The Trouble With Leaves

The trouble with leaves is they aren’t vehicle friendly. They’re beautiful that’s true, but leaves damage paint, cause rust, plug things up, and in general make a mess of your car.
Paint and leaves are a nasty combination so don’t allow them to sit on your car. Leaves combined with moisture and some sun can truly wreak havoc on today’s clear-coat finishes. If you think bird-stuff is bad for paint wait till you see the damage leaves can do.

Leaves are imbued with methyl-ethyl bad stuff, which if activated by water and allowed to sun dry can etch their likeness into clear coat. It isn’t unusual to find the outline of a leaf permanently embossed into a cars horizontal paint surfaces. The imprint resembles a prehistoric leaf fossil. Unfortunately the only way to prevent this is to clean the leaves away as soon as possible after they fall on the vehicle.

A few innocuous looking leaves can also present a serious rust hazard. When leaves land on a car they may wedge themselves under moldings. Once wedged they often don’t let go until you reach cruising speed where the wind causes the leaf to flap back and forth until it finally breaks loose. If you’re wondering what this has to do with rust, read on.

That dastardly leaf doesn’t come loose, no indeed, it breaks into two pieces. The visible part is blown away while the invisible portion remains trapped behind your molding. There it stays and over time is joined by other chunks of leaf debris. Every time the car gets wet the trapped leaf parts soak up moisture and hold it. This leads to those ugly rust blisters around moldings and windows. The only way to prevent this is to thoroughly flush away all the junk that collects behind moldings with a garden hose at least twice a year.

But there’s still more! Leaves can really do a number on your car’s drains. The evaporator drain for the air conditioning is a common problem area. Leaves get sucked through the heat and air conditioning air-inlet where they are promptly sliced and diced by the blades of the fan. The now minced pieces of leaf collect in the bottom of the evaporator housing where, over time, they plug the drain. This causes water from the air conditioner to spill onto your feet or carpet inside the car.

You may also experience raindrops on your head thanks to leaf debris. That is, if your car has a sunroof. Sunroofs have drains that can be blocked with small chunks of leaves. Contrary to what you might believe sunroofs are not water tight. Water easily flows around the glass, collects in a trough, and is channeled into drains. The drains are usually positioned at each corner of the sunroof. Clogged sunroof drains cause water to build up in the troughs. Once the water exceeds the capacity of the troughs it drips inside the cabin or gives you a startling surprise when it cascades over your head.

Keeping leaves off your car is an important task that takes a little effort and planning but can save a ton of grief.

What You Can’t See, Can’t Hurt You, Right?

Wrong! Many of today’s vehicles have timing belts. Like other components, timing belts wear out. But they are hidden behind a cover on the front of the engine. This makes detection of imminent failure improbable.

If the timing belt breaks on a free-running engine, the engine stops and you will need a tow to the repair shop. Usually no mechanical damage occurs and the installation of a new belt is all that is needed to get you on your way.

If the timing belt breaks on an interference engine, mechanical engine damage occurs. It most commonly involves open valves being struck by pistons, resulting in the need for expensive repairs. In extreme cases, a replacement engine may be required.

How do I know if I have a timing belt? Most manufacturers have a recommended service interval for this critical component. Your owners’ manual may tell you – but you should ask your technician.

Keep your engine running strong by eliminating potential problems that may leave you stranded.☺

© Copyright 09/30/2015 Pat Goss all rights reserved

Final Delivery

Scrap it or keep it?

When is enough, enough, or when should I give up on my old car and buy a shiny new one? That’s a tough question but perhaps these general rules will help you make a financially realistic decision.

Let’s begin with how the vehicle is used which has an enormous impact on how long you should keep it. Here’s a shocker! If the vehicle has been used mainly for short trip driving it will probably be ready for its trip to the bone-yard in fewer miles than the car that has primarily been highway driven. Short trips and low speeds are very hard on a car and are very misleading as to actual wear on its components.

Those of you who drive mostly at slower speeds may have a lot more hours on your car than you realize. Amazingly, automobiles and pickup trucks are essentially the only machines on earth that measure use by the number of miles covered by their wheels.  Nearly everything else measures use in hours of operation.

Hours-of-use is a far better indicator than miles driven. The math: if you drive at thirty miles per hour you’ll cover thirty miles every hour and at sixty you’ll cover sixty miles every hour. Rocket Science 303 not necessary for that! Okay, but that begs the obvious question, why doesn’t anyone pay attention to the obvious?

Drive your car 50,000 miles at thirty miles per hour and you’ll have twice as many hours on your car as the person who drives 50,000 miles at sixty miles per hour. That’s one reason why preventive maintenance recommendations are given in both time and mileage not just mileage. Those who drive short distances at slow speed accumulate hours while those driving longer distances at higher speed accumulate miles. In either case the number of hours of use will be similar.

But, when should you dispose of the old bus? There is no-one-answer-fits-all but a short-trip, slowly driven vehicle may be ready for retirement just as soon as a vehicle with significantly more miles but routinely driven at higher speed. Now doesn’t that just fly right in the face of what everyone accepts as car-gospel?

Analyzing your driving habits is step one of this momentous decision. If you’re a slow lane type person, the low miles on your odometer may present a flawed impression about overall condition, likewise for the high mileage vehicle. Typically, you’ll assume your low mileage car is in much better condition than it really is or your high mileage car is a lot worse than it is.

Do not assume! Have a bumper-to-bumper evaluation before, not after spending a lot of money for a major repair. Check all the normal things plus all the not so normal bits as well. A skilled technician can provide you with a good read on “what’s wrong now” and “what’s borderline or soon to fall off.” The physical should include checking the battery and electrical system, cooling system, brake system, steering and suspension systems, exhaust system, and engine and transmission condition plus an exam for structural rust. Also important is a search for recalls and technical service bulletins. Finally there’s your Internet appraisal which you’ll use with your test results to determine whether to fix or not to fix based on facts, not emotions.

Speaking of emotions, a car is metal, plastic and rubber and there are thousands made every day so forget emotional attachments and make your decision based on the numbers. You may love your old refugee from a junk yard but I guarantee it will never love you back.

© Copyright 05/07/2015 Pat Goss all rights reserved.

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Believe it or Not This vehicle was driven in