Government Assistance, Sort Of . . .

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The government occasionally does us a service, but always inadvertently. One such being that modern vehicles can go longer in between oil changes, tune-ups, coolant changes and other basic maintenance. This decreases the quantity of critical parts one might want to keep on hand – so as to have them in hand in the event they become unavailable at the store – because of the government.

Oil, for instance.

It was once the case that most cars needed an oil change every 3,000 miles or so. That meant at least two oil and filter changes annually, for most car owners. In an America-as-Venezuela situation, that would mean stocking up a lot of oil (and filters) . . . if it was 1981 rather than 2021.

Many modern cars are designed to go 10,000 miles or even more without an oil change – in part because of the endurance of modern oils and in part because modern car engines are designed to be so very tight (close tolerances, fine management of air-fuel ratios, etc.) so as to keep the oil cleaner, longer. Because of government regs – pertaining to emissions control.

If you only drive a few thousand miles in the course of a year – as in the case of a Hunkering Down situation – changing the oil once a year or even longer will be fine. If America slides into Venezuela-hood, you may drive less than a few thousand miles in a year – in which case you might be able to go two years without changing oil – without hurting the engine.

If you change your oil now – and buy enough oil (and a filter) to change it again, eventually – you won’t have worry about oil if the wheels come off the system until 2023.

And that just might be long enough.

Tune ups . . .

Most modern cars, which is all cars made since the early ’90s, need them about as often as most people need major surgery.

People who owned cars made before government regs made it very important for car companies to keep the spark plugs firing hot and just right, the fuel spritzed just so by injectors rather than leaked by carburetors, will remember the twice a year (spring and fall) tuneup. Now it’s the once-a-decade tuneup.

If that.

Most modern car ignition systems rarely need any periodic adjustment at all; most modern cars have spark plugs that will still be firing as hot 100,000 miles from now as when new.

If you car is less than five years old and has less than 50,000 miles on it, you will probably not need to worry about a tune-up for at least five more years and another 50,000 miles. If your car is older, you may want to think about pre-emptively checking or having checked the few service items that do occasionally need to be replaced, such as spark plug wires and distributor caps. If your late-model car even has these parts; many no longer do.

Once again, because Uncle – inadvertently.

There are two caveats, though.

One being air filters. These get just as dirty today as they did back in the day. Having an extra on hand will keep the air going into your car’s engine clean for longer if America goes Hugo.

Another item to keep in mind is the fuel filter, which people often forget because it is easy to forget it. The fuel filter is one of those small but linchpin parts; if it clogs up, the fuel doesn’t flow – and your car won’t go. In modern cars, the fuel filter is generally good for 30,000 miles or more but that isn’t the same as forever. Might be good to re-set the clock now – or at least, have a spare in the garage.

Fuel stabilizer, too. This can keep the gas in your tank from going bad from not being used – a situation that could become more common as America becomes more and more like Venezuela. Here, government has decreased the “service interval” – of gas – by instilling it with ethanol, which tends to go bad sooner if not treated with fuel stabilizer. You can extend the life of this adulterated gas for months by treating it and by keeping your tank as full as possible (this helps reduce condensation contamination inside the tank).

Another thing you might do is find real gas. It’s available; just not commonly so. See here to see where you can find it in your vicinity. If you keep three or four 5 gallon jugs of unadulterated gas on hand, sealed tight, you’ll have enough good gas to get where you need to – or run necessary equipment, like a generator – in the event there’s no gas to be had.

Thanks to the government.

. . .

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  1. Watch the spark plug time and miles. I did the Escape at about 60k after others in the owner’s forum had waited the 100k and had a tough time removing them. Corrosion starts to set in don’t want to take out your aluminum threads with the spark plug! Anti seize or not? Another question since it affects the installation torque. Been some time but I think Ford specified dry install / torque. Inch lb torque wrench a must for this. Factory service manual is vital.

  2. One of my advantages living in rust country and keeping a fleet of cheap beaters going, is that I get to experiment with things like oil change intervals. I’ve found that up to the point of making sludge oil can be run well over 10000 miles between changes. After the first 5000 or so you’ll start having to add, if you have a temperature problem like a bad thermostat or extreme cold, you will start to form sludge.

    Note that I don’t recommend this on your new $50000 FRN mobile- but it is quite possible to stretch oil changes out for a very long time. I’ve also seen repeated claims of the “toilet paper oil filter”, actually a bypass filter, which allows you to run virtually forever without an oil change, simple cleaning/changing the TP element and replacing one quart of oil.

    Likewise the tune up- It occurred to me one day that I’d never changed the plugs on the wife’s 07 Grand Caravan. At the time there was something like 240000 on the clock- and it still ran and started great. But I pulled them, and found the original Mopar plugs basically burnt away to cinders. A fresh set of double platinums gained about half a mile/gallon, otherwise no difference. I finally unloaded the van at 350000 miles, rust was eating it but it still ran and drove very well.

  3. Meh, forget stockpiling erl and spare parts for the VZ apocalypse; unless you have a totally analog “antique” vehicle, ’cause once the newer vehicle goes into limp mode or blows some little sensor or module, it’s fame-over unless you have a dealer-level scanner, the knowledge to use it, and access to the very specific fresh parts needed (Fuhgettabout scavenging stuff from junkyards or the hulks of neutron-bombed cities…. delicate electronics just don’t age well, outside, even if you were lucky enough to somehow find the needed specific part for the particular configuration of your specific car- much less being able to program the cars computer to accept the new part- Hell, on many modern vehicles you can’t even bleed the brakes without a dealer-level scanner/computer- Jeeps, for one example).

