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Things your car doesn’t need

October 23, 2013
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

What your car doesn't need seems to be a popular topic, so we'll revisit once again.

If memory serves, (I have a great memory, it's just short), the most common complaint is that people can't find the time to get routine maintenance done. There seems to be an exorbitant number of services necessary to maintain a vehicle, and we all have very busy lives full of very important things to do, and it's hard to find the time. My dad once said he was going to send the same Christmas present to everyone in the family. It was a little round thing that would fasten on one's shirttail. It was called a "tuit." From then on nobody could say they couldn't get around to it. They had a round tuit on their shirttail. The problem with his plan was that he never got around to sending the presents. Couldn't find the time, I guess.

Anyway, unlike the government, I'm here to help. The simplest way to ease your burden is to shorten the list of things to do. That is done by separating the wheat from the chaff. I have no idea what chaff is, but I've always liked the idiom. The chaff, in this case, would be the services that are recommended but not really all that necessary.

For instance, having the alignment checked annually. In fact, if the tires are wearing evenly and smoothly on all four corners of the car, the alignment is probably fine. It can be off on new cars, right from the factory, but once it is set correctly, it should change very slowly though the years, as steering and suspension parts wear. Only an impact with a curb or similar blow could change it sooner. If it is off, only two symptoms will appear to the driver. The tires may start wearing unevenly, or the steering may begin to pull one way or the other, or both. The pulling symptom may be caused by a failing tire rather than alignment, a front-end technician will have to diagnose. The uneven tire wear is always an alignment problem. Note here that a vibration is not an alignment problem. Alignment has nothing to do with vibration. That will be a faulty tire, or warped brakes or something else, but not alignment.

Don't be in a hurry to have the fuel injectors cleaned, or the fuel filter changed. The most common self-diagnosis we hear is: "It started running badly, I must have got some bad gas. I need the injectors cleaned."

Listen up. Unless there are hundreds of cars suddenly with the same symptoms because they got fuel from the same place you did, you didn't get bad gas. That comes from beans and broccoli. Modern gasoline has multiple cleaners added, and fuel systems are kept cleaner than they have ever been. Save your money. If your fuel filter is plugged, (and that does happen) your performance will be worse the faster you go. It should idle fine, but fail at higher speeds or under load. If it goes 70 mph with no problem, it does not need a filter. If it acts up only at idle, it won't be the filter.

Don't spend extra for nitrogen in your tires instead of air. Air is 79 percent nitrogen anyway. Tires oxidize on the outside, which causes "weather checking" cracks, and eventual failure due to exposure to air and sunlight. This happens no matter what you put on the inside of the tire. People who tell you differently are full of hot air (or nitrogen).



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