen, we plan to keep this car for a while.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Hi bufguy,

      As you can see from my thumbnail, I have a 2007 BMW Z4 too. It’s a 3.0si. As you may note from Technical Editor Mike Miller’s comments in “Roundel” and “Bimmer”, there is NO SUCH THING as a lifetime lubricant! That is indeed a marketing ploy, coupled with the “disposable car” or leased car concept. If you really care about your car and want to keep it “forever”, then that idea is inadequate.

      I put only about 4K miles on the Z4 every year, but my rules for simple maintenance are:
      1) Engine oil (BMW Castrol Special) once per year (Fall, before storage);
      2) Manual Transmission and Differential oil every second year;
      3) Brake fluid every second year;
      4) Radiator fluid every third year.
      And, of course, change all the appropriate filters. It also helps to use ONLY Shell V-Power WITHOUT (repeat, WITHOUT) ethanol, even if it’s only 91 octane. Ethanol does immeasurable harm to engines that neither the corn lobby nor manufacturers are anxious to talk about. I’m a chemist: I know.

      —————

      Steve,

      Maybe this can be a more general recommendation for everyone to increase vehicle longevity: don’t use anything except “Tier 1″ gasoline. If you use garbage gas, you’ll get a garbage car. And then you should not complain about short-lived sensors, plugs, valves, rings, exhaust system, catalytic converter, etc. Remember, for example, that the very top piston ring essentially depends upon the proper additives in gasoline to lubricate it!

      =========

      • 0 avatar
        jbltg

        These lifetime or very long life fluids are a cruel joke, and were only introduced after leasing became very popular, and maintenance was included in the deal since they know most lessors will neglect the cars.
        Now that maintenance is out of the factory’s pocket, they have very quickly found a way to reduce what is needed. Supposedly.
        I keep my cars and agree about the fluids. Perhaps the only one as close in importance to fresh oil is the coolant. Old tired coolant is very ineffective and puts the engine and many components at great risk.
        That said, our 1995 and 2006 Miatas really thrive on Chevron 91 octane and get substantially better mileage vs. regular. Chevron detergent is excellent, but we still give the gas a shot of Techron or Redline ever three months to keep the injectors clean.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Ethanol-free is nice, if you can find it. In my experience, top-tier, ethanol-free, and high octane are three characteristics with no overlap.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        I’ve been using Costco fuel in my cars for 10 plus years.

        Took a couple of them to over 200k miles. No fuel system related problems or major issues that could have stemmed from fuel. I’m pretty sure that ethanol has been in Costco fuel for a long time.

        The Top Tier brands around here in Washington State (Shell, Chevron, 76) all have ethanol. The only ethanol-free stations sell no name fuels.

      • 0 avatar
        Idemmu

        I agree. The one time I ever put cheap gas in my E39 540i, the fuel pump fuse popped at the Harriman exit on the Ny thruway.. ever since then, top tier premium baby..

      • 0 avatar
        joeveto3

        I know of one station, 40 miles away, where I can purchase ethanol free fuel. If I’m in the area, I’ll fill up with it.

        Not even having the choice is very, very frustrating. Free market economy anyone?

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I agree. The one time I ever put cheap gas in my E39 540i, the fuel pump fuse popped at the Harriman exit on the Ny thruway.. ever since then, top tier premium baby..

        Unless you can explain the mode of action by which “cheap gas” somehow caused a fuse to fail in your fuel pump – which is spec’d to pump even “cheap gas”, and frankly can probably pump diesel all day just fine, not that the engine would run on it – what we are seeing is coincidence, not causation.

        (As a counterpoint, my 22RE engine’d Toyota pickup has run “whatever” gas for the past 270kmi with no noticeable negative effects at all.

        Maybe BMW fuel pumps are prima donnas?)

    • 0 avatar
      Drewlssix

      The only makes I can think of off the top of my head that lack them at all would be Hyundai/Kia.

      For #4 I would also suggest some way to prevent accidental neutral drops. With fly by wire this should be simple enough but even responsive transmissions would be better. Some cars (many GMs) have a delay when engaging a selected gear range. Many times I have dropped a Chevy into drive moved my foot from brake to gas only to have the revs shoot up with the trans engaging just in time to deliver an unsettling jolt or even bark the tires. If the trans wont engage in the second and a half it takes for me to casually select D and shift my feet then a bit of code keeping the revs from spiking in the mean time would be a good idea.

      Oh and the “shelf” also makes any hatch wagon or suv more pleasant to drive. Even the rollup shade I swapped into my 90 firebird made a decent difference in low level noise when cruising. If you drive something like a Mazda infamous for road noise a bit of dynamat on the underside of the shelf should help a bit also.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Never, ever, ever, ever, EVER, drive or even idle a vehicle that is overheating.

    EVER.

    If a vehicle is overheating, at the FIRST opportunity to do so without causing an accident, pull off the road in a safe manner and shut the car off.

    Do not start the vehicle again until the source of the problem has been found, and until you ensure that the cooling system is full of appropriate coolant (any leaks, radiator issues, hose, clamp, etc issues have been resolved).

    An engine that’s operating beyond its designed thermal range is an engine that’s scarred for life, and the longer this persists, the more likely it has been handed a death sentence.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      This is the opposite of what I was taught, which was to leave the engine idling so the coolant continued to circulate and the engine driven fan(I’m getting old) continued to spin. I’ve actually seen a 1964 Plymouth’s radiator blow apart about 90 seconds after my friend shut off his overheating engine against my advice. It doesn’t mean that something worse wouldn’t have happened if he did take my advice though.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I’m speaking of a true overheating situation evidenced by something such as steam escaping from under the hood, etc.

        There are those who do advocate shutting the a/c off ) if on, turning the heater on its highest setting and leaving the motor running IF the temperature is rising and beyond normal range but not yet in a cook off situation, but if the motor is still building temperature even once into the red zone, I am not convinced keeping the motor running is wise (and it’s almost universally agreed upon that being stuck in heavy traffic with a temperature gauge on the upswing and into abnormally high range is a deal breaker, so that somewhat undercuts the ‘leave motor idling’ school of thought, IMO).

        I’m not saying that the advice to keep the car running is wrong in all cases, but that it’s likely to do more harm than good given that many cars lack an actual temperature gauge (they instead signal either normal or abnormal temperatures) and that most modern cars have a fan designed to air cool the motor tied to a thermostatic control that comes on even when the vehicle is turned off.

        For all practical purposes, IMO, it’s best to shut it down once the motor is in an overheating state (versus temperature approaching overheating state). And yes, the motor will continue to build heat even after it’s shut off, but a 15 to 20 minute wait should allow for the temperatures to quit rising and to recede.

        I’d love to hear more contrasting views on this.

        I don’t think many give overheating the full extent of the credit it deserves for leading to dramatically shortened motor life and catastrophic failure.

