Thursday, May 19, 2016

Road trips Part 2

Highway 20 in Oregon on the way to Newport.

Driving your Better Beater on a road trip should not be just an act of faith, it should be the whole point. Your car should be reliable enough to drive anywhere with a little preparation. Sometimes the obstacles are a lack of maintenance or looming needed repairs. Some times the obstacles lie within ourselves. A lack of confidence  can be hard to address. I guess if you  have always driven brand new, or newer vehicles it may be hard to overcome your suspicion of an older vehicle's trustworthiness. That's whole the reason you buy new cars to replace your older ones, before something bad happens.

Still catastrophic failures generally do not occur with out some warnings. For example, cooling system failures. The motor can blow a head gasket if it overheats. If you ignore leaking hoses or fail to replace them when needed you are are just asking for trouble. A leaking water pump is telling you that it's internal seals have been breached and coolant is mixing it up with your pump bearings, an imminent failure mode. Dried out and cracked fan belts, visible leaks or seepage from the radiator is a harbinger of potential doom. These should be addressed as they occur unless you are so broke that you don't have an alternative. Heater hoses, bypass hoses, thermostat housings usually will start a slow leak before they blow. Sometimes there are these sneaky little bypass hoses hidden away under the intake manifold. My '96 Mustang V8 had one that ran under the manifold from the back of the motor to the water pump in front. It took some finagling to replace it without removing the manifold but I did it. I knew that it would always be time bomb waiting to go off if I didn't replace it, so I did. As it turned out I had to replace the leaking plastic intake manifold a couple of years later. But it was the right decision and it gave me a lot of confidence in the car.

Cooling system failures are probably the biggest concern. If the battery or alternator dies that's easy to fix. If the starter goes out there is usually some warning. I had the electric fuel pump going bad in my '96 Dodge Caravan, the symptom was that it was hard to start some times and it got worse. The fuel pump in my '96 Mustang gave up the ghost one night at 3:00 am on US101. No warning at all. That's what triple A is for. I had my 2007 Ford F150 with 70,000 miles seize the a/c compressor without warning, well it did quit working for a while before it died. I was on my way back from Las Vegas via LA. Luckily I was only a couple of hundred miles from home. Stacked up two triple A tows and got it home. Okay, enough hand wringing, anything can happen, that's just a fact. On to the next subject.

The nice thing about taking a road trip as an adult is that you run your own show. You pick your destination, route, and stops. Go solo or with your chosen companion. Now that my kids are grown it's just me and the wife. This is really nice and relaxing.

Right now I'm on a two week road trip on the Oregon coast, about 700 miles from home. From Newport we plan on going up into Washington State. I'm driving my XJ6 and it's been great. I'm really starting to love driving that Jaguar. I have made it a point to drive this car a lot. For one thing it gives you a good indication of the shape the car is in. Most cars, and especially Jaguars, run better the more they are used. All the later models are depreciating so fast that higher mileage isn't really going to hurt their value. I guess if you plan on keeping your car "forever" that it might be a good idea to keep those miles down. But think of all the fun you're missing. Why "save" the car for the next owner?  A lot of guys on the Jaguar forum hardly ever drive their cars. They are focused on "preserving" them. Their cars are special to them so they are very protective of them. I like my car too. I wanted to overcome the idea that this car is too special and should be saved for special occasions. It also felt a little odd to me drive such a fancy car, it made me a little self conscious. I used to feel that way with my '94 Cadillac Seville STS when I first bought it. However that car was only three years old and looked exactly like a new '97, it even had chromed take off wheels from a '97. My Jag, although a beautiful car, is not going to be mistaken for  a new car, or even a late model. I received a compliment on my car from a guy who actually thought that it was older than it was. I'll take that as appreciation of it's classic design.

There was a post on the Forum from a guy who wanted to take his 2004 XJR on a 1,200 mile trip across Washington state. But he was unsure if he should. His car only had around 50,000 miles and he said that his work commute was only five miles. He had only put on 1,200 miles since he bought the car a year ago. He was worried that something might go wrong, or his car might need service? I replied and advised him to take the car, enjoy it, put some miles down. Geez, his car has a third of the miles mine does and it's seven years newer. I told him about my planned trip. He decided to drive his Jag and is having a ball. I posted an update with some pics of my trip so far. I plan to post an update at the end of my trip. This is why we drive.

Driving past Mt. Shasta on Interstate 5.

Here I am in Depot Bay Oregon. This is a great state!

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