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Old 09-28-2012, 09:27 AM   #21
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3. Rule of thumb…holes in the TREAD of a tire can be plugged/patched in most cases successfully. Holes in the SIDE of a tire should never be patched/plugged…that part of the tire flexes too much and does not have the steel belts in it…IMO it is dangerous to plug/patch a sidewall.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:40 AM   #22
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Most definitely an F-4 behind your Camaro...
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:24 AM   #23
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2. Used to be you needed to change oil every 3,000 miles…not today. Today’s engines are made with much tighter tolerances and fuel systems that don’t dilute the oil with extra gasoline (older cars ran “rich”, meaning excess fuel was squirted in during operation…and this fuel would run down the sides of the cylinder walls, dilute the oil, and make it less effective). Check your owner’s manual, but most cars today can go at least 5,000 miles between changes, and if you drive under “ideal” conditions, then 7,500 would be ok. (Ideal conditions would be where temperatures are moderate…never gets real hot and never real cold, not dusty roads such as out in the country, and moderate to long trips…short trips of 0-2 miles are very hard on cars)

Someone told me that I should still change oil at 3000/3500 miles because of the altitude here in Denver. Any truth to that? We also use 85 Octane gas because of the altitude (doesn't cause knocking) if that makes any difference.

Great thread for an auto know-nothing like myself.
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:37 AM   #24
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We've saved tons of money by calling our dealership, describing the problem, getting them to throw out ideas as to what they think it is, then looking up step by step repair procedures on the Internet and doing it ourselves. Thanks to all the do-it-yourself repair people who post step by step instructions and pics! We love those folks. Especially the ones who post every single detail on how to do things, down to the bolt locations and which way to turn them.
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Old 09-28-2012, 11:29 AM   #25
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OH, Sun, reminded me of my only real car-tip (I leave the mechanic-ing to DH):
I do a lot of research for him online, and forums devoted to various makes/models are hugely helpful. I have successfully used the Saturn forum for all kinds of suggestions and fixes for our old ones, and of course regularly visit the Social Knowledge community (see links at the bottom of this page) that is devoted to Airstreams. It has been a massive help in keeping our old girl running.
Research on repairs in the age of the internet and youtube is a godsend.
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:16 PM   #26
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Research on repairs in the age of the internet and youtube is a godsend.
That is so true! Just a couple of weeks ago my truck's A/C wasn't blowing cold air and I found a blown fuse labeled "AC Clutch." Having no idea what that was, a quick search online turned up someone talking about the exact same issue. I cut open the wiring harness near the compressor and found a diode across the clutch coil that was shorted out. Good thing I kept all my electronics parts from engineering classes at college (from over 20 years ago) because I found the same diode and soldered a new one in place.

Last month our car was showing a fault code for slow response from the O2 sensor. I needed to get the emissions test done so I looked online, found the parts I needed and where to find them on the engine. Replaced both upstream sensors on the exhaust manifold in a few minutes' time.
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Old 09-28-2012, 01:28 PM   #27
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The best way to save a lot of money on cars is to keep them a LONG time. The largest component of vehicle costs for most drivers is depreciation, not maintenance costs, fuel costs, etc. High-quality cars built in the last 30 years can remain fundamentally reliable for a very long time (well past the 200K mile mark). ANd, if you're like me, you'll drive much less when you drop the daily commute, so 200K miles could be 20+ years. The little stuff may start to go wrong (fuel gauges, window motors, etc) but if you either fix these when they break or decide you can live with the slow decay, it can be a big money saver. Don't scrimp on the regular maintenance, forget your "new car pride" and use the money for the important things in life. For me, driving only late-model cars ain't among those things.
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Old 09-28-2012, 03:09 PM   #28
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...........
I do a lot of research for him online, and forums devoted to various makes/models are hugely helpful. .........
This is really true. I've found that every vehicle has common failures and if you go a forum specific to your make and model and search or ask, you can nail the issue quickly. Google site search truly is your friend, here.

I've also found great how-to videos on YouTube to give me an idea of what is involved with a given repair to decide if I want to attempt it myself.

