“No Scheduled Maintenance Needed!” . . and Other Vile Lies

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One way that car companies attract business is by advertising that their vehicles are low-maintenace and – sometimes – no maintenance. This sounds too good to be true and – as is usually the case with such things – it is.

Because entropy.

Things always wear out. Nothing lasts forever, certainly not mechanical things. You can increase service intervals and reduce maintenance, but no maintenance is a shuck and jive. What it really means is:

When it inevitably fails, you replace it.

And it will probably fail sooner because it’s not regularly maintained. This is the nature of things, no matter the advertising copy. It is of course very profitable. Instead of – as an example – spending $50 to have a mechanic grease suspension fittings once every year or two you end up spending hundreds to replace worn out suspension parts when they fail. Which will happen sooner than would otherwise have been the case because they weren’t regularly greased (and are designed such that they cannot be regularly greased; there are no fittings to grease).

A small hassle is eliminated – in favor of a much larger expense. The advertising copy never mentions the expense. Which will probably fall into your lap shortly after the warranty expires.

Where are the “consumer advocates” when it comes to things like this?

Where’s Ralph?

Here’s another to be wary of: Automatic transmissions that are advertised as never needing to have their fluid or filter changed. This is like saying you never have to brush your teeth – and don’t worry about being toothless a few years down the road.

Hydraulic fluid inevitably becomes contaminated with small particles – the result of friction and wear and tear within the transmission. These small particles can – and will – eventually clog a critical small passage within the fluid circuit, resulting in something that will probably cost you a great deal more than having someone drain the transmission and refill it with fresh fluid sans the particles.

There is also filter, of course. It is there to capture these small particles and take them out of circulation. But its capacity to absorb these small particles is not limitless. This is the reason for changing filters periodically. A car company can tell you that periodic replacement of the filter isn’t required. But that is not the same thing as saying it’s not necessary.

Same goes for the fluid. Over time and because of use, it degrades. Chemical changes occur. If they didn’t – if the fluid were just as fresh at the end of the car’s service life – why not just drain it from the car before it’s sent to the crusher and rebottle it and sell it “as new”? Heck, why not drain if from wrecked cars with “only” 50,000 miles on their odometers and re-sell the fluid “as new”?

Such a waste to just throw it away… .

Of course no one re-sells used fluid (or filters) “as new” because it’s an affront to the obvious – and an obvious source of criminal fraud.

“Lifetime” transmission fluid (and filters) really means: We have determined that the transmission will operate reliably for about this long without regular fluid/filter changes. The problem, of course, is they do not advertise what “about this long” means in terms of mileage or years. Probably, a few years longer than the warranty coverage lasts. Long enough, put bluntly, such that when the transmission does fail the massive bill for a rebuild/replacement will be yours to bear – and the blame will be deniable.

And while they’ll advertise the low-cost of “no-maintenance” transmissions, the car companies guilty of this practice never tell you how much it will cost to rebuild/replace that transmission when it fails. This is something you might want to look into as the cost to rebuild/replace almost any recent-vintage car’s transmission is halting. In some cases – and particularly in the case of “no maintenance” transmissions sold by luxury car makers – it can be as high as $5,000.

Weigh that vs. the cost of a $150 fluid flush and filter change once every 50,000 miles or so.

So-called “long life” coolant is at least a bit more honestly advertised. “Long life” not meaning eternal life. You are still advised to change it, just not as often as was practice in the past. The catch is that people often forget to change it at all – because the recommended intervals are often an astronomical unit apart (e.g., once every ten years or 100,000 miles). This can lead to ugly cooling system problems – which can lead to ugly (and expensive) engine problems.

Also, incidentally, transmission problems – because the engine cooling system cools the transmission – and if the engine runs hot, so will the transmission.

The good news is that – unlike “no maintenace” automatics, which in some cases don’t even have dispticks to check the fluid level and never have drain plugs in the pan to make it easy to change the fluid – no one yet makes a “sealed” cooling system, so it’s easy to check the condition of the fluid – which is a much better way to gauge how long the life of the coolant actually is. You can easily do this yourself by purchasing an inexpensive chemical tester. It looks like a turkey baster, with a flexible tube on one end and a rubber squeeze ball on the other. They cost about $10 at any auto parts store.

With the engine cold, remove the radiator cap and squeeze/release the bulb to draw fluid into the tool. The gauge/reader will “sample” the chemical state of the fluid and tell you whether it needs it needs to be changed.

Go by what it tells you – not what the car company’s advertising copy tells you.

Here’s one more: Spark plugs that are touted as being good for 100,000 miles. Often, they are – because of modern engine management, which kees the engine combusting fuel just right, neither too rich or too lean.

But, here’s the catch: When the time does come to replace the plugs (and it will come, as spark plugs do wear down over time, even if that time is longer now than it once was) you – or your mechanic – may not be able to replace them.

