Cars need ‘exercise,’ too - Weekend

Cars need ‘exercise,’ too

Jerome NeriAtty. Jerome G. Neri
The Scrutineer

IS it really that good to buy a very low mileage car that is five years old or older? I believe not. When a car has really low mileage, this means that the car has been underused. Buying an underused car is just slightly better than buying an overused car.

While a car that has been rarely used may look good on the outside, chances are there are already a lot of problems on the inside. Let me explain. Car components are made of metal and metal corrodes. The lubricating oils of a car, apart from lubrication, also prevent corrosion to car components.

Starting with the engine, when a car is not used, the engine oil stays at the bottom in the oil pan, it is only when the car is started that it circulates and lubricates and protects every nook and cranny of the engine.

LOOKING FOR PRE-OWNED CARS? If you’re in the market for used cars, stay away from those that do not have documentation of their service history. (SUN.STAR FILE)
LOOKING FOR PRE-OWNED CARS? If you’re in the market for used cars, stay away from those that do not have documentation of their service history. (SUN.STAR FILE)

Thus, when the engine is not started for a long period of time, gravity takes over, and over time the oil finds its way to the bottom of the engine. The coating of oil that protects the engine from the elements disappears and the upper part of the engine will corrode. The oil that is in the oil pan likewise oxidizes thereby leaving mud like gunk at the oil pan. This is the reason why change oil intervals in any owner’s manual of a vehicle are measured by mileage or time (e.g. 10,000 km or one year, whichever comes first). The same thing will happen in the transmission, brake system and fuel system.

There are many stories of cars that were parked in a garage running fine and after a year of non-use, would not start at all. More often than not, the problem is a seized fuel pump. Either the pump is corroded or the fuel has oxidized and become muddy gunk, thereby ruining the fuel pump. Another scenario is that the electrical wiring has been eaten up by rats, which then is a major problem.

Other issues found on ultra low mileage garage queens are stuck brakes, expired tires and suspension problems. Rubber components deteriorate over time even when not used.

The bottom line is that cars that have aged and barely used more often than not need a lot of repair work to get it running good. The only upside of a barely used old car is an immaculate body and interior. All that said, it does not mean that buying an aged but rarely used car is a bad thing. If priced right, such a car will be a perfect restoration project.

For those who rarely use their cars for whatever reason, it is imperative that the car be taken for a spin every now and then. A dog needs to be walked and a car needs to be driven. Without “exercising” the car, it too will go out of shape. Ten kilometers a week should be good enough.

A good used car to buy would be one that has aged correctly and has a record of its complete service history. When I say aged correctly this means that the car has put some reasonable mileage to it and has been used appropriately. To a car guy like me, it will be easier for me to spot a car that is in the right condition for its age. For those who are not that car crazy, a look into the car’s service history would be good, and stay away from cars that do not have documentation of their service history. It is always good to know what services and repairs have been done to the car.

Speaking of service history, it is advisable for car owners to keep a file of everything that has been done to their cars. Having a record of the service and repair that has been done to your car increases the value of your car, as the buyer will completely know what he is up against. Keep every single receipt for every part that you have bought for your car and every service that has been done to it.

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