Sunday, April 17, 2011


Your Vehicle’s Tires

This is a reminder for you to keep close tabs on your tires. You need to check and insure they’re inflated to the proper pressure (you’ll find what psi is recommended on the sidewall of the tire).

Although this topic was covered in a previous post, I failed to mention the fact that you need to rotate your tires on a regular basis (at least once a year, if your drive an average of fifteen thousand miles a year.

VERY IMPORTANT – insure that you treated the sidewalls every time you wash your car to keep them from drying out and dry rotting! You can use any number of commercial products (armor all, black magic, etc.). Now here’s something you can use for treatment that I had not heard of until yesterday from a neighbor – Glade furniture polish! It keeps them from drying out and adds a nice shine to them.

Well, that’s it for today – see you next time!

Monday, April 11, 2011



Today we’ll go over replacing brake drum shoes. Newer vehicles will have disc brakes all around (thank God for small favors). Unless you’re very mechanically inclined, I don’t recommend taking on this task by yourself. To me, changing these are one of the biggest pains going for what should be something simple. Who ever invented these had to be high on something!

I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to explain how this is done, instead I’m going to include a video from EricTheCarGuy that will demonstrate why you’ll probably want to either get a good friend to do the replacement for you, or just go ahead and pay an auto shop to have it done!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Brakes - Part One

This topic covers a whole range of items, but today I’ll just cover changing brake pads on disc brakes (I’ll cover drum brakes later on). Disc brakes use a pair of pads that clamp against the flat rotor or disc, while drum brakes use brake shoes that expand against the inside of a cylindrical drum. These brake types are both hydraulic systems designed to convert the forward momentum of a moving vehicle into heat and slow the vehicle.

There are two types of disc brake system in use today. They can be identified by their caliper piston position. The floating caliper disc brake system can be identified by caliper piston(s) located in only one side of the caliper assembly. When the brakes are applied by the driver, the inside pad is forced against the rotor. As the force increases, the inside pad pushes against the rotor and forces the caliper to slide on its slide pins and pull the outside pad against the rotor. This is the most common caliper design used today.

The fixed caliper disc brake system is identified by its multiple pistons, with equal number of pistons on each side of the caliper. In this system, as the brakes are applied, the force is applied equally on both sides of the rotor surface. This clamping force is what stops the vehicle.

Replacing Your Brake Pads

What You Are Going To Need:
• lug wrench
• c-clamp
• open end or adjustable wrench (depending on your car)
• Allen wrenches (depending on your car)
• hammer
• small bungee cord
• a face mask to guard against inhaling brake dust

Be sure you've got everything ready to go before you remove your old brake pads. Most important, be sure safety is at the front of your mind. You'll be taking the wheel off so be sure you have your car jacked up and resting on jack stands. Go ahead and start loosening (a turn or two) the lug nuts while the vehicle is still on the ground (it’s easier and safer that way). Remember – lefty loosens and righty tightens! Keep in mind that if your brakes are working properly, the front brakes will wear out first as they do most of the stopping.

You slightly loosen the lug nuts while the car was still on the ground, so they should be pretty easy to remove. I like to remove them from the bottom up, leaving the top lug nut to be removed last. This keeps the wheel in one place while you remove the rest of them and makes it easier to safely catch the wheel once you remove the last nut. You can't replace brake pads with the wheel on!

The Caliper
On most cars, the next step is to remove the brake caliper so the brake pads will slide out through the top. On a few cars the pads will come out without removing the caliper, but not many. You'll see the brake caliper in the 12 o'clock position just above the lug bolts, riding atop that shiny brake disc.

On the back of the caliper you'll find a bolt on either side. It will either be a hex bolt of an Allen bolt. Remove these two bolts and put them aside.

Hold the caliper from the top and pull upward, wiggling it around to loosen it up. If it's stubborn, give it a few taps (taps, not sledge hammer whacks) upward to loosen it a bit. Pull it up and slightly away, being sure not to put any stress on the brake line (that black hose that's still connected).

