What should I know about cars?

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  #1  
Old 09-22-08, 05:07 PM
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What should I know about cars?

I don't know anything about cars. I never really had anybody to tell me about them, and up until now I never had a whole lot of interest in learning about them. However, in trying to become more independent and do things for myself, I want to know what I should know about cars, in the event something happens to mine. What's the baseline of knowledge that guys should know about cars?
 
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  #2  
Old 09-22-08, 05:29 PM
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truck mech

you need to know how to check fluid levels. inspect belts tires , and jump start if need to keep battery clean and battery cables. some community colleges have basic course.s
 
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Old 09-22-08, 06:25 PM
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also how to change a flat if you don't already know how. read your owners manuel if you have one.

life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies
 
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Old 09-23-08, 06:22 AM
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If this was back in the 70's and before, I could tell you stuff that would apply to about any car, that would be useful to you. Today? A lot more complicated. And ontop of that, different cars are now employing different devices, like how the high voltage ignition works. So one size no longer fits all, any more, unfortunately. If cars today break down on the road, you almost have to give up and have it towed. Even mechanics here have admitted this. No more getting out the points file and filing pitted points to get you going again. Nor changing out an $8 fuel pump, with 2 bolts, on the side of the road (been there, done that). And they also pack components so tightly in vehicles it resembles sardines in a sardine can! Horror stories abound how people can't hardly get at their spark plugs, and some people can't even find them, of all things! I have heard expensive horror stories of what people have had to pay to have belts changed out!

Even if you knew where you might start looking - getting to that spot might be something else. It's a shame really. All in the good name of some better mileage and fewer emissions.

Back in my early driving days, gas cost like 1/5th of the current minimum wage, so they did not worry about mileage so much. And this ushered in the hot-rod era, because of that.

Nowdays, I always like to listen for the whirring sound of the fuel pump when I first turn the key to on, before starting it. I have gotten stranded over a goofed up electric fuel pump and am now paranoid about that, so I listen for that sound so that if I do not hear that sound, I can determine something is wrong there, and maybe hope I can jiggle loose wires or hit the area with a rubber mallet and get it started so I can make it home.

Another thing you can make yourself aware of is if your car does not fire up one day - if then you notice the engine spinning over extra fast, it means you lost your timing belt. But will that help you? Maybe not. But it might help you to give up wasting your time searching for other problems though.

For $15 or less you can buy a volt-ohm meter (multimeter), and this is one of the most handy money saving electrical testing gadgets anybody can own, that can enable you to hone in on problems, breaks in wire circuits, test the battery and alternator output, etc. I stock up on these buying these for $3 on sale.

Carrying cans of fix-a-flat in my car has helped saved me from changing a tire on ther side of the road. I date the can and periodically buy a new can so I am not surprised by a can that lost it's propellant. Also carry a bicycle pump with you in trunk.
 
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Old 09-23-08, 09:05 AM
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A lot is learned by just doing. Most maintainence is fairly simple. I think a haynes manual is about $15 and you can get one that is specfic for your car.
Most of us [that aren't mechanics] learn by repairing our vehicles as they break down.... but it also pays to be smart enough to know when it it's better to let a real mechanic do the work. As you learn the little things, you can become more competent to tackle larger jobs. it can b e helpfull to have a friend that is knowledgeable with auto repairs.
 
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Old 09-23-08, 09:54 AM
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Depending on where you live...
Some shops, in places I've lived, have owner clinics, where they teach you the basics of maintenance, the correct way of checking fluids, pressures, etc, and what are serious issues, and what are minor.
One of the best was a woman owned shop with women mechanics. The clinics were open to anyone, but targeted towards single women. This wasn't in a real large city either.

It's hard to know what you need to know, til you know what you don't know. (Did I make that up or steal it from someone? hmmmm)
 
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Old 09-23-08, 07:55 PM
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ecman, just had to change out the serpintine belt on my f250 diesel and was supprised to find out that also had to pull the upper rad hose inorder to change the belt (it raps around it) have seen vehicles that had to pull the motor mount to change belts, front wheel drive.

life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies.
 
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Old 09-24-08, 05:20 AM
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Do it yourself auto work is starting to be more rare all the time. Used to be if you drove around any neighborhood on a Saturday you'd find some teenagers fiddling with a car in a driveway. Nowadays if you see that at all it's likely to be somebody putting a $2000 stereo in a $500 car or bolting on a fancy intake system. It's nearly inpossible to do much tinkering under the hood.

Anyway, before graduating to a Haynes or Chilton's manual, might I suggest [and please don't be offended] one of the books in either the "Dummies" or "Idiots" series. They are quite well-written and very informative without getting overly technical.

http://www.dummies.com/WileyCDA/Dumm...76459902X.html
http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Idiot...2258587&sr=8-1
http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Idiot...2258587&sr=8-6
 
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Old 09-24-08, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Speedwrench View Post
ecman, just had to change out the serpintine belt on my f250 diesel and was supprised to find out that also had to pull the upper rad hose inorder to change the belt (it raps around it) have seen vehicles that had to pull the motor mount to change belts, front wheel drive.

life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies.
Did you DIY it?

I just went by this nice looking smaller work van for sale. I put on the brakes, backed up and read the windshield. It said 18 mpg, $1200, and a *V-6*. I went, "Oh NO. Not one of THOSE!"

Everytime I look under someone's hood with one of those, I see one too many parts, and wonder how you can get at the rear plugs, just to even look at them. I presumed the van was front wheel drive. A V-6 in a rear wheel drive with the engine turned the other way would be just fine with me.
 
  #10  
Old 09-25-08, 04:58 AM
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It really depends on how much you want to learn. Personally, I love to learn (geek) and think I can tackle almost any problem (if I have access to the proper tools).

As mentioned before, it is good to know how to check and add fluids, but I would go one step further and find out why the fluids are used (and why different fluids are used in different systems). Do an oil change (everyone should experience the feel of warm oil running down their arm and on the garage floor because they did not know how to pull the plug and did not place the container in the correct place ). If unsure how to do things, ask a friend with more knowledge to be there for advice.

Never be afraid to ask questions (this is a good place to start). When you bring your car to the shop, ask the mechanic to explain things.

I am long winded, but learn as much as you want to learn. If you have a basic knowledge, it can save you a lot of money in the shop (depending on whether the shop likes to sell additional services that you don't really need).
 
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Old 09-25-08, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
I just went by this nice looking smaller work van for sale. I put on the brakes, backed up and read the windshield. It said 18 mpg, $1200, and a *V-6*. I went, "Oh NO. Not one of THOSE!"

I presumed the van was front wheel drive. A V-6 in a rear wheel drive with the engine turned the other way would be just fine with me.
I presumed wrong. I stopped next to it and ducked down. Astro Van with driveshaft. That means the engine shoud be turned the right way making getting at plugs easier, I'd think. And nothing 'rear bank' pinned by the firewall. Hmmm. No rust, either. Not even underneath. Hmmm. Where can I find $1200?
 
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Old 09-25-08, 09:41 AM
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Call Washington; they're giving away $85 billion. Should be able to spare $1200 for you.
 
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Old 09-25-08, 04:27 PM
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You mean by using the information from that guy with the question marks all over his clothes. I'd better hurry up so that the billions they have on hand, for people like me, is still there before they shell out the 800B! for the bailout.
 
  #14  
Old 09-25-08, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by jay0992 View Post
What's the baseline of knowledge that guys should know about cars?
At least you're smart enough to ask questions. For me, knowing how to do the below has helped immensely:

-Change a flat
-Battery maintenance
-Check fluids
-Belt(s) replacement
-hose replacement
-change oil

Also, do it safely. I've personally seen a car come off a jack while assisting with a flat tire change on an incline. We were lucky. Not to scare you; just take a minute and think the job through.

The manual that comes with your car may have some light service information. I concur on both the "for dummies" boks and Haynes (Chilton is another) book specific to the year and make of your car at a local autoparts store. If you're strapped, the library may have them as well.
 
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Old 09-25-08, 07:17 PM
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yes i diy on the belt, i have a astro and the spark plugs are not bad but not good either. not much hand room you do have to do them from the bottom. most of the time we get about 15 mph, will do 18 highway with midgrade, drops with regular about 2mpg.

murphy was a optimist
 
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Old 09-26-08, 05:58 AM
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Thanks. That is nice to know because that van says 18 and I was wondering about the truth to that, especially if you put in 600 or more pounds of tools and supplies. And I am using my car now and last overall city/highway miles was down to 22. But 22 is still 22 and not 18 or 15. I use 1000 gallons of gas a year, so I was figuring math in my head, and I figured that is a sizeable chunk of change difference in a year, that I could instead be giving to the IRS.

Your engine was turned so plugs were on the left and on the right? And they were hard to get to? V-6? What size engine?
 
  #17  
Old 09-26-08, 06:44 PM
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all astros have the 4.3 Lt v6, all are rear wheel or all wheel drive, with the engine mounted fore and aft. you won't get 22 with one especially with 600lbs of tools.

life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies
 
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Old 09-26-08, 07:15 PM
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600 pounds is what is in my car, and I already know I won't get 22, but I am wondering if I'd even get the 'as advertised'18?

I would wind up with more than 600 pounds in that van, - as besides my car, I have another work van (that is like a storage barn, for all practical purposes now) that has probably another 600-800 pounds in it, and another pickup that has......and a whole basement wall that has..........well, let's a say I (only?) put 800-1000 pounds in that van. I wonder what I'd get for mileage?
 
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Old 09-26-08, 08:50 PM
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when we go to mich to vist the inlaws at christmas we usually have an extra 1000 lbs over my wifes everyday driving(me and 3 kids with all of our camping gear/christmas presents etc) and highway at 70 is right at 16-18 mpg but that is long steady driving. not to much start and stop. course now that the kids are gone we usually ride the bike.LOL

life begins when the kids leave and the dog dies
 
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Old 09-27-08, 10:55 AM
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Okay. So suppose I get lucky and I get 16, all around driving, with all that weight.

But I currently get 22 with my car (I've already gotten 25, but I'll use 22.) And since I drive about 22,000 miles a year, that means I'd use 1375 gal. of gas a year, compared to 1000 = 375 wasted X current price $3.70 a gallon =$1,387.50 a year wasted. Nope! Forget it.That has to go to the IRS.

I can't believe that I am now spending almost $4,000 a year for gas! That is WAY worse than what I was spending with my 12 mpg truck maybe 7 years ago (that would have been under $3,200 a year), when gas was $1.75 at that time. I can still remember that when gas went to $2 a gallon THAT is when people got all up in the air over that. Ha. What a joke that seems like now.
 
  #21  
Old 09-28-08, 02:46 AM
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When you use the vehicle for business, you can deduct the mileage. I think it is currently a little over 50 cent per mile. That makes the poor mileage most work trucks/vans get a little more palatable.
 
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