Showing posts with label cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cars. Show all posts

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My first car

My first car was actually my father's. He had bought the car with me in tow in 1993 right after I graduated from college as we needed to have a vehicle we could use during weekends when he didn't have his company car. Tatay didn't want to use the company car for personal trips as he believed it was inappropriate. I like to think that I acquired my father's thinking in so far as what is appropriate and not in cases where official or office matters are concerned. I have a vehicle assigned to me at the office but I only use it for when I have official or office-related meetings and seminars. Only in the extreme cases have I asked to be driven to or from home. These exceptions include when the road to our house is flooded and I can't use my car. Our office vehicles all have good ground clearance and could easily wade through flood waters (except the Ondoy and Habagat types, of course).

I have many fond memories with this car. It was the car by which I learned how to change a flat tire. It is the same car that ran out of gas one time the gauge wasn't functioning and my father had to come to my rescue as I didn't know what to do or troubleshoot the engine. It was the car I drove when I was dating and later when I was married. It had been borrowed by friends and my brother-in-law on days when their cars were "coding." These stories deserve their own posts.

The car was totally submerged by the floods brought about by Ondoy (Typhoon Ketsana) and was all covered with mud including the interiors. I had it towed from my parents' garage and practically gave it away to a good friend who knew something about cars and particularly this one, which he drove and helped troubleshoot before.

The Toyota Corona 1982 Wedge had a 4R engine but this was replaced by the previous owner with the T2 engine shown in the photo. This is a more powerful engine that allowed my Corona faster speeds along the highway. You can feel and hear the difference when your behind the wheel.
The plate ended with a 2 and so coding was Mondays. That's Roy, our office driver, who acquired the car after Ondoy. It took him 3 years to finally have the car running well and the confidence to take it to trips with his grandchildren. I am happy that the car is of service again after its resurrection from the muck of Ketsana.
It looks almost the same as when we got the vehicle back in 1994, after my graduation from college and as I was taking my graduate studies in UP. Roy's fixed the electrical and the headlights are back on. These "eyes" are quite bright for night driving and having all four on is enough to make those newer cars (or those who changed their lights so that they could be brighter, sometimes more than what is legal) switch to low beam when encountered in undivided highways.
The paint job is still okay and from the looks of it in the photo, magara pa and macho. The only thing that needs to be fixed is the air-conditioning. The car used to have a strong air-con that had two modes, manual and automatic. Manual was appropriate for city driving and particularly in heavy traffic where the compressor compensates for idling. Automatic was good for highway driving where the engine is in gear and the compressor is able to deliver the comfort required of the air-con. The only other thing left for fixing would be the interiors. But that should be easy.

For me, the car had tremendous sentimental value to it. It was the car I drove to one date when at the eve of my departure for my studies in Japan in 1996, we watched the Sting concert at what was then known as the ULTRA. Years later, it was the car the Clairvoyant and I used on our first formal dinner out after I had returned from my studies in Japan. I have lots of fond memories with this car and I hope that its new owners would have more as well.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Next car?

Was having the car serviced at the casa one Saturday and to wile away the time I decided to take a look at the new models currently on display. Its always nice to check out the new features of current vehicles particularly considering the specter of increasing fuel prices (must be fuel efficient), environmental degradation (must be low emission) and flooding (must have good ground clearance). And so I finally came face to face with the new Mazda CX-5, which in the photo seems to be smiling back at me after I inspected its features including the state of the art SkyActive engine, which supposedly makes this 2.0L SUV quite fuel efficient even for city driving. I'll leave it up to the reader to research on the other specs of this vehicle. From what I gathered, it is the real deal and probably the best one out there in the Philippine market even considering the higher-priced European brands. Now if only I can afford this thing...

Mazda CX-5 with its innovative 2.0L SkyActive engine


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Car maintenance - again

I brought our car to the shop for its regular maintenance checks and had an oil change after having the engine washed. I also had the spark plugs changed, not a simple thing to do with several parts of the vehicle's engine requiring to being detached in order for one to reach the spark plugs. Of course, I could have done this myself after watching our mechanic do this for the last few years but I'd rather a professional do it so as to make sure everything will come out right. 