If there is a place to safely set the caliper back there, do it. If not, you'll need to take your bungee cord and hang the caliper from something, the giant coil spring staring at you is a good spot. Don't let the caliper hang by the brake line, it can cause damage and lead to brake failure!

Remove the Old Brake Pads
Before you pull out the old brake pads, take a second to observe how everything is in installed. If there are little metal clips around the brake pads, note how they are in there so you can get it right when you put things back together. Better yet, take a digital picture of the whole assembly.

With the caliper out of the way, the brake pads should slide right out. I say should because in a new car they probably would. Since our cars are not always new, you may need to coax them out with a litte tap of the hammer to loosen them up. If your car has little metal tabs holding onto the brake pads, put them to the side becase you'll need them in a minute. Put the new pads in the slots with any metal clips you removed.

While you’re there, inspect your brake discs for any gouges, scratches, oil or other foreign matter. You may have to either get the disc turned or replaced if you have deep gouges.

Go ahead and slide the new pads into place now, making sure you don't forget any of the little retaining clips you removed earlier.

Compress the Brake Piston
As your brake pads wear out, the caliper adjusts itself so that you will have strong brakes throughout the life of the pads. If you look on the inside of the caliper you'll see a round piston coming out. This is what pushes on the brake pads from the back. Problem is, it's adjusted itself to match your worn out pads. Trying to get it over the new pads is like parking a dump truck in New York City. You can do it, but the damage level will be high. Instead of destroying your new pads, you'll push the piston back to the starting point.

Take the c-clamp and place the end with the screw on it against the piston with the other end of the clamp around on the back of the caliper assembly. Now slowly tighten the clamp until the piston has moved far enough in that you can easily plop the caliper assembly over the new pads.

Re-Install the Brake Caliper
With the piston compressed, you should be able to easily slide the caliper assembly over the new pads. Once you have it on there, replace the bolts you removed and tighten them snugly. Press the brake pedal a few times to make sure you have solid brake pressure. The first pump or two will be soft as the piston finds its new starting point on the back of the pad.

Put your wheel back on, being sure to tighten all of the lug bolts. Remove your vehicle from the jack stands and jack. Now double-check your lug bolts just to be sure they tight and secure.

Now find a place where you can back-up in a straight line safely. Get your speed up to 5 – 10 mph and slowly apply the emergency brake. This should insure all brakes are applying a like amount of stopping force so the vehicle will not pull to the right/left when stopping while going forward.

Good luck and will see ya next time!

Friday, April 1, 2011


I will be discussing here a totally gas driven engine, not a hybrid or totally electric car.

So your vehicle will not start, or the engine stops while you’re going down the road! If it will not start, this can be caused by numerous potential problems, but I will only be addressing the fact that your battery “pooped the bed”. If your engine stops while running, this may be an alternator that’s gone bad and it could easily have also ruined your battery.

If your engine cranks real slow and your headlights are real dim, or it doesn’t crank at all, then chances are real good your battery is either in need of attention, or the battery’s fuse is blown. So, what do I do now you might ask. Read on and we’ll cover some need to know information.

The battery is the initial source for all of the electricity in your car. In most cars, it's a 12-volt, wet-cell battery that creates electricity through an electrochemical reaction caused by immersing a series of dissimilar metal plates in an acid solution. To keep your car firing on all cylinders, it's important to have a good working electrical system, and that begins with maintaining the battery. In general, a good working system involves three things: keeping the battery filled, charged and clean.

Maintaining the battery is easier today than ever before, because in most cases, today's batteries do not need water added under normal driving conditions, or the batteries are sealed. They still have acid in them, but you can't add to it even if you wanted to. If your car's battery does have removable caps, you should check the level about once a month or so to make sure it's full. Here's how:

o Make sure the engine's off.
o Open the hood.
o Remove the battery caps. (Do not force the cap off; it may appear to removable but is not.)

Look inside each battery cell. See the little ring, near the bottom of the opening? That's the "Full" line. The battery should be filled to one-quarter of an inch below the bottom of the opening. If the water level is low, use only distilled water to bring it up to the proper level. Replace the caps. (Be sure to wear eye protection and be careful when doing this.) If you're adding water to a battery when the outside temperature is below freezing, ensure that the battery is charged immediately after the water is added.

