Piston Slap: Owner Assisted Hooptie Maintenance?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap owner assisted hooptie maintenance

TTAC Commentator Pete Zaitcev writes:

Dear Sajeev:

I am reading a rather interesting book right now, “Owner Assisted Aircraft Maintenance” by Dan MacDonald. It discusses the maintenance tasks that an airplane owner can perform without being a licensed Airframe & Powerplant mechanic. This got me wondering if a book exists that deals with the maintenance of a 20 to 30-year-old car in general.

Obviously, there is a Haynes manual, but it assumes a certain familiarity with the topic, into which a new owner of an obsolete car needs to be inducted. An auto maintenance textbook for a vocational school may be too heavy a reading for an owner. Do you think a book like this makes sense, and does it exist?



Sajeev answers:

This question got surprisingly personal. So let’s do this thing.

A gentleman named John Muir made a book just like this, but I think the days of books covering everything about a make and model are dead and gone. Why do I say that? Because most 20 to 30-year-old cars are no VW Beetle, they are too damn complicated. Emissions bits, obsolete parts you’ll never get outside of a junkyard or eBay, and complicated electrics that require a lot of background information to accurately fix. And while it gets easier as you get into the 1990s, there’s one reason a book like this isn’t necessary.

Forums: Automotive make and model specific forums. They cover the granular detail, the general knowledge and everything in between. And on the forums you will find people doing it all in one fell swoop, a full restoration of whatever vehicle you’d like. Even something insane like a 1983 Lincoln Continental Valentino, like me. I don’t even know where to start: perhaps telling you that this project’s been in the planning stages for well over a decade is a good idea. And telling you that there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I’ve forgotten about my Lincoln may be a little creepy…but it’s the truth.

Welcome to my Madness.

Believe it or not, one day I plan on writing the definitive book on the Ford Fox Body, including a bit on my savings account destroying, nut and bolt restoration of my Continental Valentino.

And perhaps I hope no one buys it, just to prove my point.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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2 of 22 comments
  • While the few try to fix their own stuff, a few fail. Thats where I come in, and will charge you by the hour to fix your "fix..."

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Aug 13, 2012

    Key point there punky. The DIY are great for what you can do and what you cannot. I left rear trailing arm bushings for my independent mechanic as a normal transaction, but was able to do the front control arms myself. I don't mind a special tool, but there are places where you need to have done one prior to do this one right. Knowing that line is key to successful DIY

  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 (  Bronze or  Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the  Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??
  • Scott "It may not be the ideal hauler to take the clan cross-country to Wally World considering range anxiety "Range Anxiety is a chosen term that conceals as much as it discloses. You don't care about range that much if you can recharge quickly and current BV's (battery vehicles) can't, no matter how good the chargers are. From what I've been reading it is likely that within 5 years there will be batteries in cars, most likely Tesla's, that can charge fast enough with no harm to the batteries to satisfy all of us with no need to increase range beyond a real world 300-ish miles.And that's when I buy one.
  • Charles I had one and loved it . Seated 7 people . Easy to park , great van
  • Jay Mason Your outdoor space will get better every year with a pergola. A horizontal, pole-supported framework for climbing plants is called a pergola. It creates a closed off area. pergola builder denton texas by Denton Custom Decks provide cover for outdoor gatherings. They would be more than happy to assist you with the pergola's framework.
  • Alan I would think Ford would beef up the drive line considering the torque increase, horse power isn't a factor here. I looked at a Harrop supercharger for my vehicle. Harrop offered two stages of performance. The first was a paltry 100hp to the wheels (12 000AUD)and the second was 250hp to the wheels ($20 000 (engine didn't rev harder so torque was significantly increased)). The Stage One had no drive line changes, but the Stage Two had drive line modifications. My vehicle weighs roughly the same as a full size pickup and the 400'ish hp I have is sufficient, I had little use for another 100 let alone 250hp. I couldn't see much difference in the actual supercharger setup other than a ratio change for the drive of the supercharger, so that extra $8 000 went into the drive line.