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Eric
02-11-2009, 08:56 AM
People who lived through the original Great Depression learned how to squeeze every last drop of value out of every penny they had - and never wasted anything.

It looks like this generation is going to have to relearn those lessons... double-time quick.

The best way to save money, of course, is to avoid having to spend it in the first place. Here are a few ideas that might be helpful:

* Batteries -

Batteries are expensive - good ones can cost more than $100 - so the longer yours lasts, the better it is for your bottom line.

One way to extend the useful life of your car's battery is to keep it at full charge by avoiding such practices as running accessories (radio, headlights, interior lights, etc.) for extended periods with the engine off. When the engine is off, so is the car's alternator - which produces the electricity that normally operates the car's electrical systems as well as keeps the battery fully charged. When the engine is off, you are running on the battery exclusively - which drains away charge.

When you restart the engine, the alternator will restore full charge to the battery; however, excessive discharging (and recharging) of the battery is bad for its long term ability to hold a full charge. This is why you should only use the battery to start the car - not run the accessories for long periods of time.

If the car is not used regularly, consider buying an automatic "trickle charger." Even though the car is off, there is a gradual draw of current that, over time, can weaken the battery and reduce its longevity. A trickle charger is a simple device that you connect to the battery's positive and negative terminals and plug into a household outlet. That's it. The device turns on and off automatically, as needed, to maintain the battery at full charge. Automatic models are completely safe and cannot overcharge your battery. But they can save you money in the form of longer-lived batteries.

* Tires -

Flats are much less commonplace than they once were, in part because modern tire construction methods and materials are much improved over the way tires were made in the past. However, the downside is that people often take tires for granted - and don't regularly check tire pressure. Everyone has read how this hurts gas mileage - which is absolutely true. But under-inflated tires also wear out more rapidly - which can affect your vehicle's safety as well as cost you money in the form of more frequent tire replacement.

Under-inflated tires may actually be more commonplace today than in the past because of the widespread use of aluminum alloy wheels. Reason? Alloy wheels often have air bubbles and other imperfections imparted during the casting process (vs. stamped steel wheels). Internal - and microscopic - corrosion can also result in tiny porosities that let air slip out as you drive. The leaks are typically very minor, but over a period of weeks or months, the losses can be significant. And it won't be noticeable to the eye until the pressure has dropped to dangerously low levels.

New (2009 and up) model years cars have built-in electronic tire pressure monitors, but most older cars do not and require the old-fashioned manual check with a gauge - ideally at least once every two weeks.

* Gas tank -

Keep it full, or as close to full, as possible at all times. There are several money-saving benefits to be had. First, you can save a few bucks on the fuel itself. If the tank is kept full, or near full, you won't find yourself running on fumes and forced to fill up at the first-available (and probably most expensive) station you find. Second, you can save money by reducing your vulnerability to the random upticks in price we've been seeing lately. If you find a good deal, tank up - and you've got more time to find the next good deal.

But the real money savings from keeping a full, or near full, tank comes in the form of cutting back the odds you'll need expensive fuel system service in the years ahead. Why? A partially empty fuel tank is more prone to internal condensation (water) build-up as the outside temperature goes up and down. Tanks and fuel lines are made of steel - and steel exposed to water eventually begins to rust. The rust particles flake off and can clog fuel filters, fuel lines and fuel injectors - leading to big bucks repairs.

Eventually, rust can eat holes in the tank (and lines), too. Replacing these parts is neither easy nor inexpensive. A full gas tank will help avoid these problems.

* Clutch -

Just like brakes, clutch wear occurs during the course of normal operation - mainly through friction. When the clutch is out and you're driving along, there is virtually no wear on the clutch disc. The majority of the wear happens when you're just starting out - and when you're shifting gears. This is when the clutch is partially (or fully) disengaged. Material is being worn away through friction. Reduce the friction - and you decrease wear and increase longevity. Since replacing a clutch can cost as much as $1,000 or more, the longer you can go between clutch jobs, the better.

Avoid stop and go-type driving, for openers. In fact, if the majority of the driving you do consists of stop and go driving (which forces you to constantly engage and disengage the clutch) you might be better off buying a car with an automatic transmission. The difference in fuel economy is minimal (today's modern automatics are very efficient; the difference in fuel economy between automatic and stickshift versions of the same car is usually no more than 1-3 MPGs) but more importantly, the slight fuel savings isn't worth much if its wiped away by an $800-$1,000 clutch job.