Not without breaking them – or the threads.

And when that happens, what was a simple $50 spark plug replacement job becomes a $500 pull-the-heads off the engine and Heli-coil the damaged threads job. Ten years of heat cycling will do that. The plugs fuse tight to the metal and when someone tries to break them loose, they break.

Which is why it is a really good idea to have the plugs inspected at 50,000 miles rather than replaced at 100,000 miles. The plugs – with 50,000 miles of life left – can be reinstalled, with fresh anti-seize on the threads. Which will make them easy to replace 50,000 miles down the road.

Without having to pull a cylinder head to repair a stripped thread.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

If you like what you’ve found here, please consider supporting EPautos.

We depend on you to keep the wheels turning!

Our donate button is here.

 If you prefer not to use PayPal, our mailing address is:

721 Hummingbird Lane SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079

PS: EPautos stickers are free to those who send in $20 or more to support the site. Also, the eBook – free! – is available. Click here. Just enter you email in the box on the top of the main page and we’ll email you a copy instantly!




  1. Great points, Eric. I wonder how many people will just decide to sell their vehicle just before these parts break down, and the buyer will forget to have them checked.

    I think too many do fall for this low- (or no-) maintenance mumbo-jumbo. And someone gets burned by it when the vehicle gets re-sold, since there are many lazy buyers in the market. You know: The ones who will decide that giving the vehicle a half-mile trip around the block is enough of a test drive.

  2. Before this topic gets too old, since it sort of involves the topic of making vehicles last, I’m wondering if anyone here has experience with rust-proofing/inhibition. My car has the beginning formation of rust on the lowest part of the car, the metal frame right where you would put the jack to lift it up. After doing a lot of research online, for every method of rustproofing someone comes up with, another says it doesn’t work or it will make the problem worse. Three suggestions that didn’t get much negative feedback are using boiled linseed oil, rubbing/painting motor oil onto the metal parts of the undercarriage, or using “Fluid-Film”. Anyone have experience in this realm?

    • Brandon, I’ve been involved in various aspects of the automotive trades for most of my adult life, and was pursuing a patent when I was young for repairing perforated body panels.

      So believe me when I say: All rust-proofing is a scam.

      Most of what is proffered as “rust-proofing” does in fact attract and or trap dirt and moisture; or at best does nothing more than paint.

      Only real way to deal with rust when you see it starting, is to sand or grind every bit of it off, and fill in any voids which were created by doing so with a fiberglass product, like Gorilla snot, and then give it a good priming and painting.

      The best rust-proofing, is to keep metal surfaces clean and reapir any scratchesc or damage to paint immediately. And always make sure any drain holes in doors and body panels are not clogged or obstructed.

      • Nunzio, thanks for the answer and advice. I had a nagging suspicion that all of these various answers to this problem weren’t going to work. Guess what I really got to do is move down south!

        Tor, thanks for the link, but Sarah recommends the rubberized under-body spray, like most other sources.

        • You’re very welcome, Brandon.

          Yes, that undercoating and rubberized stuff works for a while and keeps the vehicle looking nice for a few years when new….but as the vehicle ages, it does just the opposite.

          I was thinjking about this subject after my previous post, and it dawned on me- after having spent a lot of time in junk yards, and having been in salvage myself, that it always seemed like the rustiest crustiest vehicles were the ones which had signs of having been undercoated. The ones that were pristine- the kind that surprised you because you’d see an old vehicle and be expecting lots of rust, but then on closer inspection, you’d be amazed at how pristine the metal was- were always ones that had not had any rustproofing done.

          • There’s a place here in Michigan that uses hot beeswax. The offer a lifetime warranty as long as you comeback yearly for inspections. Problem is cars start to rust around here as soon as they start to sit outside. Condensation from the temperature changes gets everywhere. But even if it’s a couple years old, it’ll make a difference. My stepfather bought a 1 yr old truck and had it done in 99 (on a 98), it’s like the only niceish one left around. He didn’t take care of it very well at all. Barely ever washed. But that first treatment still drips out on hot days. He just got a different one 2 weeks ago.

            I drilled it into is head this time to keep it washed.

  3. Excellent article, Eric! Sounds exactly like what I would have said if I were writing it. But please tell me where one can get the heads pulled and helicoiled on a modern vehicle for [sniff] $500! I wanna know that guy! I’d never touch a wrench again!

  4. I follow the maintenance schedule for my 04′ Ford Ranger, and never have had a hiccup. I am religious about oil changes, etc. I think people should also be aware of how often there service intervals should be based on how much driving they do. That is of course spelled out in your vehicle owner manual. The manufacturer will have a different maintenance cycle recommendation based on your driving habits. And Eric, I agree with you that is a crock that car manufactures try and say that “little” or “no maintenance” is required. Everything on this planet breaks down. This notion that something “will last forever” is total baloney.

