21st Nov 2020, 14:50

This is the original reviewer providing an update. Although I am not providing yearly updates, due to the car being in a semi-retired state, I had some experience with the front brakes that may be of interest to others with similar problems.

Mileage as of today stands at 165,731, so I have put an estimated 600 miles on the car since the previous update last year. The number of miles is not that meaningful, as it refers more to miles on the body and rolling chassis. There are just under 100,000 miles on my engine overhaul; there are a few thousand miles on the axle I replaced, and so on. In April I decided to address a grinding noise emanating from the front brakes, and I suspected worn pads. When I inspected them, the pads were virtually unworn, but this only pointed to a larger problem that was my fault. At some point, many years ago when I had replaced the pads, I had installed the anti-rattle clips incorrectly. Maybe I had followed the incorrect example of the previous person, or maybe I just installed them incorrectly. At any rate, I installed them backwards, such that the crosspiece wire was on the wheel well side of the rotor, such that the curved spring ends were on the rotor side of the brake pad. This actually prevented the caliper piston from forcing the pad against the rotor. Because this is the sliding pin style of caliper, the opposite pad was still getting some contact, but the efficiency was compromised. Over the years, I would periodically inspect the front pads and was always amazed at how they showed no wear. But it really struck me when I changed the rear shoes how damaged they were, and now I can put the whole story together. The shoes were chipped and cracked because they were doing the majority of the work of stopping the car for all those years. I had also noticed that the brakes needed to be pumped a couple of times, and I now understand it was because additional pressure was needed to force the caliper piston out against the restriction of the anti-rattle clip. My Chiltons and Haynes manuals had no illustration for this assembly, and the clip actually fits in the incorrect way that I installed it.

The correct installation is such that the longitudinal wire is on the wheel side of the caliper, on the outside, and the curved ends of the clips wrap around the guide pins and keep the outside pad secure against the caliper. It's difficult to find guidance on this assembly. Now, I can really feel the difference in braking. After so many years of non-use, the pistons had become corroded in their sleeves and I had to use a C clamp to get them sliding again. Another problem, when I removed the caliper guide pins, the passenger side had one that had become rusted into the caliper guide bracket, and I twisted the head off. This left the remainder of the pin in place, holding the caliper. In order to get the caliper off, I had to use a Dremel with a miniature cut-off wheel to cut through the guide pin. Once the caliper was off, the rest of the guide pin was still rusted into the threads on the caliper mount, so I had to drill it out and install a Heli-Coil. Thanks to the loss of manufacturing and hardware stores, I had to go to Amazon to order the Heli-Coil kit and correct diameter drill bit, and also had to order the guide pins from Year One--local auto stores let me down once again, but I've come to expect that. Armed with the correct tools and replacement parts, the drilling, tapping, and Heli-Coil insertion went smoothly and I got the caliper remounted, with the new guide pins tightened to the recommended 30 foot-pounds.

It was also time to change spark plus at the 18,000 mile interval. I had previously had Bosch Platinum, but this time used NGK simply because that's all the regional auto parts stores had in a set of 8. I would just as soon use Champions because I'm not a fancy spark plug fad follower. Spark plug intervals are interesting to note over the years: in my 1971 Plymouth with point ignition (before I converted it), spark plug change interval was 12,000 miles. Then with electronic ignition in 1973 it increased to 18;000 miles. My 1985 Ramcharger had increased to 60,000 miles, and my 2002 Ford was 100,000 miles. Technology has made some things better.

So, the car continues to be driven on nice weekends between April and December, after the spring rains have washed the winter salt off the roads and before the first big snow fall. I decided not to mess with the 4-barrel installation. Ultimately, the 2-barrel is sufficient for what the car is intended for. The same goes for the A/C upgrade. I searched the internet for OEM A/C parts, but could not find them for 318 cars, and decided I'd rather have non-functional original parts than functional aftermarket parts that look nothing like a Chrysler compressor. I guess that means I'm satisfied with the car.

And finally, the issue of valve erosion may have been settled. I happened to see an episode of Uncle Tony's Garage in which he mentions that all Chrysler small block engines had hardened valve seats beginning in 1971. That seems to put paid to the need for adding lead substitute, which I've done for decades. But really, I have nearly 100,000 miles on the heads, and more like 190,000 miles on the original valves, so I wouldn't really have a right to feel cheated if they failed for any reason after lasting this long. The more important issue that I have been unaware of is the zinc content in motor oil. Apparently old engines were made to run with oil that had a higher zinc content, so I will have to remember to use Mobil 1 High Mileage from now on because apparently that has a zinc content closer to original needs. It's interesting, the ramifications when what used to be normal becomes obsolete and obscure, like the whole world was different when that car was made. Still enjoying the car and still intend to keep it until the end.