AUTOEXPERTEASE

"Where misinformation is always a failed attempt at humor"


Winter 1997

 

USED CAR CHECK LIST

5 AREAS TO CHECK PRIOR TO BUYING A CAR

  1. Speedometer - Don't laugh, what you need to do here is compare the odometer reading to the age of the car and see if this reading is realistic. The average mileage for a vehicle in personal use is 12,000 to 15,000 miles a year. However, it may be too average. We once had a customer who ran a delivery service and would intentionally trade a vehicle when the odometer reflected average miles for it's age, when actually it had in excess of 100,000 miles. While six digit odometers have all but eliminated this practice, it makes sense to view the mileage in light of the next item mentioned here.
  2. Driver's Side Wear - Look for wear on things like the brake pedal and the rug just below the gas pedal, which is where the heel rests. New floor mats may be masking a wear problem. When is the last time you had to replace a rubber brake pedal cover during the life of a car you drove in normal use - probably never.
  3. Body Work - Open doors and look for over-spray on door gaskets which could indicate the car has had body work - possibly necessitated by an accident. Other telltale signs are non-matching pin striping. If the stripes are not the same in color, or material used, it's not a good sign. Each body component, i.e. fender, hood, door and trunk lid should be compared to make sure they match in color. If they don't you should be asking questions or staying away from the purchase.
  4. Accessory Check - Make sure you test every accessory including the high beams and the cruise control. If the high lights are controlled by a switch on the column, you might otherwise miss an expensive problem that would have to be corrected after purchase.
  5. Fluid Leakage - Any fluid leakage should turn you off to the sale. Remember the old saying about buying someone else's problems, well here's your best indication as to what these problems are. Whether they be drips of trans, power steering, brake fluids or motor oil, do you really need those problems.

 

WHAT MECHANICS SAY

The newsletter of the National Institute for Automotive Excellence did an informal survey of 450 mechanics to find out how you're servicing your car. The publication asked the technicians to compare your commitment to preventive maintenance now to five years ago. Guess what? You're doing worse. How's these results for a "Pay me now or pay me later" statement.

  • 58% said you're doing worse

  • 63% said you seldom or sometimes follow prescribed P/M schedules

  • 68% said their customers' cars seem to be in a state of neglect

Auto Expertease looked at the service schedule of a 1997 Ford F-150 Pick Up Truck driven in normal service conditions and found some notable requirements;

OIL FILTER @ 5000 ML/6 MOS
FUEL FILTER @ 15000 ML
CHK. BELTS & HOSES 15000 ML
COOLANT STRENGTH 15000 ML
COOLANT CHANGE @ 50000 ML/48 MOS
THEN 30000 ML/36 MOS THEREAFTER
CHANGE ATF 60000 ML
REPLACE SPARK PLUGS 100000 ML
CHK. BRAKES 15000 ML

TO SUPERIZE? NOW OR NEVER?

The debate continues to rage concerning the cost effectiveness and advisability of using premium fuels. AAA World recently weighed in on the side of the use of the cheapest fuel your vehicle will tolerate. The article uses the owners manual/ear test, meaning if your book says you should use 87 octane and you don't hear the engine knock, you're wasting your money to bump up to mid grade or premium fuel.

WMPD, a Maryland based service station and auto repair group in their trade magazine Nozzle & Wrench recently cited an American Petroleum institute study entitled "Octane Requirements of the Motor Vehicle Fleet and Gasoline Grade Sales". In this study one of the points made by WMPD is of particular note:

  • "Knock sensors and altitude compensators have changed the consequences of using gasoline with less octane."

Simply explained, the devices mentioned mask the side effects of lower than optimal octane levels, by making adjustments to vital engine functions. Engine Knock is eliminated by the vehicle is not running as efficiently as it should. So if you're depending on your ear to tell you when to start buying plus or premium fuel, you may be being deceived not by the oil companies but by your vehicle.

4 HABITS THAT WILL SAVE $

  1. Shut off all accessories prior to turning off the key.

  2. Do not set emergency brake if not needed.

  3. Keep windows down in garage.

  4. Don't store unsealed dog food or bird seed in your garage.


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