Machine empathy? Or: Automotive Citrus knowing it's Time

Discussion in 'Wheels, Wings, Mud, and Water' started by AdamAnt316, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. AdamAnt316

    AdamAnt316 Collector of heavy things Subscriber

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    Hello, all. I've owned four cars so far in the 15 years I've been driving, with a fifth one likely in the works. It's seemed thus far that each one knows when its time has come, as I have yet to get rid of a fully-working car. They all seem to have gone out with a bang, or sometimes a whimper, but they all go out before they go.....

    My first car was a '91 Dodge Spirit. It'd never been in the best of shape, and I managed to put a few dents and dings in it during my first year of driving, but it was a solid car overall. Its initial end came when I was handed down my second car. I parked the Spirit, which I'd nicknamed the Junkmobile (both due to its occasional mechanical issues, and its ability to haul a whole lot of junk :D), behind our garage as a "final" resting place. When the second car crapped out six months later (I'll get to that in a moment), I saw fit to 'resurrect' the Spirit, and it indeed roared to life when I turned the key. However, my joy was short-lived, as I noticed fuel spraying from underneath the car once I drove it out from the back of the garage, to the side of our house. It was towed away as a donation not long afterwards.

    The second car, aka Junkmobile MkII, was a '96 Chrysler Concorde. A wonderful car on the inside, with a leather interior and all sorts of features, it turned out to be an utter lemon under the hood. A month or so later, it started overheating; after a failed diagnosis, it was soon discovered that a belt had broken, which had gotten stuck in the electric cooling fan, blowing its fuse. Once that was fixed, it developed an issue with stalling when coming to a stop, or when going around highway off-ramps. Before I could get that fixed, its entire rear suspension decided to collapse while pulling away from a stoplight. We got it fixed, but more issues showed up when we tried to sell it, and it too ended up being towed away for donation.

    My third car was a '95 Oldsmobile 88, aka Junkmobile MkIII. It had a nice engine under the hood, and basically rode like a couch on wheels. It was decently solid the first few years I owned it, but eventually it developed issues with both the motor mounts, and the front suspension. I figured one or the other would fail before too long, and sure enough, the entire front suspension decided to collapse as I pulled away from a stop sign. It was towed to a local shop, where it was determined that it'd cost more to fix than it was worth (as I figured), and that was the end of that.

    My fourth car was an '02 Honda Civic, which eventually earned the title Junkmobile MkIV. It should've lasted longer than it did (was nine years old, and had under 100K on the clock when I got it), but it had substantial rust issues even when I got it (protip: when looking at a car to buy, don't do so at night), and an attempt to repair/paint over the rust mostly failed within a year. The rot continued over the six years I've had the car, and it's developed numerous issues, going through two alternators, most of its air conditioning system, and three automatic transmissions within the last few years. :mad:

    Earlier this year, after the Civic lunched its second alternator, I decided to start looking for a replacement. A few weeks ago, I learned that the mechanic who had replaced the transmissions was getting in an '06 Honda Civic which would be available soon. I looked at it last week, mostly liked what I saw, and told the mechanic I'd take another look at it once it got done having some bugs worked out. Just today, during a quick trip to Savers, I get in to leave, turn the key, and nothing. :eek: Turn the key to the start position, hear a click, release it to on, another click. I tried it numerous times, with the same results. I called AAA, expecting the starter would be dead, and it'd have to be towed to the shop. The truck showed up, the driver hooked some doohickey up to the battery, I turned the key again, and it started up as if nothing had happened. :dunno: I immediately drove it to the shop I'd be getting the 'new' car from, and there it sits.

    To make a long story short (too late), I wonder if these cars somehow 'know' that their time has come. I'm not sure if I'd call it machine empathy, or just a case of dumb luck (dumbpathy?), but they've generally decided to conk out when the end is nigh. Granted, I probably could've done better with maintenance in some cases, but I tried to keep abreast of things as best I could, and none of the failures were due to dumb mistakes (IMO). Anyway, I figured I'd put that out there, and see what others think.
    -Adam
     
  2. AdamAnt316

    AdamAnt316 Collector of heavy things Subscriber

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    Well, the Junkmobile MkIV is no more, or soon will be (I'm tempted to ask my mechanic if there'd be a way to have me be the one that pushes the button which turns my old car into a cube ;)). I'm now the proud owner of the '06 Honda Civic mentioned above. It has a few (hopefully) minor issues, namely a lit SRS/airbag lamp on the dash, but seems to be in fairly nice shape otherwise. I also need to try and find out how much of the usual ~100K maintenance has been performed on it (the odometer's at 114K as it sits) before something nasty goes like the timing belt. :no: At the least, it has far less rust on it than the '02 Civic did.
    -Adam
     
  3. gadget73

    gadget73 junk junkie Subscriber

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    I've owned 5 cars in my life, and I still own 3 of them. The first was a 1968 Beetle that I slid off the road and bent around a fence about 3 months after I got my license. That was my lesson on shit tires.

