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I was looking at this 31 year old car but before I pay what should I be worried about?

Hi David, Cars with 31 year old engines can be called “classic” because they have a high sentimental value. In most cases, a 31-year-old engine is taken out of production with obsolete replacement parts that may not be found in most parts stores. Therefore, replacing aging parts such as leaking oil seals, fuel lines, brake lines, brake cylinders and calipers, all filters, timing belt kits, carburetors and, at worst, internal engine components such as pistons and rings is costly.

There are some advantages or positive considerations in favor of 31 year old engines, especially when purchased by a car enthusiast with a good service history. Classic engine repairs are easier, faster and usually cheaper than newer engines. The technology in older engines is more mechanical and repairable, as opposed to newer engines that have complicated disposable electrical components with sensors and control modules.

Classic engine components were made from cast iron and steel and are arguably more durable and reliable than current alloy metal and plastic engine components, which are more prone to failure. Classic engines tend to have simple technology that is less fuel efficient and powerful compared to newer stratified direct injection, variable valve timing, and turbocharged engines.

However, the classic engines were arguably more durable and less sensitive to oil and fuel quality. To ensure a 31-year-old engine is serving you well, ask for service history to know what long-term maintenance is required. After that, consult the manufacturer’s owner’s manual to confirm the correct fluid and oil types required to service the engine. As a precaution, service all engine fluids and consider the age and condition of this engine when selecting engine oil to ensure proper viscosity.


Do I need to do anything after driving through flood water?

Hi Julie, On rainy days you might find yourself caught in flash floods while driving your car. If possible, avoid driving through floods as they can cause serious damage to your car engine. If it is nevertheless unavoidable, carry out the following checks after driving in flood waters:

Test your brakes. Pump your brakes several times. This is to ensure they are dry enough to stop the car safely. Let the engine idle a few revs to clear the exhaust of any water that may have entered through the tailpipes.

Open the hood and look for any foreign objects, plastic bags, or tree branches that could get caught in the engine and damage the fans.

Check fluids such as engine oil, transmission and differential fluids for contamination. If water gets in through the door seals, check the interior carpet and upholstery for moisture that can cause odor problems.

Check the engine air filter for possible damage as it may have been exposed and damaged by water entering the air intake pipe if your car does not have a snorkel.

Check all lights like the headlights and taillights.


I’m currently short on cash, how can I save money on the service?

Hi Joel, cutting corners or not servicing your car at all will not save you money, it will cost you more. However, there are a few tips you can follow to make your car service less expensive. Be more involved in the maintenance of your car. Read more about the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals and the required fluids. Choose your mechanic or provider carefully, use recommendations or do your research.

A regular maintenance inspection will help you nip costly repairs in the bud or avoid expensive repair costs. Check all car fluids, brakes and tires. Motor oil with sludge should be renewed in time to avoid damage to the engine, transmission oil should be renewed at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer or after checking the condition to save your transmission.

Worn brake pads should be replaced before they damage the more expensive discs. Broken tires should be replaced before they stop and cause an accident. Keep tires inflated to manufacturer’s recommended tire pressures. Don’t neglect the air filter and fuel your car with reputable fuel products. This saves you money and time.


I recently changed the water pump and timing belt on my Ford Fiesta. Why is white smoke coming out of the exhaust?

Hi Jude, without looking at the repair history, I think your car must have had an overheating episode that may have damaged the engine’s head gasket. That could be the reason why the water pump was replaced. White exhaust smoke is usually caused by engine coolant entering the engine due to a bad head gasket. This can easily be determined in a garage.

Your mechanic may want to verify that this coolant intrusion into the ignition system is not flowing into the lubrication system. This can be ruled out by checking that there are no traces of milky liquid in the coolant reservoir or engine oil dipstick.

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