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Americans and oil changes..


Barry Cade
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I do recall one memory of driving around Iowa being "Oh my god the sliproad is *how* short?!?" as I found myself in an 89 Chevy Cavalier Wagon which had probably never seen north of 3000rpm in its life, approaching essentially a wall of traffic at about 45 degrees when the ramp just ended.

Now a Cavelier over here with a 2.0 engine from the same era would go pretty well.  Running on 89 octane fuel and with all the emissions crap over there, flooring the throttle simply results in it kicking down two gears and making several orders of magnitude more noise.  The actual change in acceleration wasn't in any way perceptible.

I enjoyed driving that thing, but man it was stressful trying to get onto I-88.  Especially as they seem to take great pleasure in positioning the barriers such that you can't even see if you've got a gap to merge into or the side of a Kenworth 18 wheeler howling along at 80. 

I never really appreciated the long, sweeping sliproads on our motorways until the first time I'd driven in the US.

Their habit of having sliproads on BOTH sides of the highway messed with my head too.  Returning a rental car near Miami Airport was fun...merge on in far right lane.  About 300 yards later you need to edit on the left - six busy lanes away.  Fun!  Thankfully I was in a Nissan Pathfinder on that occasion which *did* have ample get up and go. 

 

EDIT:

Just remembered something else, which probably ties into the original topic.  Warranties.

The car in question.  Broke my brain a bit how much of the car from the front wheel backwards is the same as our Cavelier - but the nose and interior are completely different.

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*funky* US spec dash.

DSCF2161.thumb.JPG.b115ea92ce456ad4373d5ca3dc2e6d7a.JPG

There was basically no car left between the sills and the floorpans, as common to most cars in that area of that sort of age.  It had lived in Michigan around East Lansing its whole life, and as such had been salted to death.  The black sills were a bit of tidying up I did while I was there.  No MOTs or indeed inspections of any kind there (it was routine to see pickup trucks visibly flexing in the middle where the bodywork was holding the chassis together), so the "run it till it dies" approach is pretty common.

  Nevertheless, it was maintained meticulously.  Oil changes and checkovers ever six months - the chain which was used I cannot remember for the life of me.

A couple of days before I was heading home from visiting my husband-to-be, the exhaust fell off.  Nothing serious, just the tailpipe parted company from the rear silencer.  So it was labelled under "I'll get it sorted next week."  What surprised me was that it was repaired under warranty.  The exhaust had been on there for nearly ten years.  However it turned out that provided that the maintenance schedule was kept up with that chain, that any parts (I think excepting brake pads and tyres) that they had fitted were considered under warranty for as long as you owned the car.

If that were true of stuff on a car I was completely reliant on...Yep...I'd probably be in there every six months paying them $25 to change my oil.

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20 minutes ago, Zelandeth said:

It had lived in Michigan around East Lansing its whole life, and as such had been salted to death. 

That's one of the first things I noticed wandering around Lansing when I was there briefly a few years ago - the amount of utterly rotten cars and trucks on the road, even ones that I (but probably few other people to be fair) would class as "modern".

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3 hours ago, Talbot said:

They're illegal in some countries aren't they?

Not in the EU, but, in a LHD country, they turn passing a long lorry to sort of suicidal experience. Also, to be road-legal, they must have their headlights, rearview mirrors, rear fogs and whatever other bits and bobs changed to LHD standards.

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3 hours ago, Bitzer said:

Point taken. However, I still believe that the low prices of used cars in the UK are result of (virtual) impossibility to sell used RHD cars abroad. I am sure there would be enormous and unsaturated markets for Ł500 chod in countries East of Eden (like Ukraine, Belarus etc.), which would, in turn, push their prices up.