Next best, try to tailor your driving to minimize stop and starts - as well as gear changes. Try to maintain your vehicle's momentum in traffic. It is much easier on the clutch to "roll out" in second than to start out from a dead stop in first. When you change gears, do it smoothly and quickly (but not abruptly). Avoid "riding" the clutch - which is just like riding the brakes and has the same effect.

Lastly, don't allow drivers who aren't fully competent with a stickshift near the driver's seat of your car. The best car for them to learn on is someone else's car.

Larry Adachi
02-11-2009, 03:36 PM
>>>* Batteries -

Batteries are expensive - good ones can cost more than $100 - so the longer yours lasts, the better it is for your bottom line.

One way to extend the useful life of your car's battery is to keep it at full charge by avoiding such practices as running accessories (radio, headlights, interior lights, etc.) for extended periods with the engine off. When the engine is off, so is the car's alternator - which produces the electricity that normally operates the car's electrical systems as well as keeps the battery fully charged. When the engine is off, you are running on the battery exclusively - which drains away charge.

************************************************** ****************

You might not believe this, but when my 32-yr old Impala was around 10 years old, in order to not accidentally run my battery down while the engine was off, I removed all--dome, under-hood, trunk, door-activated lights---bulbs and never had a run-down battery to contend with.

Larry in HI

Eric
02-11-2009, 04:53 PM
>>>* Batteries -

Batteries are expensive - good ones can cost more than $100 - so the longer yours lasts, the better it is for your bottom line.

One way to extend the useful life of your car's battery is to keep it at full charge by avoiding such practices as running accessories (radio, headlights, interior lights, etc.) for extended periods with the engine off. When the engine is off, so is the car's alternator - which produces the electricity that normally operates the car's electrical systems as well as keeps the battery fully charged. When the engine is off, you are running on the battery exclusively - which drains away charge.

************************************************** ****************

You might not believe this, but when my 32-yr old Impala was around 10 years old, in order to not accidentally run my battery down while the engine was off, I removed all--dome, under-hood, trunk, door-activated lights---bulbs and never had a run-down battery to contend with.

Larry in HI

I do believe it - but it would have been easier to just disconnect the battery! :cool:

Larry Adachi
02-12-2009, 04:30 AM
"I do believe it - but it would have been easier to just disconnect the battery!"


Disconnect the battery? If so, each time I use the car (I only have ONE car, not more than 1 like most of you guys) so it would be too much trouble if I have to raise the hood, connect and disconnect the neg. cable each time I have to use the car!!! Do that every day year in and year out....30 plus years??....not very likely.<BG>.

Larry

Ken
02-12-2009, 06:08 AM
"I do believe it - but it would have been easier to just disconnect the battery!"


Disconnect the battery? If so, each time I use the car (I only have ONE car, not more than 1 like most of you guys) so it would be too much trouble if I have to raise the hood, connect and disconnect the neg. cable each time I have to use the car!!! Do that every day year in and year out....30 plus years??....not very likely.<BG>.

Larry

No, all you would need to do would be install a breaker switch as they do on track cars.

Ken.

Eric
02-12-2009, 07:42 AM
"I do believe it - but it would have been easier to just disconnect the battery!"


Disconnect the battery? If so, each time I use the car (I only have ONE car, not more than 1 like most of you guys) so it would be too much trouble if I have to raise the hood, connect and disconnect the neg. cable each time I have to use the car!!! Do that every day year in and year out....30 plus years??....not very likely.<BG>.

Larry

Yep, like Ken says - you can buy a "battery disconnect" that lets you do just that - disconnect the battery but without actually removing the cable(s) or using any tools at all. Typically, you just hand-turn a rotary knob at the negative cable. That's it.

Dave Brand
02-12-2009, 08:16 AM
Yep, like Ken says - you can buy a "battery disconnect" that lets you do just that - disconnect the battery but without actually removing the cable(s) or using any tools at all. Typically, you just hand-turn a rotary knob at the negative cable. That's it.

The problem with disconnecting the battery on a modern car is that you lose radio settings, trip computer data, etc!

Batteries can last a long time...I replaced the battery on my wife's Peugeot 106 when it was a few months under ten years old; the old battery, as indicated by the date code on it, was the original.

Eric
02-12-2009, 10:06 AM
The problem with disconnecting the battery on a modern car is that you lose radio settings, trip computer data, etc!

Batteries can last a long time...I replaced the battery on my wife's Peugeot 106 when it was a few months under ten years old; the old battery, as indicated by the date code on it, was the original.

True !

