Every car has a service schedule – based on miles or months, whichever occurs first. Something else may occur first, though – like a “peaceful” protest in your town. Or a new Gesundheitsfuhrer-decreed lockdown based on the increasing number of WuFlu “cases” (never mind the decrease in deaths – which were never unusually many to begin with and are even fewer now).
Which could trigger a meltdown.
And stop when you need it to.
Brakes are as good a place as any to start. Once they’re up to snuff – good calipers, fresh pads and fluid – they’ll be good to go (and good to stop) for at least the next 30,000 miles, which ought to be enough to carry you through what’s very possibly coming. Good brakes are especially important if you’re pulling a trailer – something else that may become important in the months ahead.
Right now, it’s still easy to run down to the parts store and get the parts you may need. It may not be so easy a few months from now. Or even weeks. It may become a lot more expensive, too – if the value of those pieces of paper in your wallet collapses.
Even if you don’t need brakes right now, buying the parts right now means you will have them when you do – when the parts stores don’t. And you won’t be spending $500 (maybe $5,000) for a set of new pads, either. Plus, parts are fungible. If things get really bad, having parts will amount to having value in a form that can’t be debased and can be traded.
Same goes for things like oil and filters, tires, drive belts and other things your car will need – but which may be hard – or expensive – to come by soon.
Some service items are easy to neglect – or forget about altogether. Which – if you do – you may be reminded about at a very inconvenient moment. One good example is your vehicle’s fuel filter – which in many modern cars is hidden away inside the fuel tank. Eventually, it will get clogged – and then your car won’t run.
But the fix won’t be quick or easy – as it once was, when cars generally had the fuel pump mounted on the engine and therefore at least busted-knuckle accessible and removable with basic hand tools, with just the hood up.
With in-tank filters, the car will probably need to be up on a lift – easy to find now, maybe not so much tomorrow – and the tank may have to come down. More than busted-knuckle work. And if you haven’t got the new filter, it won’t matter – even if you have access to the lift.
If your car’s filter is the same one that’s been in there for more than the past six or seven years, replacing it now could pay off later.
Now is also a very good time to service the cooling system – while coolant and hoses and so on are still easy to come by. The upside to doing it now is that – as with brake work – once it’s done you’ve bought yourself a lot of time.
Some cars need specific service – a timing belt change is a good example – that must be done by a certain odometer reading. If not done, the belt will inevitably fail – probably, per Murphy’s Law, when you are needing to get away from “peaceful” protestors.
And then it may not be easy to find a shop that can do the job.
Your car just became useless over a $700 (or so, depending on the car) repair. Given the lunatics are now running Arkham, it might not be a bad idea to get this service done before the specified odometer reading. So that’s done – and you don’t have to worry about it later.
Certain peripherals may also prove worth their weight in gold – possibly literally. Things like air compressors, for instance. And necessary tools. If you buy them now, you will have them later. Even if things don’t go sour, the value of these tangible goods remains – unlike the tenuous value of the paper you used to buy them with.
There’s one more thing to think about, too – without which your car won’t go no matter how tip-top its condition:
It has always been a good idea to keep the tank at least a quarter full, in order to keep the in-tank fuel pump running cool. Many people are unaware of this fact. That in-tank electric fuel pumps are cooled by the gas in the tank – and that they run hotter (and live shorter) when the tank is run dry – or nearly – regularly. Keeping the pump cool extends its life.
Keeping the tank full may extend yours. Because you never know when a “peaceful” protect may erupt.
It’s also a good idea to extend the shelf-life of the fuel by using fuel stabilizer, especially if you’re using ethanol-dosed “gas,” as most people are essentially forced to – because it’s often not convenient to drive to one of the few remaining stations that still sell gas, without any ethanol.
For long-term storage, marine stabilizer is best. The stuff is specifically designed to prevent the water ethanol attracts from separating out – and rusting out your fuel system and making starting hard and possibly impossible.
A few five gallon jugs in the shed – also dosed with stabilizer – is sound policy, too. Since you might not be able to get more on the day you really need it.
Which may be coming next week given how things are going.
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