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Author Topic: Essential car maintenance knowledge  (Read 6885 times)

texaskdog

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #25 on: May 03, 2016, 01:46:28 PM »

When we didn't have newer cars we'd rent cars.  I drove my old car from Minnesota to Wyoming when I lived there for the summer.  Of course it broke down and cost a $400 tow out of Yellowstone.

Same tow would probably cost a grand today.  Apparently it's running close to $2,000 for one out of Death Valley nowadays.  I carry tow coverage on my insurance plan just on the off chance that I don't have any other recourse other than to call for a truck. 

Sadly it wasn't offered if you didn't have collision, though I've had it without collision since.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #26 on: May 03, 2016, 09:53:09 PM »

When we didn't have newer cars we'd rent cars.  I drove my old car from Minnesota to Wyoming when I lived there for the summer.  Of course it broke down and cost a $400 tow out of Yellowstone.

Same tow would probably cost a grand today.  Apparently it's running close to $2,000 for one out of Death Valley nowadays.  I carry tow coverage on my insurance plan just on the off chance that I don't have any other recourse other than to call for a truck. 

Sadly it wasn't offered if you didn't have collision, though I've had it without collision since.

I'm talking about with your own insurance.  Most companies nowadays will carry over your coverage to a rental car.

Sykotyk

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #27 on: May 10, 2016, 12:35:44 PM »

But make sure it will tow you out of a national park.. They might not consider that 'side of the road'. Just like they probably won't tow you out of your own driveway, or because you decided to go mudding and need winched out of a field, they're not going to want to pony up the cash. They probably have an agreement with AAA or something similar to keep their costs down to offer the service in the first place.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #28 on: May 10, 2016, 10:42:27 PM »

But make sure it will tow you out of a national park.. They might not consider that 'side of the road'. Just like they probably won't tow you out of your own driveway, or because you decided to go mudding and need winched out of a field, they're not going to want to pony up the cash. They probably have an agreement with AAA or something similar to keep their costs down to offer the service in the first place.

Usually most will cover you if you are on a paved road, mine does for paved only.  Gravel roads get a lot more dicey since there really isn't that many well maintained ones anymore and dirt is considered off-road. 

Duke87

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #29 on: May 12, 2016, 01:11:49 AM »

For what it's worth I've never found that any rental company properly inflates tires before shuffling a car off to the next customer and definitely not the spare.  So usually the first task at hand on a rental car bound road trip is to the gas station air compressor and then to the grocery store to find at minimum a 24-pack of water.

That's... incredibly compulsive. I drove a rental car 3800 miles in six days recently, through temperatures varying from 30 to 85 degrees and elevations ranging from sea level to north of 8000 feet. I never checked the tire pressure or did anything to the car other than put gas in it.

If it's not my car, its maintenance is not my responsibility and I'm not going to spend one red cent messing with it.

Tire pressure being a bit off spec isn't really a huge problem anyway.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #30 on: May 12, 2016, 01:21:33 AM »

For what it's worth I've never found that any rental company properly inflates tires before shuffling a car off to the next customer and definitely not the spare.  So usually the first task at hand on a rental car bound road trip is to the gas station air compressor and then to the grocery store to find at minimum a 24-pack of water.

That's... incredibly compulsive. I drove a rental car 3800 miles in six days recently, through temperatures varying from 30 to 85 degrees and elevations ranging from sea level to north of 8000 feet. I never checked the tire pressure or did anything to the car other than put gas in it.

If it's not my car, its maintenance is not my responsibility and I'm not going to spend one red cent messing with it.

Tire pressure being a bit off spec isn't really a huge problem anyway.

Get stuck somewhere when you could have prevented it makes you compulsive...rather makes me that way.  Look say I was going to some heavily populated state with tons of resources and cellular coverage at my disposal, yeah I'm not going to prepare as much.  For example; I flew out to Maryland two years ago and went to New Jersey....no biggie and not much preparation went into that rental car.  But say I'm going to do something like bound over very remote mountains and possibly have to deal with going from 90F to snow I'm going to do a little bit more....like this past weekend in Oregon and in the Trinity Mountains.  At minimum the least I could have done is make sure my tires were inflated and be sure that I didn't have a slow leak...much less check my fluid levels.  I got South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Eastern Utah and Western Colorado on the docket next month....so a spot check is in order with 3,000 miles ahead in no-man's land.