But luckily for Larry, his car is a late'70s Chevy, so no electronics or computer BS to worry about....

Ken
02-12-2009, 02:09 PM
Dave wrote;
The problem with disconnecting the battery on a modern car is that you lose radio settings, trip computer data, etc!

Ah, you've got me there, Dave, I don't think I have ever owned a modern car. My current car is a '98 Toyota, no problems disconnecting the battery on this one, radio stations still there and it has no computer fiddly-de-gubbery to worry about, apart from the alarm system and that didn't seem to be affected either. :)

Ken.

Larry Adachi
02-12-2009, 03:22 PM
>>>Typically, you just hand-turn a rotary knob at the negative cable. That's it.<<<


***************************

I would still have to raise and lower the bonnet (hood) each time I use the car, and that would be a hassle since I have to reach into the car to tug on the hood release. No I'd rather remove all bulbs involved , and that worked for me all these years.

Larry

grouch
02-13-2009, 09:04 PM
When I buy a battery, I always get one with service caps. I NEVER buy the sealed batteries with no maintenance required. My sister got 7 years out of a factory battery in her '75 MGB that she bought new. I told her to always use steam distilled water to fill the battery. This cuts plate contamination which is what usually kills them. I rarely replace batteries. I've often sold a car with the same battery that was in there when I got it. Add in cleaning the posts every few months and putting a little dielectric grease on them, I rarely have any problem regarding the battery.

DonTom
02-14-2009, 03:39 AM
When I buy a battery, I always get one with service caps. I NEVER buy the sealed batteries with no maintenance required.

In my Sebring, I would do the opposite, if possible, because I ain't going to take the battery out until it fails or four years, usually whichever comes first.

And I usually buy cheap batteries because I am going to change them every four years regardless.

I usually change my vehicle starting batteries every four years to avoid hassles. But in my 1997 Sebring, it's such a hassle to change I let it go just a bit longer. The battery went intermittent yesterday in a way I have seen only once before. It acted just like a lose connection, but that wasn't the problem (or it was a lose connection inside the battery!) . That battery would either work well or not at all. Sometimes would start and sometimes nothing happens (not even a click-- and no lights). Five minutes later it will start with the energy of a new fully charged battery. But while driving, the lights would often flicker.

I changed the battery yesterday (Friday) morning. It was four years and four months old. Now all is fine. But this reconfirms I should change these batteries every four years. This battery is small and there's no room for a better battery. The battery lives in the driver's side wheel well.

In the old battery, the water level was fine. It didn't seem to lose any electrolyte in more than four years.


-Don-

chiph
02-14-2009, 10:50 AM
A lot of times what happens with the cheaper batteries is the lead plates start dropping pieces off. They land in the bottom of the battery, and after a while they pile up to where they're shorting out the plates. Result is an occasionally under-volt battery (as vibrations jostle the pile of droppings around).

Chip H.

DonTom
02-14-2009, 03:44 PM
A lot of times what happens with the cheaper batteries is the lead plates start dropping pieces off. They land in the bottom of the battery, and after a while they pile up to where they're shorting out the plates. Result is an occasionally under-volt battery (as vibrations jostle the pile of droppings around).Chip H.

Yes, I am aware of that problem which is the most common failure of older batteries. But my battery problem could not be that because the voltage falls to zero. That has to be an open somewhere unless every plate shorts out at the same time!

Better batteries have more space between the plates to prevent shorts. That's why true deep cycle batteries (as used in the coach of RV's) are so large.


-Don-

Ken
02-14-2009, 03:58 PM
Yes, I am aware of that problem which is the most common failure of older batteries. But my battery problem could not be that because the voltage falls to zero. That has to be an open somewhere unless every plate shorts out at the same time!

Better batteries have more space between the plates to prevent shorts. That's why true deep cycle batteries (as used in the coach of RV's) are so large.


-Don-


My guess, from experience last year, would be an intermittent contact between plate cluster and battery post.

Ken.

grouch
02-14-2009, 07:22 PM
A lot of Chryslers have the battery behind the right front wheel. I was watching the show "Mythbusters" and they were trying to blow a taxi over with an aircraft. The battery went dead and when Jamie, the bald guy with the beret was chaging the battery, he said out loud where the car company could hear "this is a really bad design". I've been known to relocate batteries for better access.

DonTom
02-14-2009, 07:42 PM
My guess, from experience last year, would be an intermittent contact between plate cluster and battery post.

Ken.