Most of the time you won't have removable caps to fill the battery. Some batteries have a small "eye" that indicates whether the battery is full or not. In most cases, the eye should be green when the battery is full and charged. Some imports use yellow to indicate that it's full. If the battery eye turns black, it means the battery either is too low, or it has become discharged. Take your battery into the shop to have it the battery charged and tested.

Next, check the battery itself. Is it clean or covered in grease and dirt? Believe it or not, grease on the battery case actually can discharge the battery. If the battery is dirty or greasy, clean it with a mild detergent and a damp cloth. Be careful: Batteries contain sulfuric acid. If you get any on your skin, always flush it off immediately with a solution of cold water and baking soda to prevent acid burns. Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling the battery.

Finally, look at the battery terminal ends. Those are the cable ends that connect the battery cables to the battery terminals. The terminal ends should be clean and free of any signs of corrosion (white powder looking stuff).  If there is corrosion, baking soda and water work real well for getting rid of it.

Buying a New Battery - Automotive batteries come in different types, sizes and price ranges. Whether you buy it yourself or get it through your repair shop, it's important to know how to identify the differences and how to choose the one that's right for your car. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help, if you need it!

Warranty - Most decent batteries last three to four years, regardless of warranty length. Often manufacturers offer longer warranties at higher prices just to hook you on their batteries. If you get rid of the car before the warranty expires, they win. If the battery fails while still in warranty, you take it back and they prorate your refund from the cost of a new battery.

Size - Don't be fooled by the size of today's batteries. New technology has enabled battery manufacturers to develop much smaller batteries that provide just as much power as the older, larger ones did. When choosing a battery, there should be only three size considerations:

  1. Does it fit properly in the battery tray?
  2. Is the battery short enough for the hood to close without causing a problem?
  3. Are the terminals on the proper sides, so the cables will reach?

As long as the answer to these three questions is "yes," the battery fit just fine in your car.

Capacities - This is the real difference between batteries.  How much they provide, and for how long. All battery manufacturers must declare this information using three standard measurements:

Cranking Amps - Cranking amps (CA) is the amount of power the battery provides for cranking your car's   starter for 30 seconds at a temperature of 32 degrees F (zero degrees C), while     maintaining at least 1.2 volts per cell (7.2 vol total). As you might expect, the higher the number, the more power the battery provides for starting your car .

Cold Cranking Amp- CCA is virtually the same as cranking amps, but with one difference: The measurement is taken at zero degrees F (-17.8 degree C). So, cold cranking amps indicates how well the battery will crank the starter in really cold weather when the engine is hardest to crank.

Reserve Capacity - This measurement indicates how long your battery would keep the engine running if the alternator stopped charging. It's a measurement of how many minutes the battery will deliver 25 amps at 80 degrees F (27 degrees C) while maintaining at least 1.75 volts per cell, or 10.5 volts total. In other words, this is about how long your car will continue to run with the headlights, wipers and defroster on, if the alternator quits.
So what capacities would be adequate for your car?  Bigger doesn't necessarily mean better when it comes to batteries. The climate where you live plays a factor. In a cold climate, bigger is better, but if you live in a hot climate, the lighter CCA may offer an increased life expectancy for the battery.

Not sure what the specifications were in the original battery? Check the owner s manual. If it doesn't provide the battery specs there, check the application guide from the battery manufacturer. They'll usually list a minimum recommendation for your car. Choosing a battery with higher specs won't hurt, but choosing a battery with lower capacities could leave you stranded one day.

Last and VERY important – make sure when putting the terminals back on the new replacement battery that you hook the red battery cable to the terminal that has the + sign for positive, and the black battery cable to the terminal that has the – sign for negative! If you reverse them, you can cause yourself more trouble and money. Pay attention when you remove the old battery and note where the + and – are facing, then put the new battery back in facing the same way. Be careful when lifting the battery out/into the car seeing they are pretty heavy and fairly awkward to lift!!!!

