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Car Care: Keep older generation up to date
By Jack Biddle • 15/08/2015
OWNERS NEED TO ENSURE ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT SUCH AS ABS REMAINS IN AS-NEW WORKING CONDITION.
How many people still own or use the same mobile phone they initially started out with, or still sit down to watch their favourite TV show on a bulky television set that has a backside so big it almost pushes the screen out into the middle of the room? Very few I suspect.
Marketing hype and the obvious benefits of upgrading to the latest and greatest electronic model of anything makes purchase decisions very easy at times. The other reason to upgrade is when there is a reliability issue or a faulty part is no longer available. Or repair costs simply make it uneconomic to retain ownership.
Motor vehicles are slightly different. Yes, they have progressed just as fast as any other modern commodity, but we tend to keep the older models in service a lot longer.
They are not a throwaway item just yet, which means many owners of the older generation motor vehicles face the harsh reality of having to pay for ongoing repairs and hope parts remain available to keep their vehicles reliable and road legal. When motor vehicles cross our borders with the intention of being driven legally on public roads, they must meet all the required vehicle standards associated with a particular class of vehicle.
Those standards centre on items such as door retention systems, frontal impact, glazing, windscreen wiper and washer, head restraints, brakes, seatbelts, seats, steering, tyres, wheels, emissions and lighting.
Unless a vehicle is officially exempt from complying with some or all of the set standards, it must continue to meet those regulations to remain road legal, and to pass its on-going Warrant of Fitness (WoF) inspections.
Yep, even windscreen washers need to be in good working order for the life of the vehicle if they were part of the original equipment.
Older vehicles fitted with anti-locking-brake (ABS) systems are another good example.
The early ABS control units can sometimes develop problems simply due to lack of use, which will eventually bring on the ABS dash warning light alerting the driver and an eagle-eyed WoF inspector to a problem.
Repairs can be very expensive and because the ABS was part of the vehicle’s original equipment it cannot legally be automatically removed or bypassed.
For the brake system to be permanently modified and therefore unable to meet the required brake rule, the vehicle would need to be granted a specific exemption from the NZTA which I predict would be nigh on impossible to obtain. And the law does not provide for an exemption to be granted on the basis of inconvenience or hardship.
One of the main reasons for having ABS fitted is to stop the road wheels from locking in an emergency braking situation which in turn helps the driver maintain steering control.
Many drivers may never experience such a condition, which is why the system on older vehicles can develop problems due to lack of use.
If you have ever felt a pulsating feeling from the brake pedal itself under hard braking, then yes, you have experienced the ABS at work.
In an effort to keep the system active and healthy it’s not a bad idea for experienced drivers to carry out an emergency brake test occasionally to induce the ABS into action.
Such tests should never be carried out on a public road or at high speeds. Braking hard on a clear unmanned patch of loose gravel or grass area, for example, at speeds of around 25km/h is enough to get the ABS to kick in.
Many older vehicles are worth keeping, but owners need to ensure essential original equipment such as ABS remains in as-new working condition.