Sounds logical. How is the contact done? I mean exactly what is it that failed? I have also had this problem in a new battery in a new car. The problem showed in less than a thousand miles on a brand new 1981 Mercury Capri. That was the only new car I purchased in my life. So I wonder if age does or does not have have any relevance on such a problem.


A lot of Chryslers have the battery behind the right front wheel.

Left side (driver's side) in my Sebring. I wouldn't mind so much if they had a better way to remove the cover around the wheel well. They use those cheap plastic plug thingies that break half the time they are touched and they are not cheap. About four bucks each at the dealer and they don't even bother to stock them (but they come in withing 24 hours). And I also use a small tire jack to lift the battery up to it's place. At least in this Sebring I do NOT have to remove the front left wheel to put in the battery, but it might be less work if I did. I only have to steer the car to the exteme right to make room.


-Don- (SSF, CA)

chiph
02-14-2009, 08:44 PM
The problem showed in less than a thousand miles on a brand new 1981 Mercury Capri.

OH!
It's a Motorcraft battery.

They're well-known to fail rapidly without any warning, stranding their owners.

It happened to me in my 1991 Capri XR2. It happened to my father in his Focus. It happened to my mom in her 1979 Fairmont.

Chip H.

DonTom
02-14-2009, 09:20 PM
OH!
It's a Motorcraft battery.

They're well-known to fail rapidly without any warning, stranding their owners.

It happened to me in my 1991 Capri XR2. It happened to my father in his Focus. It happened to my mom in her 1979 Fairmont.

Chip H.

Oh, I wasn't aware of that. Do they still have this problem?


-Don-

DonTom
02-14-2009, 09:40 PM
I've been known to relocate batteries for better access.

No place to move it in the Sebring. Under the hood is packed with stuff that cannot be moved out of the way. If I could relocate the air filter, I think there would be room enough for the battery. But if I did that, it would fail the CA smog test just for the fact that it's been moved. But that doesn't matter any more because we now have a NV plate on it, so I just might see if there's something that can be done.


-Don- SSF, CA

chiph
02-14-2009, 10:59 PM
Oh, I wasn't aware of that. Do they still have this problem?


-Don-


As far as I know, yes.

Chip H.

Ken
02-15-2009, 08:09 AM
Sounds logical. How is the contact done? I mean exactly what is it that failed? I have also had this problem in a new battery in a new car. The problem showed in less than a thousand miles on a brand new 1981 Mercury Capri. That was the only new car I purchased in my life. So I wonder if age does or does not have have any relevance on such a problem.




I've been looking for a detailed picture of a battery terminal post construction, not much luck though. My guess is that it is the bond between the plate connector and the terminal post itself that gives way. I had the problem on a car battery and also on a bike battery in the middle of a club run. The car battery was at home so it was no problem to get a new one and fit it. The bike battery was 'bodged' enough to get the owner safely home by lifting the seat, finding a suitable bit of wood by the roadside, putting the wood on top of the terminal post. Pressing the seat down onto the wood and locking it in place remade the contact and got the guy on his way home (with a 'shepherd' of course).

The picture below, if it comes out, gives a rough idea of how the links are made but I think actually breaking open an old case and looking at the construction would give a better idea.

Ken.

DonTom
02-16-2009, 06:31 AM
My guess is that it is the bond between the plate connector and the terminal post itself that gives way. I had the problem on a car battery and also on a bike battery in the middle of a club run. The car battery was at home so it was no problem to get a new one and fit it. The bike battery was 'bodged' enough to get the owner safely home by lifting the seat, finding a suitable bit of wood by the roadside, putting the wood on top of the terminal post. Pressing the seat down onto the wood and locking it in place remade the contact and got the guy on his way home (with a 'shepherd' of course).

That was a good idea with the motorcycle battery!

I have never had a motorcycle battery fail in that way.

On the car battery, I assume another possibility would be the pos of one of the six 2.1 volt cells not making a good contact internally with the neg of the next.


-Don- San Francisco

Ken
02-16-2009, 06:52 AM
That was a good idea with the motorcycle battery!

I have never had a motorcycle battery fail in that way.

On the car battery, I assume another possibility would be the pos of one of the six 2.1 volt cells not making a good contact internally with the neg of the next.


-Don- San Francisco



Indeed, Don, it only takes an open circuit anywhere in the cell pack to 'kill' a battery. Even a partial contact (high resistance) can make a battery useless as far as starting the vehicle is concerned although it may seem to work OK once the vehicle is running. The biggest killer as far as I am aware is still, however, the build up of detritus at the bottom of the battery gradually shorting out individual cells.

Ken.