Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Thinking ahead

Mazda Protégé, 1996, 129,000 miles.

What kind of repairs/maintenance/projects might a person with low to moderate strength who knows how to use a screw driver, a socket wrench, a light, flashlight, a mirror be able to do on my car? I have no jacks other than the one that came with the car. I am still somewhat limber, can read a diagram or manual, and have a camera to take pictures of beginning, middle and end of projects. I can devote about a day a month to putter around with the car.


You can change spark plugs, air filters, spark plug wires. You might be able to change the oil and transmission fluid without a lift. In a year you might save enough money by changing your own oil to pay for a couple of Jack stands and a hydraulic jack. Do not use the jack in the car for anything except emergency tire changes. If your check engine light comes on, there will be a few things you can do.

Plus wax and polish the outside and shampoo the inside. Reading the manual and doing inspections are half the battle plus knowing when to let someone else do it.

Check all your fluid levels and adding fluid as needed. The exception is the brakes. Monitor the level and when the level reaches the minimum, have the pads checked for thickness, you will probably find that you need new pads.

Air filter should also not be a problem. Spark plugs are do able. Unless you get a good jack and jackstands or good ramps, you may not be able to do your oil changes because most of the time, the filter is on the back side of the engine. If you can get to the filter with out lifting it, then you can change your oil.

You can check your tires air pressure and tread wear. If you get a 12v pump, you can air up the tires when needed. Get a tire tread depth gauge and measure the tread depth periodically. You can pick up on unusual wear patterns quicker and get the necessary repairs and alignments done saving your tires from excessive wear. Improper alignment and low tire pressure greatly accelerate tire wear and tires are not cheap.

Thankyou! Just what I wanted!

@Kieth;“If you get a 12v pump, you can air up the tires when needed.”

She said that she wanted to have something to do…not take a nap. :slight_smile:
Kind of like watchin paint dry.


I guess I watch a lot of paint dry then.

LOL even though I do not know what a 12v pump is!

@Juanita; That’s just one of those little air compressors that you plug into the cigarette lighter.
Even a small tire would take 30 minutes to fill it, if it were flat.

I don’t know about @Kieth; but I’ve given up on watching paint dry and as I’ve gotten older I enjoy those naps more and more instead. Some people take Power Naps, but that sounds too much like exercise to me. I take “Low Impact,Aerobic Naps”.

Discription; Get comfortable in a recliner, hands on your lap, tie fingers together…thumbs touching, now gently press thumbs together, release, press , release…continue until you fall asleep.
I’ve heard of people hurting themselves exercising, and I don’t want to risk an injury!!!

20 minutes and I’m fresh as a Daisy.

And no cracks about being a wilted Daisy either.


If you are filling a flat tire, those little $10 pumps will not work. You need a larger pump. They make larger pumps for 12v systems, but they cost $60-100. The $10 pumps are OK for adding a few pounds to a slightly low tire. If you go to the place you bought the tires, they will usually add air for free. The little pumps should not be operated for more than 10 minutes at a time with a 30 min cool off in between.

If you don’t mind blowing out your eardrums, you might consider a pancake air compressor

It will suffice for filling tires, but not much else

The $10 pumps are good for topping off the tires about every 3 months. Tires usually loose about one psi per month so they should be checked quarterly or monthly. Under these conditions, the $10 pump is OK because you won’t operate it that long.

You can keep it in the car too so that if you got a seriously low tire out in the middle of nowhere, you could add enough air to at least get you back to civilization where you could get the tire fixed and properly aired up. If you use the spare, yo may find that it needs air too after putting it on, they usually do as they are so often neglected.

@‌ Oh geez, more terms to learn… pancake air compressor!

@Yosemite: I keep a pillow in my office for the afternoon quick nap, usually a 1/2 hour. I get my exercise running up and down stairs in both my living space and office space.

On a serious note, I just finished scanning all the car repair and purchase receipts I have meticulously and compulsively saved since I have had this car, onto the computer, and logged them all into a master repair list (searchable) I will next enter all the routine monthly or yearly replacements/changes/checkups onto my google calendar.

Thanks to all for the good advice and suggestions and the laughs!


If you see one, you’ll know why it’s called that

Ask any mechanic, or for that matter, any guy with lots of tools in his garage, and he’ll know what it is

And if you’ve ever heard one in action, you’ll know why I said it’ll blow out your eardrums

They have them at any Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

I have a Black and Decker Air Station Inflator. It runs on both house power (120 volt) and the 12 volt accessory outlet in the car. You can’t get it at Target for $41.99. You might find better prices elsewhere. You can set the maximum pressure and it will t run itself off when it gets there. The pressure gauge is fairly accurate, too. With features like this, you can walk away for a few minutes and not overfill the tires. I think it is an excellent buy. While it is not as fast as the pancake compressor, it is fast enough and can be used on the road. If you care concerned about low tire pressure on the road, just put it in your trunk.