from Goss’ Garage by Pat Goss

As a guy who’s been seriously involved with cars for many years I’ve seen changes that have redefined nearly everything we ever knew about cars. But surprisingly some of the basics haven’t changed at all.

A “man” who is a first class horseman will usually make a first class driver of an automobile, or, in other words, the “man” who shows mercy to his beast will show mercy to his car. This type of driver does not belong to that class generally found at the side of the road with something broken or out of order. An automobile if properly designed, will withstand a great deal of rough usage, but there is bound to come a time, sooner or later, when it will rebel at being used like a battering ram.

The automobile is a machine, which involves the consideration of an extensive range of facts in several widely separated departments of mechanical knowledge, hence the study of its construction and operation is a liberal education in itself. Like any other piece of machinery, it requires attention, care, and intelligent handling. If the highest degree of efficiency be desired, the operator should spend a little time each day going over the machine to see that it is well lubricated, and the necessary adjustments properly made, also that the whole car is in working order.

This is good advice excerpted from the preface of Audels Automobile Guide copyrighted 1915. It was proper in 1915 and it still is in 2009. Although the cars we drive today are nothing like those driven by our grandparents back in 1915, they are still machines and therefore governed by the rules that apply to all machines. Namely, everything mechanical will wear out and proper maintenance will extend the time before it does wear out.

Of course the way you check and maintain a car today is much easier than it was back in 1915. How would you like to test your engine oil for purity before using it? Shaking some oil in a bottle then waiting to see how it reacted was how it was done, says Audels. You did this every time you had to add or change oil because there were no guarantees of oil purity in 1915.

In 1915 it was stated that you shouldn’t expect lubricating oils to perform the impossible task of correcting mechanical defects and it was harmful to overfill the engine with oil. Both are still true today. It was also bad news to use the wrong viscosity of oil in 1915 and it’s even worse in 2009 because the resulting damage is more costly to fix. There are several other lubricating requirements that remain constant between 1915 and 2009; Audels sums it up like this. Don’t lose sight of the fact that proper lubrication is by far the most important thing in the operation of any engine. A large percentage of engine troubles arise from, and can be traced to, faulty lubrication.

I find this highly amusing because the rules have been essentially the same for at least 94 years, so what’s your problem? Why do we still make the same stupid, costly mistakes? We use the wrong products. We second-guess the manufacturer. We refuse to spend a few dollars on life-extending fluids even though major repairs now cost thousands. We don’t even flush vital systems which could double the life of our cars.

After 94 years isn’t 2009 a great year to reap the rewards of good maintenance? It’s easy to get the information; it’s at your fingertips Good preventive maintenance is as it has always been; the difference between good cars and rotten cars.