Be Your Own Auto Technician
Handling your own Chico vehicle maintenance may seem like a huge hassle and may be too much hard work in heat like this, but there's a lot of utility in knowing the essentials of Chico auto repair. Not only can it save you money, it will also make you feel much more confident in yourself if you have any roadside emergencies. The staff at Tedious Repairs may not always be open to help you with the auto repair needs you may have. Below we've listed a handful of auto maintenance and auto repair tasks that most people can do themselves if they have time and the right tools. Of course, you'll still need knowledge, but we'll get to that. Before we do, let's talk about what tools you'll want to have before you start repair and auto maintenance and auto repairs .
TOOLS YOU SHOULD HAVE
- Adjustable wrench
- You’ll need to loosen and tighten bolts of various sizes so get a decent adjustable wrench. This is more of a primitive tool. It could cause you to do more harm then good. Many people strip bolts and cause more damage then good when using universal tools. Try to avoid a adjustable wrench and invest in a set of box end wrenches.
- Torque wrench
- Securing screws and bolts with the correct torque (force) is especially crucial in a car engine. A good torque wrench is essential; don’t skimp on this one, buy affordable name-brand. This is the biggest mistakes with rookie mechanics and people watching you tube videos to fix their car and truck problems.
- Socket wrench and ratchet set
- You’ll need a decent selection of sockets to cover the wide range of bolt sizes common in most vehicle. Sockets alone are the most vital set of tools you can get to help you get through you auto repairs. If you are trying to do a car repair and do not have a socket set you will be in for a long day.
- Engines use many kinds of sturdy fasteners that you’ll want pliers to remove safely. Without pliers you will not get very far on a cooling system repair. Invest in a set of these for your tool box. Places like Harbor Fright sell these things pretty cheap.
- Phillips and flat head screwdrivers
- Self-explanatory. Again, purchasing a set with a wide selection will probably cover most of your real-world needs. I use screw drivers every day. It seems like no matter what I am working on I reach for these things. I would invest in decent ones. They are cheap enough so go with something off Amazon like these.
- Car Jack
- Most vehicles come with a jack, but if you don’t have one, get one. Essential for brakes, suspension, oil changes and just about any other service under the car. Do not forget your jack stands, or that could be the last thing your ever see !
- Engine oil and antifreeze are the two most common fluids you’ll want to have on hand at all times. Try to service your transmission fluid and brake fluid every 2 years or sooner!
- Shop Rags
- Particularly for wiping clean the oil dip stick to ensure you’re reading levels correctly, but besides that, you will get dirty while working on a car or truck. In the age of the omnipresent smartphone, it’s just smart to have shop rags.
WHERE TO GET PARTS
The internet has simplified the process of finding replacement car parts to the point of absolute ease. Simply search the make and model of your vehicle along with the name of the part you need to replace, and almost immediately you’ll be shown hundreds of people fighting for your interest. Just make sure the details match what it says in your owner’s manual. One of the most popular sites for cheap car parts is Napa Auto Parts so you may want to start there:
Often though, the task can be made even easier by simply bringing your vehicle to your local auto part store and simply asking them to look it up for you. Usually, you only need the make and model of your vehicle, and the variant type too (Honda Accord ES-X-whatever, etc). Or if you prefer, you can bring it in to our auto shop and we’ll be more than happy to complete parts repair and service for you!
Now, let’s get to the things you can do yourself, now that you have the tools and set aside a few hours to complete the job at hand. Are you excited?
NOTE: We cannot give instructions on how to do these jobs here, especially not in one single post. No worries though, the internet has an infinite list of truly excellent repair manuals that you can find by simply searching “how to repair PART NAME”. We suggest focusing on YouTube videos which often have everything you need to see and do compacted into a relatively short time. Keep your phone nearby in order to watch as you work.
REPLACE DRIVE BELTS
SIGNS YOU NEED IT: Squeaking or squealing especially at regular intervals, especially when the cooling system is active.
Drive belt replacement is relatively easy work. Often the belts are simply old, cracked or obviously worn and all you need to do is get them off the pulleys (the wheel-lookin’ gears that the belt is wrapped around) and put another one in place. You can then adjust the tightness of the belt using the tensioner pulley to get it to factory standards.
Older vehicles have many belts to drive the various parts of the car including A/C, wipers, and power steering, but newer vehicles tend to have a single serpentine belt that powers all of these systems using one belt. Regardless, look for signs of deterioration and replace those belts to fix the squeaking.
