Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
I’m timid when I barely know the subject matter, or don’t know it at all. But when it comes to making cars last a long time, I’ve achieved more than most have, and I’ve adjusted my humility to reflect that.
Who knows? Maybe this’ll help some folks out. If not, then at least it’s a chance for me to vent. Some of you folks who have been entrusted with a good chunk of the household finances, present & future, through the hunk of gleaming metal you get to command on the public roads…you haven’t quite earned this sense of trust. You need to brush up. So read on.
1. No automatic transmissions.
If your car is an automatic transmission, you have no business trying to follow this list; not unless you’re prepared to replace the automatic transmission, which is going to cost more than you think and will mostly invalidate what we’re doing here. Get another car that has an old-fashioned gearbox. Automatic transmissions are done at 100k, maybe 150k. No, I don’t care how good the modern technology is. Making a car last means spending some effort. Learn to work a clutch, get really good at it so you can start from a dead stop without knocking an egg off the dashboard.
2. No jackrabbit starts.
If you want to prove me wrong about what I just said with regard to automatics, don’t peel out. Just because you want to go sixty miles an hour, doesn’t mean you have to jump there. If you are feeling some “G” forces you’re doing it wrong.
3. Do everything as if your car weighs ten tons.
That means going and stopping. Drive like you’re in command of a logging truck, with tons of timber and really loose chains holding it all down. Your automatic transmission will thank you for that. In fact, this is all good advice for everyone whether they’re driving a real car or not. Think like a freight train. Or a barge on a river. Take about thirty seconds after the light turns green to get up to speed. If this annoys the fellow in back of you, let him pass.
4. Show some empathy.
Know those old westerns where the cowboy vaults into the saddle from the second floor of a saloon or a brothel? Yes, no man is ready, willing or able to do that in real life. But if your relationship to your car is something like that — “I got places to go, giddyap!” — you need to change that relationship. This is a two-way street, and your car needs things from you, too.
This goes double for the ladies. Just because it’s politically incorrect doesn’t mean it’s incorrect all-around: Most women, when they operate machinery in general, conduct themselves in a way that the only adjective truly fit to describe it is “peevish.” They act like a wife being forced to share the kitchen with her husband’s concubine. That probably captures the reason why just as well as it captures the phenomenon itself: Jealousy. Women also do the most bitching about car repair bills, speculating with some justification that they’re being given inflated quotes because of their sex.
Your suspicion may not be misplaced, but your jealousy is. You are not competing with this car for anything. The car is not taking anything from you. The car is your friend. If you need to remind yourself of that on a regular basis, then do so. And then, who knows, perhaps owning a car will be as economical for you as it is for most of the gentlemen. C’mon, admit it, you know it’s true. Men don’t use cars the same way you do. And we don’t hear the “time to go car shopping” speech quite as often from our mechanics. There is a connection. If nobody’s told you that yet, it’s time you found it out from somewhere.
5. Fluids. Check ‘em.
Fluids and belts. Gas, oil, coolant, PS, windshield washer, air in the tires.
6. Spend some real money on your fluids.
This is a pay-me-now-or-pay-me-later thing. Don’t go looking for reasons to throw money away, for there will always be someone willing to take it.
But if you only buy the finest name-brand medicine for your kids when they’re sick, and only the finest dog food for your puppy, but the cheapest utilitarian crap for your designated chariot, you just might be repaid for this stingy habit in a manner not convenient to you.
7. Choose your motor oil wisely.
Thicker oil in the summer, thinner oil in the winter. Natural/synthetic blend is best. Use high mileage formulas over 200k.
When I first bought Bessie, these were left to consumer discretion. Now they make all the choices for you at the station, and of course you’re forced to go there because there are dainty disposal requirements involved for the used oil. The pussification of America, whaddya gonna do.
You can still bring up the subject with your mechanic. Ask what’s going into the crankcase. Believe me, it has a far bigger effect on your day-to-day life, than the mechanic’s.
8. Premium gasoline, all the time, and I don’t care what anyone says.
I’m open to a reasonable discussion here. But if you haven’t gotten 340 thousand miles on one car out of your cheapass gasoline, then know your place.
9. As with a person’s health, the key is getting past life’s grander misadventures.
You want to pilot an old car, start thinking like an old person: Once you’ve celebrated your ninetieth, you know that when the end finally comes it will most likely be coming in the middle of some kind of event. Day-to-day, you’ll be just as vibrant as you were four decades previous; but someday you’ll check into the hospital for something trivial, something that would’ve been shrugged off those four decades ago, but this time you won’t check out again. Barring a terrorist attack, that’s how it ends for you after ninety. That’s what is slated for your wheels after nineteen. An event. So you’ll get warnings. But the upkeep required will increase exponentially whereas your attendance to the requirement will not. That’s the exit cue.
Learn enough about what makes your car go that when the time comes it’s not running quite right, you possess some knowledge for figuring out what’s amiss and the consequences involved in this deficiency.
You should know enough that, once you understand what isn’t working right, you can categorize this into one of the two: “limp along” or “power down.” A window that won’t roll up is “limp along.” A quart of oil disappearing every 3,000 miles is “limp along.” A major oil leak or a cracked radiator, is “power down.” It is your responsibility to know which is which.
If you don’t know, err on the side of caution, park safely, shut things off, call the tow truck.
10. Any little problem that has to do with cooling goes in the “power down” column.
Machines don’t react to heat the way people do, and all damage caused by heat is not immediately visible. Just remember, as the odometer rolls over and over again, that when this thing eventually goes the final blow will almost certainly be directly related to heat.
So if you’re in it to win it, and you’re not absolutely sure the oil is going where it needs to go, and the coolant is going where it needs to go…key OFF.
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