        • 0 avatar
          Drewlssix

          In the case of coolant loss you definitely aught to stop as soon as possible. I had a Mazda with a dead (broken actually) fan and once I left it idling while hashing things out on the phone with a soon to be ex. When I noticed the sound of the coolant jug rattling around with belching coolant I hung up and immediately drove the car at 20-25 mph in a low gear to keep the revs up and load down. The temps dropped rapidly to normal and te expelled coolant was drawn back into the motor as designed.

          If one absolutely MUST drive on having lost coolant or suffering hot running moderate speed in a low gear and high revs is the best bet to avoid damage. In my case though I was a tinkerer and mechanic with the means to drop a junkyard motor in the car for a few hundred bucks. Those not so blessed to have a beater as a DD should always err on the cautious side.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        That was true back in the days of iron blocks and heads, but aluminum is far less forgiving (it is a very poor heat reservoir).

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Generally speaking, shut her down. However, why you are overheating may dictate a different course of action. For cars with electric cooling fans, a temperature sensor triggers that fan to run. If that sensor fails, you often can override the sensor and force the fan to run by engaging the air conditioning. That is in direct contrast to the old days with belt driven fans because the A/C simply throws more heat into the radiator and unless the belt was broken or the clutch bad the fan was doing all it could. But if the electric fan is not running, and the A/C gets them started, your engine temp will drop. Other than that, running an aluminum head engine hot will kill it.

        What should you do if you are 5 miles from home and beginning to overheat? I would let my car cool down, then start it and get up to speed quickly, put it in neutral and shut the engine off (don’t lock the wheel) and coast down to 10 mph or so and repeat. I’ve managed to get home like that with a Chrysler 2.2 and did not blow the weakish gasket. Anybody remember when traffic plus A/C universally meant eventual overheating? All early 70′s Mopars would overheat; I don’t know of one that didin’t…

      • 0 avatar
        stuart

        The radiator cap is supposed to limit the radiator pressure so the radiator doesn’t fail like that. Either the cap was bad, or the radiator was weak. Or both.

        I agree with DeadWeight. When the car overheats, immediately turn the engine OFF, coast to a safe place, and let it cool down for a few hours.

        stuart

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      I think the issue is that modern cars have cooling systems that don’t offer much in the way of reserve capacity. They are designed to warm the engine up quickly and keep it in a narrow temperature band, and they do it very effectively. When something goes wrong, the overheat condition is often rapid and quite severe, causing immediate damage. It doesn’t help that many modern engine use dissimilar metals in their construction such as a cast iron block with aluminum cylinder heads which expand and contract at different rates. At a minimum, head gasket failures are almost certainly the norm on modern cars that are overheated for even a few moments.

      The older cars had huge cooling systems (My 1976 F-150 held around 24 quarts of coolant!) and if they began to overheat it would often be a slower process with a less severe spike in temps. A cast iron block and head often meant that the root cause of the overheat could be corrected and no other ill effects would occur as a result of the event.

      The other issue with modern cars is that temp gauges are little more than idiot lights with needles. By the time the gauge is commanded to go into the “red zone” by the engine computer, it’s usually too late.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        bumpy ii:

        “That was true back in the days of iron blocks and heads, but aluminum is far less forgiving (it is a very poor heat reservoir).”

        I agree, bumpy. In fact, and on this particular note, many BMW, Cadillac Northstar, and owners of other makes/models have found out the hard way that not only is aluminum and various aluminum alloys are far less forgiving in general, but far more forgiving when it comes to head bolts and threads, which is a prime source of head gasket issues, as wheeljack eloquently points out.

        wheeljack, I couldn’t agree more on the gauge issue. Even some cars that appear to have analog temperature gauges with a floating needle don’t; that’s a dummy needle that either indicates normal temps or an overheating condition, and doesn’t give the driver any honest or true information about engine temperature. It might as well just be a big red idiot light that illuminates in the gauge cluster. By the time it comes on, damage could already be taking place.

      • 0 avatar
        Drewlssix

        The 5.4L F150s had the same 24 quart capacity and the new 6.0s are at 28 quarts. Typically its not the capacity in fluid that is lacking it is either lack of radiator surface area or some flaw in the cooling system. But those flaws were far more common on older vehicles for sure. Imo it comes down to the higher output per liter of newer motors and the trend to run them hotter normally that leaves less overhead when things go wrong. The trend for lighter construction in the engines can be a factor too.

    • 0 avatar
      punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

      I had a customer come into my shop on Monday. He told me that he heard a knocking noise about 15 miles back but had “nowhere” to stop. His 1992 New Yorker 3.3 V6 is now a doorstop. He kept telling me that there was NO WAY a engine could be damaged in just 15 miles.

      I escorted him to his car in the parking lot and gave him repair estimate. New “used” engine. $2200. I have not seen him since.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        So was his motor overheating or was it another issue?

        Sucks to be him, and I’m not snarking.

        His car is worth less than a used motor replacement.

        This is why I hammer this point home. If his catastrophic failure resulted from not shutting the motor off as soon as he discovered he was in an overheating situation, that killed his motor, no?

        He told you he thought there was no way his motor could be damaged in just 15 miles of whipping a overheated motor, yet 2 miles could’ve led to the same conclusion for him.

  • avatar

    This is not a technological thing per se, but it’s a habit that will give your manual car a longer life:

    - press the clutch to the end when shifting
    - keep your hands off the goddam stick (no it’s not a place to rest your hand!)

    BTW, 2 questions. Auto transmissions is something of a novelty in Brazil and many myths are coming up due to its greater availability.

    - When in stop and go traffic, for durability and economy, should one shift into neutral?

    - When do you know when to change the fluid? Is it a mileage or time dependant? Are there telltale signs the time has come? In Brazildue to high temperatures and heavy sto and go traffic, to be safe, should one change the fluid soomer than recommended?

    Thanks

    Thanks

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I have never seen any real evidence that holding a hand (which doesn’t weigh much) on a manual shifter really causes damage, only incidental claims, where there is little evidence of causality (“a friend folds his hand on the shifter and he had to get his synchros replaced”). Especially with the prevalence of cable-actuated shifters in modern cars this is even less likely.

      • 0 avatar

        But..isn’t the system so sensitive nowadays that when you do leave your hand on it, it goes into ‘ready’ mode? I agree with you, once or twice it doesn’t mean anything but over the life of the car, isn’t this one of those things that pile up unnecessary stress of the system?

        • 0 avatar
          Drewlssix

          On a traditional manual trans there is every reason to believe that placing load on the lever will cause extra wear. Not simply due to direct downward pressure though but from pushing the stick forward or back loading the shift forks and their typically nylon blocks against the spinning syncro/gear assembly. The result will not be a bad syncro usually but loose shift feel due to worn blocks. Another thing is forcefull shifting. When you force the lever you place a lot of load on the fork and usually being aluminum or lightly built they can bend. This can cause either a change in feel and engagement or you might not be able to select a gear at all.

