Piston Slap: Do You Want to Keep a Vehicle Forever?

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Elliot writes:

I have a 2002 GMC Yukon with 165k and a 2003 Grand Marquis with 150k. The plan is to keep them running forever. Any thoughts regarding products or services to accomplish this goal?

Your loyal reader,

Sajeev answers:

This is a simple query since we aren’t talking about fully-depreciated Eurozone iron that could bleed you dry as time goes by. Provided you don’t live in rust-prone areas, there’s little needed besides replacing worn parts and fluid changes as per owner’s manual.

So perhaps the question isn’t “how to keep a vehicle running forever” but “do you want to keep a vehicle forever?” If so, buy replacement parts that are both high quality and give you pride in ownership.

The first happens when you:

  1. RTFM and do all the necessary fluid changes.
  2. Use synthetic engine oil, although switching at this mileage implies leaks are just around the corner.
  3. Stick with factory-quality replacement parts or remanufactured items from trusted brands: harder to determine these days as many times the same parts live in different branded boxes, but that’s where research is paramount.
  4. If neither in #3 exist, get your parts rebuilt locally (alternators, steering racks, etc) or specialty rebuilders (speedometer cluster, ABS brake module, etc) with a good reputation on Google My Business, auto enthusiast message boards, etc.

The second notion is more complicated. Consider tires: I take pride in running summer tires, as I can run them all year and the performance benefits make an old car move like a new one (or better). The same applies to replacing a busted stereo with the latest aftermarket replacement sporting cameras/bluetooth/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.  Then remember luxuries you don’t need, but you should keep: power window/lock motors for rear doors, faded paint, worn armrests, peeling/cracked interior panels, etc.  The cosmetic parts are easily procured online or at local junkyards, especially when you find a part number!

Modern-ish cars are far more durable than most consider, so remember the items that slowly fail, with reduced performance before failure:

  • Shocks and (sometimes) even springs.
  • Headlight bulbs.
  • Speakers

What say you, Best and Brightest? What am I missing?

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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