Piston Slap: 100,000 Mile Tune Ups, Dex-Cool, Grandma's S.L.A.B.
I have a 2001 Buick Regal LS. I bought it in 2007 with 14,000 miles on (yes, from a grandmother). It has 72,000 miles on it as of this morning. It’s not a great car and has required plenty of maintenance (for example, I’ve had to replace the brakes completely 3 times already). However, I have a few questions about long term items:
1. Spark plugs. Should I change them? The owner’s manual specifies 100,000 miles; does time play a factor in that at all? I’ve read that sometimes the back 3 never get changed anyway (apparently it’s a PITA).
2. Coolant. I had it changed once in 2008 (it’s Dexcool) because I had been reading the horror stories. How often should I be changing this?
I’m unsure how long this car is going to last, but I’ll keep limping it along until the cost gets too high. So cost is a factor here too.
As you learned, buying a low mile original car isn’t necessarily a great idea. Unless you buy it for an occasional, collector type of vehicle. (*cough* H-town swanga *cough*) Though a 6-year-old car with low miles doesn’t exactly fit this definition: you replaced the brakes three times in the past 58,000 miles? Whaaaa?
Either you got screwed by a mechanic or you are a seriously aggressive driver that needs elbows and vogues to slow yourself down. Perhaps you should take a page from the Houston playbook, and keep that GM sedan Slow Loud And Bangin’. But I digress…
- Spark plugs: the 100,000 mile tune-up interval has been proven valid for every car I’ve seen, mostly because platinum plugs are that great. There’s a chance that age hasn’t been kind to the ceramic part of the plugs, but if the car idles smooth when cold, gets good mileage, decent power, no check engine light, etc…don’t worry about it.
- Previously discussed here, here and here, Dex-Cool is a bizarre case where you can either flush it out (entirely, no margin for error) and switch to another type of coolant, or continue topping off with a Dex-cool compatible coolant, or you can continue to use Dex-Cool and service it as per the owner’s manual. If you choose the latter, I’d service a little more regularly than suggested…out of fear of the Dex-Cool devil that comes from neglect.
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If you've gone through that many sets of brakes either you ride the brakes constantly, you went to a tire store for the brake job and they put the pads on that cost them $10 or both. A quality set of brake pads from a reputable supplier will last 60K or more on these cars.
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