Besides a rental car company will often try to make you responsible for something like getting a tire replaced during a blow out provided you don't carry proper insurance either from them or your own provider. 

J N Winkler

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #31 on: September 17, 2016, 02:03:33 PM »

I have only just now discovered this thread, so--with apologies in advance for a bump some may find disruptive--I'm going to add my two cents' worth, from both sides of the preparedness question.

When I had a 1986 Nissan Maxima, I carried a lot of emergency repair equipment in the trunk, and after twelve years realized that I had used almost none of it except for the jumper cables, the air compressor, and oil change tools (I did oil changes on the road since with the Maxima I could do them with all four wheels on the ground; both of the cars I have had since require ramps).  Meanwhile, for the actual urgent needs for rescue and repair I had on the road, the only thing that actually helped was a credit card to use as a pipeline to funds back home.  Once I had a slide-off in a snowstorm and the $30 tow fee went (I think) on a credit card.  Another time the rear brake pads wore down past required replacement thickness (with > 90% hearing loss in both ears, I cannot hear pad wear indicators), so the calipers started biting into the discs and the brakes felt funny (but still worked, since the front brakes pick up the vast majority of the stopping load) for about 1,500 miles before I could have them looked at.  Again, the ~$400 for new brake discs went onto a credit card.

So, with a 1994 Saturn SL2 (former roadtrip vehicle, now just a daily driver) and 2005 Toyota Camry V6 (current roadtrip vehicle), I carry just the bare minimum--jumper cables, air compressor, and tire pressure gauge--plus equipment and supplies tailored to the specific needs of the vehicle.  For example, the Saturn burns oil at a rate of 1500 MPQ (poor drainback and oil temperature management lead to ring coking, so the rings stick and don't wipe the cylinder walls adequately), so I have to carry oil if I am road-tripping in it and want to brand-match whatever is in the crankcase.

I agree with those who have said that it is important to take some time to establish the weaknesses of a particular vehicle so that these can be prevented from developing into emergencies over the course of a lengthy roadtrip.  If the car has a known disposition to burn oil, for example, it is important to establish the rate and get a sense of how that fluctuates with engine RPM (the Saturn, for example, burns oil at about 1200 MPQ if the cruise control is locked at 65, which in top gear is about 2700 RPM).  Meanwhile, if there is any indication one of the four tires has a slow puncture (caused by, e.g., a sheared-off nail whose tip just barely pokes the inside) or a bead leak, that should be resolved prior to departure.

I am not a fan of minutely adjusting tire pressures over the course of a long roadtrip to compensate for temperature or altitude differences.  When I have tried this, I have observed no real difference in handling, but using battery power to operate an air compressor is a good way to age a car's charging system to the point on-road failure becomes likely.  I often go months without checking tire pressures at all, and when I have to use a compressor to adjust tire pressures, I first measure the pressures with the car garaged (to eliminate differential heating due to the sun as a cause of error), and run the compressor off wall current.

As for on-road oil changes, I think it depends largely on the engine and the oil used whether those are necessary or advantageous.  A turbo or an engine with known design infirmities may demand more strict compliance with oil change intervals; a proven robust normally-aspirated design with good oil temperature management should be able to "skip" a change on a long roadtrip if it is running on a Walmart synthetic (by which I mean not Walmart generic, but rather any mass-market full synthetic retailing at the $20-$28 per five-quart jug price point).  In a normally-aspirated Toyota V6, for example, Pennzoil Platinum 5W-30 (marketed as "one of the cleanest oils ever" largely on the strength of its high merit score on the Sequence IIIG piston deposit test for the ILSAC GF-5 rating) is rock-solid shear-stable out to about 10,000 miles of largely highway service, at which point the acid buffering is more or less exhausted (TBN of 1).

