DFO851_210 July 1979
1. TECHNICALLY WHAT WE CALL THE WHEEL IS KNOWN TO MECHANICS AS THE RIM‚ you know, the thing the tire's on. That thing that you see from the outside of a car, that has the fancy hub cap on, that is not really the wheel—in mechanical language that is the rim.
2. THE WHEEL IS THE BRAKE DRUM ACTUALLY, WITH THE BEARING INSIDE OF IT, to which the rim is bolted by those lug nuts. In Europe the tiny cars only have three lug nuts, in the States they have five or six.
3. SO THE THING THAT THE TIRE'S ON IS THE RIM, & the rim is bolted with lug nuts to the wheel of the car. The tire & rim are big, but the wheel itself is actually only about the size of the brake drum.
4. BRAKE DRUMS‚ AS I RECALL, ARE USUALLY BOLTED TO THE RIM WITH THE LUG NUTS. That's how the rim is bolted on, which holds it on to the brake drum. And then the brake drum, which is really the actual wheel, is bolted onto the axle with this great big huge nut that has a cotter pin.
5. A COTTER PIN IS A SPLIT PIN THAT GOES THROUGH THE NUT & THE AXLE to keep the nut from turning. It has a split end that comes out the other side. You split it apart & bend both sides of the pin out so it won't come off. I don't know what there is that I don't know about a car, I'll tell you! (Maria: What other things can go wrong?)
6. THE MAIN THING THAT THE AVERAGE PERSON WHO HAS A CAR SHOULD DO IS MAKE SURE IT GETS A GOOD OIL CHANGE AT LEAST EVERY COUPLE THOUSAND MILES.—The oil ought to be changed. Now they've got what the call 5,000 mile oils, special fancy high-priced oil, supposed to last you 5,000 miles with out a change, but I don't know.
7. WHEN IT GETS REAL BLACK & DIRTY THEN YOU KNOW YOU NEED AN OIL CHANGE, 'cause fresh oil is nice & clean & kind of golden colour. When you take the dip stick up to see how much oil you've got if you've got enough oil just look at the oil on the dip stick. If it's nice fresh oil it'll be a nice golden colour & it won't be black & dirty, But if it gets to where it's so black & so dirty, then you know you need an oil change. Of course it usually gets black pretty soon.
8. YOU NEED AN OIL CHANGE AT LEAST EVERY COUPLE THOUSAND MILES, AS WELL AS A GREASE JOB. You usually get both done at the same time. You take your car to the filling station & you say, "I want a lubrication & an oil change." In which case‚ they take a grease gun & they go to all these little grease nozzles, little tiny holes the grease gun fits on, &
9. SHOOT GREASE INTO ALL THE PLACES UNDERNEATH THE CHASSIS & ON THE CHASSIS & everywhere that needs grease.—Like the spring shackles & moving parts of the steering gear, especially the steering knuckles of your steering apparatus & sometimes the clutch & gas pedals & all kinds of places that need grease underneath the car. They lubricate all those things. Sometimes they'll put a little oil on your door latches & handles & makes sure that everything that needs lubrication is lubricated. And at same time you usually have the oil changed.
10. (MARIA: HOW CAN YOU TELL WHEN YOU NEED A GREASE JOB?) You just go by the length of time. The rule used to be in the States every two months or 2000 miles, whichever comes first.
11. IT DIDN'T COST MUCH IN THE STATES. You used to pay 50c for a grease job when I was a kid, & it only took about half an hour, a few minutes. An oil change takes another 10 to 15 minutes. You usually have to put your car up on the rack to grease it anyhow, so while it's up there they stick a bucket under it.
12. THEY TAKE THE DRAIN PLUG OFF THE BOTTOM OF THE OIL PAN of the engine & they let all that black dirty oil drain out. Usually they let that drain while they're working on greasing the car, because it takes quite a while for all that dirty oil to finally drip out.
13. THE PAN IS THE PART THAT HOLDS THE OIL RIGHT UNDERNEATH THE ENGINE, that the bearings of the engine—the piston rods dip into. They put the plug back, & the car's all greased underneath. Then they lower the car & the guy finishes any top greasing that's necessary, like doors.
14. THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS THAT HAVE TO BE GREASED ON THE FRAME. Usually if you have a car it has a chart which shows all the places which are supposed to be greased & at what mileage each thing has to be done.
15. IN AMERICAN CARS IT USUALLY TAKES ANYWHERE FROM 4 TO 6 QUARTS OF OIL, depending on the size the car & the size of the engine. Ten years ago when we left the States such oil was costing 65 to 95c a quart depending on the grade of oil. So changing your oil cost somewhere around $5 in those days.
