Are You Car-Hip?â€¨
People sometimesÂ pre-emptivelyÂ get rid of a car simply because itâ€™s â€œoldâ€ or â€œhas high miles.â€ Even if itâ€™s still running great â€“ and hasnâ€™t given them any real troubleÂ so farÂ â€“ they fear that if they hang onto it, problems are likely to arise.
Itâ€™s this fear â€“ the sense of unease that accompanies the unknown â€“ that pushes a lot of people into a new (orÂ newer) car before they really need one.
Now, itâ€™s generally true that an older carÂ ismore likely to need repair or maintenance than a newer one. And that higher miles means more wear â€“ which means things like brake pads, suspension components, tires â€“ etc. â€“ will probably require replacement sooner rather than later.
But that doesnâ€™t mean theÂ car itselfÂ isnâ€™t worth keeping â€“ much less that itâ€™s no longer a car you can count on.
Keeping an older car viable as everyday transpo comes down to two things:
Being mechanically observational â€“ and being at least somewhat mechanically competent.
Itâ€™s not necessary to actuallyÂ beÂ a mechanic â€“ or to actually work on cars. But knowing something about how cars work â€“ the basics â€“ will enable you to anticipate potential problems before they become problems â€“ and keep little problems from becoming big ones. That, in turn, will help you keep an older car running reliably for longer.
A car-hip person, understands, for instance, how a carâ€™s brakes work â€“ theÂ principleÂ behind it (hydraulic pressure distributed through a system of steel pipes applying clamping pressure; the use of friction to slow the car down) and knows, at least, inÂ generalÂ terms, what the various parts are and what they do.
Because he has some knowledge of how a carâ€™s brakes work â€“ and which parts do what â€“ he will know almost instinctively when theyâ€™re not workingÂ properlyÂ â€“ as well as the steps one ought to take to make sure they continue to work properly. He will know, for example, that after a given interval of time/miles, it is probably time to pull a wheel and take a look at the pads; to check whether they ought to be replacedÂ beforeÂ theyÂ wear out completely and so avoid chewing up the much more expensiveÂ rotors. He will pop the hood fairly regularly â€“ and check the fluid level in the master cylinder. He will also know whatÂ colorÂ the fluid ought to be â€“ and that if itâ€™s not theÂ rightÂ color, it probably ought to be changed. Before it rots out the hydraulic system (lines, calipers, ABS pump, etc.) from theÂ inside.
A car-hip person will be more attuned to the various noises â€“ and smells â€“ that portend trouble and take early action (either himself or through a mechanic)beforeÂ a small, inexpensive thing (e.g., worn pads) becomes a big, expensive thing (ruined rotors). When he feels vibration through the steering wheel â€“ or the car pulls to one side â€“ instead ofÂ fear,Â heâ€™ll realize itâ€™sÂ probablyÂ just an out of round rotor â€“ fairly easily and fairly inexpensively fixed.
It doesnâ€™t mean the carâ€™s falling apart â€“ or that itâ€™s notÂ otherwiseÂ safe to drive anymore. No need to panic â€“ much less head frantically to aÂ dealershipÂ â€“ where the smell of desperation is an aphrodisiac to new car salesmen.