Piston Slap: Limited Use but Unlimited Potential?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap limited use but unlimited potential
TTAC commentator jdmcomp writes:

I own a Jaguar (Ford Era) that gets driven only about once a week, with jaunts of a few miles to several hundred. I keep syn oil in the engine. I have owned this car for several years and the only problem to date is the flat spotting of the tires. What should I do to keep this vehicle in good running condition? Is weekly driving enough?

Sajeev answers:

As someone with more cars than sense I could use, let me tell you: weekly driving is the best place to start. Driving prevents leaks from dried out gaskets, keeps fuel (especially E10 blends) fresh by never letting it go bad, recharges the battery, keeps tires round, prevents fluids from separating into its base ingredients (coolant turning into jelly or crystals), brakes (caliper pistons) free of rust and ensures your HVAC system doesn’t get sticky mechanisms/stale smelling.

This driving regiment will highlight “old car” problems: some major enough for immediate attention, others not important enough to ever address for the life of the vehicle. It’s all part of the process, and it’s a fun process. Why?

Because NOT driving a car is a death sentence. Drive the Jag sometimes and drive it hard. You already trust it for long journeys, this is a no brainer. The Jag will like it, and you will love it.**

  • Bad day at work? Take the Jag to the corporate car park tomorrow. Shock/impress/intimidate your co-workers. They need it, too.

  • Want to make a statement at a party? Motor in the Jag and come correct, like a Boss.
  • Nervous about a first date? Not in a Shaguar you ain’t! Yeeeah baby, yeah!

**Weather pending. I’m looking at you, Rust Belt.

Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

In the above, replace Jaguar with Cougar and you have my basic story. My story is the truth, especially once the cat was old enough for classic car insurance. I know my story applies to anyone with a vehicular “toy” in the garage for occasional use. Man or woman. Rich or Poor. Black or White. Bus pass or mundane daily driver. Jaguar or Cougar.

Please believe: You gotta Do It, To It.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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3 of 25 comments
  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Apr 09, 2013

    " Motor in the Jag and come correct, like a Boss." I'm a fan of the new XJ, it's a great car, but there is nothing quite like driving one of the classic XJs. The Series III models have the best looks but the Ford era cars are probably more reliable (though the 6 cylinder "XJ" Jaguar engine is about as mechanically reliable as a machine can be). The classic XJs are proper motor cars. The only better way to arrive, as far as I'm concerned, would be in a pre-war dual cowl phaeton, preferably a Duesenberg, but a Packard, Cadillac or Lincoln dual cowl would be fine.

  • George B George B on Apr 09, 2013

    If it was mine, I'd make a point of driving the Jag every weekend. Drive it more than just a few miles like 10 miles or more each way to make sure it gets up to operating temperature. Use the air conditioning at least once a month. I'd probably pay a few cents extra a gallon for one of the higher end gasoline brands like Shell or Chevron. If it's used every week I doubt you'll need to do anything special like keep the battery on a charger or add fuel stabilizer. Tires may need to be replaced due to age before the tread wears out.

    • Corntrollio Corntrollio on Apr 09, 2013

      Agree on making sure it gets to operating temperature every week. That's generally a good tip on any car, especially for people who only drive short distances.

  • Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.
  • Redapple2 Cadillac and racing. Boy those 2 go together dont they? What a joke. Up there with opening a coffee shop in NYC. EvilGM be clowning. Again.
  • Jbltg Rear bench seat does not match the front buckets. What's up?
  • Theflyersfan The two Louisville truck plants are still operating, but not sure for how much longer. I have a couple of friends who work at a manufacturing company in town that makes cooling systems for the trucks built here. And they are on pins and needles wondering if or when they get the call to not go back to work because there are no trucks being made. That's what drives me up the wall with these strikes. The auto workers still get a minimum amount of pay even while striking, but the massive support staff that builds components, staffs temp workers, runs the logistics, etc, ends up with nothing except the bare hope that the state's crippled unemployment system can help them keep afloat. In a city where shipping (UPS central hub and they almost went on strike on August 1) and heavy manufacturing (GE Appliance Park and the Ford plants) keeps tens of thousands of people employed, plus the support companies, any prolonged shutdown is a total disaster for the city as well. UAW members - you're not getting a 38% raise right away. That just doesn't happen. Start a little lower and end this. And then you can fight the good fight against the corner office staff who make millions for being in meetings all day.
  • Dusterdude The "fire them all" is looking a little less unreasonable the longer the union sticks to the totally ridiculous demands ( or maybe the members should fire theit leadership ! )