    The second was a 1973 Super Beetle that I drove for several years and replaced a lot of stuff on. No engine when I bought it, so I put the motor that I had recently installed in '68 into it. Somewhere along the way I rebuilt the original engine that came with the '68 and swapped that in. I also swapped the '68 transmission in at some point because the one from the '73 was messed up. The one from the '68 was also messed up and when it stopped staying in fourth gear I got yet another used one. I ran it till the engine failed, that was my lesson in why you do not re-use the one bolt that holds the flywheel in place on a VW engine. It sat for a while until I put the first motor back in, but at a later point when I decided I wanted to fix it up I found that mostly all that was holding it together was the paint. Motor came out for the last time and the car was sold for parts. I sold the motor some time later.

    Third was a 1988 Dodge Dakota that I had for about 6 months. I hated it. It was slower than the Super Beetle and got 1/2 the fuel mileage. I hated it so much that I put the engine back in the '73, which was honestly my plan when it died. My mother forced me to buy "a reliable vehicle". After I got tired of it randomly shutting off on me I traded it at something near a $2000 loss.

    Third is still my daily driver. 1996 Chevy S10 extended cab. I've had this since March 2001. I had a trans done in 2005 and its been fine since. Two AC compressors because the stock design is garbage, but I can't complain much. Its getting rusty though. Both cab corners have rust, the sills under the doors have bubbles, bubbles and pinholes over the wheelwells, two of the cab mounts have had their washers fall off while parked in the driveway. I bought it with 82K, its around 175K now. I drive 1/2 mile to work, it'll probably last a while yet.

    Fourth is the 86 Lincoln Towncar. I bought it to get me to work when the trans in the S10 died. I put an engine and a trans into this before I fixed the Chevy. I quit counting dollars a long time ago but I'm probably well north of the $15K point on this $100 car. I should have had it crushed when the engine blew up, but I was in my 20s and someone told me I'd never be able to make a different engine work in that car. Much to my financial distress I proved him wrong but my ego did survive.

    Fifth is my 1991 Lincoln Mark VII. Bought it because I wanted a car I "didn't have to do much to" while the Townie was apart for bodywork. It ended up with a complete front and rear suspension rebuild, most of the interior electronics rebuilt, timing chain, cooling system overhaul, and various gasket replacements to keep the oil inside. Its been at my friend's place for some rust repair for too long now. I bought it with 225K on it in 2009, its at 245K now.
     
  4. dosmalo

    dosmalo T-Totaled Subscriber

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    Yeah, you have to do the maintenance.
    My car is 17 years old and I've owned it for 15 of them. Maintenance is the life of an auto and IMO lots less expensive than churning different vehicles every few years.
     
    beat_truck likes this.
  5. arts

    arts Super Member

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    I have given up on maintenance. Every single time I do something ''nice'' for my vehicle,the damned thing stabs me in the back.Now I just spit on it before I get in:)
     
  6. 2011etec

    2011etec Super Member

    Maintence is the key for me.In 2006 i bought a 2003 f150 4x4 xl with the 4.6 .70k at the time.Its used as a truck should be used and now has 165k.I treat it to only synthetic oil since day one and sent her to ford at 100k for new plugs because i heard horror stories about plugs being very hard to get out.No problem thank god!Body is still great.I have a several friends that got 300k plus on their 4.6 trucks so im thinking i might just keep the old girl and in a few years give her a new body and paint job plus if needs be a new motor .Im retired now and on a pension and i just cant see spending 45 to 60 k on a new truck.She shows no signs of dying anytime soon.
     
  7. gadget73

    gadget73 junk junkie Subscriber

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    The 4.6 with the single overhead cam and 2 valves per cylinder isn't such a big deal, the real trick with the later ones is you have to use a torque wrench though. There aren't a bunch of threads holding those plugs in, and if you reef the plugs in they will self-remove and take what remains of the threads with them. There are fixes, but not having to deal with it in the first place is a better idea. The 3 valve one is the SOB with the plugs.
     
