Car Care Tips from Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky
Car Care Tips-
Jason Torchinsky is a prominent car enthusiast and the Associate Editor at Jalopnik.com. I was lucky enough to interview him as part of a series of interviews I did with some pretty exceptional car experts (including Tiff Needell, co-host of Fifth Gear, Will Power, current IndyCar Series champion and Jack Perkins, Holden V8 Supercar driver) on their own car care advice. Jason shares his own personal love of cars and top tips on car maintenance with us below. Including tips on preventing tyre damage, maintaining your cars cooling system, preparing your car for seasonal changes and how often you should change your engine oil and filters.
What is your dream car?
This is tricky; there’s lots of cars I dream about. If I had to pick, probably a Tatra T87. It’s a fascinating Czech car from the ’40s that feels like a refugee from an alternate world where zeppelin travel and jetpacks were commonplace. It’s a rear engined-V8 with a massive dorsal fin. I did get to drive one, finally.
What was the first car you ever owned?
My first car, which I bought for $600 made from my after-school job selling Apple IIs, was a 1968 VW Beetle. Wrigley’s gum-beige. I’ve come a long way since then; my current daily driver is a ’73 Beetle.
What is your most memorable driving experience?
This is tricky, too — I’ve been fortunate in having a lot of memorable driving experiences. I’ve almost wrecked a dragster, driven through rivers in Iceland, and once bribed an auto-rickshaw driver in New Delhi to let me drive his 3-wheeler in Delhi traffic. But I think another driving experience in India, driving a 4×4 Mahindra Thar in a desert rally through the beautiful and desolate Rajasthan desert, would have to be the most memorable.
It was there, out in the middle of absolute nowhere, that I met some kids from a remote village and learned that absolutely everyone is on Facebook.
When you’re driving how do you minimise wear and tear?
For my vintage cars, the biggest thing I do is let the engine warm up for about a minute or two when I first start it. Old engines are more reliant on oil, and I want to get it all nice and splashed around before I put a load on the engine. Beyond that, I mostly just drive.
What about when you’re parking (do you seek out shady spots, etc.)?
Not really. If it’s convenient, maybe, but cars are creatures of the outdoors. They’ll be fine wherever, or you’re driving something really fragile.
How do you prevent tire damage and prolong the life of your tires?
I try not to drive like an idiot, and make sure the pressure is proper. I’ll visually inspect most every time I go to the car, and use my fingers to quickly check how they feel. Then I’ll destroy all my efforts by autocrossing the car, or something.
How often do you change your engine oil and filters?
Probably less often than I should. For my old Beetle, ideally I should probably change at 1500-2000 miles, but it’s usually 3000 or so. For our more modern car, 3000-6000 is common. Filters usually get changed with oil changes, but I tend to change the Beetle’s fuel filter more so, because it’s so easily visible.
How do you maintain your cars cooling system?
The Beetle is air-cooled, so it’s mostly just about keeping the engine compartment clean and the rubber seals in good shape. For the Scion xB, I hardly think about it beyond occasionally checking the fluid level.
How often do you clean your car engine?
The Beetle’s engine I just put in last year, so it’s nice and clean. The more modern car I’m ashamed to say I’ve never really cleaned the engine, beyond some leaf removal.
How often do you wash and wax your car and why?
It depends on time, weather, and how filthy it looks. I’m not on a regular schedule.
Do you prepare your car differently in any way for seasonal changes?
I may go to a thinner weight oil in winter, and I regret not putting a heater on the Beetle when I installed the new engine. I’m going to do that; I’m sick of being cold.
How often do you suggest having your car inspected by a mechanic?
Well, I think being aware of how your car feels, sounds, smells, and performs when it’s healthy is most important. When anything starts to deviate, that’s when you need to evaluate and, if you get stuck, see your mechanic. Do it when you first sense it, ideally before things get bad and/or break.
Thanks so much Jason for answering all of my car care questions and showing us how to care for our cars!