Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

The saga of a mechanical newbie: Lessons, what worked, & what didn't

  • The Haynes manual should be a mandatory purchase for all car owners. It has opened my eyes. Instantly I have saved many hundreds of dollars because now I know when a repair shop is trying to scam me.

    - Know your limitations. Just because the Haynes manual tells you HOW to do something, it doesn’t mean you can HANDLE it. And just because you know where something is, doesn’t mean you can REACH it. And just because you can reach a bolt, doesn’t mean you can physically TURN it.

    - During an oil change, the oil SHOOTS out from the drain plug.

    - When flushing the antifreeze, refill it at the RADIATOR, not the coolant reservoir. I came “this close” to overheating my car this morning.

    - After flushing and refilling the antifreeze (or any major repair), let the car run for a while and test it thoroughly, like it says in the manual… I would have detected this problem when I had time to deal with it last night, instead of on my way to work, with my two-year-old in the back seat. Oh-so-luckily I had a cell phone in my bag, and antifreeze and a funnel in my trunk.

    - Do not put oil soaked towels in the washer. My laundry room still smells two weeks later (it is slowly going away).

    - Buy lots of rags, both disposible and cheap non-disposible. I’m more environmental than the average bear, but washing the gunk, that originates from your car, out of your linen uses more water than your average weekly river-flow and more chemicals than Dupont makes in a week.

    - Buy lots and lots of work gloves. The ones immersed in PVC (rubber/plastic) for dealing with particularly messy/nasty stuff (like oil or coolant), washable thinsulate-leather ones for general work, and the plastic dipped ones for medium mmessy ones. Go to your tool super-store.

    - Buy decent tools. A 75-piece socket set for eighteen bucks is probably junk.

    - And finally, because you are truly saving money, you can buy lots and lots of tools and justify much of it to your wife!


    Repairs I did successfully:

Oops. I didn’t paste the end of my post. See the “CORRECTION/REPOST”.