    • 0 avatar
      bam210135

      To answer your auto trans questions-
      -Leave the car in drive and let it do its own thing. Leaving it in drive is not going to harm anything or cause you any fuel economy issues (idle speed is idle speed it doesn’t matter what gear its in), but shifting it in between gears will cause wear in your linkages and could in theory cause internal damage over time.
      -Follow the manufactures’ recommended service intervals. Most companies list an extreme service interval for all the things you listed above (heat/stop and go). For example, my truck’s atf change ranges from 50k miles for extreme to 100k for normal.

    • 0 avatar

      Regarding your 2 questions:
      - Normally, there is no need to keep your hand on the shifter in an automatic car, except you want to go from “D” to “R” or “P”. There is also no need to go to “N” at a traffic stop. That wouldn’t be the intended way of driving. There is no gain in doing so.
      - Regarding ATF changes you can rely on the manufacturer’s specifications.
      (I’ve been driving auto-shifters (semi-automatics, CVTs, too) now for about 40 years. Never had any problems. I started with a VV 1302 semi-automatic, then there were 2 VW Passats, various Benzes, Peugeots, even one CVT Fiat Panda).

      • 0 avatar
        Toucan

        > There is also no need to go to “N” at a traffic stop. That
        > wouldn’t be the intended way of driving. There is no gain in
        > doing so.

        The rule of thumb would be that if a car with an automatic transmission requires stepping on the brakes to prevent creeping, then shifting into neutral makes perfect sense.

        If left in D, the idling engine drives the slipping torque converter, wasting a bit more fuel than necessary. The N setting disengages gears themselves so the converter spins freely.

        No idea how double clutch gearboxes solve this, though. A clever way would be to simulate creep (closing plates) when brakes aren’t on and freewheel (keeping them away) when they are.

      • 0 avatar
        stuntmonkey

        Toucan > The rule of thumb would be that if a car with an automatic transmission requires stepping on the brakes to prevent creeping, then shifting into neutral makes perfect sense.

        No it doesn’t, as everybody else here has pointed out. Despite appearances, an automatic transmission does have clutch assemblies, multiple in fact. They’re in between each planetary gear set, so going up and down gears does mean that clutches are being engaged and disengaged. The torque converter was designed for being held in gear at a stop. If you’re stopped for a en extended period of time, then yes, going to neutral is a good idea, as the engine will generally idle smoother as well. But going in and out of neutral at stop lights puts more wear on the transmission than not.

      • 0 avatar
        Toucan

        Lets put it like this.

        There is evidence that keeping the car in D increases fuel consumption. One look at trip computer readings is enough.

        There is however NO evidence that shifting into N causes any significant wear on an automatic transmission. It is just what people imagine that happens. Swapping cogs is the autobox modus operandi. 1% more shifts won’t matter, especially that they won’t be under load which makes matters absolutely irrelevant

        What would be your advice to those with manual cars? Don’t downshift when accelerating cause it will shorten gearbox service life?

        If you still remain unconvinced, think about the fact that an autobox in N maintains lower fluid pressure. That saves its pump! And the engine revs easier – even less wear and tear.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Hi Marcelo,

      “When in stop and go traffic, for durability and economy, should one shift into neutral?”

      ANS: It may sound like a fuel-saving idea, but can cause wear on the bands that have to grab once again. So for ordinary red lights: NO. For longer periods, like stopping for a 10-minute train to go by: YES.

      “When do you know when to change the fluid? Is it a mileage or time dependant?”

      ANS: Usually mileage for ordinary use, but check your owner’s manual: it’s normally about 30K miles. If you have extreme temperature or hauling situations, choose 10K miles or watch the color: if the fluid begins to look BROWN (horrors!), its more than time for a change. Don’t forget the tranny filter, if it exists.

      ———-

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      The automatic transmission was designed for stop-and-go use, and therefore should be left in gear while in use. The neutral setting should only be used for towing purposes or emergency disengagement of the engine from the rest of the driveline.

      It’s good to check the transmission fluid periodically to see what color it is. As it ages and loses its hydraulic or friction modifying properties the fluid will darken noticeably, which will let you know when it’s time to replace the fluid.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Change your OTC (Oil, Transmission fluid, Coolant) regularly, as chemical compounds simply break down over time and use. I wasn’t as on top of things in my old car but still did oik less than 3K (didnt last longer, old Saturns burn it fyi) the trans @ 30K, and coolant around 30K, or whenever the rad/water pump starting leaking and needed changed (roughly every 30K)

        New car got Mobil 1 in December 2011, about 4500 miles ago. Trans in January (original fluid, changed at 66K) and Coolant in June (flushed out original dex cool). I’m going to change the oil around December or around 7K, whichever comes first, Trans next January (will prob be about 7-10K miles) and coolant I will prob wait until early 2014. Fluids are in the long run cheap and I can either do my own work or rely on my experienced and cheap mechanic for the other changes.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Also keep your foot right off the clutch pedal while not using the clutch. Many new cars have a foot rest just for that reason.
      Another thing is to remove your right foot off the accelerator while changing gears. Revving the engine during a change up, especially higher gears, will wear the clutch out very quickly indeed.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Maybe it’s a step backwards to some, but can we go back to sealed-beam headlights?

    Headlight fails? Take out a few screws, swap a plug, and voila! brand-new headlight. $15.

    Modern “advancement”: Headlight fails? Bend your 5-jointed wrist into a ridiculously awkward position and just swap a bulb. Great, but you still have the same old lens. Ultraviolet light, etc, will turn those lenses into cataracts in 8 years. Now you get to spend $400 on a new headlight assembly at the dealer (+$200 labor to install it) or get a cheap Chinese knockoff on eBay for $100 that will cloud up even sooner.

    Now tell me again how modern headlights are an improvement.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I think we’ll see diode integrated systems soon that will make obsolete the need to replace any individual components.

      It will be a total and complete plug and play (and pull and replace) unit in the event that these lighting sources should fail (and there’s not really any good excuse why they should over many hundreds of thousands of miles given what is even the current technology available).

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        Maybe, but the lenses will still be polycarbonate, and will still cloud up over time. Sealed beams use glass, and even if they never burn out, glass stays pretty clear over time.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @eggsalad said “Maybe it’s a step backwards to some, but can we go back to sealed-beam headlights?”

      Why don’t we just drive in the dark, with no headlights? That’s not much different from worn-out sealed beams anyway …

      You can also polish polycarbonate lenses easily — and glass lenses pit from sand and stones as well, so this is not a black-and-white difference.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Sealed beam headlamps worked fine on my ’87 Volvo 740 Turbo and provided plenty of light.

      With the exception of the HID headlamps on my ’04 BMW 330i, every car that I’ve had from the post sealed beam era has been worse than that Volvo in terms of low beam illuminations. Special shout out to my ’91 Volvo 940SE, whose “aero” headlamps were like a couple of weak candles.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @eggsalad said “Maybe it’s a step backwards to some, but can we go back to sealed-beam headlights?”

