South Florida's Premier European Auto Repair, Performance & Race Facility Since 1978
Foreign Affirs Motorsport
Foreign Affairs Motorsport
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What’s That? Ask An Auto Technician

auto technician

With over 30 years in the auto business, it’s fair to say our auto technicians have seen most things. We are approaching the end of the road for internal combustion engines (ICE). The future is electric. However, ICE technology has never been as efficient or reliable as it is now. Three questions we get quite often when it comes to ICE cars are:

1.   What models are reliable?

2.   Which are the cheapest to maintain?

3.   What model/type of car would you buy?

In the performance arena margins are slim and your choice of a brand often comes down to personal preference. There are some famously unreliable models around, like some of the Audis from the early to mid-’00s. Certain BMWs are also well known (more like infamous) for their expensive ‘quirks and features’. Then there’s Mercedes. Pick the right model and you can’t lose… Pick the wrong one and you’re… Yes.

Vehicles are becoming more similar and it’s not uncommon to find parts that are interchangeable between several marques. If we told you that a filter from a Fiat might also fit on a Jeep, would you believe us? Surely the one is Italian and the other, American? Not any longer. Stellantis owns them both.

The best advice we can give you when it comes to a car is, to do your research. Run the model you like past our auto technicians or hop on Google and do a search for common problems. Chances are you’ll find well-documented forums relating to your prospective ride. There are some universal truths when it comes to the technical side of an auto. Whether you buy an exotic Saab 900 or a vanilla Mercedes A-Class (no offense tri-cornered star club), stick to the following golden rules:

1.   Chain or Belt Motor

Find out if your vehicle has a timing chain or belt. Belt motors will have a specified service interval which you should stick to religiously. Get a good shop to change the belt for you as a poorly fitted belt can wreak havoc. Chain motors fall into two categories – those that are extremely reliable and never need changing (like some older BMWs) and those that fail. We’d advise you to stay away from chain motors with issues. If you absolutely have to have that car either change the chain regularly or simply change the entire engine for something more reliable.

2.   Oil Changes

Don’t believe the hype on oil. The environment inside a IC engine is harsh. High temperatures, small part tolerances and foreign substances like fuel and dirt all affect your engine oil. Pick a medium spec oil and change. It. Often. A good rule of thumb is to take your vehicle’s service interval mileage and halve it. Change the oil at that interval and you’ll probably never need to change the engine. Unless you’re an Irv Gordon.

3.   Tires

Here the hype might have something going for it. Don’t cheap out on tires. These relate directly to your safety and having that extra engineering can mean the difference between life and death. As with anything, there is a point at which the cost/benefit equation stops working for you. Pick a decent tire manufacturer (like Goodyear, General or Michelin) and bite the bullet. Don’t run mixed tire brands on your car unless absolutely necessary and then always in pairs.

4.   Brakes

Well-maintained braking systems are key on any performance vehicle. Fit OEM or better braking systems and get them checked regularly. There is a reason why the second biggest car manufacturer in the world recommends changing the brake fluid in its vehicles every two years… Now you have our take on what we think is most important when it comes to the what’s that? Of car buying and maintenance. What do you think is important? What have we left out? Share the discussion on social media.

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