I think this is a major factor.  Where I used to live in Texas you would regularly see three 15-20 year old cars chained together being towed by a pick up truck towards the border.  My Mexican friend assured me that this method supplied not just Mexico but even down in to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.  Hence there was a price floor where cars that might be beyond economic repair at US rates were still worth something for export.  In western Europe it's the same, they can be exported East and fixed up more cheaply.  For us in the UK the export costs are higher, RHD is less attractive for export and the testing standards are higher than the states at least so cars get beyond economic repair more quickly.

Quite an interesting piece here about the hazards of doing this trip.  Puts our worries about driving in Europe in perspective.

From Texas Junkyards to Guatemala: Caravans Sustain One Local Microeconomy in Central America - KRTS 93.5 FM Marfa Public RadioKRTS 93.5 FM Marfa Public Radio

 

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1 hour ago, Zelandeth said:

I do recall one memory of driving around Iowa being "Oh my god the sliproad is *how* short?!?" as I found myself in an 89 Chevy Cavalier Wagon which had probably never seen north of 3000rpm in its life, approaching essentially a wall of traffic at about 45 degrees when the ramp just ended.

Now a Cavelier over here with a 2.0 engine from the same era would go pretty well.  Running on 89 octane fuel and with all the emissions crap over there, flooring the throttle simply results in it kicking down two gears and making several orders of magnitude more noise.  The actual change in acceleration wasn't in any way perceptible.

I enjoyed driving that thing, but man it was stressful trying to get onto I-88.  Especially as they seem to take great pleasure in positioning the barriers such that you can't even see if you've got a gap to merge into or the side of a Kenworth 18 wheeler howling along at 80. 

I never really appreciated the long, sweeping sliproads on our motorways until the first time I'd driven in the US.

Their habit of having sliproads on BOTH sides of the highway messed with my head too.  Returning a rental car near Miami Airport was fun...merge on in far right lane.  About 300 yards later you need to edit on the left - six busy lanes away.  Fun!  Thankfully I was in a Nissan Pathfinder on that occasion which *did* have ample get up and go. 

 

The above excerpt echoes my experience in 1992ish in another US Cavalier based (J class) platform, the Pontiac Sunbird.  We drove (I was a passenger on this trip) from Albuquerque to the Los Alamos museum (of bomb fame) via Santa Fe and returned via the Valles Caldera National Preserve, all on a hot summer's day. With the aircon on full, the Sunbird barely maintained reasonable road speed up the gradients in the Caldera area but the autobox made lots of fuss searching for non-existant crawler gears whilst the engine made lots of noise. On the way to Santa Fe we saw a Citroen DS with its bonnet open (or hood, but it wasn't a convertible 😄). Perhaps its owner had not changed the oil and filter every few weeks or checked the coolant.

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I recall a moto journo, always rubber stamping 'factory ideal' 0-60s in their waffle, honestly stating....

"In north yorkshire the A1 has 'T' joining minor roads.... The only time a driver will ever need to explore their cars actual 0-60, totally buttock clenching!"

Having actually had to do '3D Tetris' @70...... Will I get out [2 lanes] comfortably before this tractor makes a kamikazi left+ON!!>> but ffoff huge Euro Scania is bearing down on me @82.. Gahhhhh  :(

*all 4lanes now, no romance + tombstone every mile.......

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2 hours ago, RayMK said:

The above excerpt echoes my experience in 1992ish in another US Cavalier based (J class) platform, the Pontiac Sunbird.  We drove (I was a passenger on this trip) from Albuquerque to the Los Alamos museum (of bomb fame) via Santa Fe and returned via the Valles Caldera National Preserve, all on a hot summer's day. With the aircon on full, the Sunbird barely maintained reasonable road speed up the gradients in the Caldera area but the autobox made lots of fuss searching for non-existant crawler gears whilst the engine made lots of noise. On the way to Santa Fe we saw a Citroen DS with its bonnet open (or hood, but it wasn't a convertible 😄). Perhaps its owner had not changed the oil and filter every few weeks or checked the coolant.