Newly washed engine - the car looks quite mischievous from this angle with its headlights for eyes and a grin for its snout
The underside is clean and I like checking the suspension and muffler when the car is raised just to make sure everything's as it should be
We have four new tires as I had the old one replaced a few weeks ago. The old ones were 5 years old and had a history of punctures. Also, I wanted our tires' ridges deep enough to be able to pump out water typical in Philippine roads during the wet season
No punctures or other significant damages not associated with typical wear and tear over 5 years.
The foils and other parts are holding up and I'm glad of their condition considering what the car's been through
Black motor oil flows from the engine - definitely good timing for a change
Dirty oil is drained from the engine after a cleaner is added to the engine
We always used fully synthetic oil for the car ever since we had our car and especially after Ondoy submerged the vehicle in 2009. It's highly recommended for relatively older cars to ensure better engine maintenance.
Engine filter detached
Other part going off to reach the spark plugs
Engine and mechanic's tools
It's not so easy to get to the spark plugs as the mechanic had to remove the engine cover, filter, and other parts to access the engine. You have to make sure all the screws and clamps are back where they were removed or unsnapped.
The car had been through a lot compared with other cars its age and even older. It has miraculously survived being fully submerged by floods of a typhoon back in 2009, and is performing better than most cars its age and newer. I don't know how long we'll be keeping the car but its definitely going to be with us for a while even as we consider purchasing another one to replace another car that wasn't as lucky as our Mazda 3.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Car maintenance

Among the things I've considered as a regular chore is car maintenance. It started when I first was given the responsibility by my father with my first car. He took me to the shop to have me observe how oil changes and tune-ups were done and to introduce me to the mechanics who were his suki. Many of those mechanics eventually left the shop to start their own repair shops elsewhere. One even worked abroad and was said to have been successful and now leads a more prosperous life with his family somewhere in San Mateo. I now have my own sukis and they have been so since the late 1990's. They have maintained all our cars since then and have proven to be trustworthy.

Draining the oil from the car engine - you definitely know it was time to have an oil change based on the color alone. The car is elevated for gravity to help in draining the oil from the car and for easy access to the oil filter that also had to be changed. That filter had to be removed by a special instrument (clamp) as the filter is tightly installed to eliminate the risk of leaks.
Changing the spark plugs of our Mazda 3 requires removing the filter and cover of the engine to get to the engine itself.
Finally getting to the engine, the contacts are removed to access the spark plugs.
The spark plugs are removed with a special instrument after unscrewing it from their slots.
Used spark plugs from the car - I always use Bosch spark plugs; either the Super 4's or the Platinums. I've had the best experience with these compared with the spark plugs of other brands.

After changing the plugs, we have to return the cover and the filter. This part requires some memory to make sure all the clamps and screws are returned.
With the engine cover back, the filter should be returned to the slot in the center of the photo.
That's my dependable mechanic, Rico, who's been maintaining our cars since the 90's, placing the cover to the filter.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Today was routine for me in many ways. For one, I had my teeth cleaned this morning. I learned this was quite overdue as I had the last cleaning done in October 2010 when I also had a tooth extracted. So it's been about 8 months since the last time I visited my dentist. I always thought I had my last cleaning in January but it now clear to me that that was actually my check-up with my cardiologist, an appointment that I would also have to make soon this month.

While having the procedure done, I thought about the small incident along SLEX yesterday when a responsible motorist motioned to us about our deflated right rear tire. We had just entered the expressway from the T3 link between SLEX and STAR when a motorist gestured to us just about the time we were accelerating. We had to pull over at a nearby stop and change our tire. During the change, I was reminded about the tires on our Mazda 3. It's been almost 4 years now since we got the car and we still haven't changed any of the tires. The standard procedure was to first replace the two front tires. These were the tires used for steering the car so it was important to have two reliable tires for one to be able to effectively control the car. So I prioritized replacing these two tires and will be purchasing two more tires in a few weeks' time so I would have 4 reliable tires during the wet season. When I get the new tires, I will be replacing the old rear ones with the 2 I bought today. I got my tires from the tire store of our next door neighbor. He recommended I get the Yokohama tires over the Bridgestones I planned to get. From the tread design, I decided to get the Yokohamas as they would give me the best performance for wet and even flooded roads. It is important that the tread design would allow for efficient pumping out of water much like a turbine does in order for the tires not to slip or hydroplane along rain-drenched pavements. Again, this was important from the perspective of road safety, a prime consideration for travel especially as I am a road safety advocate.