  5. My nephew bought an older (2003?) Audi V 6 twin turbo powerd small rocket. His wife drives it to work. It is fast, handles well, decent mileage…. but when the t-stat packed up and left, he was faced with a MONSTER repair bill. Eedjits put the T state under the long outlet arm that is part of the water pump. Pump is driven by the cam belt. Cam belt requires VERY precise timing, a system borrowed from the racing world but with no marks, keys, physical alignment built in. Special alignment tools required. I managed to figure out what they were after and did it without tools…. knowing if I missed it would be VERY costly… to me. What I could do on most other cars in half an hour or less was a two day job, and I’m an experienced journeyman wrencher.

    Now he’s faced with a slipping trans, my diagnosis from drive test is low fluid level. No dipstic. No level plug. No nuthin. Two plugs on the bottom pan, apparently one to drain, the other to a standpipe that functions as a level indicator. He winched it up onto a trailer and brought it to an audi specialty shop that has the expensive equipment to deal with it.

    A pox on the Jerries for building such a monster. One more example in the endless trail of beyond-stupid engineering out of Wolfsburg. Ferry Porsche designed a decent small inexpensive engine, but what the later guys did in immediate post-war Germany was, and continues to be, a travesty. I’ve worked on VOlkswagen products of all types since their 1953 36 HP boxer and the Beetle into whcih it so easily is put. NEVER been impressed with any of them. Rotten engineering, rotterner execution. And speaking of execution, I believe that would be an appropriate fate for many of the clowns that have “developed” the travesties under the VOlkswagen marque, now including Audi. that fate should be admininstered AFTER a sentence of forced labour in a repair shop FIXING the ridiculous products they have developed, said sentence to be served for at least six months. And no I’m not a sadist, nor a fan of turture. Just a bit of justice.

  6. Part of the sparkplug issue can be helped a lot by using NGK plugs… their bodies are cad plated, which does not typically seize to aluminium. Most other plugs are flash coated with zinc, which likes to corrode and then seize to the threaded holes in the head. I’ve never found an NGK plug seized beyond extracting, clean threaded, with normal hand tools.

    Helicoils might be OK, but there are more reliable products. Can’t remember the product line’s name, but they are solid sleeves, spark plug threads inside and next larger standard sixe threat out. A speckal tap comes with the kit that pilots on the buggered threads, then begins cutting new ones. The solid sleeve is threaded in, the sleeve has a flange that bottoms where the plug used to. Now you have a STEEL thread for your new cad plated NGK’s.

  7. How many new cars no longer have an oil dipstick? Do they ( the auto manufacturers) really believe Americans are that lazy, stupid and careless than to check the oil level once in a while? I know the answer.
    Ok all you gear heads out there, I have a problem with my 2006 Town and Country minivan where the remote key locks don’t work. I changed a battery in one of the remote fobs and it still doesn’t work.
    I checked for some solutions on line and one was to remove the IOD fuse for a minute and re-install it and the system would be up and running..No such luck. Now all this occurred after the starter battery went to its demise. everything else operates as it should except for the damned remote locking function which has caused me to have to call my insurance for someone to open my car after I accidentally locked myself out. By the way, the mechanical locking mechanism in the driver’s door is froze up as well.
    So tell me if I can correct this myself or that I’m going to experience a painful extraction of monetary funds in order to get it working again.
    Thanks and cheers

    • John, I don’t know the answer except to do a search online. I have a problem with error codes flashing on my Z 71 and was about to check the transfer case oil level and got tired of fighting the damned thing, the add plug doesn’t want to come out. I can’t afford to have it screwed up right now so I’m not eager to have to do something radical to fill that hole so I got online. Turns out the switch is defective from day one and this is more common that the wheels turning on the Z’s. I’ll just watch it go from Check Engine Oil Level(even after you just changed the oil), to Check 4WD, to Low Fuel Level(immediately after filling up). I just wish I could turn the damned messages off.

      Hopefully you have a minor glitch(seems reasonable considering a bad battery started it)that can easily be fixed, but it ain’t me babe as the old song goes, it ain’t me your look for…..babe.

    • The older models were bad for corrosion under the fusebox, especially in the neighborhood of that IOD fuse. It may be that it has failed at the same time

  8. I was told my car has a “lifetime” or non-serviceable fuel filter. They said dropping the fuel tank would be required to change it. Is this true, or is it something I should actually get changed to preserve the car?

    Unrelated to this topic, but wanted to rant here and maybe get some opinions. The lady who had a hand in exposing the panama papers, and exposing various other forms of government corruption, was killed yesterday by a car bomb. That is the official story, they’re making no attempt to shield their culpability.

    It spurred some contemplation.

