by Gary Durborow
I would like to tell you about a few do’s and don’ts that I have to explain almost daily to customers at the shop. Each is carried out easily and, although it may cost you more initially, can save you tenfold later.
When you change the engine oil, change the oil filter.
This is rather important. After all, you change the oil to remove the dirt and contamination that has accumulated in the engine, right? Well then, the oil that is contained in the oil filter does not drain with the rest of the crankcase fluid. It stays in the filter. When the filter is left on, you are effectively putting a quart of dirty oil back into the sump. The five or six dollars you spend for a filter is easily offset by the decrease in engine wear experienced with clean oil.
When the ignition breaker points are replaced, also replace the condenser.
Believe it or not, a condenser becomes accustomed to a given set of points. The two parts wear almost equally. The job of the condenser is to regulate the amount and polarity of voltage entering the point set. If you’ve ever noticed a small tip forming on one breaker face of the points, this is a sign of condenser problems. That tip is actually metal from the opposite face and is moved from one side to the other due to incorrect polarity. This is also a good reason not to file the point faces. When you remove the build-up, you actually are widening the gap because the metal is missing from the opposing side.
Don’t leave the thermostat out.
Too many times when the thermostat is suspect, it is removed and not replaced with another. The idea behind the thermostat is to regulate the temperature of the engine coolant. In order to do this, it governs the speed at which the coolant is supplied to and from the radiator. Without the thermostat in place, this cannot be accomplished. The coolant will be moved only by the water pump and by natural convection. At idle, the coolant hardly moves, and at higher speeds it moves too fast. This allows far too much in the way of temperature variation. As it is, the coolant is kept at about plus or minus 10 degrees of the thermostat rating. Without a thermostat this can vary much more either way, and operating an engine too cold can be as harmful as running it too hot.
Always use antifreeze year-round.
This is especially important on engines with aluminum cylinder heads, as an Alpine has. Antifreeze is not only meant to keep from freezing in winter, but also to dissipate heat in summer. Plain water cannot come close to the same effectiveness. Antifreeze also contains additives to help fight corrosion in the system. This corrosion can be extremely detrimental to aluminum. The cylinder head can be eaten away to the point that it can be used only as a boat anchor. With antifreeze selling for about $6 per gallon, and a good used cylinder head going for about $100, it’s not hard to see the savings. By the way, not all brands of antifreeze are compatible with aluminum. Not all of those, which are compatible say so on the container either. To be sure, stick to using one of the popular brand-name types.
So, you see, spending a small amount of extra time, effort and cash now can spare you a major headache later.