An anecdote: My SIL called from the road to tell me their Super Duty kept blowing fuses. In 10 minutes I determined from an internet search that a likely cause was a loose heating element in the diesel fuel filter. She relayed this to the dealer who ignored her and kept changing parts, sending her on her way and towing the truck back. Over $1000 and one week later, dealer found loose heater element in fuel filter. Millions of customer miles trump any repair manual written when a vehicle was likely still a prototype.
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Old 09-28-2012, 03:26 PM   #29
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Someone told me that I should still change oil at 3000/3500 miles because of the altitude here in Denver. Any truth to that? We also use 85 Octane gas because of the altitude (doesn't cause knocking) if that makes any difference.

Great thread for an auto know-nothing like myself.
To my knowledge there is nothing about altitude that would require more frequent oil changes. Octane I can understand, that's a whole different story. Humidity may affect oil change frequency, but not altitude. If you can still talk to that "someone", maybe you can ask them for a more detailed description of how the altitude affects oil.
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Old 09-28-2012, 03:27 PM   #30
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We've saved tons of money by calling our dealership, describing the problem, getting them to throw out ideas as to what they think it is, then looking up step by step repair procedures on the Internet and doing it ourselves. Thanks to all the do-it-yourself repair people who post step by step instructions and pics! We love those folks. Especially the ones who post every single detail on how to do things, down to the bolt locations and which way to turn them.
Yes sometimes that's a good option. Just be careful, because DIYers often make mistakes and don't even know it. I recently set the valves on my Honda CRV...and I did look at articles online with photos. I found many inaccuracies in some of the write-ups....they were doing things to their cars I would never do.
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Old 09-28-2012, 03:31 PM   #31
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5. Once a year, spray a towel with Armor All or similar, and wipe gently all weatherstripping around windows, trunk hatch, etc…this will keep them supple for years longer than otherwise.
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Old 09-28-2012, 03:33 PM   #32
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2. Used to be you needed to change oil every 3,000 miles…not today. Today’s engines are made with much tighter tolerances and fuel systems that don’t dilute the oil with extra gasoline (older cars ran “rich”, meaning excess fuel was squirted in during operation…and this fuel would run down the sides of the cylinder walls, dilute the oil, and make it less effective). Check your owner’s manual, but most cars today can go at least 5,000 miles between changes, and if you drive under “ideal” conditions, then 7,500 would be ok. (Ideal conditions would be where temperatures are moderate…never gets real hot and never real cold, not dusty roads such as out in the country, and moderate to long trips…short trips of 0-2 miles are very hard on cars)
Roughly what model year are you meaning when you say "most cars today" could go 5k or 7.5k miles vs 3k traditional oil changes?
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Old 09-28-2012, 04:44 PM   #33
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fanmail, between my small business and personal cars owned since 1991 (probably at least 10), not a single one has required oil changes at less than 5000 miles. Most at 7500 (unless special circumstances).

YMMV, heh, heh.
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Old 09-28-2012, 04:46 PM   #34
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To my knowledge there is nothing about altitude that would require more frequent oil changes.
I could see at least a theoretical connection in the old days. If a carb didn't have effective altitude compensation then the car would run rich at higher elevations and there would be increased dilution of engine oil, washdown of cylinders, etc. I can't see it being a factor now with today's sophisticated fuel-injected cars with mass airflow sensors, etc.
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Old 09-28-2012, 05:27 PM   #35
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fanmail, between my small business and personal cars owned since 1991 (probably at least 10), not a single one has required oil changes at less than 5000 miles. Most at 7500 (unless special circumstances).