Hope this provides you with some useful information to make you a “happy motorist”!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


How To Replace A Blown Fuse

If you own a car, there’s a chance one of the fuses in your car, truck or SUV will blow out. When that happens, the results don't usually create a crisis, but it means that something on the vehicle is no longer working.  Most likely, the thing that'll quit working on your vehicle will be relatively minor. It could be the backup lights, the turn signals, the high-speed setting in the climate control system's fan, the radio, or even the interior lights. Whatever the case, if a fuse blows, the device in question won't work.

For exterior or interior lighting, the possibility of a fuse being the cause of malfunction is quite likely. In fact, for any single item or system in the vehicle, the chances of a fuse being the cause of an electrical failure is high enough that, in most cases, it should be the first thing you check.

After reading this post on fuse inspection and replacement, you'll know how. Relax. It's easy and you'll get a real sense of satisfaction knowing you were able to troubleshoot a little problem like this without having to go through the hassle and expense of going to the dealership.

In general, most vehicles on the road have two types of fuses. Older cars have glass, cylinder-shaped fuses with stainless steel on the ends and glass in the middle. Most newer cars have a different style of fuse that uses a plastic housing with the fusible link encased in the housing.

If a device or system on your vehicle isn't working and you suspect a fuse might be the culprit, the first step is to look in your owner's manual. The manual will help you locate the fuse box and tell you how to access it. On older cars, the box was usually located underneath the dash to the left of the brake pedal or near the parking brake pedal. There was no cover for it, but it was still a major hassle to view because of the bizarre angle you had to place your head at to actually see it.

Where are my fuses?
Automotive fuses are usually found under the drivers side dashboard. A compartment cover may need to be removed or the fuse box may be mounted on the firewall between the engine and the dashboard out of sight but readily accessible for maintenance.

Many models of cars will split the fuse box location between the normal location near the driver and a remote location under the hood. If you have two fuse boxes then the fuses that are found under your hood will normally protect the circuits needed to run your engines electrical system and the ones found in the drivers compartment will protect circuits for your headlights, radio, blower motor and other devices.

A third place you can find automotive fuses would be inline fuses used when accessories are installed. You will commonly find an inline fuse installed on car radios. This type of fuse is barrel shaped and different then your average automotive fuse.

Finally you may have a Main Fuse which is a 1×1 inch box located near your drivers firewall fuse box that protects the electric fuel pump and a portion of your starting circuit.

These four locations are the most common places you can find fuses in your cars electrical system, however when a third party device is added a fuse may be used.

Once you've located the fuse box, you have to determine which fuse needs to be removed for inspection. Again, your owner's manual will help you do that. Say, for example, the backup lights don't work. Most owner's manual provides a numerical chart to explain which fuses correspond with which device or system.

Some cars provide a pair of tweezers to help you remove a fuse. If your car doesn't have this nifty little feature, you're not out of luck. You might be able to remove the fuse by hand, but in most cases, you'll need a small pair of needle-nose or standard pliers to get the fuse out of the box.

Once the fuse is singled out and removed, you need to determine if it's blown. This is usually quite easy. For the older glass fuses as well as the new plastic ones, if the metal link inside the fuse is separated, the fuse is toast. If not, then it's still good and can be reinstalled.

If the fuse is blown, the next step is finding a proper replacement. Some cars come with a supply of spares; otherwise, you'll need to make a quick trip to the auto parts store (or have the foresight to purchase a small assortment of fuses to keep in the car). The most critical element to replacing a fuse is using the exact same amperage rating as the blown one. If you use a fuse with different amperage rating, you risk either blowing the fuse again, or damaging the equipment the fuse is designed to protect.

The idea behind a fuse is that it's supposed to blow if there's a surge or short in the device or system's electrical wiring. For example, if it's a 10-amp fuse that needs replacing and you replace it with only a 5-amp fuse, the smaller fuse will blow much sooner than it needs to. Conversely, if you replace that 10-amp fuse with a 20-amp unit, it's possible you'll damage the part or system before the fuse has a chance to break and save the component.