After purchasing my tires, I proceeded to another suki, my barber, for my regular haircut. The timing was perfect as it was a month after my last cut and I just had to have this one before the coming week when I would be having some important meetings followed by a trip to Singapore to be with the Clairvoyant. I won't have another opportunity for this in the coming weeks as I would also be flying to Korea for an international conference this June. As such, I also mentioned this to my barber so that he could cut my hair a little shorter than usual to allow for the possibility that I would be late for my next appointment.

All in all, it was a very efficient morning this Saturday as I was able to accomplish three important tasks for the day. I was actually planning to do these things for not a few days now as classes will be opening in a week's time. I have a few trips coming up and I figured I won't have time to do all these once the first semester begins. Fortunately, I had my dentist's contact numbers so I was able to arrange for an appointment while still away at our office's strategic planning workshop in a Batangas beach resort. Fortunate also that our neighbor's tire shop was along the way from the dental clinic to the barber shop. This allowed for me to do these routine tasks in succession. It also helped that my timing was good enough such that I didn't have to wait long for my turn at each task. For a schedule freak like me, I guess I enjoy doing this stuff and doing it efficiently every time. It is part of what I am and what I do and I look to continue doing so in the coming years.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Car maintenance

I spent the entire morning today having our car washed, and its oil and spark plugs changed. It's actually part of an annual routine prior to having the car registered but this year I had the oil and spark plugs changed more often than is necessary for a 3 year old car. The reason for this is quite simple - the car went under water last year due to the floods brought about by Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) as September concluded in 2009. I had to exercise a little extra care for the engine, which miraculously survived the flood where even the computer box emerged undamaged as confirmed by 2 casas (Mazda Makati and Quezon Avenue).

We logged more than 15,600 kilometers over the last 11 months. Normally, this should not be more than 10,000 km but this year we only had one car as we never got another one to replace the still-in-limbo Crown that I hope will be up and running by January next year. It's been quite a challenge to find parts despite the great efforts of the mechanic handling the vehicle. I just hope all the effort and resources won't go to waste.

The staff over at Caltex Marcos Highway (across Robinsons Metro East) were their usual reliable selves when I had the car's engine and body washed, and the oil and spark plugs changed. They obviously knew what they were doing according to their particular expertise and I was very satisfied with the service provided. They were, as always, efficient and neat in their work. And it probably helped that I have been a customer at the shop since the mid 1990's when my father introduced me there as he was having our family's old Corona's engine tuned up.

I use fully synthetic oil for the car's engine. It is a little more expensive than the basic or regular oil available but based on experience it provides for the best performance and protection for the engine. For spark plugs, I already had these changed from the regular ones to the Bosch Super 4's although I also have used Bosch Platinums in the past. Also, based on experience the Super 4's have always provided me the best performance ever since I started using them for the Crown earlier this decade. Unlike the conventional spark plugs that have a single watchamacallit on its head, the Super 4's had 4. I've observed that carbonization is significantly slower and the ignition sounds so nicer when I used the Super 4's.

Of course, maintaining a recent model car is much easier and cheaper than maintaining an old vehicle. The rule is to try to bring a vehicle to as close as possible and practical to a level that will comply with current emission standards. That should cost a little more for older vehicles especially in the case of my old Crown, which happens to be 20 years old (its a 1990 model). The Clairvoyant's 3 year old Mazda 3 is definitely notches better than its predecessors (Familia and Astina) and we have been blessed with its good performance including its safety features. We just had to shell out for its repair after Ondoy and that included investing in a new audio system that already included GPS, and USB and iPod connectivity.

We will finish paying for the 3 in 2012 and until then, we will be taking good care of the car so that it will continue to provide us with the best performance it can. Meanwhile, we are again thinking about what vehicle to acquire given that we are now leaning towards getting a new vehicle by end of 2011 when we would have completed paying for our house - ahead of schedule.