16. I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT COSTS NOW. It depends on the size of your motor & the size of your car & so on. The little bitty cars in Europe I think only require 3 quarts of oil. They used to change it free just to sell the oil. But I know some places they started charging $1 extra for changing the oil.
17. THEN ABOUT EVERY 20,000 MILES YOU HAVE TO GET THE OIL FILTER CHANGED.—From 10 to 20,000 miles depending on the state of your oil, how often you changed it & how clean you kept it. That's a contraption on the engine that the oil passes through to keep it clean and filtered.
18. IT'S A FILTER ABOUT THE SIZE OF A ROLL OF TOILET PAPER. In fact, I've known guys who used a roll of toilet paper for an oil filter when they couldn't find one the right size for the car. It did the trick!
19. IT CONSISTS OF MANY MANY LAYERS OF PAPER THAT THE OIL IS FORCIBLY PUMPED THROUGH, & literally strains the oil & all that dirt out of it. So all that dirt is all plugged up in that oil filter & you've gotta have that change for a new oil filter. You throw the old one away.
20. SO THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS YOU DO FROM EVERY 2-3000 MILES OR EVERY 2 TO 3 MONTHS, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST. Every 2 to 3 months you've got to get your car greased, & usually, at the same time you get the oil changed. Nowadays they've got such good oil & everything, it's only required every 3000 miles to 5000 miles.
21. SO YOU JUST HAVE YOUR CAR GREASED & OIL CHANGED. Sometimes they'll check the filter for you because they want to sell you a filter, but actually you don't have to get your filter changed every time.
22. AT ABOUT 10,000 MILES, CERTAINLY NOT MORE THAN 20,000 YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE A NEW OIL FILTER. You should also have the air filter on the top of the carburetor cleaned out & you might have to have a new one if it's dirty enough.
23. I'M TALKING ABOUT TAKING GOOD CARE OF A CAR—so you won't have any trouble & it will function properly & last a long time. I'm not talking about some junker that you're just planning to throw away which isn't safe anyhow.
24. THESE ARE THE BASIC THINGS THAT EVERY DRIVER IS SUPPOSED TO KNOW, EVEN THE WOMEN. You get a little book when you get a car & it reminds you of all the places that you're supposed to get your car lubricated or greased at every two to five thousands miles nowadays, plus an oil change.
25. OF COURSE EVERY TIME YOU STOP TO GET GAS AT THE FILLING STATION in the States they had really good service. They'd check your oil & your water & wipe your windshield. (Maria: I bet they don't nowadays!) I bet they don't!
26. SO YOU'D BETTER LEARN HOW TO CHECK YOUR OWN OIL WITH THE DIP STICK. The dip stick is that little rod you stick down in your engine & pull out & look at to see how much oil you have. Every car's got one, because every car has to have oil in the pan that the bearings rotate in. Otherwise your engine's going to burn up & you just have to toss the whole thing away.
27. THERE ARE USUALLY TWO LINES OR NOTCHES ON THE DIP STICK, or they've even got words that say "full" or "low." The lower line means you shouldn't let the oil go below that line. It needs a quart of oil or a liter of oil. The upper line shows it's full; if the oil is up to that mark it's full. If it's anyplace between the two marks it's okay.
28. YOU SHOULD NEVER PUT IN SO MUCH OIL THAT IT GOES OVER THE UPPER MARK—that's bad for the engine. If the oil pressure is too high it could cause trouble. And you should never let it go below the lower mark because then there isn't enough oil to lubricate & cool the bearings. The oil level should be somewhere between those two marks, & when it gets down to the lower mark, then you need another quart or another liter of oil.
29. EVERY TIME YOU STOP FOR GAS YOU SHOULD HAVE YOUR OIL CHECKED‚ or check it yourself & check your water & your tires. (Maria: Why do you need water?) The water is the coolant that cools the engine, & you've gotta have plenty of water right up almost to the filler cap in order to make sure the engine is properly cooled.
30. YOU NEED THE OIL TO LUBRICATE THE BEARINGS WHICH ARE ROTATING VERY RAPIDLY as your engine rotates at a speed of as high as 4500 or 5000 revolutions per minute‚ 5000 times around every minute! That shows you've got to have a lot of oil in the pan to keep those bearings well oiled as they're revolving faster than you can hardly think!
31. THE BEARINGS I'M TALKING ABOUT ARE DOWN INSIDE THE ENGINE, to which the rods & pistons are attached. I don't have time to go into all that right now, but you've gotta have oil. This is something every driver should know. You may not know much about mechanics or engines or all these technical details, but you'd better know something about getting your oil changed & your car lubricated at least.
32. (MARIA: HOW OFTEN DO YOU HAVE TO FILL IT WITH WATER?) It depends on the shape of your radiator. If you've got a leaky radiator you may have to fill it very often. And in the hot desert States where we lived, it frequently got so hot the solder on the radiators would melt & the water would start pouring out.
