LA cooks Seattle car

Two years ago my son left Seattle in his 1993 Ford Escort and drove to Los Angeles to start his first job after college. The car had been well maintained throughout its life and left Seattle in good operating condition with just under 80,000 miles. After one year in LA, my son said that he had had to stop driving his car because one seal after another began to leak or crack. He told me that the seal failures were due to the heat in LA – that cars made for Seattle would not last long in LA. That doesn’t make sense to me, because car engines operate around 180 F, so the seals should be able to withstand LA heat easily. Are cars really made differently for different climates?

“Are cars really made differently for different climates?”

The only differences in assembly from one climate range to another might be the inclusion of a high-capacity heater for really cold climates.

Can you imagine the scene in the Ford (or GM, or Honda, or Toyota, or…) factory if different gaskets and seals were installed, based on the zipcode of the customer?

[i]Okay guys–this car is bound for Seattle, so we can put in the really crappy gaskets & seals.
This guy better not drive to L.A.!

Okay–the next car is going to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
We better install those superior, heat-resistant gaskets and seals[/i]

The bottom line:
The same gaskets and seals are installed on everything that comes down the assemblyline.
And, when a car is 17 years old, it is very typical for seals and gaskets to leak.
Your son’s theory is wrong, wrong, wrong.

But the statement that 17 years old is a very typical [age] for seals and gaskets to [begin to] leak is important important important.

The problem isn’t LA, it’s AGE.

Isn’t LA situated in a valley? It could be all the extra pollutants causing excessive wear and tear on those seals. Or, it could be normal for a 17 year old vehicle to have problems like this crop up no matter where one lives.

I’ve lived in Denver for 34+ years and have seen -22 to +106. Never had a seal problem with any of my cars.


LA is an old age home for cars. I’ve seem numerous 40 and 50 year old cars on the road; more than anywhere back East. None of them were Escorts, though I have seen Falcons and Comets. Still, I suspect that it’s just age and not location that led to the seal failures. 17 years on a car is pretty good. It’s time to move o a newer car and not over-think this issue.

That’s what I thought. I enjoyed your humorous responses. Thanks, guys!


It’s not heat because if that were the case all of the vehicles here in OK would be puking oil by the barrel due to routinely hot temps. (103 yesterday and it’s only June. Wait 'til August)

Maybe your son should check the PCV valve which can stick, pressure up the crankcase, and force oil out past seals.