What is all of this
about shoes, ¼, and
½? And what does
it have to do with
After all, why fill
the page with babble.
Trust me, a car
enthusiast is in here
If you are a driver
who does his or her
own vehicle mainten-
ance, the following
are some tips and a
And given these chal-
lenging economic times,
more and more people are turning a wrench on their vehicles.
As I own a car with over 500,000 miles on the clock, I have turned a few
wrenches on it. And how has my attitude about doing maintenance and repairs
changed over the years (I have owned the car for 19 years)?
In the early years, I did not have a second car as I do today. Also, I did not
have a garage. Thus, I would do the work outside or ‘borrow’ a place that
had a roof. Also in the early years, there was pressure to get the job done
and any repair complications added to the pressure, frustration, swearing,
etc. Thus, my rigid thinking seemed to characterize the day.
However, after being through the car repair process over and over, better
or should I say easier ways of doing things evolved. Now, when a repair
presents itself, I have the option to think about it a bit longer and with a
much more relaxed attitude. To achieve 500,000 miles on a vehicle I
had the necessary ‘drive anytime anywhere’ attitude in addition to pushing
out of mind the thought of a breakdown. If such an attitude is not present,
the high mileage driving game can be over. Such an outlook does not
mean being unprepared however. Having some oil, water, basic tools
and Master Card available is always prudent.
Sometimes when a repair presents itself, I think about it, plan a bit, and
even have a laid-back attitude – I do not need to even tie my shoes for this
one. In other words – easy does it!
Another approach I have developed is the ¼ idea or dividing the vehicle
into quarters. The quarters are the front left, front right, rear left, and
rear right. I will thus try to plan doing a number of repairs or maintenance
on that quarter of the vehicle. Thus, while I am in there, I will look at the
area and even replace an item that is not totally gone. For example, if I
am replacing the front brake pads and the rotors are say five years old and
warped slightly, I will also replace them. The reasoning is why remove
the brake pads again in 3 – 6 months to replaces the rotors? Additionally,
I would inspect the ball joints, brake hoses and rubber boots and replace
You might be thinking that doing all the work on a quarter of the vehicle
involves lot of work and it can. However, the 1/2 idea involves breaking
a large job up into two parts. For example, if replacing the brakes, rotors
and ball joints seems like a challenging and demanding job, consider
working on one side of the vehicle during one weekend and the other
side the next weekend. Doing such can lower repair frustration and make
the job easier. And unless the vehicle cannot be driven safely, will using
the old brakes for a few more days really matter?
How can you tell if your vehicle needs a brake job? Well, how long
and how many miles has it been since they were replaced? If it has
been about four years or about 40,000 miles ago, the brake replacement
is likely due. Also, when you get the vehicle inspected or the tires
rotated, ask the mechanic how much remains on the brakes and inquire
about the condition of the other components. Thus, all you need to do
is ask to get an idea of what might need to be replaced.
Another tip involves getting on the Internet to Google or consult a
discussion group to ask questions specific to your vehicle. An
‘old fashion’ method is to call or visit a dealership and speak with the
service technician or even a mechanic about some aspect of your vehicle.
Now you might be thinking -‘right!’ Some places will invariably be cold.
However, in these economic times, such an attitude will likely be tempered
with the thought, “Maybe he or she will buy a car, etc.”
In many instances you will find that the service technician will answer your
questions and he may well call over a mechanic. You will likely find that
the mechanic enjoys sharing his knowledge. After all, it is only human to
seek some change from the same old routine and to be ‘the expert.’ I am
always sure to thank the mechanic for ‘his knowledge.’ Also, getting the
name of the service technician and mechanic is not a bad idea as it is then
easier to contact them in the future. And as an added benefit, if you ever
take your vehicle to the place to have it worked on, you are likely going to
get good service and less likely to get ripped off. You have established
contact and by asking questions about your vehicle, it shows them you
know more than most other people on the street.
And if you decide to go to a salvage yard (junk yard) for used vehicle
parts, avoid going even remotely well dressed. It is one occasion that
you will benefit from looking poor (remember the Beverly Hillbillies –
they looked poor but Jed was indeed rich – well, at least he had the banker
always running around!).
Do not be afraid to pay in cash and even ask for a lower price. Ideally,
you would have contacted a few salvage yards by phone and gotten price
quotes on a part. Then simply say that so and so from XYZ salvage gave
me this price. You might then be asked why you did not go to the other
salvage yard. Your reply could be that the location is convenient and you
like the way the yard does business. More times than not, such a response
will loosen them up a bit. And there is nothing saying you must take the
parts even after they have been removed from a vehicle. Again, in a tight
economy, businesses will likely be diplomatic.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to save money and enjoy your vehicle.
And I was just kidding about my not needing to tie my shoes. In addition to
keeping them tied, I continue to learn something new about cars every day!
Have an auto question or comment? You can email it to me at
Kbusch3@verizon.net. Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best
for the Price…” www.DriveTheBestBook.com.