So, once you determine the fuse is blown and procure a suitable replacement, it's time to reinstall the new one. This is the easiest part. With the new plastic fuses, they plug right back into the fuse box and usually fit into place with a little pressure from your fingers.  With older glass fuses, the installation process is a bit tougher, as they are installed by pressing one end at a time. We'll also note that with the glass fuses, different amperage ratings sometimes come in different lengths, so the right amperage rating is not only crucial from an electrical standpoint, but from a sizing one, too.

Following is a step-by-step guide to replacing a fuse :

You will need
• 1 set of fuses
• 1 fuse puller
• 1 pair of tweezers
1. Step 1: Secure the car

Secure the car.

Switch off the ignition. No electricity should flow during a fuse check.

Apply the parking brake....
If you have a manual transmission, shift into 1st gear; with an automatic transmission, put the gear stick into the parking position.

2. Step 2: Locate the fuse panel:

Fuse panels are usually located under a cover below the steering wheel, left of the column.
Remove the cover. It has a fuse diagram printed on it. You will see the fuses sitting in the panel.

You will immediately notice the different colours indicating different ratings.

3. If you have trouble finding the fuse box consult your car manual for details of the location.
Often the fuse panel is found under the bonnet. Remove the cover and access the fuse panel.

4. Step 3: Check the fuse diagram
Check the fuse diagram.
The fuse diagram is a simplified numerical chart that explains which fuses correspond to which device or system. The devices are represented by easy to understand symbols.
Work out which fuse needs to be removed for inspection.

5. Step 4: Remove the fuse
Remove the fuse now.
To remove the fuse that you have singled out, simply pull it from the panel. Use the plastic puller for doing this - otherwise, use your fingers or tweezers.

6. Step 5: Check the fuse
Check the fuse.
Determine if the fuse in question is blown. If the metal link inside the fuse is separated, the fuse has melted. If it looks normal it can be plugged back in, however, you may still have electrical problem. In this case, it's best to consult a mechanic.

7. Step 6: Replace the fuse
Replace the fuse.

Place a new fuse with exactly the same amperage rating in the puller.
Be sure to use the correct rating, remember to go by the colour and the number stamped on the fuse.


A fuse with the wrong rating may damage the electric equipment it's designed to protect. Avoid a fire hazard and consult a mechanic if the initial problem remains after you've replaced the fuse.
o Push the new fuse firmly into its slot in the fuse box. If it is askew it will not work.
o Push it down with your fingers for a correct fit. A useful tip.
If you're left without any spare fuses you can still take a fuse from a non essential circuit. Check if your car has a working cigarette lighter and take the lighter out of its socket to remind yourself that you will have to replace the fuse later.
o Check the diagram in order to find the lighter fuse.
o Take out the fuse and put it into the required circuit slot.
Alternative devices to temporarily take a fuse from are the radio or, if temperatures allow for it, the rear window heating.

8. Step 7: Check circuit
Check the circuit.

Switch on the ignition and switch on the circuit in question.

If you cannot operate the device, and the new fuse blows immediately there is a problem that should be checked by a mechanic.
If the device works correctly after fuse replacement, you can quickly check if the main electrical functions on your car work properly.

Hope this provides you with some useful information that will help if you have occasion to use it!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I can’t speak for any one but myself on this, but to me this is the biggest pain for really a simple task that I can think of! I can end up taking 30 minutes to do a 5 minute job. I just never can remember how the locking mechanism works to take off and put on the blades! You definitely want to make sure you get them on and locked properly. Nothing will make you pucker quicker than getting caught in a hard down pour and when you turn on your wipers watching them fly off into the great unknown! You’ll not only can’t see the road, but chances are good that the wiper arms will end up scratching your windshield and you’ll end up having to pay some one to remove the scratches.

If your wipers are not completely cleaning your windshield, then it is time to replace them. Go to your local auto parts store and look up what size blades fit your car. They’ll have a wiper blade book, or one of those push button info centers for blades that you can use to find the correct size blades for your car. If you have a Wal-mart (or a store like it), you can get the blades there and probably save a buck or two. The upside to getting them at an auto parts store is you can probably get the a customer service rep to install them for you. There are various styles (single edge, triple edge, all weather, etc) to choose from, and that is something you will have to decide for yourself. If you live in a place that has ice and snow, then that should be a consideration when choosing your blades. I (with my son’s help) installed a “winter weather blade” (it has a soft covering over the entire blade) that keeps ice from forming on the blade. It worked really well.

