Although we wouldn't suggested a novice jumping into an engine swap (unless you are feeling ambitious), there are several easy DIY projects that most anyone can do on their car. All you need are the right instructions, a little bit of patience, and the openess to learn. Check out this article we found on HowStuffWorks on simple DIY repairs that almost anyone can do. Enjoy!
Effective Tuesday, March 5, 2013, we will be offering expanded hours during the week. We are now opening the shop at 9 am (instead of 11 am) Tuesday through Friday, offering you earlier options for your DIY automotive repairs. Our hours on the weekends will be 9 am - 7 pm on Saturdays, and 9 am - 12 pm on Sundays. As always, we remain flexible with appointments. We understand that you have a busy schedule and we strive to accomodate in any way that we can.
When you are in tune with your car you will find that you really use all of your senses. At what point do you start to worry that something is wrong with your car? Did you hear a funny ticking noise that wasn't there before? Is there suddenly an acrid smell that causes you to roll down all the windows to get a breath of fresh air? What once was a smooth ride now feels like your first ride on the Texas Giant?
The reality is that you are the first person who will have a clue that something is wrong with your car. Knowing how your car drives on its best day will help you figure out quickly when something isn't right.
Here are a few tips for how to use your senses to identify that there is a problem with your car:
Look for the problem - Small drops of fluid or stains might not indicate a problem, but you should investigate if you start to see large puddles. You can identify different fluid leaks by the color of the fluid.
- Green, blue or orange could indicate an antifreeze leak or an overheating engine.
- Black or brown oily fluids could be an oil leak caused by a bad seal or gasket.
- Red oily spots usually indicate a transmission or power steering leak.
Smell the problem - You can detect some problems simply by identifying the odor. These are some odors you might smell when there is a problem:
- If you smell burnt toast you may have an electrical short and burning insulation. Diagnose the problem right away and try not to drive your vehicle until the problem is fixed.
- If you smell rotten eggs this could mean a problem with the catalytic converter or other emissions controls devices. You need to have this fixed as it will affect your MPG and engine performance (and who likes the smell of rotten eggs?).
- An acrid odor could mean an oil leak.
- The smell of gas after a failed start could be a flooded engine. If you still smell gas you could have a leak in the fuel line. This needs to be fixed right away.
Listen for the problem - Many common problems are accompanied by distinct sounds. Listen for the following:
- Squealing could indicate a loose or worn power steering, fan or air conditioning belt.
- Clicking could mean a loose wheel cover, loose or bent fan blade, stuck valve lifter or low engine oil.
- Screeching is caused by brake wear indicators to let you know it is time for maintenance.
- Heavy knocking could indicate a worn crankshaft or connection rod bearings. It could also indicate a loose transmission torque converter.
- Clunking, or random thumping, could mean a loose shock absorber or suspension component, or a loose exhaust pipe or muffler.
Feel the problem - Often you can feel problems in the handling of the car as you drive. Here are some examples of things to look for if your car feels different:
- Steering: Check your alignment and tire inflation if your car feels like it is pulling to the side while you are steering straight. Worn steering components can also make it difficult to drive straight.
- Ride and Handling: Your vehicle may have poor cornering capabilities if you have worn shock absorbers or suspension components. To test, bounce your car up and down hard at each wheel and let go. If the car bounces twice or more that indicates weak shocks.
- Engine: Engine problems become evident with rough idling of the engine, poor acceleration, poor fuel economy, and excessive oil use. Also seek repair if the engine continues to run after the key is removed.
- Brakes: You may have problems with your brakes if the vehicle pulls to one side when you brake, the brake pedal sinks to the floor when pressure is maintained, or you hear scraping or grinding during braking.
Find out more great information about diagnosing common problems at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/autos/aut13.shtm.
Going into our 8th month in business, I have made a realization. A Mechanic's time might be worth $80/hr or more, but how much is your time worth to do the work yourself? To put it another way, doing your own repairs saves you money, but spending several hours on a repair, it's easy to loose sight of how much money you are saving and what that may be worth to you. Essentially, you are paying yourself to work on your own car through the savings of not paying someone else. To illustrate my thought, I have 3 real examples from customers who have come in and saved large on servicing their vehicles.
What DIY auto projects do you want to learn more about? We are looking for ideas to feature in our myBay Auto videos and we'd love to know what you think! Please comment and let us know what your favorite DIY projects are or what you would like more information on. Any ideas are greatly appreciated!