Have You Had it With Your Mechanic? Tools & Tips to be Your Own Mechanic!
Can I help you Darlin'?
Have you had it with the way you are treated when you need your car repaired? Have you noticed that your repairs appear to be far less costly when a man takes the car in compared to when a woman takes the car in? How about when a woman goes to the parts store to pick up something and the store assistant approaches you with, "Well, hello, Darlin. What can I get for you?" while he stares at anything except your eyes?
When you take you're car in for service, do you feel like you've walked onto the stage of the game show Jeopardy? All the questions pertain to how much you know about auto mechanics? If you don't know what the mechanic is talking about do you just play along as if you do to avoid being embarrassed?
If any of this rings true for you, then read on because it's time for you to take your place at the front of the engine! Get under that hood and demand the respect you deserve as a mechanic. It's not going to be an easy tune-up, it may turn into a complete overhaul, but you can do it! We can repair our own vehicles. There will be some cut fingers, squished knuckles and you will be up to your elbows in grease sometimes, but you can do this!
The articles I write l explain in laymen's terms. Most of the time I will remind you to remove your nails and tie back your hair. I will detail every step, explain each tool and point out tid-bits of interest that you won't normally find in a repair manual. I will provide estimates of what the cost of a repair may be in general or at least provide a dollar amount you should have in mind when you walk into the auto shop looking for parts.
I don't know everything about auto repair, I don't believe anyone really knows everything about auto repair, but I do know enough to repair my cars and keep them running smooth. I also repair several cars belonging to friends and family. I keep repair manuals handy for looking up torque specifications, gap and various other specifications. I like Chilton and Haynes manuals personally. I have a variety because I like to cross reference the information. You would be surprised how often one book says one thing and another book says something slightly or sometimes completely different. Cross referencing can help eliminate that problem. If three manuals say xxx and one manual says xxl, I'm going to go with the xxx because the majority rules!
What You Will Find Here
Of course there are some repairs you just simply don't want to perform yourself. The three I know of are wheel alignment, air conditioning service or repair (charging your a/c system can be done by the DIY), and painting. Wheel alignment requires a gauge tool for measure degrees of the wheel. You could wing it and get close, but your tires may not last as long as usual if your off by a few degrees. The a/c unit is easy enough to service, but if you need to replace a component you must discharge the system first which requires specialized tools. But now that might all be changing. I just learned that O'Reilly's Auto Parts will rent the extraction tool so you can do it at home! I haven't heard of anyone doing it yet, but I think I'll do my truck this summer. I'll let you know how it goes! The last one, painting your car. Yeah, you can paint it at home. But a DIY job can be noticed miles away. I just wouldn't recommend it.
Auto Mechanic ToolsClick thumbnail to view full-size
- English Wrench Set, (at least) 8mm - 14mm
- Metric Wrench Set, (at least) 5/16, 1/2 & 9/16
- English Socket Set, Same sizes as english wrenchs
- Metric Socket Set, Same sizes as metric wrenchs
- Vice Grips, If you have this, then you got it goin on!
- Spark Plug Socket, 5/8 is probably the most common
- Ratchet, Perferably one that is the same size as your sockets!
- Standard Head Screw Driver, The one that is flat.
- Phillips Head Screw Driver, The one that looks like a star or a plus sign.
- Breaker Bar, Your gonna need it for those tough nuts
Alright, now you have the basic tools to start out with. A tool box to hold everything comes in very handy, but it's not a necessity (Well, some people may say it is.) There are tons and tons of tools you can buy to make working on cars easier. There are also tools you will need to complete a job correctly, like a torque wrench. This is a tool like a breaker bar but with a gauge to make all the nuts or bolts the same tightness all the way around. This even tightness is imperative to keep parts on the vehicle especially if it's a part that spins. If one nut or bolt is looser than the other it will cause a slight vibration to the spinning item, and slowly unscrew all the nuts o bolts until they fall off or you notice and re-tighten them.
For the female mechanic, first things first: remove your nails. Yep, the acrylics, silkies and down right real ones. You could work on your car with them but the ingredients in oil and grease will break them down and they'll start popping off like Pez candy and we don't want one popping off into the carburetor, so lets get them off before they pop off! Be sure to pull your hair back either in a ponytail, simple braid or hair clips. You seriously don't want the fan or fan belt to grab a hold of your hair! So, trim them nails, pull back your hair and meet me at the next auto repair hub of your choice.