Bottom line is this may be a 5 minute job for you, or if you are anything like me, a 30 minute job! If you need to change the whole wiper arm, that’s another can of worms. I’ve included a video from carpartsdirect that should give you a fair idea of how to change the blades. Til next time – enjoy life!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Things To Check On A Regular Basis and Two Side Notes

Todays topic is aimed at the first time car owner and covers routine checks that need to be performed on a regular basis to insure that you’re taking care of your car, so it’ll take car of you getting where you’re going!

This topic was precipitated the other day when one of my grand daughters (17 yrs. old) dropped by in the car her father had recently purchased for the outstanding grades she has been getting in school. I got talking to her about the car and asked if knew how to check the oil. She stated that you just pulled the oil dip stick out and looked at it! It was then I realized that all a lot of first time car owners might really know is where to put in the gas, so let’s go over things that should be checked on a regular set basis to try and make sure your ride gets you there and back.

- FLUIDS: Checking the oil - if you see wet spots under your car after you’ve parked it, then you need to check the oil at a minimum of once a week, otherwise I’d not let it go more than every two weeks or when I fill up the gas tank. Check the wet spots by touching the end of your finger in the spot and rubbing your fingers together. If it feels oily, then it’s oil leaking. If it is redish in color, it is transmission, power steering or brake fluid. Check the oil by turning off the engine and letting it set for a few minutes so the oil will drain back into the oil pan. Make sure the vehicle is on a level surface. Pull out the oil dip stick (check your owner’s manual if you’re not sure where the oil dip stick is located), wipe off the dip stick with a clean rag/napkin/paper towel. Insert the dip stick all the way back into holder and then pull it back out. If the oil is below the add oil mark, add a quart. Changing the oil/oil filter every 3000 to 3500 miles will go a long way in keeping you ride on the road. To check the transmission fluid, start your car and let it idle in park for a few minutes so the transmission oil gets hot. Make sure you’re on a level surface. Locate and remove the tranny dip stick and repeat the process like you did for the oil. For adding oil or transmission fluid, you need to pick up a short neck funnel (for the oil) and a long neck one (for the tranny), so you don’t spill fluid all over the engine and ground!! BTW, kitty litter is a great way to clean up any spills from your driveway or garage floor. You should have your transmission fluid changed every year. I say “have it changed”, because most newer cars have a sealed system which requires a machine to change it (cost about $120). If your car doesn’t have a sealed system, I still recommend having a shop change it and the transmission filter. It is sure cheaper than getting a blown transmission repaired/replaced!!! To check the power steering, locate the power steering pump and remove the cap. Wipe it off (don’t get this or brake fluid on the paint of your car!), reinsert it and pull it out. If it is low, add some being very careful not to over fill! Check the brake fluid by visually looking at the mark on the reservoir. If it is low, carefully add to bring up to the full mark. Check the radiator level by looking at the overflow reservoir, and add some if needed. If it is real low/empty, you will need to run the engine until it gets hot and the thermostat opens so water goes into the engine block and then add more antifreeze as needed. You should have a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water (depending on how cold it gets where you live – check the antifreeze bottle for how much you need for protection against down to certain temps.). NEVER remove the cap from the radiator while the engine is hot – you can get some really bad burns doing that.! Windshield washer fluid – visually check the reservoir and add as needed. For winter time, you may want to purchase washer fluid that is a deicer as well.

- HOSES AND BELTS: While you got the hood up, look at the hoses for any wet spots or signs of cracking/splitting. Squeeze the hoses and see if they’re still pliable. Look at the belt(s) for signs fraying or cracking. If any of the above is discovered, get repaired ASAP! It a later post, I’ll go over how this is done in case you want to take it on yourself.

