As someone who has to deal with a 29-years old Italian car, I can assure you that I've learnt a lot about keeping my ride alive in 2013. And with these ten tips in the hat, 2014 is going to bring even more four-wheeled adventures.
10.) Remember That People Can't Drive
So just drive your pride and joy as much as you can.
Keeping your car locked up might save it from disaster, but what's the point of a garage queen? You can fix her up, just like how With.a.G did:
Mine was the perfect specimen Miata I found and bought from the original owner. It was cared for like no other, all perfect service records including EVERY GAS FILL UP FOR 20 YEARS, with odometer and gas mileage calculations the whole way.
This is the car I am going to give to my son someday.
And this is the car that some jackass in a parking lot backed his Nissan Hardbody pickup into. At least he admitted it was his fault, saying, and I kid you not, "I didn't see you there. I forgot my glasses today and I can't see much without them."
9.) Remember That Nobody Checks Tires Or Fluids
So just do it for the whole family.
The best way to make sure my wife's sisters and mother have properly inflated tires is to inflate them myself.
They won't listen to me when I tell them to check their tires / don't seem to understand how dangerous having improperly inflated tires is, and my father in law just plain doesn't seem to give a shit.
My family learned to check transmission fluid. And brake fluid. And oil level.
Yeah, the family beater was apparently neglected in my absence.
8.) Remember That Six Hundred Horses Crap More
So expect big damages with big power.
I learned that buying a 12 year old heavily modified German car with 600 horsepower is a terrible idea.
My lesson was a bit more expensive than yours, Orlove. $1500 for a new engine after the original one dropped a valve. 2.5 months of car rentals and borrowed cars since it was my DD and I did not take it to the shop. 2.5 months of weekends spent fixing the car (over 200 man hours - again because I fixed it myself), $1000 in tools and supplies, several injuries, etc.
Ended up spending about $2500 + $1200 for a rental car before it was back on the road again. Never, ever, ever again.
On the plus side, I can pull the engine in a B5 S4 now in under 5 hours and get the entire front end off in under 45 minutes. If you can call either of those a plus.
Minus by minus is a plus.
7.) Remember It's Not A Racecar
So don't ruin your daily driver.
I made this mistake with my foxbody this year. I gutted it, completely removed the top assembly (it was a convertible), pulled the AC, etc, etc, and now instead of at least a Sunday driver, I have a car that at most I take to autocross 9 times/year, and it's not even competitive! ARGH! Now it just sits in the garage waiting for me to figure out how to sell it. :(
6.) Remember Every Car Can Be Saved
So if you feel that a car should live a bit longer, save it.
I learned how to:
Weld a rusted battery tray, trick my car into passing it's own emissions test, replace both lower control arms and balljoints, the brake pads in a timely and responsible manner (sorta).
I also did the cambelt, water pump and alternator belt. Next year I'll probably have to do the PAS pump, gearbox oil, diff oil and throw a new clutch in since the slip is getting worse.
Still though, despite being bought from a scrapyard, crashed, had something explode inside, crashed again, driven into a river, jumped repeatedly, towed it's own weight in Volvo and having done an indeterminate number of miles (between 155k and 255k, mileometer hasn't worked since 2007 because the speedo is busted) she's still going strong!
This might be a bit extreme for most, but the point is that just because somebody gave up on a car, it doesn't mean you should too.
Suggested By: Vracktal
5.) Remember That Beer Solves Problems
So have a six pack ready for your mechanic.
Seriously, if you want the job done properly and without being ripped off, develop a friendship with your mechanic. Once again, beer is the lubricant.
4.) Remember That Little Things Will Hold You Up At Every Turn
So triple the time and cost estimate in your head.
Some solid advice from the horse's mouth. NinetyQ:
Firstly, good intentions often lead to more frustrations.
How long do you think you'll be working your car for this repair project?
Always double check even the simple things.
Never underestimate the holding power of German rust. And what was your budget?
Triple that too.
Never underestimate the value of good company.
And most of all, enjoy every bit of progress.
Suggested By: NinetyQ
3.) Remember That Bad Mechanics Can Leave You Screwed
So Google around for good shops beforehand.
Budget Porsches work for three days. After that, it's mayhem. Stef Schrader is the proud owner of a 944:
GOOGLE SHOPS BEFOREHAND. So, I got taken advantage of when I was injured by a shop that offered to work on the 944 in exchange for some marketing help. That deal went south fast with very few go-aheads given on things I could actually do to help, and went south even quicker when my car had sat for a week with no work done the week before we had to leave for the race. This is the infamous "why I could barely nibble down a salad and had a massive breakdown somewhere behind the COTA media center" incident from that A7 write-up.
After the guy kept changing his absolutely ludicrous price on what it'd take to retrieve my own property, refusing to provide me with a written invoice to review, demanding cash only when I knew he took other form of payment, and generally being very shady and hostile to me, we ended up calling one of the local police to come mediate the discussion and settling on almost $2,000 to get my car back for—really, really shoddy work, it turns out. I tried disputing the PayPal transaction when I discovered that most of what was listed on that invoice needed to be redone (think swapping good brake pads with 1h of race time into a seized caliper levels of incompetence here), but the shop owner responded with a load of crazy (twice!) and PayPal didn't give me anywhere to upload pictures to back up my story, so it got denied.
I don't think I have any further recourse—it's a bit small for a lawyer to take on. So, here's a warning: anything MotoCancelli touches = avoid like the plague. I heard rumors that the shop had closed, so perhaps that's a good thing.
2.) Remember That Your Family Might Hate Your Wrenching At First
So get your kids involved and turn it into a family affair.
Once you have kids, the only way to get any time to work on cars and not completely piss off the Mrs is to have the little guy help.
Which brings up lesson #2....It's never too early to get them working on cars.
Some quality time right there.
Suggested By: One Quick Turbo Brick
1.) Remember To Drive Free Or Die
So never let your car sit for too long.
Gas is only getting more expensive, so you might as well just turn that key right now.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
Top Photo Credit: Shawn Nystrand