The Basics once again :)


Old 08-07-01, 10:46 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Thumbs up

Here's some more information that might help with getting "The Basics" out of the way. As was said before by our forum administrators:

***Help Us Help You - Please include as much information as possible***

So on that note ,

1) State Year, make, model, and engine size, body type if applicable to the problem.

2) What the problem is. What conditions it does it under. How often it happens.

3) What attempts have been made to fix the problem, either by you or a mechanic. What parts have been changed? No detail too small.

4) If you have gone to and found some sort of bulletin that shows there is a consistent problem with this particular model/engine. See the car dealer for a printout of the full bulletin. will only give you the titles of them! Also if it's a known recall, contact the manufacturer or the NHTSA at their website.

5) If the vehicle is perhaps under warranty. If not, and it is not that old of a vehicle (or has low mileage) consider contacting the manufacturer and working out a deal for a goodwill warranty. That is, the manufacturer will cover some of the repair and you cover some of the repair. The term "goodwill" means that the manufacturer will offer some help on the problem (financial assistance) to promote "customer goodwill" (the hope that you will buy another car from them.

Service manuals

The best service manuals can be had from the original car makers. Helm services most makes: Other car makers: try your local dealer's parts department or call the manfacturer/visit their website. Well worth the money. You wouldn't want to go to a doctor who didn't have the most recent information on treatment options or who didn't know what part of the body did what. In the same way, you wouldn't want to take a course in school without the textbook! You'd be lost. Same thing with working on a car! But, the bonus is that the book will ALWAYS be good for the vehicle. The college textbooks are outdated after one semester!

Aftermarket professional manuals: Motor, Chilton, Mitchell, Alldata. Go to and find the respective manufacturer's website. Most are sold through distributors or retailers on an order basis, so call around. Good for those that "shadetree" with working on others cars for some extra bucks. Often good coverage and comprehensive. Some material a little daunting for the DIY (and some professionals too! Lol).

Additionally, for about 25 bucks a year per car, offers access to the factory style procedures, diagrams and information. Well worth it in my opinion.

For the beginner, a Chilton or Haynes specific manual on your car is available at most parts stores for about 15 bucks or so. Most public libraries have them too, so polish up your library card and borrow one for free.

An educated DIY person is the best poster.

Mechanical Basics

1) Must have spark, air, and fuel. Without these three you go nowhere.

Causes of no spark: Bad ignition parts, crank sensor, broken timing belt (to test: see if the distributor rotor turns when you crank the engine). If in doubt, start with a full tune-up including all filters to eliminate any possible questionable parts. When the car does run, it will run better with fresh parts.

Causes of no fuel: Bad fuel pump, relay, wiring, as well as clogs in the lines or filters. On cars with electric fuel pumps in the tank, avoid running the vehicle low on fuel. Doing this removes both the lubrication and cooling ability of the pump (the fuel!). Not to mention you will suck up dirt from the tank and cause problems. Not worth it!

Causes of no air: Clogged air intake, air filter, bad air flow meter, carbon in the intake, etc.

Rules of Safety
1) Never smoke while around cars or batteries. The results can be explosive. Literally. Extinguish all sources of flames and sparks. Never be too careful.

2) Always properly support a load when going under a vehicle. Make sure to put it on steady, level ground. A hurt or injured DIY'er is not a happy one.

3) Backup plan: If you have to, don't rush. Plan to hitch a ride with a friend or take public transit/alternate vehicle. Rushing through a job to get stuck the next morning is more expensive than waiting till the next day and doing it right.

4) A clean work shop is a happy one. While sometimes not avoidable, the job is better when you keep the area clean and clutter free. Keep all tools in good shape and use good quality tools. I like Craftsman products (Sears) due to the good warranty and overall good quality and value. Home Depot's Husky line is pretty good too. Snapon, Matco, SK and Proto are among other good professional brands out there, and cost considerably more.

Basics of Maintenance

1) Tuneups and filter changes regularly. Follow your manufacturer's recommendations for oil and fluids to be used. Look at the maintenance schedule and see how your driving fits into the schedule for "severe" or "normal" driving. Many folks do "severe" driving and don't know it!

2) "If you can't remember when, it's time". Good motto. If you can't remember when the last time you did a regular service, it's time now. Can never hurt.

3) Think simple. Most parts are not returnable to a parts store if they are not your problem. So, in that respect, don't go changing expensive parts in lieu of testing or diagnosis. Your wallet will thank you. Think about how the system works. Refer to your manual or the archives of the forum for more help.

4) Belts and hoses should be changed after four years. Prevent a breakdown! (Tow Guy can attest to this, I'm sure!)

Some Words of Wisdom

1) If you can rope, I mean convince , someone to help you, this is welcomed. I almost always do my work with the help of a friend. Two heads are better than one. A helper is also good for moral support and can lend an inevitable ride to the parts store when needed. Lol.

