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The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Old Car Is Drive It

Too cute, right? Photo: Raphael Orlove
Too cute, right? Photo: Raphael Orlove

Over the past week I had been thinking about selling my sweet little old Volkswagen. It had a few things wrong with it, and was something I had to deal with more than something I felt was indispensable. So to fix it, I drove it.

Photo: Raphael Orlove
Photo: Raphael Orlove

Driving it didn’t like, fix it. Not mechanically. If anything, the weird clunk that’s coming from the right front corner of the car has gotten slightly worse, even though I can’t seem to find any loose nuts or bolts anywhere.


What changed was I got to hear the dual carbs open up again, toot toot and see how long I could keep my foot absolutely pinned to the floorboards and still keep up with traffic on I-95.

I took the car on two drives, neither one of them exactly necessary. The first one was within Brooklyn; I could have managed the same on the subway. The second one was an hour away to Club Loose, out at Englishtown in New Jersey. I could’ve knocked that one out with a phone call, but it was something I wanted to do in person. I was going to look at a car that I might have bought. But driving the car, running through the gears, wiggling around in the wind, letting it eat some highway, it reminded me how much I adore this thing, a trustworthy companion on the road that started out as something that couldn’t go around the block when I first bought it.

I got to Englishtown and met Hector. It was his blue Corolla I was looking at. He’d told me that he had thought about selling it, like he does every so often when it annoys him, but he drove it again today and he remembered how much he liked it and that he couldn’t bring himself to sell it. I told him I understood, got back in my car, and drove all the way home, happy.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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“Driving it didn’t like, fix it. Not mechanically.”

It does, however, help keep it in reasonable condition. I am not much of a wrench, so I worry about the reliability of any used vehicle I buy. After decades of buying the occasional used car/motorcycle, I have developed the “2,000 mile rule.” If a motor vehicle has not been driven, at least, for an average of 2,000 miles per year, I give it a pass. Vehicles with extremely low mileage seem to develop issues so obvious that even I can notice them. “Soft” parts; tires, seals, etc., and anything containing fluids; tanks, lines, etc, seem to be especially sensitive to benign neglect.

Keep on driving your VW.