    Daphne Caruana Galizia joins the likes of Seth Rich, Michael Hastings, and many more who were killed by their government for being a little too loud/accurate/moral. I’m wondering, is there any point to trying to resist this at all? Any concrete objective we’re aiming to achieve. Government has never been more distrusted since JFK was killed. So what? When the government can just have you killed at any time, obviously, and there is nothing any of us can do about it, what exactly are we to do? We can inform half the world’s population of these things, but they can kill every other person for their mere pleasure and we couldn’t do anything. Depopulation is part of the agenda, they’d love the excuse. They can make a few phone calls and make your bank account 0, and freeze all credit lines for you and your family. They can have you fired. They can publicly announce everything you’ve ever said and have you socially ostracized, if not killed by the mob. They could lie about things you’ve said for the same result, people will believe it. They can send police to your house and have you killed whenever they want. They can send a drone and a precision missile onto your house in broad daylight. No one is going to do anything. There will be no outrage or no justice in this life. Makes you want to believe in God so these people face some sort of justice eventually.

    So what else is there to do other than just go to work, come home, make a comment online, and pretend everything’s fine and things aren’t so bad? Really. Just like those we criticize who came before us for not taking a stand, who we blame for the way things are. /Rant

    • Hi Brandon,

      Most modern cars have in-tank “sock” filters; they are often part of the “assembly” that includes the electric fuel pump. Dropping the tank is how you access these components. It’s much more a PITAS than it used to be, when engines were carbureted and fuel filters were generally topside, in the engine compartment, and easily changed with basic hand tools.

      On your rant: I truly do not know whether there is any point in trying, but I try anyhow – for the same reason that I would try to get out of a burning building, even if it seemed hopeless. One must try, after all.

      Also: They want us to feel hopeless. That there is nothing we can do. That we ought to just accept – and obey. Therefore, it is critical to not accept it. Not fight it physically – yet. But reject it, evade it, shit all over it whenever we possible can. Every small act of disobedience is a chink in the edifice. Others will see – and follow – our example. Note that contempt for “law enforcement” is no longer almost exclusively something confined to social pariahs but now is expressed by ordinary middle-class white people (like me) who in earlier times would at least have been respectful toward armed government workers and generally really meant it.

      The government is held in general disrepute and its legitimacy to rule has never been lower in my lifetime.

      The danger is that we will go from bad to much worse. From something like Weimar Germany to Nazi Germany. Or Czarist Russia to Soviet Russia.

      And this is why it’s so important to keep the lights on; to spread the ideas of non-aggression and voluntaryism, which are the ideals of decency and civilization.

      I’m not stopping, at any rate.

      But if my brakes should ever fail, you’ll know why!

      • I’ve been tilting at windmills since young. I’ve paid the price at least once. Still can’t keep my mouth shut though and I’ll offend anyone who can be offended by the truth as I see it. I have plenty of sand in the shinery but don’t use it to store my head.

    • Quite some time ago some makes started using fuel pump assemblies with both the pre pump pickup ‘sock’ and the post pump filter in a fuel pump assembly. The only car I’ve had like that is my mazda but the entire fuel pump assembly can be removed from under the backseat.

      On JFK the rumor is the CIA wants Trump to block the release of the papers they haven’t destroyed. Everyone is dead now and it’s pretty clear it was hit done through the CIA ordered by LBJ thanks to people deciding to talk just before they died. But if that becomes known and accepted to the general population their ability to keep doing this stuff will be compromised. I suspect there’s really not much left in those papers. They took care of that decades ago and no later than 1978. So no smoking gun but perhaps confirmation of what various “konspiracy kooks” have been saying for decades.

      • Sock filters have been in use a long time. I know that Ramblers used them, it was in an assembly with the fuel gauge sending unit. (Probably common in other makes as well since AMC tended to use a lot of industry-standard parts and tech.)

        The sock filter was supposed to be a “lifetime” part and was used in conjunction with a standard replaceable type filter near the carb. I still have a fuel pickup/sending unit assembly like that laying around in the garage with its fiberglass “sock” filter still intact.

    • Don’t forget Gary Webb, a journalist for the San Jose Mercury, who exposed the CIA’s cocaine trafficking and its involvement in crack cocaine and the notorious street gang, the Crips. Found dead with two bullets in the head, it was ruled a suicide.
      Danny Calaruso was suicided the night before he was to deliver his investigative report into the theft of the FBI’s crime software into Canada. George Bush was involved.
      Dorothy Kilgalen, reporter for the NY Times was found dead in her bed. The autopsy report stated her system had numerous barbiturates. She had more than half a dozen interviews with Jack Ruby, the supposed murderer of Lee Harvey Oswald. Her notes were never found.
      A french police officer who was investigating the Charlie Hebdo attack was found dead of “apparent suicide” after he called his wife stating he would be late getting home and that he had discovered some important information about the case.
      Journalists and those seeking truth are often silenced by those who wish to remain hidden from view. This is why no one should accept any official statements from either the press or the the state.

