five ways to keep your beater car on the road forever


there's an interesting idea here that i've never considered ... steering wheel cover ... i may look into that at some point ... the wheel on the continual car is starting to show some degradation at the L thumb.


132,175 mile service

an abortive MS river trip has me back in vegas early ... i roll over 132,000 just as i cross the city limit ... god's way of saying that it's time for, yet another, oil change.

my dealer recommends a "major service" due to dirty fluids (their term and descriptions, not mine).  i pass because it's not in the owner's manual for this time/mileage.

(saw a line item for the amount the oil change is supposed to cost me: $78 out the door.  with my coupon for a $25 oil change [$29 OTD], this is a $53 savings ... still at $25, that oil change is a bit pricey ... i've had packages that have averaged $18, so it could be that the coupons are going up in price ... i may look more aggressively at buying packages.)


rotated tires 129,500 miles

didn't have the time/place to do it in CO, but snuck it into costco before i headed onto the river.  date, calendar placement and mileage are approximate but accurate to within 5%.

no cost, comes with the original tire purchase and keeps my tires within warranty (as termed by costco).


128,089 mile service

 driving my boat to the top of the MS river ... unfortunately, while we're in denver on the way out (and i'm in WY fly fishing) the car starts showing unusual behavior ... when you first start it in the morning, it acts like it doesn't want to stop.  the brake pedal goes all the way to the floor without the expected amount of coincident braking.

the boulder shop can't reproduce the problem, but my brother's in town so i pop the hood and he takes a look when we get back from the great wild.

in less than 60 seconds, he spots a missing PCV valve (and line).  odd that the shop didn't even bother to look under the hood for it.

as long as it's in the shop, i'll change my oil too, although it's due in another 1,000 miles ... it's easier to change here/now than in MN.  it also means that my car shuttler won't have to do it on the MN/LA run.

the oil change is already paid for as part of my package (last one!).  the PCV valve and line run me $62.


126,069 mile service

lots of driving has brought me to another oil change.  this time at larry h. miller chrysler dodge jeep ram in denver -- which i'm pretty sure used to be known as PRO.  able to sneak it in just a few minutes before close.

a couple things of note:
  1. i had 35 miles of stop and go driving in 110 degree heat to get here ... my water gauge was creeping ever-so-slightly up ... i haven't had any trouble with my car overheating, but i wasn't going to start, so i did the stop-and-go part with the AC off ... i also noticed a small gauge climb when i was towing my kayak uphill in 109 degree heat ... i asked them to top off the coolant, which i'm pretty sure they did ... i hope that's "enough," and this isn't signs of things to come.
  2. the inspection showed the left rear strut seaping (sic) ... first time that's ever been mentioned ... not surprising since i notice seepage in the trunk lifts (and that's essentially exactly the same mechanism) ... i'm pretty sure struts are covered by my service contract (although when look at it, i only see the front struts mentioned by name).


123,804 miles -- new tires (again)

services have been hinting at the need for new tires for some time now ... and i was planning on getting a new set before i hit the MS river this summer anyway ... but that didn't keep me from being shocked by a noticeable tumor on the outside of a tire that i noticed when filling up immediately after my most recent run from denver.  (i should have taken a pic of it, but forgot to.)

my best guess is that was from a pothole somewhere, but i don't remember hitting anything hard enough to do that kind of damage (and this is complicated by the fact that my bother and my accomplice were traveling with me ... we hit the car on fill-ups like a team of 60s full-service gas station attendants, so i'm not always the one checking the tires ... it could have been there for miles), with maybe the exception of temporary rumble strips put out by the UT DOT.  there's no telling how far i drove on those tires ... or how much further i could have gone ... they were holding air just fine.

an extremely good honda repair shop in the bay area says flat-out that you should just buy your tires from costco if you can, so i did.  the online website showed two possibilities, neither of which were actually at the store closest to my house ...

what they did have was a bridgestone and a michelin.

i tried poking around on my phone to compare the two, but quickly got mired ... for 100 bucks less, i could get 5,000 more miles of warranty on the bridgestones, so i went with those.

the cruiser is a heavy car and a tire wearer.  in order to keep my tire warranty effective, i need to rotate the set (free) every 7,500 miles ... i'll probably just do it every other oil change instead, just to keep track of things.

my last set of tires was 70,000 miles ago.  it wouldn't surprise me if these don't make the 65,000 they're warrantied for.

need to get an alignment, tout de suite.  (speaking of which, the tire techs said that the alignment on my car was way off ... but i had one done not long ago ... hmm.)

$544 TVC

(aligned 6/12 with about 150 miles on them.)


count it off!

near green river, UT