Considering the leaps and bounds automotive technology has progressed, it’s safe to say that cars have changed over the past couple decades. These days it’s no longer enough that a car will get you from A to B – it must have a variety of gizmos, tech, infotainment, and safety measures to be able to make the sale. Modern cars then have so much to offer, so much in fact that the average motorist will take its inherent benefits for granted.
What about those who drive older vehicles? Those that, for all their relative simplicity and wearing age, still find themselves on the road and are content with what their cars have to offer. In terms of raw mechanical feel versus the lack of engagement brought about by the plush comfort of modern safety, technology, and convenience, some would still opt to apply the ‘They don’t make ‘em like they used to’ mantra for their vehicle of choice. As with most things affected by the test of time however older cars will have quirks or will need some repairing.
Thing is, parts for some of these vehicles become harder and more expensive to come by as the years go on. Fixing and keeping them running becomes more than a short trip to the dealership and having it fixed. To keep these cars running you will find yourself doing more than you would compared to a new car, and these are the few things your old car can teach you along the way:
An older vehicle is very much like an older human being. Some of its rubber parts are already worn and creaking like old joints and ligaments, there’s an odd noise you can’t pinpoint in the back, and things just aren’t as buttoned down as when it was brand new. Without going so far as to tear the whole thing down and restore it, often you just have to acknowledge that your well-worn car will never be as perfect as a brand new one.
That said, driving older cars requires a certain kind of sympathy from the driver. Avoiding potholes, knowing when or when not to give it the beans, and feeling when something is wrong or off with the car in general goes a long way with keeping an old car running. Periodic maintenance also plays into this, regularly checking fluids, tightening nuts and bolts, and general cleaning will go a long way with keeping your steed running.
When people complain that a car is unreliable or always breaks down, they often forget to look at the nut behind the wheel – and in most cases that’s usually the cause of the problem.
Patience and Discipline
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems that folks with older cars – contrary to popular belief – seem to be more tame on the road. Being a custodian of a 90’s era vehicle myself, I believe this behavior comes thanks to the hardships we all have to go through to make sure our cars run – and stays that way.
There are many things to be taken for granted when buying a brand new car off the lot, things that involve mechanical know-how or an absurd amount of time fixing. Only someone who’s been heavily involved in a project car would know the painstaking hours sourcing parts or the sleepless nights under the car turning wrenches. Folks with older cars tend to orient themselves in such a way that they wouldn’t need to fix these bits again, and thus have learned the patience and discipline with dealing with such problems. Believe me, this translates fairly well to other facets of your life too.
A knack for Research
One of the key things to succeed in life, as many successful professionals will tell you, is that learning never stops. It doesn’t stop the moment you finish school, it continues trickle towards your career, your home life, and with relationships with other people. Humans have become advanced over thousands of years thanks to our capacity to absorb, retain, and process information – and this ability of ours will help lots with older machinery.
Any information about your vehicle is vital to its longevity; Understanding its quirks, common weaknesses, and potential fixes will all come a long way with making sure an old car stays running. Whether it’s from internet forums, a book, videos, or even a specialist of your vehicle, we have access to an almost infinite amount of resources in this digital age – all you need to do is read up and do your research. Knowing every little bit of your vehicle ensures that you are on top of what is happening with the car as its owner and driver, and this is perhaps one of the best ways to upgrade the aforementioned nut behind the wheel.
The value of Networking
No man is an island, and considering the inherent purpose of a car (to bring us places) we will definitely meet a lot of people along the way. Having an older vehicle lends itself a certain charm wherein people would easily relate to its qualities. Mostly fueled by nostalgia, there are other people out there who are just as enthusiastic with older cars too – and it would go a long way to be part of a community that helps keep these things running. Learn to make friends in the community and you will find that sourcing parts or dealing with the usual burdens of old car life won’t be as difficult with a group of friends and specialists paying attention to your build.
Nothing is ever perfect
You can keep building a car and you can be very good at it, but one constant in life will make sure that your old car will never be perfect: Time. When working with an aged vehicle we are always up against the sands of time as it slowly finds things to wear out in a vehicle. New parts are readily available, and rust can “somewhat” be cured, but all of these things are subject to wear and tear thanks to the elements mixed with time.
The city streets aren’t exactly the friendliest places for your old car either, and it can take some bumps and scratches from regular use. It takes a certain balance to build a car good enough to use, but still accept that there are things that need improving. This element of building cars seems most appealing to most enthusiasts because the fact is, we're not perfect either. Very relatable, don't you agree?
As with aging people, older cars need extra care and attention to them to keep them in shape. If you find yourself working on one – and putting up with all its nuances – you will find that you’ll get more than just a means from A to B: you also got a character building exercise.