    • Eric, you make some good points. I suppose it is human nature to try to survive, no matter the odds. It is true that despite how Orwellian we have become, there is still much further to fall. I’ll read up on Stoicism and try to keep in mind that I have it much better than most humans in history ever did.

      Brent, you say “But if that becomes known and accepted to the general population their ability to keep doing this stuff will be compromised.”

      I personally don’t think their ability would be compromised at all, or that anything would change with that info being public. If the deep state will kill a president, certainly no one else would be that difficult. It would take even less consideration.

      I think if Trump somehow revealed that 9/11 was an inside job, something most people alive today remember, people would still shrug their shoulders, ehh, whatever. What’s done is done. Who cares. What are we going to do? Isn’t the Tonkin incident which started Vietnam now officially known as a false flag? The battleship Maine, which started the Spanish-American war, the Lusitania which got us in WW1, maybe, etc. I think it was you who said that slaves are more productive when they think they’re free, when they get to keep a piece of what they earn, so that’s why we have to keep playing this game. But other than having less productive slaves, there would be no revolt or revolution with this info, if they came out and proudly proclaimed that JFK or 9/11 was an inside job. I hope I’m wrong on that though.

      JohnZ, thanks for the extra examples. I think those doing true investigations or reporting should quietly collect their data, and make no effort to reveal it for many years. Maybe anonymously dumping this information on the deep web when they’re ready. Seems like all the examples we have listed were people trying to make a living while also trying to uncover the truth, publishing their results or in some other way, telling/revealing to others the progress they’ve made in their digging.

      As for the modern “sock” filter, is this something that should be preemptively changed every X years/miles, or is this more of an “if it ain’t broke don’t touch it” sort of thing? Thanks all.

      • The long time ago thing certainly is always in play. That’s why they delay and delay. To push it off. If they feel it will compromise them they push it off further until it won’t. Like the LBJ tapes.

        • Yes, it’s all one great poker hand, that never ends with them.

          The cards keep coming. They never run out of decks in their shoe.

          Maybe they will admit Hiroshima is a false flag any day now, if it suited them.

          Imagine how much mindspace that revelation would be.

          Now we can all use nukes because some past lies or revealed.

          Or some new process is rediscovered to make nukes safe.

          There really is no limit on how long they might bluff, or how big they might bet, or how many cards they may reveal.

          It’s a calculation beyond human completing.

          But each of us can understand pieces of the maths involved, and so help each other that way, I would argue.

  9. The recommended plug change for my 5.3 GM is 100,000 miles and they will last that long. But I’ve seen too many times, esp. on aluminum heads, where that length of time meant seized or very close. Time to break out the Kano Kroil and see how much good you can do before gingerly twisting them. Once out, cuss yourself or whoever left them that long and then thank the ICE god they backed out…..without the aluminum head threads. Don’t go cheap with anti-seize. Get the pure nickel stuff like they use on nuclear reactor plumbing. And don’t get over-enthusiastic installing the new ones either.

    I never let coolant go over 3 years and generally less. I don’t run a flush generally because I don’t want some of that still going around in there. I drain, fill with distilled water, bring up to temperature and drain again making sure the heater core is being used. I mostly do that twice….or more if I can detect any hint of coolant left. Then I add the right amount of anti-freeze and fill with more distilled water….and used triple distilled if I can find it. Oh, and just for myself, I add a jar of Bar’s Leak to the system. It’s a great water pump lube and any impending leak that might be waiting is plugged the instant the first drip breaks through.

    I bought a Nissan pickup(sign of the devil)once and it had NO grease zerks but luckily was tapped and filled with plugs. A handful of straight, 45 and 90 zerks later it was all good. And that was probably the best part of the vehicle. I don’t recommend old Jap pickups in Texas. Their aluminum head/iron block combo doesn’t like the heat and they will, every damned one of them, blow if you work them.

    And out here in the west where people used to buy pickups to work, Ford damned near gave away their entire market because of modular engine losing a cylinder. To this day you can still pull into small towns the GM pickups will be a huge amount over Ford and Dodge too. The only thing keeping Ford and Dodge alive were their diesels and now Dodge has been fucking up so bad the last 4 years they’ve lost a lot of fanboys on their Cummins. It’s not so much the engine itself but the electronics that even the dealerships can’t fix. A friend who was a mechanic, went to buy one in ’13 and knew some of the mechanics there. They said “load up and go somewhere besides Dodge, we can’t even fix em here”. He bought a Powerstroke and so far so good.

  10. Here’s the thing though, most people don’t take care of their products. I have had to routinely design products to live X long without doing the required maintenance. Why? Because people do not take care of the stuff.