    Modern vehicles are not Libertarian- They are made to keep one reliant on the manufacturer’s dealer infrastructiure, and to be economic shackles that are not sustainable once out of warranty.

    • In such a collapsed world nobody has to worry about emissions inspections or any such things. This opens up all sorts of repair possibilities.

  4. There’s a reason why militants used to prefer older Toyota pick up trucks. Little to no maintenance, and they keep plugging along.
    Regarding fuel spoilage, I’ve found it largely unpredictable. You may have a can full two years old that works fine, and another one one year old that doesn’t. Once upon a time, I sold a boat. I threw in an ancient 10 HP motor that had been stored in my barn for about 5 years. The buyer asked if we could see if it would start, so I hung in on the side of the barrel of water, choked it and pulled a couple of times and it sputtered. Unchoked it and pulled a gain and it started right up. With 5 year old two cycle fuel in it, that was essentially stored outdoors.
    Regarding air filters, K&N might be a solution. While their directed cleaning and recharging is product intensive, perhaps one could wash one well enough without them, and recharge it with motor oil as oil bath air filters used to be. Of course an oil bath would be perfect for the job, I haven’t seen one in ages. The last I think was on a 66 Chevy panel truck. I think. It was 40 years ago, or more.

    • Except said militants live in places where they don’t have to worry about road salt and rust. Toyota trucks and their rust issues are well known. good luck finding a toyota pickup from the 80s or 90s in the road salt states.

      • True. One of my neighbors had one which the frame rusted in two on. It was repairable, and is on the road again. In Missouri, which is obviously not coastal, but they do put far too much salt on the roads in winter.

  5. I talked to the mechanics (about fuel going bad) at the local full service repair gas station (pretty cool bunch of guys who never wore face diapers, btw) they have two trucks with snowplows they use to clear their lot in Winter. One is a late 80’s Jeep, the other a late 90’s Chevy pickup. They said they both routinely sit the whole year with a tank full of regular gasoline and zero fuel stabilizer and they have zero issues as a result.

    Upon hearing that I wondered if perhaps a metal gas can keeps gasoline fresh longer than plastic fuel jugs do?
    That said, I had a boat, it had a full tank of three plus year old fuel in it, maybe four? I don’t know if it had fuel stabilizer in it. I sold the boat without ever starting it. The guy who bought it fired it up and said it worked just fine. I thought that was kind of amazing.

    For the last two years the weatherman would put out a big scare of an early big snowfall at the beginning of November (which never materialized) so upon hearing that I took my plastic gas jugs and rushed out and bought five gallons of regular gasoline for the snowblower.
    I got busy, forgot to put fuel stabilizer in it and come late December/early January when I needed it for the snowblower, the gas had already gone bad, the snowblower wouldn’t start. I replaced the gas and it fired right up. I did that to myself two years in a row, idiot.
    The mechanics at the gas station said vehicles might run/start differently than 2 & 4-cycle small engines and that’s why my snowblower wouldn’t start, yet their snowplow trucks do. Idk. Just some observations which I think about from time to time and when I walk past the pricy metal gas cans in the store.
    The mechanics also told me to pour the bad gasoline in my plastic fuel jugs into the fuel tank in my truck with some good gasoline already in it and that it should be ok to do so. I had no issues as a result of doing that. That I know of, anyway.

    • old fuel burns well enough generally. Over on the vice grip garage channel on youtube he started up an 80s pickup truck that was sitting for 12 years on the fuel in the tank and drove it home. He did have problems but not so much the fuel itself but the rust and other debris in the tank.

      The ignition system plays a big role in what will start on old fuel and what won’t. small engines have a magneto and pull start. Non-ideal fuel is more likely to cause problems. As the gasoline ages the lighter components evaporate away. It is these lighter hydrocarbons that are easier to set off to get an engine starting and running. This is also why dilution with fresh gasoline works. The fresh gasoline gives the components needed to get it running then the old stuff burns just fine.

      • ‘fresh gasoline gives the components needed to get it running then the old stuff burns just fine’ — BrentP

        Makes sense; thanks. What makes the smell of ‘bad gasoline’?

  6. I haven’t put but about 5000 miles on the truck last year, and that’s with vacation and a lot of hunting.

    I like the fuel savings but I do feel like I’m wasting oil when I change it at half life. Can’t stand the thought of letting the same oil in for 2 years though.

    The unintended consequences of govt can sometimes be nice, but they are an accident and never to be taken as a gift or good will. Just proof that central planners don’t really understand what they are planning.

  7. ‘if America goes Hugo‘ — EP

    Chávez, that is … food lines, funny money.

    Bloomberg reports that Hugo’s successor, Madouche-o, is preparing to slash six zeros off Venezuela’s currency. And that’s after lopping off five zeros in 2018.

    After the latest adjustment, one dollar would fetch 3.2 bolivars instead of 3.2 million.

    It happens in rich countries, too. France lopped two zeros off the franc in 1960, after WW II inflation made prices inconvenient. Perversely, hard-headed French continued to quote vehicle prices in ancien francs well into the 1980s.

    Likewise, when Clowngress stopped the issuance of silver certificates in 1963 (making subsequent paper currency consist only of unbacked Federal Reserve Notes), it riveted the attention of millions. Old-timers didn’t need no PhD Econ to know that something bad was happening.

    Today’s debauched dollar is created in unlimited quantity, just like Madouche-o’s worthless bolivar. How will we know it’s going over the waterfall?

    Gold (pegged at $35/oz before Nixon pulled the plug) hit a record high of $2,063/oz in August 2020. Gold setting a record high (it’s at $1,790 this morning) would signal that end game is on.

    If Cackling Kamala takes over from the ‘Biden’ hologram, I will back up the truck and shovel in gold till my freaking hands bleed.


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