How Far Is Too Far?

You’ve all seen that sign that says, “Unless you are naked, don’t touch this car!” Years ago, when I first saw it (back in a time when I was trying to impress my soon to be husband), I wondered why anyone would take and put such a sign on their beautiful car. Was it a way to trick people into removing their clothes for the treat of touching their car? I never did see anyone fall for that but I can tell you, I keep my eyes open! What I’m really getting to is the cars that owners guard like Fort Knox. You can spot them at most car shows. They are the ones trailered, and covered. Oh, they tease you a bit by dropping the wheel covers to give you a seductive look at those wide white walls. They keep a duster in hand at all times. Ever vigilant to the speck of dust or the errant finger print as they circle the car, caressing the fenders with their duster. Stopping only long enough to survey the crowd for any hint of someone who might step too close! What I imagine Homeland Security to be like when the President is in town. But, unlike the President, he will take questions- in fact welcomes them. “What about the paint job?” In great detail, he will tell you about the 23 coats of hand rubbed acrylic gloss at the cost of 213 hours and $28,000. And then swing into many other details, all the while scanning the crowd for anyone that might breech the perimeter! Come on, lighten up a little. These cars are supposed to be fun. Fun to me is not taking your car out of hiding once or twice a year and spending your time worrying that something or one might touch it! I REALLY do appreciate all the precious time and money spent but there is a limit! (in my opinion). Most of these cars never saw a paved road and if you could ask Dr Horatio Jackson, some never saw a road at all! I TOTALLY agree they need to be respected and “gently” used. Don’t get me wrong- would I give my 3 year old granddaughter, Addison, a candy apple and say “go play in Grandpa’s car?” Or give Cooper, our 6 year old grandson, a couple of die cast cars and tell him that the fenders of the ’37 make a great car track? Probably not, but on the other hand…………………. Just kidding! I get it! But I have to tell you, there isn’t much better than having your grandchildren come to a car show, “drive your car” and at the end of the day, sitting on the running boards- proclaim, “Grandpa, we LOVE car shows.” So for my cars, lift the hood, open the trunk, lean in to get a good look at the dashboard and don’t forget the odometer! But, PLEASE, keep your clothes on! My grandchildren are at an impressionable age and come to think of it, “so am I!” Yes, after 39 years, I’m still trying to impress him!

Spring has Sprung!

Finally, after record snowfalls and a winter that ignored the calendar and continued to bombard us with cold and snow, winter seems to be finally done. This means the summer driving season is finally upon us. Before you uncover that collector car and enjoy your first drive of the season it is a good idea to give your car a good inspection. Assuming it was stored properly this should be a quick process. The engine oil should have been changed before storage, so only a quick level check should be necessary. While you are under the hood the freshly charged battery can be installed (alternatively the battery tender removed) and the cable(s) hooked up again. A quick check of the other fluids, (brake fluid, transmission fluid, differential oil and coolant) is also a good idea. Now is the time to either change any fluids that need changing, or to address any leaks. Find any rodent nests under there? I found one al-ready this spring.

I always closely inspect tires and suspension components on vehicles before they go back in service. Inspect tire side walls and tread for any damage. How old are the tires? If they are six years old or older watch them carefully, they are susceptible to sudden catastrophic failure. Finally, check the tire pressure, wheel bearings and front end to ensure every-thing is as it should be.

It is also a good idea to check the wipers and lights at this time. The surprise of finding issues while on a drive or at the state inspection, or worse yet from a policeman can easily be avoided now.

Lastly, before you hit the road, make sure the registration, inspection and insurance are all current and that the registration tag and proof of insurance cards are in the glove box. Before you embark on that first drive, test your brakes. Do you have good pedal? Is it soft, or worse yet did it go to the floor? Before you drive on the highway drive at 20 MPH or so and give the brake a good stomp. Does the car pull to one side? Do the brakes work well?

Your “every day” car should receive some attention after a winter driving season too. In addition to the maintenance mentioned above, a vehicle driven through the winter should be thoroughly cleaned and inspected. If you change your tires over from snow tires to summer tires this is the ideal time to clean and inspect your car.

Take a garden hose and get all the salt sand and mud out of the wheel wells, from inside the fenders, the bottom of the doors, hood and trunk lid, up in the strut towers and anywhere else you can think of. Check drain holes in rocker pan-els doors and quarter panels to ensure they are clear.
Generally. When I see a car similar to mine on the road that is rusty I pay attention to where that rust is and make especially sure to keep that area clean on my car.

A few weeks ago when I put the Subaru on the lift to change the tires over I was shocked to see that both rear sway-bar links were broken, and the exhaust system was just barely attached to the car. I also found a loose splash guard.

I hope you all have a happy and safe summer of driving fun!

(This column is a Q & A column with you asking me questions and after researching the answer I will reply. Any questions ‘automotive’ is fare game, I might not know the answer but hopefully I will find someone who does know.)

Please email all inquiries to: Dave
or snail mail
32 Turkey Hill Road
Richmond VT 05477