Saturday, September 6, 2014

The trust issue in cars, how do you achieve it? I posted an entry on the HAMB (Hokey Ass Message Board) several years ago when one of the guys was asking about driving his old station wagon to a car show a couple of hundred miles away. He wanted to take his family and he was wondering if his car was road worthy enough to make it. Safety is always the biggest issue, but any breakdown can be a huge inconvenience and hassle. Being stuck on the side of the road with your wife and kids will be a huge ordeal. You know you will hear about it for years. You might miss a day of work if you cut it close, it might be a good idea to factor in an extra day for the return trip. You could make the trip in a caravan with a buddy or two. This way your buddies could help out or at least get your family home while you stay behind with the car. Triple A is also a good idea, especially if you have the two hundred mile tow range. (You can also string together two tows to double the range).

Preparation is always the best idea though. My 96 Mustang has around 180k and I figure it could easily run above 200k (probably around 250k ). If it can last for at least another 20k why wouldn't it do two or three thousand miles at once? The pistons and valves aren't going to wear out overnight. If the oil pressure is good then the chance of throwing a rod should be minimal. If the compression is good than the headgasket should stay together. Pulling the head, cleaning up the combustion chamber, and replacing the head gasket is not too difficult on an older car, Changing the timing chain is also good insurance.

I answered the guy's question this way:

Any long trips are just a series of shorter ones. If your car can handle a 100 mi. trip reliably, without requiring the following:adding multiple quarts of fluids, (except gas in the tank) changing fouled plugs,clogged gas filters,flushing the radiator, replacing the thermostat, fanbelts, water pump, jumping the battery,replacing blown fuses,rehanging the exhaust system, patching the gas tank,rebuilding the brakes, replacing tires worn to the cords, the clutch isn't slipping, the auto trans is still automatic, rebuilding the brakes, replacing the generator/alternator, your turn signals, headlights, signal lights, windshield wipers, heater still work, you may have a driver!

I think that it is real important that the car track as straight as possible, and that the steering have only a small amount of freeplay, (although I drove some sloppy junk when I was younger). This is important, because while you may feel that you can live with it on short trips, on a long trip, due to fatigue you might let it drift way off line and then suddenly overcompenste to pull it back in the lane. Every bad trait in the steering/suspension will come out and bite you in the ass and you could lose it! Don't take a chance with your and your families' lives, not to mention anyone unfortunate enough to be around you if that should occur. Be sure you have good seatbelts.

A final thought. If you drive the car for an hour at freeway speeds and then stop, and it idles smooth, doesn't heat up, and will start right up in five minutes, that's a good sign. Enjoy the drive.

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