- TIRES AND TIRE PRESSURE: Visually inspect your tires to insure they’re properly inflated before you get into the car to go any where. Check the air pressure in the tires often to insure they are properly inflated. This will help them last longer. The proper air pressure for the tire is located on the side of the tire near the ream. If you are running low profile tires, keep a real close eye on them as soon as the weather turns cold. You will need to put more air in them to bring them up to the recommend pressure level. Try and always check your tires when you haven’t driven but a short distance. The air expands as the tires get warmer. Invest in a tire gauge from your local car parts store.

Well, I think that’s it on your vehicle for today, BUT I have a couple of unrelated side notes.

- SIDE NOTE ONE: If you live on the west coast of the North American continent, Hawaii, Japan and other points west of North America, YOU OWE it to yourself to watch the following two youtube videos – it could possibly mean the difference in life and death!!!!!
- -
- - (pay attention to date of this!!)

- SIDE NOTE TWO: If you haven’t seen this movie (documentary) and want to really know what the Drug War is really all about – you have to watch this without fail – American Drug War (it’s available on Netflix)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011


Well, with the way the economy is these days, it is easy to see why folks that haven't done so in the past will now be looking to save on the cost of everything!  We all know how costly ($65+ hr. and that is just labor) it is to have your car repaired by a certified mechanic/shop.  My purpose with this site is to try and provide the beginner with some tips and suggestions that may save you some headaches, and point you in the right direction.  Just always keep in mind that the car manufactures don't pay their engineers big bucks to make it easy to work on your car!  Their aim is to get you back to the dealers repair shot!

First off, with the newer cars and their computers, there are some things that even the experienced home mechanic can't take on without the right special tools and diagnostic equipment (some auto parts stores will do diagnostics for free on things like a "check engine light".  This is not to say the car repair beginner can't learn to do some of the more basic repairs (i.e., brake job) that will save you some significant green stuff!

TOOLS - before you can do any repair, obviously you need tools!  First, you need to determine if you vehicle uses metric or standard bolts/nuts.  You are going to need a fairly good assortment of socket sets, ratchets, open and box end wrenches, screw drivers and vice gripes to name the basics.  You can save some bucks by picking tools up at pawn shops, flea markets and yard sales.  You will probably find the more car repair you undertake, the more different tools you'll need.  BTW, one very inexpensive handy little gadget you should pick up is a magnetized telescoping nut and bolt retriever so you can recover ones you're going to drop and they end up in a spot where no human hand can get to!  Also, get yourself a couple sizes of "C" clamps (used to depress the calipher so it will fit back on over the new brake pads).

SAFETY - if you are going to be jacking your car up, ALWAYS following your owner's manual on how/where to place the jack.  In addition to the jack, ALWAYS use jack stands to support your car while it's up on the jack.  ALWAYS put a block under one of the tires.  If you jacked the car up from the back, place the block in front of a front tire, and if you jacked it from the front put the block behind one of the rear tires so the car doesn't roll off the jack!  If you are using a floor jack (they're have wheels and a long handle that's used to operate the hydraulics so you can raise/lower the jack head.  Never place this on the oil pan, transmission housing or any other removable part of the car (always jack using the frame.

MUST DOs - follow your owner's manual for getting fluids (oil, tranny, radiator) changed/flushed.  Definitely an ounce of prevention is worth a stack of the green stuff to fix it and it'll help your car last much longer.  Check the air pressure in your tires regularly (don't forget the spare!).  Change air/breather/fuel filters when they are dirty (hold them up to the light and if you can see through them, change them).  Visually check the belts and hoses (at least every spring and fall) for cracks and excessive wear.  Push down on the belt(s) and insure they are not to loose/tight (about an inch of play).  Check the hoses for cracks/pliability.

SOMETHING TO CONSIDER - if you're going to purchase tools/parts (or anything for that matter) off the Internet, consider getting yourself a prepaid debt card (they can be picked up at a variety of stores in your local area).  Then purchase a money pack from the retailer ($100 to $500).  You can now use that card instead of one of your normal ones and thereby limit the amount of liability you're exposing yourself to if it is lost or stolen!  Even use these type cards when going on a trip and leave your regular debit/credit cards at home!!!

Drop back often - I'll be adding more and more "stuff" as time passes!  Thanks for visiting!!!