To be honest our one did absolutely fine when driving, it was just merging onto the freeway that was terrifying.  The absolutely gaping chasm between second and third gear did nothing to help either.

Honestly aside from disliking freeway on ramps (especially uphill ones) it was a thoroughly pleasant car to drive.  Definitely set up much more softly than the EU spec Cavelier, and was much more of a relaxed squidgy wafty car.  Which given the prevalence of concrete slab road construction there isn't a bad thing!

The parents of my husband have a 2014-ish (was 2015 we were last there and they'd just got it then) Mazda, having replaced a mid 90s Saturn which had finally dissolved beyond saving.  First time I'd done any distance in a relatively modern car over there.  Immediate reaction: Ow my spine.  Modern low profile tyres and stupidly firm suspension plus US Mid-western roads = pain.  I don't see how a modern VW...never even mind Audi...can be remotely driveable there! 

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I had a thought tonight and decided to screw about with the ignition timing on the Pontiac.

Significant improvement! Knocked a few degrees off and went for a spin.

I joined the highway behind a tractor trailer fully laden with digging equipment, left hand merge. Truck pulled over two lanes and I put my foot down. In 4th, I was able to safely pass the truck up!

The car doesn't smell so much of unburned fuel when idling too- I probably could do with setting it up with my Colortune now.

That'll help the oil life, which is currently rather marginal.

 

Phil

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8 hours ago, cort1977 said:

I think this is a major factor.  Where I used to live in Texas you would regularly see three 15-20 year old cars chained together being towed by a pick up truck towards the border.  My Mexican friend assured me that this method supplied not just Mexico but even down in to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.  Hence there was a price floor where cars that might be beyond economic repair at US rates were still worth something for export.  In western Europe it's the same, they can be exported East and fixed up more cheaply.  For us in the UK the export costs are higher, RHD is less attractive for export and the testing standards are higher than the states at least so cars get beyond economic repair more quickly.

Quite an interesting piece here about the hazards of doing this trip.  Puts our worries about driving in Europe in perspective.

From Texas Junkyards to Guatemala: Caravans Sustain One Local Microeconomy in Central America - KRTS 93.5 FM Marfa Public RadioKRTS 93.5 FM Marfa Public Radio

 

 

Yes, this is yet another contributing reason as to why used cars in the US are so expensive and one which I neglected to mention.  Although this is more of a factor in the southern border states than it is in the rest of the country.  Old, rust-free (but otherwise beaten to death) bangers in places like Texas, Arizona and New Mexico will often get sent south of the border to Mexico and Central America, further depleting the supply of cheap used cars in the US.  And yes, stolen cars are often part of this cross-border trade.

This is very similar to Continental Europe, where distressed cars on their last legs will get exported to Russia, the Middle East and Northern Africa.  But it seems even poor motorists in these impoverished countries still don't want cars from the UK and Ireland, presumably because they're RHD.  Of course, there are places where a cheap RHD car would be welcome but they're all on the other side of the world.  The problem is it makes no financial sense to ship a 15-year-old Vauxhall Astra all the way to India.  The result is a glut of cheap used cars in the UK that will never get exported because Moroccan taxi drivers don't want so sit on the wrong side.   A boon for UK-based bargain hunters and a source of envy for those of us across the pond who can only dream of buying tidy, secondhand cars so cheaply!

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10 hours ago, RayMK said:

The above excerpt echoes my experience in 1992ish in another US Cavalier based (J class) platform, the Pontiac Sunbird.  We drove (I was a passenger on this trip) from Albuquerque to the Los Alamos museum (of bomb fame) via Santa Fe and returned via the Valles Caldera National Preserve, all on a hot summer's day. With the aircon on full, the Sunbird barely maintained reasonable road speed up the gradients in the Caldera area but the autobox made lots of fuss searching for non-existant crawler gears whilst the engine made lots of noise. On the way to Santa Fe we saw a Citroen DS with its bonnet open (or hood, but it wasn't a convertible 😄). Perhaps its owner had not changed the oil and filter every few weeks or checked the coolant.

