Okay, paying for good automotive maintenance can be disappointing. Yes I just replaced the timing belt in my minivan. I am close to 200,000 kilometres and I used the approach that I would be happy with another 200,000 kilometres.
Yes it got a timing belt, timing belt tensioner, timing belt idler pulley, water pump, new coolant, and a power steering belt. My alternator belt is squealing still and needs replacing but I had to order an automatic belt tensioner. The wear in this automatic tensioner pivot point is the cause of the squeal (I hope).
That was a lot of work, a lot of money, and limited satisfaction. Certainly I increased my vehicle’s reliability, but does it drive any better? No! So, what the heck? I even left myself with a squealing belt.
When you think about it good timely maintenance is designed to prevent your vehicle from degrading and becoming unreliable. The results of simple wear and tear are very gradual. Timely oil changes, tune ups, fluid changes and manual lubrication of all the parts and places outlined in your owner manual can definitely make wear and tear even more gradual. Washing, waxing, and detailing can keep your vehicle looking like new.
This timing belt job did not make my van run the slightest bit better. And so it shouldn’t have. The timing belt on this van has an automatic tensioner and none of the replaced parts were worn out. Certainly there was some extra play in some of the roller bearings but all in all things looked good.
Now that I did this job though I really want to do something to make it drive more like it did when it was new. Is that possible? I hope so.
When it comes to making your car feel like new again, turn to your suspension system. This is where gradual wear and tear has likely taken its toll. Four quality new shocks or struts, depending how your car is equipped will be money well spent and make your vehicle spring to life. You won’t believe the results.
Before you do the shock thing a serious inspection of your steering and suspension system is in order.
Looseness and many creaks, clunks and groans will be eliminated by replacing worn bushings, and pivot points like tie rod ends, ball joints, sway bar links, etc. Sagging or broken springs may need replacing to make your vehicle ride level again.
Once all these kinks are ironed out those new shocks or struts will work their magic. You will again feel like your vehicle responds to your touch as you carve those turns again up the Slocan Valley, across the Strawberry Pass, or even up and down the Rossland Hill.
Maintenance can feel so good.
Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC.
He will write every other Thursday. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org