Are you getting old before your time?





None of us like the idea of getting old, however, the older our cars get, the more we enjoy them. We also want our cars to age in years but we try to keep them young.


            Many times I am asked how someone can make their old car stay young and running good in this modern world. Actually, this is rather simple if you remember that “old” does not necessarily mean “decrepit.”


            The best way to keep an old car from getting older before its time is to use it. You have all heard the old adage “they don’t make cars the way they used to.” This is very true, in its own way. They took a lot of pride in their workmanship back then, but today’s technology is greatly advanced from the time they built our beloved LaSalles and Cadillacs of the ’30s and ’40s.


            Nearly every part and component was engineered to be able to be repaired or rebuilt. Today, however, cars are built to “replace” rather than “repair.” Many components and parts are sealed and virtually impossible to repair. Not only that, you have to have megabucks worth of computerized equipment that you hook up to the car and it tells the serviceman to replace certain units.


            Remember how you would take a car into a repair facility and tell the mechanic “When I put on the brakes it goes ‘chinka chinka’ or when I step on the gas it goes ‘pinga pinga’?” The mechanic would listen to your problems and symptoms and usually be able to diagnose the problem, make the needed repairs and you were on your way again. Those were the good ’ol days…today they believe that if you can’t hook it up to a computer, it can’t be fixed.


            As much as I hate to admit it, the new modern cars can go much further and faster on less fuel than our beloved club cars. The old cars we love so much have individual personalities we get to know and love. When you take your old car out for a drive, you do it more for the sheer enjoyment—and your modern car—well, it is just a means of transportation in most cases. You can feel your old car also get a thrill from going out and having people admire it. If you don’t talk to your old car and praise her for a good performance you are in the minority.


            Nothing is more harmful to a well-restored old car than to sit idle without care. Many of us look for excuses to take the “old girl” out for a spin and let her stretch her ‘legs’. That is one of the main reasons we belong to the Cadillac-LaSalle find more excuses to drive and share experiences with others. Although it is very important to keep her looking good by washing and waxing, it is just as important to keep up the maintenance and listen to her tell you what she needs and wants.


            The few miles we put on these gems cause us to look at the calendar rather than the odometer to determine the needed services. It is obvious the importance of a tire check for the right air pressure and a thorough check between runs. Just because you have a lot of tread left does not mean you have a lot of use.


            Extended periods of not rolling is harder on the tires than a thousand miles of use at the right pressure. Oil and antifreeze need to circulate to be effective and should be changed at regular intervals, regardless of low miles.


            The longer an engine sits idle, the more wear you get from starting up. Lube jobs are very important in these old cars, and just sitting idle will let the grease harden and its components separate. A little spin now and then helps, but never go more than a year without a lube job. Your brakes can easily die a natural death from just sitting still. If you drive your car less that 2,500 miles a year, you should bleed the brakes at least once a year to clean out any condensation of moisture and/or oxidation of the chemicals causing damage to the rubber.


            It is always a pleasure to restore a fine old LaSalle or Cadillac with low miles and has been stored for umpteen years, but it is a lot easier and cheaper to restore a car with more miles that had been driven regularly and given good maintenance. Sitting idle for long periods of time will make a car old before its time.


            The TLC you give your old car will pay big dividends in enjoyment. I suppose you wonder if I actually talk to our LaSalle…well, to tell you the truth, yes I do. We both give her words of praise after each trip. And yes, she talks to us in the form of fine performance and much pleasure and pride.


            Am I old before my time? Well, “I may be old before my time, but believe me, I had a time before I was old.”


            See ya next month.