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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
April 5, 1914

Dealer Tells Those Who Will Own Their First Machines This Year What Not to Do.

The automobile buying season is in full blast, and many purchasers will be car owners for the first time.  E. W. Headington, manager of one of the automobile companies in this territory, gives the following advice to such owners:

"One of the most important things for the automobilist to learn is not to 'tinker.'  There is no mystery concealed under the hood of a car, there is nothing that should be kept secret from the car owner, but the temptation to 'tinker' usually becomes too great; a delicate adjusting screw is turned or a wire is disconnected, and then—trouble begins.

"Talk to the repairman, study the instructions, learn all you can, and then when the emergency comes, you'll be prepared.  But wait for the emergency.  Do not tinker.  Don't try to make adjustments when the car is already in adjustment.  Don't begin tearing down until you have located the trouble.  Don't try to improve the timing of the valves or the ignition; the manufacturer knows best.  Treat your car as you would an expensive watch.  A lot of trouble may be avoided by having an expert examine the car about once every two months.  There are many little wrongs that may quickly develop into big wrongs if not discovered and checked.

"Don't patronize the cheap mechanic—his work is usually in keeping with his price.  Keep your car out of the hands of the school boy who offers to work free of charge.  The manufacturer is always ready to advise and help you.  His reputation is in your hands and don't be too much inclined to blame the car when the first little trouble arises.  Each machine has peculiarities of its own, and no matter how experienced you may be in the operation of motor cars in general, it is essential that the manufacturer's instructions be carefully read and followed.

"The idea that there is no particular care necessary for the successful operation of a car, aside from filing the tanks and radiator is erroneous.  There is no more carefully designed mechanism in existence, and as is usually the case with all complicated machines, careful inspection and attention to details will prolong its life and insure successful operation to an immeasurable degree.  Treat your car well, lubricate it regularly.  The result will be efficient service at minimum up-keep."

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