I prefer to do my own oil changes because, aside from the odd driveway drip, I can count on myself not to screw them up.   While it is possible to bring your own oil, filter, and drain plug washer to an iffy-lube shop with a request that they be used in lieu of unbranded oil out of the gun and a Mighty Auto Parts filter, it takes a lot of checking and supervision to be sure nothing else is messed up as part of (e.g.) an all-points inspection.  It is also all but impossible to prevent the drain bolt and filter from being gorillaed into place if that is how they roll.
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kphoger

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #32 on: September 17, 2016, 03:10:43 PM »

Jumper cables are easily the most-used things in my car over the years (except for fluids, of course).  Good point.

As for tire pressure, I don't have a compressor, but I also refuse to pay for air at a gas station.  In Wichita, it's easy enough to find free air pumps (QuikTrip, for example) or places that will turn the machine on for free as long as you bought gas there.  However...

On our trip to México a month or two ago, we discovered a slow leak in one tire while on our way northbound, still south of the border.  I had a bicycle pump in the back for just that situation, so we pulled over at a wide spot and I added a good ten pounds of air.  Once across the border in Texas, I asked at every station we filled up at if they would turn the air on for me so I could top it off further.  All of them said they didn't have the ability to turn it on from behind the fuel counter, so I didn't add more air until we'd left Texas.  Now I must say, I have a good bicycle pump that allows me to add at least five pounds of air to a car tire before I break a sweat.  Cheaper pumps take a lot more stamina and elbow grease.
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texaskdog

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #33 on: September 17, 2016, 04:14:52 PM »

Yeah we used to rent cars until we bought newer ones.  Using that guideline you should be okay.  We don't bring a spare unless there is already one there, I've had to patch tires on the road.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #34 on: September 17, 2016, 04:30:35 PM »

Was it a puncture or a bead leak?  The last slow leak I had (on the Maxima, which left my hands in 2007) was caused by a nail puncture, but a few years before that I had a bead leak, which is typically a result of carelessness in mounting the tire and (I learned much later) is a big reason some shadetree mechanics go to the trouble of mounting and statically balancing their own tires (dynamic balancing, which is what you get at a tire shop, is basically unaffordable for DIYers).
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noelbotevera

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #35 on: September 17, 2016, 05:26:04 PM »

Jumper cables are easily the most-used things in my car over the years (except for fluids, of course).  Good point.

As for tire pressure, I don't have a compressor, but I also refuse to pay for air at a gas station.  In Wichita, it's easy enough to find free air pumps (QuikTrip, for example) or places that will turn the machine on for free as long as you bought gas there.  However...
Then again, compressors aren't that expensive. Heck, here's this handy thing for only $41. I've found compressors handy for helping with tire inflation whenever I help out my dad with the car.
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kphoger

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #36 on: September 17, 2016, 06:34:27 PM »

Was it a puncture or a bead leak?  The last slow leak I had (on the Maxima, which left my hands in 2007) was caused by a nail puncture, but a few years before that I had a bead leak, which is typically a result of carelessness in mounting the tire and (I learned much later) is a big reason some shadetree mechanics go to the trouble of mounting and statically balancing their own tires (dynamic balancing, which is what you get at a tire shop, is basically unaffordable for DIYers).

All the leaks I've ever had, AFAIK, were puncture leaks. I usually just drive on them awhile, adding air once a week or so, till I finally get around to having it plugged/patched.This last time, though, it went totally flat a week or two later. It was the first time I couldn't drive to work because of a flat.

Incidentally, punctures are most common in the right rear tire. Screws and such generally roll down or are swept down towards the edge of a road, where your right wheels travel. The front tire generally just turns the thing over without being punctured leaving it skittering on the pavement by the time your rear tire comes along.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Essential car maintenance knowledge
« Reply #37 on: September 17, 2016, 07:17:07 PM »

I have known people who changed their commutes to work just to avoid roofers who appeared to lack professionalism.  A competent roofing crew can remove old shingles (however fastened), collect them on tarps, install new shingles using staples driven by compressed air, and clean up the debris, all within three days.  However, in Wichita roofers did not stop using nails until well after the 1992 hailstorm, so houses that escaped the 2005, 2012, and 2013 hailstorms have nail-fastened shingles that become a major puncture hazard if carelessly removed.

Screw punctures are harder to avoid.  My risk minimization strategy is to track within the part of the roadway cross-section that I can see to be clear of stones and other small debris, not just to avoid punctures but also to minimize stone chipping.
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