The Zen of vehicle maintenance for boomers: moving from DIY to DEGT
Vehicle engines aren’t what they used to be – and that’s a fact. But many of us who used to fix our cars ourselves haven’t really cottoned on to the expensive implications of modern developments and how our old ‘expertise’ can work against us if we are not careful. These days, it’s not just about mechanics it’s about mechanics managed by electronics; less about brawn and more about balance. It really pays to understand this.
To explain some of this increasingly complicated situation, let’s look at a typical scenario.
You have a misfire on one cylinder. Being a boomer who knows about cars, you lift the hood and take a look. You have your own testing equipment that tells you which cylinder is misfiring. Great! Problem solved. Change the spark plug and all will be well. Right?
There are a number of reasons why you may have a misfire and even more reasons why replacing one spark plug may not be the best solution. One reason for the misfire could simply be a lack of lubrication on the cables leading to the plugs. Without regular inspections and service, corroded connections can be un-detected until it is too late. In this instance, replacing the plug would not have fixed the problem at all. But it is best not to make assumptions even if this ‘fix’ had worked. There could be many other causes for this problem that could only be discovered by doing a proper vehicle inspection and evaluation of the findings.
Balance is essential for modern engines
Changing just one spark plug can also lead to other problems. As a plug ages, the contacts get worn and the gap gets wider. Introducing a new plug with a correct gap can cause havoc in the engine thanks to the computers that govern the engine performance these days. The computer in the exhaust flow that had been compensating for your older plugs’ reduced performance, now sees a difference and will instruct the engine to run leaner or richer. It’s only doing the job it’s designed to do, but the result will be that the other plugs will either run worse or the new plug will be over-fueled and choke up. Only by changing all the spark plugs can the problem be properly resolved and the engine’s electronic management be brought back into balance.
Would you prefer one repair or two?
Taking what first appears to be the cheap option, therefore, is sometimes the most expensive and inconvenient choice. What may have started out as one problem, if incorrectly diagnosed or ‘fixed’, can quickly generate more and often bigger problems.
Balance is key in all areas of modern vehicle performance. Here are some more examples:
Ignition coils and injectors
Do you remember when cars had one ignition coil? Well, now there is usually one per cylinder! As a coil ages, its output can reduce to 60,000 volts from 100,000 volts with a corresponding reduction in performance. Replacing just one would change the combustion in one cylinder causing the others to misfire. The same naturally goes for injectors.
Wheel bearings and ball joints
When you decide to replace that groaning and clunking bearing, spare a thought for the other bearings on your car. Once you have replaced it and you are enjoying a quieter ride, the other bearings and ball joints are suffering more due to ‘load transference’. This is especially bad when cornering, when the weaker, older bearings are suffering under a greater load.
It goes without saying that having new brakes on one side and old brakes on the other will affect your ability to stop in a straight line!
Introducing the new DEGT philosophy
Owning a modern vehicle is so different from the days before computers. While the average boomer probably knows a lot more about how a vehicle works than does the average millennial, it pays the average boomer to change the way they regard their vehicle maintenance from DIY (Do It Yourself) to DEGT (Don’t Even Go There!) and drop in to visit the boys at The Garage. They understand modern-day vehicle challenges and have the necessary knowledge and understanding to solve both mechanical- and computer-related issues.
To properly diagnose a modern vehicle takes thousands of dollars-worth of electronic equipment, years of training and constant software updates. That’s the new toolbox—and this toolbox is no longer found in your neighbor’s workshop. It can only be found at an up-to-date service business that has made those investments.
So, save yourself the embarrassment of having a modern technician clean up any unfortunate mess you might make! Take the cheaper, stress-free option and just bring it in now.
You might also like to check out this link, The real cost calculator, where you can clearly see how you can save thousands on maintenance and keep your car running really well for many, many years.