    Greased for life stuff has mostly been designed away. The numerous joints that were once normal for car suspensions are down to just two per side. Front suspensions with only one ball joint and steering with only a ball on the tie-rod end. The lower ball joint, the one left, are vastly better than they were in ages past. If the seal fails then it will eventually fail. Sure with a zerk it would be easier to nurse one with failed seal or even have a replaceable seal. That replaceable seal of course was the way the dirt got in and killed the old stuff btw.

    • Morning Brent!

      True, no question.

      The sucky thing, though, is that people like you and I – who do take care of our things – get carried along by the rip tide of disposability and the debt-based economy it requires.

    • Brent, I’ve probably killed 30 cars easily in my younger days. I took beat up hoopties as a last gasp rental payment and drove them into the ground. All they ever got was gas, I was on my own in my late teens and didn’t have my network to help me deal with stuff.

      My first car was a horizon. Second one a porsche 924. Probably a half dozen more before I got to my college period, where all I did was study work and sleep 20 hours a day.

      I remember a 83 chrysler new yorker overheating one time and starting to seize, I drove it into work with it clanging at about 60 decibels. An Amc eagle station wagon I took in trade turned out to have a sweat sock as its gas cap, at least that’s what the fire department said after they broke thru its hood with an axe or however they gain their access.

      Not everyone is in the same situation. From my young perspective autos were just disposable appliances to use and abuse until the next one was called up to take its place.

      Ladies weren’t impressed with auto adoration. I was always better at real estate work than worthless depreciating asset work so why not stick to what I know best 100%

      I bet the dollar difference is only a few thousand, because I would have taken the cars to the scrap yard and crushed them the moment they needed anything even if I did my own minor maintenance like I did later on in life.

      I get that it feels like it means something but you’re all just gypsy’s tramps and thieves these days anyway, no matter how much knowledge you have about this or that mass produced trinket transportation bauble.

      Your Mama’s all dance for the money the fiat class throws, no matter what title and piece of meaningless paper they might strut about wearing on their chest like some ridiculous peacock or peacunt.

      And us Papas will do whatever we could, sell a couple wagons of doctor Good.

      Whatever it takes so they lay their money down.

    • Brent,

      “I have had to routinely design products to live X long without doing the required maintenance. Why? Because people do not take care of the stuff.”

      Isn’t it about time you get into the designer baby business?

      My sister (a microbiology grad), who works at some giant hospital, doesn’t understand why the Detroit tv news keep “advertising” job openings for nurses and other care givers. (As opposed to other jobs.)

      She thinks I’m full of shit when I tell her that people in general don’t want to take care of themselves, let alone some other person.

      She doesn’t understand why the salesman at the dealership (where she has been buying cars for over 40 years) talked her into a lease this time.

      She thinks it is really weird that lease car doesn’t have a dipstick for the trans.

      She doesn’t understand why her daughter is raising her grandson to be a pussy.

      She simply cannot fathom that there actually exists a person like you. And I’m pretty sure that she would think you are doing the devil’s work by designing what you do.

      • The life of X is the warranty period. The required maintenance is if you want it to last effectively forever in a homeowner setting and much longer than the warranty period in a commercial one.

  11. You can test the corrosivity of engine coolant with a digital volt meter set to DC VOLTS (analog would probably be fine). With the engine off, and cool, to the point where you can safely remove the radiator cap (squeeze the upper radiator hose to make sure the system isn’t under pressure) – remove the radiator cap. Place each lead of the meter on a battery terminal. A fully charged battery should read 12.65V or -12.65V with the engine off, depending on if you’ve got the leads backwards.
    To test the coolant, put the red meter lead on the battery positive terminal and put the black or common lead into the coolant, without touching any metal on the radiator – just hold it in the coolant. It will read lower than your first reading. Wait for digital meters to average or stabilize it’s reading. If you started with a battery with 12.65V and now see from the positive on the battery to the coolant 11.65V or lower, that means your coolant is very conductive, and should be changed.

    tl;dr / Mechanics: Measure voltage drop from the battery to the coolant itself in the radiator – should be 0V, if 1V or higher definitely change the coolant. Recommend measuring from positive battery post and subtract your reading from the voltage across the battery, auto-ranging meters may start out on mV scale when measuring from neg. battery post and not give you a worth-while reading.

    Also for Dex-Cool or GM/ orange coolant, if it looks baby diarrhea brown then that’s another sign you should consider changing your engine’s coolant.

  12. Are there any ethical companies, Elio maybe, who will put out a true auto owners almanac about their vehicles. Online and amateur is fine.

    Not anything legal or binding. Not in lieu of the required crap.

    But something timelessly essential and illuminating for living breathing humans who aren’t merely interchangeable parts of the international free trade juggernautical manufactured machine?