33. IF YOU'VE GOT AN OLD CAR WITH A RUSTY RADIATOR IT'LL RUST THROUGH, or if it gets too hot, it'll melt & spring leaks, & then you've got real trouble. We used to have to stop at about every filling station as we went along to put more water in it.
34. IF YOU HAVE A LITTLE PINHOLE LEAK, like the way your bosoms spurt sometimes, you'll have a little leak just that size. Well this, if it goes on under pressure, especially as the engine gets hot‚ can really leak out a lot & you have to add water frequently. On a long run it can leak so much that your engine will get too hot.
35. IF THE ENGINE GETS TOO HOT IT WILL BURN UP & I mean burn up! Sometimes they've been known to catch fire‚ & it's a total loss! You'll have to have a new motor—or new car!
36. IF EITHER YOU GET TOO LOW ON WATER OR TOO LOW ON OIL IT WILL BURN UP YOUR ENGINE! You've got to remember that—it's very important. Now, most modern cars of today have a coolant you put in the water in the radiator.
37. ANYBODY WHO DOESN'T KNOW WHERE THE RADIATOR CAP OR WHERE THE DIP STICK IS‚ SHOULDN'T DRIVE A CAR! If you don't know how to check your own oil or your own water‚ or you don't know by looking at a tire whether it's flat or not, you shouldn't drive.
38. YOU CAN USUALLY JUST LOOK AT YOUR TIRES & SEE WHETHER THEY'RE LOW OR NOT. If the tire looks a little low then you ought to check it, & if it needs air, get it! You're supposed to have a specific amount of air.
39. EVERY CAR SHOULD CARRY AN AIR GAUGE. I don't trust these air gauges at filling stations because they vary. Carry your own little air gauge. It doesn't cost much, a few dollars at almost any auto store or sometimes filling stations. I think nowadays good ones run the equivalent of $8 to $10, but it's worth it.
40. YOU CAN SAVE THE CAR‚ THE TIRES & A LOT OF THINGS BY CHECKING YOUR TIRES & MAKING SURE THEY ARE PROPERLY INFLATED. Especially if you're on a trip & heavily loaded, they've got to have an extra amount of air. If you run around with a car that's empty & very few passengers, you can run on lower air, for a softer ride, but it's a little hard on the tires.
41. IF YOU TRY TO RUN WITH A HEAVY LOAD ON A SOFT TIRE, YOU WILL SOON WEAR OUT THE TIRE. The tire will soon come apart on the inside. The threads of the tire will actually come apart & the tire is shot. All you can do then is just throw it away. And worse yet‚ it could have a blow out at high speed & cause an accident. So never run on tires with low pressure.
42. IN THE STATES FOR THE AVERAGE TIRE THEY USED TO RECOMMEND 28 TO 32 POUNDS for light passenger cars, because they want a soft ride. But during the war they had a regulation, you had to keep your tires at 35 because they lasted longer that way.
43. IF YOU HAVE A CAMPER OR TRUCK USUALLY THEY REQUIRE VERY HIGH PRESSURE because they carry very heavy loads, & I usually ran at 40-45 pounds. Sometimes they recommend 55-65 pounds in big truck tires, it depends on the size of your truck, load & everything.
44. EVERY MAKER & MANUFACTURER OF THE TIRE, THE TRUCK, THE CAR, HAS THEIR RECOMMENDED AIR PRESSURE & that's what you ought to keep in it. If you don't know how much pressure you're supposed to have in your tires, ask the maker of the car or the tires. He's the guy to ask, because the maker of the car, the garage or the place that sells that particular brand has a certain standard tire pressure that they recommend.
45. IN EUROPE THEY GO BY KILOS, & IT'S ABOUT 2 1/2 KILOS PRESSURE TO THE TIRE. This means the air pressure inside the tire. In the States it means so many pounds of pressure on every square inch. In Europe it means so many kilos on every square centimeter, 2 1/2 kilos on every square centimeter. 2 1/2 kilos is a little over 5 1/2 pounds per square centimeter.
46. ANYHOW, SOME OF THE GAUGES YOU CAN BUY HAVE BOTH POUNDS & KILOS ON THEM. Our gauge has. On the outside of the dial it's got one, pounds or kilos; on the inside of the dial it's got the other, so you can tell both. But every time you stop at a filling station to get gas you should have your oil & water checked.
47. NOW A LOT OF THESE PRESSURISED WATER COOLING SYSTEMS YOU'RE NEVER SUPPOSED TO CHECK WITH THE ENGINE HOT because they work under pressure. If you try to take the cap off when it's hot it's going to blow up in your face & cause an accident. Oh, I've said these things so many times; it's in "Have Faith‚ Will Travel!" (Letter #150) Read it again!