  8. AdamAnt316

    AdamAnt316 Collector of heavy things Subscriber

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    Thanks for the replies. I agree that regular maintenance leads to longevity when it comes to cars. I'll admit to not being the most fastidious person when it comes to every possible bit of maintenance, but I've generally done my best to take care of what needs to be done. As all of my cars have been acquired used, I've had to rely on what the previous owner did or didn't do over the years.

    My family owned my first car for several years before I was given the reins, and we were fairly thorough about fixing what needed to be fixed. I'm convinced it would've run longer than it did had I gotten the fuel system fixed after the final incident. The second car, though, was just a lemon through-and-through as far as I'm concerned. Numerous things went wrong with it before it was handed down to be (needed a new transmission well before 100K!), and most/all of what went wrong had little to do with normal maintenance. The third car was well maintained, and I think it just reached the end of its 'natural' life (I knew it had issues, but my shop told me it would cost more to fix than it was worth). The fourth, well, I'm pretty sure that its former owner was a ricer, as a 'fart can' exhaust and cold air intake had been installed, and the trunk showed evidence of an amp/sub having once been there. I shudder to think what abuses it withstood at his hand. :no:

    At least part of the problems I've had is the region I live in. All sorts of sand and salt are applied to the roads in New England during the winter, and driving on it can be detrimental to the chassis and workings. My first few cars didn't have any outright rust issues, fortunately, but the sand/salt might've contributed to some of what went wrong, like the suspension collapses. As for the Junkmobile MkIV, I'm not sure what happened there. I have yet to see any other seventh generation Civics with that amount of rust damage. My 'new' car has just had some paint and body work done, so hopefully that'll nip things in the bud, but I'll keep an eye on it.
    -Adam
     
  9. gadget73

    gadget73 junk junkie Subscriber

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    My Mark VII was extremely well maintained, though towards the end of it's time with the PO he was using a local shop instead of the dealer and I think that shop didn't really know what they were doing. I had 3 receipts for rack replacements and front end alignments in 25k miles. When I got it, the rack was supposedly less than 10k old but it gave every sign of being worn out. It didn't drive or align right because the control arm bushings were wasted. They were so bad that I nicknamed the car "Timewarp". Stepping on the brakes made it jump to the left. Related to brakes, it had just had a brake job. The rotors were turned undersize and the calipers were bad so it warped the undersize rotors badly within about 1000 miles. One rear caliper was completely seized so effectively I had 3 wheel brakes.
     
  10. whoaru99

    whoaru99 Epic Member

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    A guy I know seems to have an abnormal share of problems with any vehicle he has.

    Rode with him a few times. I understand why... the guy, bless his heart, is a hammer head. Just pounds the shit out of it at every take off, at every stop, every pass, every turn, hammer...hammer...hammer. Gas to the floor, mash the brake, gas to the floor, mash the brake.

    One time four of us (including this guy) took a pool/fleet minivan to a training class about 500 miles one way. It was his turn to drive and same thing...hammer...hammer...hammer. Afterwords I felt a little bad but I finally spoke up and said, "Ya know, this thing needs to get us home." It helped, for a while.
     
  11. gadget73

    gadget73 junk junkie Subscriber

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    yeah I know people like that too. I don't necessarily baby everything I own but I don't beat it within an inch of it's life either. I also do the maintenance and fix things that break so they don't get worse / more expensive to fix later.
     
  12. dosmalo

    dosmalo T-Totaled Subscriber

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    Another thing that I believe adds to the longevity of a vehicle is keeping it in a garage - if you have one. It may not help out so much mileage wise but it will certainly add to the years it will last.
    I understand that everyone may not have access to a garage but you wouldn't believe how many people in my neighborhood have one but leave their vehicles parked in the driveway because they have so much STUFF in their garage the car won't fit!
     
  13. AdamAnt316

    AdamAnt316 Collector of heavy things Subscriber

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    I will admit to having a bit of a lead foot, though I've tried to curtail it over the years. I found that my first car would start to vibrate like a jackhammer once you accelerated to 95MPH.......... :yikes: Pretty sure I haven't dared to take any of my other cars up to that speed. Of course, when the transmission in my second car failed (before I owned it), it began shuddering violently if driven at 40MPH...

