Saturday, January 14, 2012

Interference Engines

Over the years, I have had many old cars and I think I have bought a few cars piece by piece as almost every part has failed at some point on some car. I hate being ignorant about things so at one point, I took a Know your Auto class. One of the skills I learned was how to gap spark plugs, useless information now as all cars now have fuel injected engines.

A friend called yesterday and asked if I ever had a timing chain or belt fail? Yes indeedy, at least twice, maybe even three times, in relatively new cars at that. I know the symptoms. And if they fail, you aren't going anywhere. One snapped on a railroad track when  Josh and Shanna were quite young and Steve was running in a marathon miles away. He also had all the AAA info. All of this was before cell phones. Somehow I  pushed the car off the tracks and went into a nearby store to beg for a ride to our house 6 miles away. Shanna was old enough to be embarrassed by that. The fix was fortunately inexpensive.

But in my friend's case, she was quoted thousands of dollars. Could this be right? And the car is fairly old so it would not be worth it but she is not in the position that she can replace it right now. It all hinges on whether the car has an 'interference engine' or not. This is a particularly crappy design flaw in which a broken timing chain could result in 'catastrophic' engine failure due to cams colliding with pistons at the wrong time. And these things are not rare. I suspect the one car that we let Naomi drive has one and even the car that stopped on the railroad track had one. I suppose the car companies can always say that they recommended that you change the timing belt at regular intervals if you complain. And according to my research, my friend  does NOT have one despite what the mechanic says. If they had a dealership in the town the car died in, she could find out for sure but it closed.

Another strange term I learned recently  was Supreme as in the orange was separated into its supremes. It is also a verb as in The grapefruit was supremed. And then we have Chicken Supreme which if I had to guess was chicken better than the rest or maybe with some cream sauce. But no, it means the breast meat has been separated from the bones, nothing more.

Winter is back. Yesterday running in stiff winds on ice was not too inviting so I waited until today. No wind but colder and more snow (not enough to ski on though). I ended up finding a parking lot that had been plowed and salted..boring but better than nothing.

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