2) Know when you need the right tools. As an example: with A/C work, you need the right tools to do the job right. Ask yourself if the vehicle is worth fixing. Can I replace it for the same amount of money I am spending? Do I like this car? How is the condition of everything else? Am I fixing the A/C when I know the body is rotten and the transmission slips or the engine knocks?

3) If it's too cheap to be had, it's probably a bad used car. How right this often is. Unless you get it for free through a relative (and even at that, trust me on that one ), it still needs work. Every used car is sold because something better is out there. There are good used cars, you just have to find them. Think about your budget, what you want to spend on fixing it, and what your abilities are. A 1000 dollar car that is always out of service and costs you 200 to fix it each time 5 times a year makes the 3000 dollar used car you snuffed not look so bad after all.

4) If in doubt picking up a used car, have a mechanic look at it. Chances are he/she can spot things you can't because they know what to look for. Many mechanics will check good customer's cars for free, others might charge a fee or by the hour for a detailed report.

5) Do I have an alternate plan to fix this? Do I have a ride tomorrow to get to work in case it's not done? While this sounds extreme, the pressures of fixing a car can make headaches and jobs done twice as mentioned above. Have a backup plan to hitch a ride with a coworker or take public transit in case you don't have it working in time. A good night's sleep oftentimes will give you the fresh start to tackle that bolt that won't start or that wire you couldn't figure out. Rome wasn't built in a day.

6) Charging system basics. A digital meter is very handy here. In short, a fully charged modern battery should have 12 to 12.5 volts to start. 14.2 when the engine is running with no acessories. Slowly add accessories (lights, blower, A/C, radio, wipers, etc). Watch the meter. With full load, if you get below 13.5 on the meter, the alternator is likely worn out.
- For information on how to read and interpret your trouble codes (if applicable), check out Knuckles & 0Patience's website at

-Try this link for service manual information. (You may have to cut and paste it to your browser's window):

-Service information can also be purchased at

Note: The best, most comprehensive, and recommended manual is the OEM factory service manual.

-Go to the following URL for phone numbers and OE contact information regarding how to order them (as well as owner's manuals and service tools):

-Safety first! When in doubt, always consult the appropriate service manual. Always disconnect the battery before working on the electrical system. Wear the appropriate eye, ear and skin protection to avoid injuries. Extinguish and keep away all sources of sparks and flames and vapors while working on motor is no accident!

Good luck!

The DIY Automotive Forum Moderator Team,

Joe F. - ASE Certified Parts Specialist
Davo - ASE Master Technician

Last edited by Joe_F; 12-17-02 at 03:11 PM.
Sponsored Links
Old 04-12-02, 07:46 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
proplem with my ford

sorry about that its a 91 ford escort it is a 4 door hatch back with a 1.9 liter engine it turns over but wont start we checked the fuel pump its ok what could be the proplem?
Old 04-12-02, 07:47 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
How did you check the fuel pump?

Again, look through the link in my signature file.

You have a lot of reading and posting of what you did to do before we can help. We need more specific information to help you .
Old 08-19-02, 03:02 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Thumbs down Ignition switch replacement 94 mazda truck

After removing the steering column shrouds and inspecting the switch assembly, I found a small diameter shaft at the 8 o'clock position to the switch. At the bottom of this shaft is a small retaining pin. Pushing in on this pin with a small diameter drill bit releases the ignition switch from it's housing. You have to remove the ignition lock lever first which is held in place by a single star head bolt. I hope this can help someone else. Although the basics thread that was posted as a reply, is very informative, it was of no help. I will always look there first,as I did with this question, before I put my questions out there. Thanks,Doug Sigmon
Old 08-19-02, 03:31 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a

Gotta look harder

There is a link to in my signature file which has free service manual information.

If its not there: Time to buy a book from the parts store or borrow it from the library.
Old 10-30-02, 09:34 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
reply to Joe F. fuel pressure reg installation question on 96 blazer

I appreciate your quick reply on the above subject. It appears that the $25.00/car online service from alldata is the best.

Will it give me the same information as the manu. repair manual that cost over $100. Will it provide complete troubeshoot summaries? If so it may provide me with other things that might be causing my"right bank too rich code. In fact, does it have the various service engine light codes with explaination of possible causes and then eventual solutions. If so, this will be the thing to get.

Thanks again
Old 10-30-02, 09:38 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
The thing to get is the factory repair manual. Nothing replaces it for detail, accuracy of information and completeness.

Always stick with the factory manual. Well worth the money.
Old 08-14-03, 06:27 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
transmission problem

The fluid was just changed and added new a liitle over 3 months ago. Is that the problem? Wouldn't that affect all the gears and not just reverse. I wonder if it could be the clutch?
Old 08-14-03, 07:12 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a

Please start a new post with all details of the problem and we'll address it there .

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes