Do-It-Yourself Car Maintenance
Looking after your car is not simply about making it look good and last until it reaches the high 100,000’s on the mileage, but enjoying the vehicle while you have it. There is as much enjoyment and serious satisfaction to be gained from looking after the vehicle as there is from driving and looking good in it.
Before you plunge in, there are several issues you really need to consider – getting your hands dirty when cooking is not the same when it comes to messing around with your car. A mistake with the salt means an extra savory meal, a mistake with your car parts may mean a very high mechanic bill or injury to yourself and passengers while out on the road!
We'd all like the two pillar car lift like we see on the shows and commercials telling us how easy car maintenance is at home in our own garage, but the vast majority of us don't have that luxury and make do with a cramped garage full of old boxes and toys, or out on the driveway.
Even a modern compact car can weigh in at over 2,000 pounds so if you are planning on getting under your vehicle you make darn sure the jacks you are using can firstly support the weight and secondly are placed where they are supposed to be. The emergency jacks supplied with your car are precisely for that – emergencies, such as a roadside tire change – they are not suitable for this type of maintenance work so make sure you invest in quality jacking equipment designed for the job. Ask a specialist at your local car supply store or your mechanic to find sutable equipment.
In addition make sure you have cleared your work area so nothing is lying around to cause you or someone else to trip and fall against the jacked vehicle – even with no-one under the vehicle, if a jack fails or the car falls off, the bodywork and mechanical damage can be costly and substantial.
Disengage Circuit Breakers
Whenever you are tinkering with the engine or the electrics, it is imperative to disconnect the battery at the negative terminal post. This does several things – firstly it will prevent circuit discharges which can give you a jolt (and with some circuit systems using high voltages you can get a real shock) while secondly, it will prevent accidental ignition causing the engine to turnover (not a good thing with your fingers and hands stuck inside).
First, turn the ignition to "off" and remove the key to prevent an accidental turnover of the engine. Second, disconnect the negative battery post and place a thick rag across the battery terminals. Make sure you keep tools such as wrenches away from the battery in order to prevent power arcing. Even a small radiator fan can break your hand or slice off a few fingers so give your engine the respect it deserves.
Car maintenance is a major cause of accidents requiring a visit to the ER and second only to accidents within the home – make sure you are not one of these statistics by taking these two very basic and simple steps before you start working on your pride and joy. If you are unsure about any of this, it would probably be a good idea to consult your mechanic for any major repairs.