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Friday, January 16, 2015

Old VS New

My first car was a 1947 Chevy Coop that I bought for $200.00. Back then I could work on cars with a few wrenches, screw drivers, hammer, pliers and of course a bobby pin and tinfoil from a stick of gum. I did all my own repairs back then because what I didn't know one of my buddies would have known. We worked on each others cars and with the basic of tools repairs were pretty easy. On my car I replaced the exhaust system, put a new A-Frame assembly on the right front and did the alignment. I would take the rocker arm cover off and adjust my own valves. Those were the good old days when things were made to adjust and easy to fix. Sometimes a little bailing wire was needed or improvisation but we did our own work. I even helped a buddy pull and replace his flat head V-8 motor once. Cars would last maybe 100,000 miles and along the way we would do a lot of 'fixing'.
That was then and now is much different.

In the old days we didn't have warning lights on vehicles. In fact I had to buy seat belts for my car and install them myself. The dimmer switch for the head lights was a button on the floor. The stick shift was on the steering column and it was the old 'H' system to remember the three shifting positions and also reverse since there were no position markers to tell you what gear you were in.

Recently the engine light came on with our Jeep Liberty. It is 13 years old after all but has low mileage. I took it in to our mechanic and he connected it to a computer. I was advised that it was the throttle sensor module that needed to be replaced. I was then told "There is no accelerator cable any more and how this little sensor sent a message to the engine on how much gas was needed". What??? No accelerator cable to adjust - just an electronic module. Then I was told that the module ordered from the parts store when tested before they installed it was also defective and they had called the parts company for another.

When they plugged my car in it told them all kinds of information including the service dates and that all the other components were working as required. Plug the car into a computer and its entire systems were analyzed and the exact problem was diagnosed. A $40.00 part and a good mechanic to install it and I was back on the road again without worry. All those lights on the dashboard have significance and the durn Jeep ran well and I would never have guessed it could have broken down unless that little light came on and I took it in to be checked. Now cars  last up to 250,000 - 300,000 miles or more. Cars are more expensive now but they last longer. Unfortunately they can't be worked on by the average guy.

 In some ways I miss not being able to work on my vehicles but then again I like the simplicity of how they are built now days. I used to analyse my valves by putting a stick on the engine head and listening through it. That seemed pretty simple but not as simple as using a computer to detect the problem and then unplugging one part and plugging in another. When I went to change the oil in the Jeep I couldn't find the oil filter and when I did I couldn't reach it. I'm still not sure how mechanics manage to get to it to change it. I can't even change my own oil anymore. I used to check the oil for grit or any metal, smell, rub it between my fingers all just to be sure it was okay. Now I have to have it changed because it is so difficult. I guess that is a trade off for having a functional working vehicle for two or three times as long.

 For someone used to doing their own maintenance and repair I guess the old days are gone now and are just a memory albeit a good memory. Young folks won't have the opportunity to experience those good times and that is kind of sad.

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