CHICO BATTERY AND ALTERNATOR REPLACEMENT
SIGNS IT’S TIME: Car won’t start, lights fading/blinking out, mysterious issues related to electronics.
If you’ve left your lights on and killed your battery before, you know what this one’s about. Old batteries will eventually give out, and malfunctions or accidents can damage them beyond repair, necessitating battery replacement. You’ll need a multimeter for this one, to test and measure the output of the battery and the alternator. If they’re off, the easiest recourse is usually to replace the battery or replace the alternator. Your owner’s manual will tell you where the alternator is located, although the battery should be commonly recognizable. If not:
Don’t worry, it’s fairly safe to do battery work yourself. Just know the only thing you need to avoid is bridging the positive and the negative terminals on the battery; that’s the the two places you connect to when you need a jump. Bridging the terminals is plausible if one drops a long wrench while loosening or tightening the bolts on the bar that fastens down the battery, but truly it isn’t easy to do even on accident.
REPLACE BRAKE PADS
SIGNS IT’S TIME: Squeaking when braking, bad braking response times, vibrating or shaking during braking.
Alright, the braking system’s probably the most an end-user is going to want to do themselves, as it requires a bit of hard labor and certainty that you’ve done the job right as you don’t want to get anything wrong when it comes to brakes. But once you know what you’re doing, it’s actually not too hard to do, as long as you have time, tools, and maybe a second hand to make it a bit easier…
Again, brake repair something you’ll want to watch a few videos for before you begin, and then keep them on hand as you work. When it’s said and done though, you’ll have the peace of mind that your brake pads won’t give out at the wrong time, which is worth the effort itself.
FIX FLUID AND COOLANT LEAKS
SIGNS IT’S TIME: Visibly leaking fluids, overheating engine; or it’s just been 7,000-15,000 miles.
One of the most common signs that you need to replace your fluids is your car overheating. If there’s not enough engine oil lube to reduce mechanical friction, that can cause the engine to become far hotter than normal and burn off other fluids too, including antifreeze. This becomes a cascading problem that leads to permanent engine damage so it’s important to always check your fluid levels at the appropriate mileages. That’s usually 7,000 to 15,000 for most standard oil or synthetic fluids respectively, but always check your owner’s manual or manufacturer’s maintenance schedule to be sure.
Ultimately though, the fluid change process usually involves little more than finding the cap for the appropriate fluid, taking it off, pouring in the fluid, and then putting the cap back on securely. Often the caps are clearly labeled and hard to miss.
Andfolks, always remember: never remove your radiator cap immediately after driving, or if it feels hot or warm to the touch at all. That’s dangerous. Always do fluid replacements before driving, and in the case of a full and proper oil change- not just a refill- be sure to empty the oil into a drip pan before refilling.
SIGNS IT’S TIME: Stuffy air, engine overheating, poor circulation and cooling.
Oil filters, engine air filters, and cabin air filters are the most common filters replacements for end users to handle themselves. They’re not too expensive either which means there’s not much excuse to ignore them. Most often, you just pop open the filter compartment, pull out the old filter, replace it with a new filter, close the compartment and viola: everything works noticeably better.
There’s also a transmission and fuel filter, but generally you’ll want an ASE-certified technician like one of our guys to handle that level of auto repair. Some vehicles have other specialty filters too, and you should most certainly review your owner’s manual when it comes to servicing those.
Be Confident In Your Car!
As Chico's premier auto repair shop, it may seem odd to be giving this kind of advice for free. But we want you to have the kind of confidence we enjoy when it comes to working with your own vehicle, and we believe that anyone who's interested is more than capable of learning how to handle themselves and their own Chico auto repairs.
Nonetheless, if you need complex car and truck service, we’ll gladly handle it for you. Our certified techs handle all auto services including tire rotation; steering and suspension repair; fuel system diagnostic; recharging AC systems with refrigerant; wheel service; oil changes; timing belts replacement; transmission repair; multi-point vehicle inspections to catch issues before they escalate; and more.
We service all major makes and models including Asian import vehicles and European cars too. That means Honda, Acura, Nissan, Infiniti, Mazda, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, Lexus, Dodge, Chevy, Ford, and everything in between. Our service also includes a solid warranty guarantee proudly provided by your friendly neighborhood Chico auto techs at Tedious Repairs. If you are looking for auto repair in Chico, give us a call today!
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