Ah, the 3 speed GM autobox. A thing of mechanical beauty.

I owned a Mk2 cavalier CDi Auto.  

The gap from 2nd to Top was as you say wide. Very wide.

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11 hours ago, tooSavvy said:

I recall a moto journo, always rubber stamping 'factory ideal' 0-60s in their waffle, honestly stating....

"In north yorkshire the A1 has 'T' joining minor roads.... The only time a driver will ever need to explore their cars actual 0-60, totally buttock clenching!"

Having actually had to do '3D Tetris' @70...... Will I get out [2 lanes] comfortably before this tractor makes a kamikazi left+ON!!>> but ffoff huge Euro Scania is bearing down on me @82.. Gahhhhh  :(

*all 4lanes now, no romance + tombstone every mile.......

There was a junction a little way south of Norwich on the A11 dual carriageway where in order to turn right (towards Norwich) one had to cross both lanes of the southbound carriageway and then pull out from a standing start into the outside lane of the northbound carriageway.  Given that the A11 is a busy road most of the time, it could be a little buttock-clenching if one was in a slow vehicle.  

Now they've closed off the gap in the barrier so you have to go south to the next "proper" junction and turn around.  Boooooring...

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Screenshot_20210121-071947_Maps.thumb.jpg.5633b2495301499ab444998ced27e4cd.jpg

https://maps.app.goo.gl/R3FpLnQbbwkeo9K38

Try this one. Pretty standard for inner city interstate.

Round a fairly sharp curve with no camber- you exit the curve in that image and the fastest you can go is about 35 round it, particularly in the wet. You are blind to the freeway until about this point, and in the picture that traffic is about as light as it gets and will be doing 80, 85 in all lanes.

You have until the bridge to get in a lane.

Merge that without concern in a small, low powered vehicle.

Trucks here generally tend to be able to get up to speed quickly. And you don't argue with them because they're bigger than you are.

Phil

 

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It can be hard to realize why you need power here unless you've driven the onramps as PhilA shows above.

Another one that's all too common is the "cloverleaf". Basically, in a typical one, your sharply curved on and off ramps meet together into short lane called a "weaving lane" that handles a lot of the oncoming and offgoing traffic. They may only be a few hundred feet long, and as PhilA says, the ramps themselves may only allow a safe 25-35mph.

A lot of these have been redesigned and rebuilt over the last ~25 years, but there are still a whole lot of them out there. When I lived in Louisville, KY, as part of a major freeway project, they redid significant portions of "Spaghetti Junction" that handled 3 interesting interstates downtown. It had been built in the 1960s, and had a several things that were considered "bad" now like having onramps enter the road on the left side, and there were also a couple of possible road interchange combinations it just didn't allow(IIRC, from I-65N you couldn't get onto I-64W). My afternoon commute, pre-rebuild, had me getting onto I-64E on the far left lane, and I'd have to cut across 3 lanes in under a quarter of a mile to get to my exit on the far right. The redesign fixed all of that(afterwards, with my commute home, I didn't even have to get out of the merge lane to take my exit) but it was still a mess.

Combine all of the above merging too with hills and yeah, you'd better be able to get out of your own way.

 

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I've subscribed to the 'can't change the oil too many times' aswell, don't think Ive ever had a car and haven't changed the oil in less the manufacturers specs.

 

A while back they started up opening self service ramps like in 'murica which I thought was a great idea, yet was put off ever using one as mostly whenever I started a job something went wrong and I was worried I'd end up with a car stuck miles from the house.

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9 hours ago, 1970mgb said:

Another one that's all too common is the "cloverleaf".

There's one just round the corner from my house here, I believe it is the only one in England though. A rare sight. Brilliant design when it's quiet, but can be quite sketchy when it's busy and you need to weave through traffic. I can see why we don't have more of them.