      Why don’t we just drive in the dark, with no headlights? That’s not much different from worn-out sealed beams anyway …

      You can also polish the polycarbonate lenses easily, and glass lenses pit from sand and stones as well. Really this is not a black-and-white difference. And the difference in light output from modern HIDs vs sealed beams is amazing. The old DOT sealed beams were atrocious compared even to their European contemporaries.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @eggsalad said “Maybe it’s a step backwards to some, but can we go back to sealed-beam headlights?”

      Why don’t we just drive in the dark, with no headlights? That’s not much different from worn-out sealed beams anyway. The difference in light output from modern HIDs vs sealed beams is amazing. The old DOT sealed beams were atrocious compared even to their European contemporaries.

      Besides, polishing clouded polycarbonate lenses is not all that difficult.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        Since ’06 I’ve been using the clear 3M headlight protective film from ClearMask. After 95,000 miles the lenses on my TC are as good as new. People with other ’09 CRVs ask my dad how he kept his headlights looking so good – it’s because of the film (which was a terror to install on that vehicle). The invisible hood film is also a paint saver.

        A criteria for new vehicle purchase is now the contour-based level of difficulty for film application.

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        Sweet! My Model A has gas-fired headlights!

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      I wouldn’t want to go back to sealed beam headlights, but the new wave of DOT-spec glass lamps fitted with high intensity halogens behind precision facets are at least the equal of the pricey aftermarket HID conversions without all the nasty ballast wiring requirements. Just moving from early 80s halogens to the Xtravision DOT-spec lamps easily gave me another 100 yards of night visibility and eliminated the need to ever use the high beam function.

      And if you want to go with replaceable lamps, there are DOT-spec housings designed to work with H4s, giving you that nice old-car clearance for replacement coupled with modern light patterns.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        There’s absolutely no good reason why the industry hasn’t switched over the light emitting diode technology, with appropriately selected reflector material, for headlight applications, IMO.

        It’s not cost. It’s not heat related. It’s not durability.

        I’d love to hear from an engineer or lighting expert why LED technology isn’t being implemented more rapidly as a replacement for conventional headlights (halogen, xenon, etc.), given that it is extremely efficient, the diode has an incredible lifespan, and offers a very wide range of CRI and Kelvin temps to choose from.

        If they can transition to LED in flashlight, overhead, and outdoor area lighting applications from HID (metal halide, hps, etc.) with more lumens AND lux, longer unit life and less energy consumed, there’s no reason why the same can’t be done for automotive lighting.

      • 0 avatar
        modelt1918

        Eggsalad- Maybe your 1908-1915 Model T had gas fired headlights but, anytime after that they had a light bulb.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Eggsalad,

      Blame the marketing departments and the typical consumers for preferring the awful “jewel like” appearance of the modern clear-lens complex reflector lamps in test clinics. They consistently perform worse than a faceted-lens smooth refelctor design assuming both are made to meet the same FMVSS standard. There’s a whole section of the book “Car” (about the ’96 Taurus development) that goes into the battle regarding these two headlamp designs.

      The one upside to old “sealed beam” designs is that you have options to improve your lighting performance. I upgraded both of my Jeeps to Cibie H4 lamps that perform extremely well and are probably equal to many projector beam and HID lamps in output and beam pattern. Remember that just because it’s a projector beam or an HID (or both) doesn’t mean it’s automatically good. There are some bad implementations of those technologies too.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I’d rather just have glass lenses, or polish them up, than have to deal with *re-aiming* my lights ever time one fails.

      (Me, I prefer the Best Compromise Ever – H4 replaceable bulbs with good focusers in a Sealed Beam shell.

      You get a nice bulb replacement story combined with a reasonably cheap way out of damage, and don’t need to re-aim just to replace a burned out bulb.

      I have them (the Hella versions, but others are around) in both my ancient Mercedes and my old Toyota.)

  • avatar

    Amen to everything you’ve said, Steven. I see tons of posts on car enthusiasts talking about what a piece of sh*t their car is, only to read later on that “my older (fill in the make) could go around corners on three wheels and jump curbs all day and IT wouldn’t break!”.

    My current car, which I bought brand new, has well over 400,000 miles on it. It still looks good, it still runs and drives like new. It’s still on it’s original engine, trans and clutch (all untouched). While I’m no expert, I must be doing something right.

    First, I don’t abuse it. It’s an economy car and I drive it as such. If I want to race someone from stoplights, I’ll get an old muscle car and expect to break sometimes. Second, I use, not abuse it’s features and controls. I sit down in the seat, not flop down into it. I turn on the signals and other switches, I don’t flick them. When I shut the hood or hatch/trunk, I don’t slam them. I lower them down to the latch and push it shut. Just stuff like that.

    I do the recommended maintenance (fluid changes, timing belt and so on) using the recommended parts/fluids when they are supposed to be done. For everything else, when they start to fail, I replace them before they break completely. I also leave most all the mechanical stuff stock. I see people mod the hell out their cars thinking that they are smarter than the thousands of professional engineers that the auto companies employ. They aren’t.

    I also don’t wax my car every week. I’m of the firm belief that one of the reasons paint starts fading and peeling off is because of over waxing, especially using the wrong wax. The owners are rubbing away all the clearcoat that protects the paint. I hate to admit it, but I’ve NEVER waxed or polished my car, and after 11 years and 400K miles, it’s still nice and shiny (of course, keeping it on a garage when it’s not being driven helps).

    No big secrets, just common sense will make your car last.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Much respect for your process.

      My thoughts about machinery are that even the most humble doesn’t deserve to be thrashed nor it’s maintenance neglected.

      Both my so called “POS” cars which I purchased new had their first oil and filter change at 1300 miles.

      One was immaculate at 55,000 miles when it was destroyed in a rear ender. The other one had all it’s fluids changed [trans and radiator] at 45000 miles, even though one is a sealed automatic and the other a “100,000 mile”[Dexdouche]coolant.

      The rebuilt 225 Slant I had installed in my 63 Valiant got it’s first one at 600 miles.

      It’s unfathomable to me that people will make such a large purchase, then proceed to destroy it via lack of simple maintenance and common sense. I don’t understand it.

      Of course anyone can do whatever to their ride. For myself, the money to buy another car comes at too high a cost. Why would I willingly put myself in a position to have to replace something I already have by not taking care of it ?

    • 0 avatar
      deliverator

      Could you please share your techniques in terms of shifting gears? I have an ’08 Civic Si that I picked up by taking over the guy’s lease, with one year left. He only put on 45000 km’s on it in 4 years, but had the clutch replaced after catastrophic failure at about 40000 km’s. I think he didn’t know what he was doing.

      Anyway I’m very careful with the car as I too feel “mechanical sympathy” and want to keep it in great shape. Some of those cars had a known problem with 2nd and 3rd gear, the synchros not working properly. I do often get a notchiness when going into third gear. But I often wonder, and beat myself up, if it’s my style of shifting.

      I concentrate on getting the clutch all the way in before shifting. Even then, it does it. I also have learned the rpms for some speeds and gears and have been able to match engine speed to output shaft speed for the gear I’m going into, within a few hundred rpm’s. Makes for smooth gear changes, which I like.