    • Hi Tor,

      The whole industry has gone fruitbat. The manufacturers are driven by regulations and political correctness; they make over-complex, over-expensive throw-ways that people go into debt to drive and which they cannot service themselves.

      The only fix is a crash, I think.

      • Those buggy Dodge pickups I used to have to use were always screwing up, mostly the engine would go to idle when you jobbed the pedal. Cycle it 5 times and it would work again. But driving down the road one day the 5500 caught fire, my non-fail resolution. The guy driving put it out and it kept on going but various things didn’t work. Dealer sorta/kinda fixed it since nobody could really tell what the fix was gonna be when so many of the new parts didn’t work. It never caught fire with me or I’d have let it go and got a pat on the back from the boss. Like he always said, it’s insured.

    • I’d like to see Nader challenged on his silence about electric cars, just once. It will never happen, for obvious reasons. Well, obvious to those who aren’t fools, who can still see and think.

      • Though Nader is likely an atheist, and his parents are Lebanese Maronite Orthodox Christians.

        He is the pinnacle of a conniving cowering Jew Hypocrite in every conceivable way.

        Always advocating open borders for America and Europe. Make the West an Environmental Paradise. But never Israel. But never open borders and green machines for Israel.

        Israel should drive all those verkakta IC cars into the sea tomorrow. Go Green Like All The Good Goys.

        • whadya speck from the guy who deliberately and calculatedly faked the video “proof” that COrvairs were “unsafe at any speed”? Memory is a bit more foggy, but I seem to remember he also had a hand un the saddle mount fuel tank fires in one line of full sized pickups back when, the “study” that attempted to destroy the maker’s reputation until it was found out that just before every staged collision (crash tests set up) there was a small flame visible just a coupile frames prior to impact… and that the ensuing fire always was touched off by that flame…..

          That guy is so croked he should be in jail…. but then, he’s only one more in along litany of other such folks.

          • NBC seems like. I had a Silverado like the one that burst into flames. We could never ride in it again without fear. Oh bullshit, it was so hokey we laughed and drove that pickup into the ground before selling it to a co-worker who drove it even further and traded it….for a Ford that was basic and rough and didn’t last long. Not sure why he traded it since it ran good….or ran good when he got it anyway.

  13. My 2008 Chrysler Town & Country has no transmission dipstick. The tube is there with a little cap saying “dealer service only”. I said screw that and scratched a few marks onto the oil dipstick showing the hot running level and the engine cold level. Now I can check the transmission fluid whenever I want. My wife’s Honda Crosstour, according to the shop manual, has no serviceable transmission filter in it. Needless to say that gets changed every 20,000 miles. Thankfully, a fairly easy task because it has a factory drain plug in the pan.

    • Hi Tom,

      You are my kind of guy!

      I hate the throw-away culture and everything it stands for. Not so much because other people go broke partaking of it but because their partaking of it drags everyone else along, like an evil rip tide!

      • You or Brent or somebody could make a whole site about throwing things away.

        Imagine if we all lived next to each other and never through anything not truly refuse away.

        Something you buy for 50 cents might take millions of dollars to make on your own.

        We could start our own self sufficient culture just by learning from cheap capitalist crap we all take for granted.

        Should gov take away all the crapital. It’ll be irreplaceable if we don’t start doing it all ourselves now occassionally in all things while we still can.

      • Disposable culture is not just a product of consumerism.

        Throw-it-outers like morning people I find to be a self-righteous bunch in general. People who can’t stand clutter or storing stuff. Very much that everyone needs to live like they do. That if you’re not like them you’re a bad person.

        I’ve never seen a ‘keeper’ tell a throw it outer how to live or a night owl tell a morning person how to live.

        • I hate the disposers and the deleters with a white hot passion.

          I can let the Elois slide I guess, but there’s no need to be a void freak who loves nothing more than emptyness and nothingness which are your highest value.

          KISS doesn’t mean keeping it so simple you have no tangible assets or capital to work with, and you’re always running to the store every 5 minutes.

          • Well-said, Tor!

            KISS means having grease fittings, so you can grease up that spindle and it’ll last for 15 years…and then when it does fail, you just rebuild it by replacing a couple of standard bearings for $16….

            As opposed to non-greaseable- where it lasts three years…and then you have to replace the whole unit for $89, and so every three years in perpetuity, until they are no longer made- so in 15 years when the one with the greaseable unit needs rebuilding…the machine with the non-greaser is already rusting away on the junk pile.

            • But but in the short run it’s simpler not to have any clutter in your life. Grease and bearings and simple tools and materials make life so messy and difficult.

              So much better if us leasehold owners can’t be blamed for doing maintenance if its near impossible to do it yourself any maintenance on your dealers bankers car.

              Live for the crisp and clean now on a plastic aluminum chitty chitty bang bang like the sweet disney melodies I had to hear over and over once when I was at a conference at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort. (Heavy Dolphin Petting And Riding Not Included.)