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10 hours ago, PhilA said:

Screenshot_20210121-071947_Maps.thumb.jpg.5633b2495301499ab444998ced27e4cd.jpg

https://maps.app.goo.gl/R3FpLnQbbwkeo9K38

Try this one. Pretty standard for inner city interstate.

Round a fairly sharp curve with no camber- you exit the curve in that image and the fastest you can go is about 35 round it, particularly in the wet. You are blind to the freeway until about this point, and in the picture that traffic is about as light as it gets and will be doing 80, 85 in all lanes.

You have until the bridge to get in a lane.

Merge that without concern in a small, low powered vehicle.

Trucks here generally tend to be able to get up to speed quickly. And you don't argue with them because they're bigger than you are.

Phil

 

To be fair, we have similar in the UK. The A34 Newbury bypass is a great example and one I know well. Tight entrance with hardly any slip road that you need to get up to at least 60mph if you don't want a lorry in you and 70mph for a car in the back. Not just this road but many other A-road dual carriageways are the same.

On the bottom picture, pegman is at the point it's just starting to straighten up. The white van in this picture is already having to merge across. Being A-road of course no hard shoulder to escape onto.

Screenshot_20210121-235822.thumb.png.76e702f9a1646f4b3eb7ae7670db0e18.png

https://maps.app.goo.gl/QGf289ANqJhw8Gkp6

Back when I was learning to drive my instructor, in his 1.8D Fiesta, always said as you get around the corner to look at the main lanes. If there is something coming, stop at the start until it's clear and then give it a good squirt of accelerator. A good squirt of accelerator in a Ford 1.8D really doesn't make much difference...

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You'd like my Challenger.

 

We've plenty of stupid stuff, like motorway with traffic lights on, and high speed 4 lane road with no merge lane that have 15 mph residential side streets joining them.

We also have many many many open, desolate miles where you also don't want to be listening to a 4-pot wailing its life away, either.

 

Phil

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9 hours ago, PhilA said:

You'd like my Challenger.

 

We've plenty of stupid stuff, like motorway with traffic lights on, and high speed 4 lane road with no merge lane that have 15 mph residential side streets joining them.

We also have many many many open, desolate miles where you also don't want to be listening to a 4-pot wailing its life away, either.

 

Phil

It might be because I've only driven on the West coast where it's hotter but I've always found the US road surfaces to be like Teflon. I remember distinctly pulling out of a side road onto a main in Santa Cruz with someone thumbing for a lift. Despite my best efforts in not to, the back tyres on our bright orange rental Mustang decided to light up and give a almight fuck you squeal as we past them. Naturally they threw a load of abuse our way...

That same 'stang I wanted to exercise in death valley. Unfortunately, despite nothing being around for miles, Mrs SiC was very not keen on the idea and was worried about something running out on us. 🙄

The other thing I noticed is how noisy many cars are compared to the UK. After a week, I tended to get fed up of the V8 burble and roar. Almost all 4-pots over here aren't particularly interesting but they're invariably quiet and discrete. 

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9 hours ago, PhilA said:

We also have many many many open, desolate miles where you also don't want to be listening to a 4-pot wailing its life away, either

Speaking from experience, the V6 Ford campervan we had in AZ on holiday was deafening on long open roads, not to mention terrifying in crosswinds. Definitely the wrong engine for the type of upfit but then again we were shafted by the rental company when we arrived. I doubt it got any nice engine service treatment either.

Even though it's a 4 cylinder, the seemingly bulletproof and torquey 2.5 Iron Duke looks like my ideal for cruising with good economy. The drone might get annoying after a while though.

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That's why you get big engine. Slow engine at high speed is a quiet engine at high speed.

My Jeep you can't hear unless you plant the pedal in the carpet.

The Challenger is only noisy if you start to press on, at cruise you can hold a quiet conversation.

Ford do it wrong.

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