      When slowing to stop for a red light or whatever, I push the clutch in and go into neutral and coast down and use the brakes. I don’t go back through all the gears.

      When downshifting more than one gear, I double clutch. Usually get it right and the shifter just drops right in there.

      Am I doing right? Please let me know. I really want to be driving this thing properly.

      Please, I just want the one, be-all-and-end-all true philosophy for driving, so I can drive like God intended.

      Thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Hi deliverator,

        I’m not sure if you were addressing “K5ing” in particular, or any of us in this response group.

        But here are some thoughts on your question:
        1) It may be nothing that you are nominally doing wrong;
        2) For many small manual transmissions, the 1-to-2 and 2-to-3 upshifts may be a bit awkward, and “grumpy” at times, especially when cold;
        3) I have experienced the same thing with my 2010 Nissan Frontier, so you are not alone.

        Barring any sort of internal damage to the tranny from the person whose lease you assumed, here are some possible reasons:
        1) The synchronizers are simply not engaging quickly enough to match the counter-shaft RPM with input shaft, within the shift time you have allowed;
        2) Synchronizers are shot.

        So, what to do? Here are some things I did that have worked well for me, but they do involve being a little more interactive with your transmission (it is a fellow traveller, after all!):
        1) Slow down you shifting speeds, and I mean way down;
        2) Stop in neutral and let out the clutch before reengaging clutch and continuing to the next higher gear. (That is an upshift double-clutch method, more effective when cold than when hot for some complex reasons that have to do with differential rates of thermal expansion.)
        3) Change the tranny fluid to 90-140 or higher (not 75-90), since some modern (Asian) synchronizers work partially by a “viscosity gap”, not actual brass-to-brass, cup-&-cone contact, as in the old Porsches.
        4) I don’t know where you live, but warm up the transmission before driving off, at least until you get the hang of some of these other ideas. (You don’t have to let the car just sit idling in neutral: let it idle for 2-3 minutes, then shut it off and have cup of coffee: engine heat will conduct through the pressure plate into the tranny anyway.)

        If you’ve exercised your mechanical sympathy with these suggestion above, and still have problems, then your previous lease holder may have tried to “slam-shift” the car and has simply worn out the synchros. Time for a new tranny or a rebuild. The fact that he reportedly had a catastrophic clutch failure at 40K miles is an indicator that he may not have been the most gentle guy with that car, and that the tranny may have taken a beating as well.

        Good Luck!

        ————-

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Steven,

    Here may be two more:
    1) Install a firmer gas pedal spring, or add an auxiliary one of your own. This may tend to reduce gas-wasting jack-rabbit starts by simply pushing back a little bit more;
    2) A simple buzzer circuit that you can set for a given speed as a warning that you are going beyond where you rationally thought you wanted to. This is not the same as setting cruse control, since people may set them for 65 but go beyond them to 85 anyway. This would continually and annoyingly buzz at you for any speed beyond your set point. May help people save fuel, reduce speeding, and minimize wear-and-tear on their vehicles. (If manufacturers don’t do this, a good qualified mechanic who can access the vehicle’s ECU electronic speed signal may be able to that.)

    ———-

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I have seen this user-defined speed limiter on Audis (you can set a speed warning on the multi-function display) and Fords (the MyKey function allows you to set a speed limit). I suspect there are many others out there …

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      With drive-by-wire there is no place to attach this spring.

      Not sure it’s a great idea to go tapping into ECU controls to install an electronic nanny nagger. And please remember to remove this wonder before you sell the vehicle and inflict it on someone else who knows how to read a speedometer.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’m not endorsing the idea, but surely firmer springs could replace the springs that are currently keeping drive by wire gas pedals from resting on floorboards everywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Hi jpolicke,

        Thanks for the feedback.

        There has to be a spring (or spring action-by-solenoid) involved somewhere in drive-by wire systems or the accelerator simply would not return to the idle position. It should not be rocket science for the manufacturer to make this force adjustable by the owner, or to have an add-on installed by a mechanic.

        You’re right: ECU messing is not for amateurs. And I agree that it would be best if all of us felt that the speedometer were more than dashboard decoration. From some folks who drive I-285 around Atlanta, you’d think there was no tomorrow much less any constraint from that little gauge just under the steering wheel. Maybe some people know what their own weaknesses are, and could use a self-imposed “irritating nanny” to control themselves? (Yes, I would hate it, but then again, I watch ALL gauges all the time, perhaps compulsively!)

        ———–

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      BMW has offered this on at least some models for a while. My ’98 540 has the speed warning. The gas pedal also offers considerably more resistance than other cars I’ve driven, even those that also have a mechanical throttle.

    • 0 avatar
      deliverator

      Hi NMGOM,

      There was no option to reply above, so here it is. I read your reply and tried the double clutch method while upshifting during my driving the rest of the day today. It worked really well, especially on the 2-3 upshift. The shifter just drops right into place. But I find it makes it harder to match the rpm’s just right, so I’m then forced to do that with the clutch partially engaged and I end up with a less-than-smooth shift, most of the time. Frustrating that a 2008 model year car has this problem. I live in Edmonton, Alberta so right now here it’s hot. Driving the car for the tail end of the winter that just past was not enjoyable at all, honestly. Car does not like to be cold. But the notchiness occurs cold or hot.

      The previous owner was a bonehead. I met him a couple times when completing the deal. Just to clarify, this wasn’t at 40000 miles, it was 40000 KM’s – so about 24000 miles when the clutch was done.

      I plan to go back to the dealer to get them to check it out. I suspect the car may be subject to the 3rd gear synchro problem that many 2006-2008.5 Si 6-speeds were stricken with.

      The biggest thing is I scold myself internally every time it happens, with the notchiness. Amazing how you can hurt your own self-esteem like that.

      I will admit however, that once in awhile I do start releasing the clutch a bit early, while moving the shifter into the next gear. Those times, I do deserve the shame, as does any driver. But it’s rare that I do it.

      I test drove a 2012 Si. The 0.75-second rpm hang after you release the accelerator is annoying. That would be even worse to drive.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    Also — do anything you can to keep your car from baking in the sun all day. Your car may be running like a top, but you still won’t want to keep it if the upholstery is shredding, the headliner is falling down and the paint is peeling off. The worst situations are apartment complex and office building parking lots that have basically no shade at any time of the day. If you can pay a few extra bucks to get covered parking, it’s probably worth it. If that’s not possible where you live or work, at least use a sun shade, wax the car periodically and use a good leather treatment if you have leather seats.

  • avatar
    Prado

    On automatics, when I need heavy acceleration, I manually downshift prior to getting on the accelerator rather than just flooring it. This seem to be less harsh on the drivetrain (I think!)

  • avatar
    Slare

    Prado, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t muck with the shifter like that.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      Agreed. I thought the whole point of an automatic is that it automatically upshifts and downshifts when necessary.

      When I was a Motor Transport Officer in the Marine Corps and had my various motor pools, the vehicle operators (drivers) would often manually operate the automatic shifters in the HMMWVs and M923 5-tons just to feel cool or macho. We had to repair and replace many trannys and linkages because of the unnecessary effing around with them. That really sucked in the desert.