    And with regards to garages, that doesn't always help, especially here in the northeast. My mother has related to me a story about one of her relatives, who always parked their car (make/model unknown) in their garage. Some years later, it was discovered that the car's undercarriage had become badly rusted in spite of this. Methinks all the road sand and salt continued to work its nasty 'magic' on the frame/body even when the car was garaged. :no:
    -Adam
     
  14. gadget73

    gadget73 junk junkie Subscriber

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    the liquid evil on the roads will kill stuff, but if you can keep it out of the sun and rain that helps too. Garages aren't the magic pill but they sure do help.
     
  15. 2011etec

    2011etec Super Member

    For those of us that live in northern climates i firmly believe regular yearly undercarriage and body seam oiling keeps the rust away quite nicely. My 2003 is surprisingly rust free and she never see,s a garage.Up here you will even see brand new trucks with the tell tale signs that they have been oiled.My friends old 1998 f150 had zero rust .I believe you could use a magnifying glass and not find any,lol.He sold it with 300,000 plus k,s on her but the motor finally died.Would be an excellent candidate for a new motor.That truck was well taken care of and drove and felt like a new one.Another friend also had a 98 f150 with mint body and over 350,000k.All three of our trucks are 4x4 and 4.6 litres.Mine has roll up windows,no power seats and even a am/fm cassette ,lol.Has air con and a heater that could cook a turkey.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  16. Wildcat

    Wildcat Spring ain't here... Subscriber

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    Our '04 Civic has no rust-through whatsoever, and we have some brutal roads and way too much road salt here in dumpy Michigan. The only rust it does have is where some senile old lady backed into the rear bumper and slightly creased the fender...and drove off. My daughter's '02 Accord also has no rust, surprisingly (we just recently bought it dirt cheap as a college car).

    Unfortunately the '04 Civic is not driveable at the moment. We had one of those gosh-darned (being nice here) Bosch spark plugs shatter its insulator in cylinder #2. It had low compression on that cylinder since then (as there is no telling what those ceramic bits did to the engine), but just two weeks ago on its way to the airport, it started running really bad. I think a valve is burned, but I have to do a leak test to find out which it is (valve, or piston rings). Neighbor's son came by and checked compression (as I was still out of town), and it now only holds 20psi. With 240k on it, it's not worth putting a lot into it. A shame since the rest of the car is in good shape, including the transmission and AC. We've gotten quotes for engine replacements but we're looking at $1500 minimum (used engine, 10 hours labor to swap it)...up to $2800 for a rebuilt. Uh, no. These little D17 engines aren't rocket science, nor are they hard to work on. I just don't have the time or all of the tools to do it myself.

    And lesson learned--if I again see anything Bosch on a car, it gets replaced immediately. I knew they made crap to begin with, but this pretty much seals it for me.

    So now we're car shopping. I may just do some troubleshooting on the Civic, slap a rebuilt head on it (if it's a valve issue), and sell it as long as it runs. Main thing is, the lady needs something reliable to get to/from work in. We talked of getting another less expensive car, but do we want more problems just a couple years down the road? She also wants to be higher up--the Civic rides kind of low. So, a CR-V it is. She's using my old '97, which has its share of body rust. It has its aches and pains, and noises and quirks, but it still runs. Those old B-series engines are pretty bullet-proof (as is the K-series 2.4L in my newer CR-V).

    The timing really sucks, though...as it always does...
     
  17. Mark W.

    Mark W. Nut house of the Universe

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  18. Pio1980

    Pio1980 AK Member Subscriber

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    Love the Lincoln c!own carz, but they become money pit time bombz.
     
  19. zebra03

    zebra03 All Audio - NO BS

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    I had a 71 Lasabre that as it approached 100,000 miles , the lights in the dash systematically went out until the dash was dark . By 100,100 , all the lights had come back on .
     
  20. Wildcat

    Wildcat Spring ain't here... Subscriber

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    Ours didn't even make it to 100,000. By 80,000, so much was wrong with it--the floor on the passenger's side was half rusted away, as was small part of the driver's side. That car left us stranded everywhere, often with failed radiator hoses, and any of those hose leaks or ruptures would soak the distributor so the car wouldn't start. (The distributor was in the front of the engine, not the rear as it was on others.) I also remember the fuel pump taking a dump, the distributor itself going bad (which somehow made the lights dim), and when the exhaust finally gave out, Dad got frustrated, swore a bit, and vowed to go buy a new car. (Never mind the brand new '79 Newport was an even worse POS! :D )

    We have it good now. Modern cars last so much longer, and are so much more reliable. My dad's cars at 75-80,000 were pretty much done. Nowadays, 200,000 is common. I know a few with CR-Vs like mine that run into the mid 300,000 range, as one example. Safer, too.
     

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