              Highly recommend if you enjoy dropping 300 a day to stay in a motel 6 or maybe 6 1/2 quality flealess fumigated flea bag. Anyway where was I before the OT Tokyo Drift…

              Always high never low
              Every where you go
              Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
              We lease you

              Near, far, in our EV motor car
              Oh! What a happy time we’ll spend.

              Bang Bang Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
              Our fine four fendered friend.

              You’re sleek as a thoroughbred.
              You’re seats a faux feather bed.

              You’ll turn everybody’s head today.
              We’ll glide on our carbon free motor trip

              With pride in our lease ownership
              The envy of all we survey.

              Oh Chitty You Chitty
              Pretty Chitty Bang Bang
              Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
              We love you.

              (Just hope the 100 mile plug in hybrid extension cord doesn’t get tangled up again.)

  14. Those cheap antifreeze testers don’t tell you the condition of the fluid, only the concentration as it relates to the freezing and boiling points. The anti-corrosion additives can be completely worn out, the coolant can be full of debris, and that tester will read “good.”

    The no trans-fluid-changes scam has been around a long time, I’ve seen manuals for 1970s cars saying that. Usually though the truth can be found in the “severe duty” maintenance schedule where suitable changes will be called for.

  15. Oh God! That picture is of the exact plugs I just replaced in my dad’s F-150. Motorcraft SP-515s. In this truck’s case, Ford stands for Fuck Off, Repair Dude.

    The damned electrode shields got stuck in the heads by carbon buildup and five out of eight came out in chunks. Not pieces – CHUNKS.

    Needed THREE 5.4-3-Valve-Triton-V8-specific special tools to do the job, had to shatter the porcelain insulators bit-by-bit with screwdrivers & socket extensions and blow out the plug wells about half a dozen times with air.

    It took about three aggregate hours a plug, and I invented about few new personal repair procedures in the process.

    All the result of an attitude of, “Fuck you, Mr. Mechanic. Impossibility of repair is a small price to pay for technological advance” on the part of the engineers. No wonder they got hit with a class-action lawsuit over this engine.

    I’m so sick of vehicles designed to go together ONCE, at the factory, and which are intended to never be repaired.

    If cars are to be disposable, fine – but let the price reflect that fact.

    • The plugs on the Ford modular engines are a disaster. If you own one, you should loosen and re-tighten them (with anti-seize) every 20k miles or so, so that they don’t break off in the head.

      DexCool, as another poster mentioned, is another disaster waiting to happen. GM now sells little dissolving tablets you put in it to keep the DexCool from eating up the internal seals. Probably better to wait until it’s gasket time, do a full system flush, and change over to standard green coolant.

      The Lexus has a “sealed” transmission. No dip-stick. But it does have drain and fill ports, so I get the fluid changed every 30k miles. This gets about 1/3 of the fluid replaced (there’s also a extra radiator for towing) and over time that’s “good enough” to ensure long life.

      Chip H.

          • I’ve done a crapload without breaking them. 1. Remove coil bolts. 2. Get engine hot. 3. Suck a can or 2 in through the fuel rail pressure sensor vacuum line. 4. Beat the snot out of it for 6 miles or so. 5. Slide coils out and use a 3/8 impact on plug. I have a right angle one for the back couple. I rarely break one now.

          • As I recall, it is the sparkplug itself. The sparkplug used in those 3V engines, 5.4L (esp) and 4.6L was constructed essentially of two pieces, with those two pieces being crimped together. I think the two pieces were (1) the threaded portion that goes into the head, and (2) the rest of the plug. I don’t think it was the head per se, just that those damn shitty spark plugs were used on those engines at that time. Now the 3V 5.4L has other problems with cam phasers, oil screens in the cam phasers, and faulty timing chain idlers among others, but the spark plug debacle is mostly, if not primarily due to the design of the sparkplug itself. Of course, not touching those bad boys in there for 100,000 miles lets them seize up real nice in *any* head to which they were inserted. Excellent idea to crack those spark plugs every 50k miles or so. I’ll need to do that on my old ’02 S-10 (which has about 50 some k on its current set of plugs…)

            • It happens because the small gap between the bottom of the plug and cylinder head fills full of carbon, locking them together. Be carefully pulling into traffic when burning the carbon through it, it’ll fog a 5 line highway out enough so traffic stops.

              I’ve had the 300-6 back plugs come out so hard a 1/2 impact would barely turn them.

    • All 8 plugs on my FORD F-150 5.4/3V came out without an issue (~120000 miles). Lot’s of “mechanics” out there are in a rush and competition to see how hard and fast they can do their “mechanic-ing.” Take your time so you don’t screw up and get hurt in the process. There is also a tool you can buy to extract the bottom part of the plugs in case they gut stuck. I bought the tool but didn’t have to use it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here