YMMV, heh, heh.
Haha, yeah mine has a bit. I noticed that my last car, a 1996 lexus es 300, would kind of wobble a bit and not drive smoothly as the 3k mile marker approached. I also take more time to get to 3k miles than most drivers, so that may have had something to do with it as well.
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:30 PM   #36
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Roughly what model year are you meaning when you say "most cars today" could go 5k or 7.5k miles vs 3k traditional oil changes?
No exact number...but probably 2000 and newer. The engine tolerances have been very tight for quite some time.
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Old 09-28-2012, 10:32 PM   #37
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Haha, yeah mine has a bit. I noticed that my last car, a 1996 lexus es 300, would kind of wobble a bit and not drive smoothly as the 3k mile marker approached. I also take more time to get to 3k miles than most drivers, so that may have had something to do with it as well.
Engine oil being dirty (unless it's so dirty it's clogging the drain return holes in the head, which won't happen unless you don't change your oil for about 60,000 miles) does not cause a car to "wobble" or drive less than smoothly. Perhaps it was something else.
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Old 09-28-2012, 11:10 PM   #38
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I could see at least a theoretical connection in the old days. If a carb didn't have effective altitude compensation then the car would run rich at higher elevations and there would be increased dilution of engine oil, washdown of cylinders, etc. I can't see it being a factor now with today's sophisticated fuel-injected cars with mass airflow sensors, etc.
In theory, you may be right. In practice, not so sure. As one who drives a 50 year old car about 4K miles/yr (and maintain contact with probably 60% of owners of my brand), I'd suggest that in today's world people who own such cars tend to re-jet the carbs if they run too rich/lean. I imagine the same was true when such cars were the new. Running rich would cause other problems that you don't have to be a gearhead to notice. The dealers would hear the complaints and know how to fix them.
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:33 AM   #39
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5. Being gentle – often it’s the way we “handle” our cars that causes problems

a. When you shut the doors from the outside, don’t do it from the top corner of the door/window…this puts stress on the hinges and window mechanisms…rather do it from the door near the rear edge, just above and behind the door handle

b. When you use your “stalks” such as turn signal or wiper, be gentle with them…don’t “slap” at them

c. Vacuum the carpet periodically. It’s not just a cleanliness thing…if you have lots of dust/dirt/pebbles on the carpet, you are grinding those into the fiber every time you move your feet…and it wears the carpet out significantly faster

d. This is mainly a cold weather comment - When you start your car, don’t let it sit and idle to warm up…but rather drive gently within about 1 minute of starting…for the first 1-2 miles. This is the best way to warm up a car as it warms up more quickly by doing the extra work of hauling our rear ends around. J

e. Don’t ever turn your steering wheel all the way to the “lock”, which is where you turn it so far one way that you cannot turn it any further. Instead, turn it just one inch short of that point…or if you accidentally hit the “lock”, immediately move it back one inch. Why? Because power steering pumps sense this, and create additional pressure to help the steering…and this is VERY taxing on the power steering pump. When you hit the lock, you’ll hear a noise from under the hood on many cars…this is because the pump is laboring to make enough pressure…don’t force it.

f. When you start your car after it’s sat out in very cold weather all day or night, do this. BEFORE you try to start it, turn on the headlights and wait 30 seconds. This gets electricity flowing through the battery and cables, slightly warming them. Then, shut off the headlights, and THEN start the car. This doesn’t make a huge difference, but when you need that tiny bit of extra “oomph” from your car battery, it will help.

g. Learn how to drive to prevent automatic transmission problems. This one is difficult to explain…so let me try this way. Imagine you are on a large highway at a traffic light with no other cars, and you are stopped. You start accelerating when the light turns green, and you’re in somewhat of a hurry…so you accelerate fairly hard (try it someplace safe). When the car shifts from first gear to second gear…you’ll get a “jolt” as it shifts. This “jolt” is caused by a “band” squeezing suddenly around a shaft in the transmission. The material on those bands wears over time. The harder that shift is, the faster those bands wear. Now, imagine that you do the same exercise, but this time, just when you sense the transmission is going to shift, you let up slightly on the gas pedal so that when the shift occurs, there is no “jolt”. This is much easier on a transmission. It sounds difficult…but once you get used to it, it will become habit. I’ve never once had an automatic transmission rebuilt, and I think it’s largely because I drive this way.

h. Don’t park under pine trees in spring. They will drop sap on your car…and that stuff is a nightmare to get off…you’ll ruin the clearcoat removing it with chemicals.

i. When washing your car, you want to use a mild detergent. Either buy a special car wash soap, or use something like Joy or Dove. Don’t use Dawn, it has very high detergent levels and will remove wax/finish more quickly. You do NOT want a big sudsy bucket of water. (I do have two show cars…and the process for washing a show car finish is considerably different and beyond the scope of this forum)
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:49 AM   #40
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Tires can be an expensive consumable automotive item so maintaining proper pressures AND rotating tires on a regular basis prolongs life (and in the case of rotation is necessary to claim against tire manufacturers wear warranties).
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