Here are two interesting facts that have presented themselves in the last few years.
One is that there are now more vehicles than drivers in the United States, a situation that would have been unimaginable 50 or 60 years ago. The other is that the average age of a vehicle on the road today is 11.4 years, meaning that build quality and engineering of cars has improved for a longer service life.
That does pose a couple of problems, though.
- Lots of households keep a second car or light truck around, even though it doesn’t get driven much. Those low miles of service, though, don’t mean that there aren’t maintenance and auto repair needs to keep in mind.
- Age and the elements will degrade rubberized parts over the years, as anyone who’s restored a vintage car can attest. That means belts, hoses, vacuum lines, seals, O-rings and even certain gaskets. Be sure to check them carefully – a leaking vacuum line, in particular, can cause all kinds of aggravating drivability problems and can be difficult to isolate and track down.
- Gasoline that’s been sitting in the tank for too long can turn to “varnish” and leave gummy deposits that can clog passages in the fuel system.
- Corrosion and rust can start to build up in places you might not expect, especially in a damp environment like Puyallup, WA. Exhaust gases contain a lot of moisture, especially on short trips where the engine doesn’t warm up completely, and that condensation can cause rust in the exhaust system. Brake components can also corrode over time, since brake fluid attracts moisture. It’s advisable to put the vehicle on a lift for a close inspection.
- Even an intact A/C system can slowly leak out refrigerant around seals and O-rings. If your older vehicle’s A/C system isn’t working properly, chances are it needs refrigerant but not major auto repair.
- Since they’re exposed to ozone and the sun’s UV rays, tires are especially vulnerable to age-related problems. Even tires with plenty of tread may be cracked and weakened after about six years. Also, tires tend to develop flat spots and go slightly “out of round” after being parked for a long period. Usually, the flat spots will work their way out in the first several miles of driving, but not always. Flat-spotting may be more noticeable in cold weather, when rubber compounds are stiffer. If your vehicle is going to be parked for really long periods (i.e. months), consider putting it on blocks or jackstands to keep all four tires off the ground.
- In a humid environment like Puyallup, WA, corrosion can begin to develop around electrical contacts. It’s a “use it or lose it” proposition, because current flow across those contacts can prevent corrosion buildup.
- Motor oil doesn’t necessarily degrade over time, but if a vehicle’s been sitting for long periods, it’s a good idea to start off with fresh motor oil before driving it again, regardless of the condition of the old oil.
The bottom line? Vehicles are meant to be driven…many a person has bought a 25-year-old vehicle with only 50k miles on it, thinking he was getting a great deal, and ended up with nothing but headaches from things like vacuum lines and gaskets. If your beater truck that sits in the side yard only gets used a few times a year for hauling or camping, it’s a good idea to at least go out and start it once a month or so. Let it run long enough to get up to operating temperature, and maybe even drive it around the neighborhood a little bit just to make sure everything’s in working order.
Got any questions or doubts about your second vehicle? Bring it on in to Puyallup Goodyear and let our auto repair technicians give it a good going-over for all tires and auto repair needs. Schedule an appointment, today!