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        Many Auto boxes have a manual shift mode so I don’t think it matters. Weather you shift it or the computer does it, the gearbox does the shifting regardless.
        My advice is to drive a manual and then you decide and shift… but that’s just my opinion ;-)

  • avatar
    el scotto

    My oil monitor is a sticker on my windshield. I do wish I had a tire pressure monitor, whatever their acronyms may be.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      My TPMS is a guage in the glove box.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      My TPMS is a PITA. The annunciator always seems to illuminate for no reason, even though the pressure (according to my gauge) is correct. BTW, automatic pressure monitoring and correcting systems (whatever they’re called) already exist on 18 wheelers. Just a matter of time before they become options and then standard on cars and light trucks. As long as the air compressor works, you could rely on the system to keep your tires properly inflated. But of course, it means more money and complexity. Until then, my digital tire gauge works for me.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    My car has almost 350k miles and besides keeping maintenance up to date, I never drive off first thing in the AM w/o letting it run for one minute, don’t slam on the brakes, never, ever floor it and no fast acceleration until the engine warms up.Oh and don’t ignore speed bumps, they destroy suspension parts and warp wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      myleftfoot

      Add plenty of coasting. 350k is great How long do your brakes last? I get over 90k by planning my stops long in advance.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        I always buy OEM pads and I have never even replaced the front rotors, I do coast when I see a red light, even though the hot shot behind me might get pissed off, I keep right so they’re free to pass me on the left whenever they feel like it. The traffic in So Fl is heavy and stop and go, not to mention the heat, but having a light weight car, helps a bit but I cannot get as many miles out of my brakes as you do.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Really? Your rotors are original? I am impressed. I warp mine by 40K or so…on pretty much everything I own(ed). Yes I brake heavy at times but in spite of that my cars last longer than most people’s do…

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        It’s amazing how many people waste, at minimum, 40% of their brake pads by charging every red light, and ones where traffic is backed up at that, so that they have to do hard braking to a complete stop.

        It saves gas and wear and tear on the braking system to just arrive at red or yellow lights in an easy manner, having to only apply the brakes gently, if at all.

        I’m not even speaking of coasting at less than 30 mpg for anything more than a 1/8th of a mile, either.

        The people who cruise at high speed right up to the bottleneck of red lights don’t get to their destinations any faster, either.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I’m not hard on my brakes in traffic, it’s those late night corner storming sessions that do the rotors in…now my wife once ate up a set of front brake pads in 16K of commuting and DIDN”T warp the rotors…go figure…

    • 0 avatar
      John

      I agree with Volt about letting the car idle for a minute before driving off. I read too many articles that say drive off as soon as the car starts. Take a valve cover off, have someone start the engine and see how long it takes for oil to start flowing around the top end. It takes a while. Even worse are people who INSIST on revving their engines to redline as soon as they fire up.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        I suppose if you have a new vehicle with ultra light oil, you could get away with it, but in high mileage cars where you need heavier oil like 20W50 or in winter weather where th oil gels up big time, you are definitely causing damage at start up, another thing I do is I don’t leave the a/c on when I shut off the car, I always turn it off and after the one minute idle then I turn the a/c on. Small things that do make a difference in the long haul.

  • avatar
    raph

    —> rant on <—-

    I'm gonna be the voice of oppositionon here and say its nobody's god damned business how somebody else operates their vehicle – they paid for it, if they want to abuse it, run it into the ground, blow it up in the middle of the desert and cook themselves to death before help arrives, needlessly spend money on repair bills, its their god-given right until such time atheirer actions endangetheirer fellow drivers then they should be dealt with (yes I do believe in state inspections).

    I personadon'tdont mind monitoring systems that let me know when the oil needs to be changed or the tire pressure is low (thats TPMS el scotto – and unfortunately they tend to fire when the tires are critically low – 20% or more rather than 10% in the case of sEuropeanpean Asiansian TPMS systems) but shifter interlocks, stiffer pedals that control the rate of acceleration, et al – no thank you.

    Its great that some of you guys are getting a quarter million or half million miles out of a congratulationsations, you also can probably retire at 55 and can probably get zero percent financing on a Boeing 777 if you want but to get your knickers in a twist over the irresponsible habits of your fellow commuters smacks of the same overbearing mentality that infest "home owners associations" – vehicle ownership, like smoking, or eating junk food 24/7 is about free will and the responsibility to excersize it. That there is a social cost to it (via insurance rates, or what have you) is just part and parcel of the game.

    —> rant off <—

    Back to your regularly scheduled discussion and please post on as I find the comments interesting.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    How about changing your shocks once in a while? I see people all the time driving cars with one wheel (usually the back) that looks like it’s strapped to a paint mixer.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Hear, hear!! I just don’t get it either. Dead struts/shocks suck the joy out of driving, exacerbate wear rates on other parts, and endanger the operator and other motorists. Can’t expect the best stopping distance when the wheels are not in contact with the ground…

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    If, like me, you don’t give a damn about saving the environment, how about saving a buck? Something as simple as a tailpipe test can work wonders for an automobile’s fuel consumption; unburned fuel is the number one cause of poor tailpipe emissions. A hundred dollars for a basic timing and fuel/air adjustment can save thousands down the road.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      That’s not really the case on modern cars, with an ECU and a load of sensors. It’s usually something more serious like an oxygen sensor or a catalytic converter, or one of the aforementioned sensors (IAT, IACV, etc). Most new cars have moved away from distributors, and plugs last 100k assuming reasonable driving habits.

      My brother’s friend owns an indy shop and says he has old timers come in with sputtering newer (EFI) cars telling him to do a ‘tune up.’ He asks do you want me to do a tune up or do you want me to fix the sputtering? He writes in the work order that the car has a plugged cat that will fail soon. Sure enough a month later the guys come back with a failed cat telling him he messed their car up. He pulls up the work form with his earlier prediction of the dying cat.

  • avatar
    rhears

    I’m in California and often have to leave my daily driver in the sun for hours (not sure if tree sap is better/worse than the sun!). I of course have a sunscreen on the dash and the car is waxed probably more than necessary. I’m wondering if one of the BB with detailing experience could know if waxing really helps to prevent sun damage? I’m thinking UV rays move right through conventional wax and polishes. Maybe the next dot.com zillionaire will invent a car wax with an active sunscreen additive? I’ll do some Binging and advise if I find anything credible on the subject.

  • avatar
    stuart

    I suppose that a properly designed shift interlock (must press brake when moving out of Park) is a Good Thing. Alas, the interlock on our ’00 Odyssey wasn’t.

    The Odyssey interlock has a solenoid operated by the ECU. Press brake, ECU sees brake on, ECU energizes solenoid, shift lever now free to move. Except: there was a distinct one-second delay before the solenoid engaged, and if you pulled on the gearshift too soon, the interlock would stick. And the solenoid only stayed on for a half-second, so if you took too long with the gearshift, you had to let go of the brake and gearshift and try again.

