Friday, March 11, 2011

CAR REPAIR TIPS FOR THE BEGINNER HOME MECHANIC

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!!!

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tips. Followed! alphabetalife.blogspot.com

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  2. This is a great idea for a blog, I'll be checking back.
    Keep it up!

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  3. Good info definitely gonna follow for the knowledges

    ReplyDelete