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everything, including track and weather conditions. On a cold morning the tires aren’t sticky but you have more horsepower so you have to drive accordingly.” Tom tries to hit the track about four or five times a year. Many of the events are hosted by the Shelby American Auto Club, a non- profit organization that rents track time and opens its events to the public. At most track events, Tom and other drivers typically drive in five or six sessions each day. For 30 years, Tom has raced with the same number, 289. “It’s the same as the size of my engine!” In other words, the engine block is 289 cubic inches. If he could, Tom said he would spend more time in his garage, building or rebuilding his engines. But he admitted, “there’s only one problem, my wife Louise would have a fit!” The former Silicon Valley manufacturer’s rep and sales engineer has been racing since 1982 and has seven first-place finishes at the Virginia City Hill Climb alone. He has also raced at the Coronado Speed Festival during Fleet Week in San Diego, the famous Monterey Historics, and the Wine Country Classic. Tom wrapped up our talk with a big grin and said simply, “I’ll keep racing as long as I can. It’s so exhilarating.” Tom’s Maintenance Tips Without The Sales Pitch Recently, Morgan Hill Rotary Club invited Tom Fry to share his tried and true automotive tips for the average car owner. According to Tom, “All modern cars are good for 200,000-plus miles. I say why not make them last longer, be more reliable and safer? Of course, cars vary widely, as do the habits of the folks who drive them, so there are no absolutes. But here are some tips from a guy who’s not trying to sell you anything.” ENGINE OIL There are basically three types of oil. Conventional, synthetic, and a blend of the two. Synthetic oil truly is a better oil. All high-end cars come from the factory with synthetic oil already added. All race cars use synthetic oil. It’s more slippery and handles much higher and lower temperatures better. It can also slightly improve gas mileage. Synthetic oil costs at least twice as much as conventional oil. The synthetic/conventional blend is more affordably priced. Conventional oil only needs to be changed about every 7,000 miles (not 3,000, as oil changers recommend). Synthetic oil can be changed every 10,000 miles. When choosing oil viscosity, it’s best to follow the car manufacturer’s recommendation. Once your car has logged 150,000 or more miles, go one level thicker. Example: If the manufacturer recommends 5-20, go to 10-30. However, never go thicker than 30 if your car uses a catalytic converter. TUNE UP Today’s spark plugs should last 100,000 miles. Don’t let anyone fool you…there is nothing else to tune up!!! TRANSMISSION The transmission is generally the weak link in an automotive system. If you use conventional transmission fluid, flush it every 50,000 miles. If you use synthetic, flush at 100,000 miles. If you use a vehicle for towing or pulling a load, use synthetic and flush at 50,000 miles or less. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN BATTERY A car or truck battery should be good for four to five years, but don’t expect more! Pay attention to how your car starts up every day. If the engine seems to be turning over slower, and the battery is four years old, the battery is shot. Replace it. BRAKES Pads – Brake pads are generally good for 100,000 miles. But, I’ve seen them wear out anywhere from 20,000 to 150,000 miles. Have someone check them periodically. Some cars have sensors con- nected to an indicator light on your dashboard. Listen for unusual squeaks or grinding noises, which may indicate worn pads. New pads are 14 millimeters (mm) thick. At 3 mm, they should be replaced. So when your mechanic says you have XX mm of pad left, you can judge what that means. It’s best to buy pads from the car dealer and avoid those made by third party manufacturers, which are more likely to make noise. Rotors – If your steering wheel wobbles when you apply the brakes, your rotors probably need to be turned (once only) or replaced. Adjustments – There are NONE. TIRES Air Pressure – Use the pressure indicated on the driver’s side door sticker, not the pressure on the tire sidewall. Tires are made for use on a wide range of vehicles. It’s primarily the vehicle’s weight that determines the proper pressure. Tires should typically be replaced at 50,000-60,000 miles, or a MAXIMUM of seven years. Old tires are very prone to dangerous blow outs. Even if your old tires look almost new, replace them. Look for the date code on the tire’s sidewall. It’s a four digit num- ber. For example: 2713 means the tire was manufactured on the 27 th week of 2013. Rotate your tires every 20,000 miles. Rotate front to back, NOT diagonally (like an X). On cars with all-wheel or 4-wheel drive, replace all of the tires at once. It is important that all four are the exact same diameter. ALIGNMENT The ONLY alignment now is toe in. Everything else is fixed! Don’t spend money needlessly. Alignment of existing tires should only be needed if tires are wearing unevenly. Feel the tires for rough edges on the tread. WIPERS This is a personal preference, but replacing blades at least every other year is advisable. Immediately, if they are damaged. If you enjoy Tahoe or other cold weather destinations in the winter, get low temperature washer fluid so it doesn’t freeze! It may be easier to find at retailers closer to Tahoe. CHECK ENGINE LIGHT This means something is wrong and you need to get it diagnosed. This light is used for a broad range of issues. Generally not an emergency. A common problem, and one to check first, is to make sure your fuel cap is in place, and screwed on properly!!! If you’re lucky, that’s all it is. 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