    This sounds like a trivial thing, but when I was in a hurry, it *never* worked for me; I had to re-re-re-re-retry it a whole bunch of times. Absolutely infuriating.

    One day, I *almost* got it right, but not quite, and I forced it anyway. And I broke something. When I got to my destination, the gearshift would not go back to Park.

    I used the parking brake that day until I could dismantle the column and clean out the broken bits of interlock linkage.

    ***Best thing I ever did for the car.*** No more arguments about when/how/if I’m permitted to drive my own minivan!

    Sorry, but a bad interlock is *much* worse than no interlock.

    stuart

  • avatar
    jackc10

    Although I have only had Saab’s make it to 300,000 miles when the odometers stopped working, I’ve had, and have, others well into the 200,000′s and my 1998 Dodge Ram, (bought from an industrial user well after the break in period) used hauling dogs, boat and chore material, made it past that milestone last May.

    I concur on the fluid and belt changes, keep it garaged if possible. (Pick up does not get in the garage). No one keeps a garbage can forever and a trash filled vehicle is not worth keeping.

    I drive mostly in Metro Atlanta but frequent trips to Cedar Bluff AL put me in non ethanol territory. There is a big difference in power and mpg. Besides filling up I get cans filled so I can run non ethnaol in my boats, mowers and tools. My Lexus gets 32 mpg on I-75 compared to 26 with 10% corn stuff.

    You folks worshipping sticks must live in Montana or do not drive in a city much.

    I may be over the top on tires, brakes and quick to make repairs at the first sign of trouble, but I am rarely calling AAA unless some democrat has steamed through a red light.

    On the subject well above about overheating, if an engine got hotter once the engine was off, it would be producing heat with no energy input. That would be near impossible, unless one is at Texas A&M publishing a paper on cold fusion.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “You folks worshipping sticks must live in Montana or do not drive in a city much.”

      I drive in Seattle and live in one of its suburbs. City of 600k. Metro area of 3.4 million. Lots of hills. I have no problems driving a stick and prefer one to an automatic transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Hi jackc10,

      “If an engine got hotter once the engine was off, it would be producing heat with no energy input.”

      I know it looks that way, but the reality is thermal gradients. Check where the thermostat is – usually top center on hose to radiator, the coolest position. Check where hottest part of engine is when turned off – the “water jacket” interior next to the cylinders. So when a recorded temp rise occurs upon shut-down, it’s just the heat diffusing upward to the thermostat, which reads on the gauge in your dashboard.

      ————

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    I am seriously thinking about posting this at my shop. Everyone has a slightly different way of maintaining/caring/driving for their vehicle.

    Typically if I see a vehicle in the shop that isn’t covered with the slop of daily life left in its interior and looks half way decent on the exterior, most likely than not that customer will purchase the transmission flush I will try to sell them, provided it is needed.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Well, OK…I do like some of these, especially the oil monitoring. Just seeing IF it matches with my own system is worth it. I seem to change it lots earlier than it suggest.

    However…the VERY BEST gadget in today’s car/SUV…etec…is the Back Up Camera!

    I do not know if I can ever back up any car ever again as well as I do the MKS I have. I mean, EVEN in Lincoln Park IL…where you have nothing but small parallel parking, my MKS back up camera ever makes the Park Assist useless.
    I can see everything and pull into extremely small spaces.

    In parking lots, I can spot approaching cars or pedestrians easily and avoid killing.

    This is my very favorite addition to cars today.
    Hell…I can’r even back up our 09 Mazda6 because I have become so accustom to the cam.

  • avatar
    Mike.S.

    I wonder if clutches in cars could be positioned like clutches in motorcycles to make them easy to get to and replace. Even a hopeless mechanic like me can replace the clutch on most bikes with transverse engines, and I know that when this job comes due on my car it’s likely to cost me a lot of money and several hours of waiting at the shop.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Mike S., clutches in many motorcycles have discs and are easy to get to. BMW twins use the same type of single clutch plate and pressure plate on the flywheel as most manual cars do.

      Changing the clutch plate itself on a manual-transmission car is not all that difficult as long as you have the proper alignment tool to center the clutch plate and line up the splines. Some of the ones I did were done laying on my back in my driveway.

      It makes it a lot simpler if you have access to a hoist or carlift, and a buddy to help you drop/lift/position the transmission, bell housing and pressure plate assembly while you R&R all the bolts.

      Most people were born with only two hands, and for a clutch job I found four hands to be ideal. Once the bolts are re-inserted you can micro-adjust the whole thing with taps from a rubber mallet before torquing down to spec.

      In any case, you have to get under the vehicle to do it, unlike a bike where you can lay it on its side and work that way.

      Changing the clutches/bands/plates on automatic transmissions is a whole ‘nuther ball game. I did a 1968 C6, C4 and several Torque-Flites, and each was a BEAR!

      Not that difficult, just time consuming. Fortunately, at the time JC Whitney carried complete rebuild kits with all the replacement parts, exploded-view diagrams and assembly instructions included.

      If man built it, man can fix it.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I always liked that my Land Cruiser has not only instructions for checking the ATF level, but instructions on dripping a drop onto a piece of paper and examining the rings when it dries to check the condition of the fluid. And while I like the oil life monitors, they simply keep track of RPM, temp, and things like that to calculate when they think the oil should be changed don’t they? It’s not as if there is a little Blackstone Labs somewhere under the hood constatntly sampling your oil.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I always liked that my Land Cruiser has not only instructions for checking the ATF level, but instructions on dripping a drop onto a piece of paper and examining the rings when it dries to check the condition of the fluid. And while I like the oil life monitors, they simply keep track of RPM, temp, and things like that to calculate when they think the oil should be changed don’t they? It’s not as if there is a little Blackstone Labs somewhere under the hood constatntly sampling your oil.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    heh heh, Maintaining my first ’88 BMW 528e was a constant process, but after owning bugs and a Stihl chainsaw. I grok the German mindset. It was nothing I couldn’t handle in the driveway. I added 200K miles to the 150K it came with. I never had to replace heavy or expensive parts. Worst part of the job is often getting a wrench or socket on the bolts due to close quarters. I’ve been working on cars since I was 9 yrs old. The Borman 6 was a pleasure to work on compared to my Jeeps. Better yet, it made driving fun again. Even with an automatic trans. I have owned several 528es , all autos. They are slow,with only 121 HP in a 3200 lb car. Once up to highway speeds , they will cruise very nicely. Keeping up on fluids and filters keep them returning home. They have a few neat features. Chintzy low level float switches, but in simplicity is grace. If you over heat an E 28, it is your own stupid fault. A great feature for keeping money in your wallet. It also has an OLM that I ignore because my tried and true regimens , tempered by BITOG, work fine. After a 25 yr hiatus, I now have a 5spd manual in my Ranger. But it is not a daily driver. I spent 3 and a 1/2 months replacing and base lining it . So far , so good. It is my first Ford in 30 yrs,

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    Steering system, tires, and CV joint wear is off the scale when people turn the steering wheel while the car is in place.. they typically do this to full lock and then apply power to move.

    You only need to move ahead or back a little while turning to minimize this stress.
    I also plan my moves to minimize the turn radius.

    Wifey does this all the time to my Audi 5000 while complaining the steering is not as easy as other cars!

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The irony of that is the fact that they teach you how to park exactly that way!

  • avatar
    windsormarxist

    Now, I’m a bit old school when it comes to my cars. My first car was a ’65 Corvair, and the instruction for overheating was- 1. turn off engine, 2. find safe place to stop! Generally the only reason a Vair overheats is because it has thrown its fan belt. I was also taught to think of 3000 miles as the limit for oil changes. I still keep to this, even with modern lubricants.

    With manual transmissions, I have learned to match revs- clutch to neutral, then rev the engine when downshifting to where it should be for the next gear, and then clutch and ease it in. Upshifting, push to neutral, let revs die and then clutch again and push it in.

    I also NEVER keep my foot on the clutch when standing. This will mess up the release bearing very quickly, which means a clutch job even if the facings are fine.

    I avoid repair shops like the plague, and use either genuine or new old stock parts. There’s alot of cheap junk from China at the moment, and if you want a car to drive like a Yugo its fine, but why use that stuff in your pride and joy? Repair shops are a no-no, as I can’t trust every mechanic to torque bolts correctly or not scratch the paint underneath when working on the suspension.

    When working on my cars, I always use a torque wrench, which I calibrate every couple of years. I’ve never stripped a bolt. If something is stiff, DON’T force it. Stop, spray some penetrating fluid, have a break, and then try again. If that doesn’t work, use heat.

    Brakes pads are cheap. If my MOT test says they’re getting thin, I replace them, even if there’s still pad left. I also buy cheap pads. High performance pads wear the rotors more quickly, and rotors are more expensive than pads. Treat pads like oil- they’re a consumable, not a repair.

    Remove hubs and pack wheel bearings every 2 years.

    Check all rubber bits like tie rod boots, CV boots etc and change them when they need it.

    Grease U-joints every year or 10,000 miles.

    Once a year, disconnect electrical connectors and clean any corrosion.

    Wax the car regularly, but don’t use polish- just pure wax. This won’t eat through the paint.

    Slow down for speed humps. Drive under the speed limit during the spring thaw if salt was used.

    However, the most important thing is rust. Replace window seals if they leak, and every year get the car up and powerwash the undercarriage. Grind off any rust and then paint and apply protective wax. Spray wax into body cavities as well. If there are any holes, cut out the bad metal and weld in new metal. Use seam sealer on BOTH sides, as well as weld through primer.

    I also replace trim and interior parts when they are a bit tatty. This makes the car a nicer place to be and keeps you from thinking you need something newer.

    Now this may seem OTT for some in our throwaway age, but I use a ’79 Volvo and ’61 Rover p4 as daily drivers. Both are kept outside near the seaside, which is why I mentioned the welding- if you live in the desert, you don’t need to worry about rust. I could drive each to Mongolia tomorrow with confidence. My house is nearly 200 years old, and I don’t see why we take care of buildings to keep them for furture generations, yet throw away cars when they too can last decades.

    I should say that I actually like working on my cars and find it relaxing after a day in the office dealing with people. By keeping bolts torqued properly, engines clean, and fluids good, you won’t believe how easy and pleasant it is to work on your car.

    If I did physical work all day, I might not find spannering so relaxing though.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Great and interesting suggestions, windsormarxist…

      Obviously you’ve been “around the block” for a while with real life experience.

      There may be a little trick that many folks don’t know about northern states and salt usage. Here it is: It may actually be counter-productive to wash your salt-encrusted car too much! And driving it at night into a nice warm garage may be the worst thing you can do. Surprise.

      Ugly as it may be, your artificially white winter car may survive those 4-5 months of brine immersion much better if you leave it outside COLD FROZEN, and don’t get it either wet or warm. All that does is renew an electrolyte solution to encourage oxidation. If you have REALLY warm thaw-weather, in which you can be fully assured that all water will be dried out of the niches and crannies, then maybe wash your car.

      Yeah, I know: everybody’s wife is going to say, “He’s recommending what? I can’t even get my beautiful blue coat near that ‘thing’ without white dust all over it!” (^_^)…

      ———-

      • 0 avatar
        windsormarxist

        You’re right about not washing the car in the snow when its below freezing and leaving it outdoors. Rust can’t grow through ice. Similarly, I don’t believe in using a garage if the car is damp- leaving a car outside in the wind will dry out all of the nooks and crannies. There’s nothing wrong about parking a car outdoors as long as you keep on top of your seals.

        I remember looking for cars when I lived in the midwest, and there were lots of older cars owned by older people who washed and polished them then garaged them. You could tell these cars because they’d look like a show car on top but a flintstones mobile underneath.

        Unfortunately I live in the UK now, so when they salt the roads, it hovers right around 29-35 degrees, so the salty muck stays at just the right temperature to attack bodywork. That’s why waxoyl or bilt-hamber underbody wax are needed, and welding is considered a regular task.

        However, I also agree that it is far worse for a car to garage it for half the year without getting a workout than exposing it to the weather, provided its properly treated. That’s why cars often need brakes, gearbox work or engine bearings after they’ve been off the road for as little as a year. Old oil is like acid on metal and rubber.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    In many areas where it snows and salt is used liberally there are long lines at the car washes; almost all the vehicles have the lovely road salt/sand patina. Under those circumstances, I don’t understand your drive slowly in the spring thaw comment. In day of yore, people would buy “winter beaters” and garage their nice ride. The tinworm is readily fed in a lot of parts of North America.

  • avatar
    OldWingGuy

    I agree about the Oil Life Monitor. Greatest thing since sliced bread. The Government, as new GM owners, should have put the patents in the public domain.
    I would add the tire pressure monitoring system. Especially GM’s, which is very simple to reprogram with tire rotations, etc. No more hopping out to check tire pressure if you think the vehicle is pulling to one side.
    One thing I would like to see is an indicator of air cleaner condition. To keep oil change guys from needlessly dropping dirt and dead bugs into the intake system. And trying to upsell me on an unneeded air cleaner. A simple diferential pressure sensor…

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    Most people don’t know the difference between a steady check engine light and one that is flashing. With all the computing power available in info-tainment system, one would think that it could display both what is wrong with the car and what to do about it. In the case of a flashing CEL, the warning should be aural as well!

  • avatar
    rodface

    I prefer a manual transmission for myself, but my girlfriend likes her automatic. It pleases me that she *always* comes to a complete stop before shifting into or out of reverse. If we ever marry and share a car I know her shifting won’t be an issue.

    One thing we disagree on is her insistence that I turn the A/C fan completely off before I turn the key off. I don’t think it makes a difference, and neither does switching the A/C button off. Her car is a 2010 Mazda3. Is this something I should always do?


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