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20 Feb

THE BRAIN BEHIND CAR TRANSMISSION

An automobile requires high torque when climbing hills and when starting, even though they are performed at low speeds. On other hand, when running at high speeds on level roads, high torque is not required because of momentum.  So requirement of a device  occurs, which can change the vehicle’s torque and its speed according to road condition or when the driver needs it. This device is known as transmission box or A gearbox.

Function of transmission box (gear box) in automobile:

The transmission box which is also known as the gear box is the second element of the power train in an automobile. It is used to change the speed and torque of vehicle according to variety of road and load conditions.

Transmission box change the engine speed into torque when climbing hills and when the vehicle requires it. Sometimes it is known as torque converter.

Main functions of a gear box is as follow:

1. Provide the torque needed to move the vehicle under a variety of road and load conditions. It does this by changing the gear ratio between the engine crankshaft and vehicle drive wheels.

2. Be shifted into reverse so the vehicle can move backward.

3. Be shifted into neutral for starting the engine.

20 Feb

What is Your Toyota dashboard light saying l

  • The dashboard warning lights on your Toyota are designed to alert you to problems and to remind you to conduct routine maintenance. Ignoring a warning light could have serious consequences, but to respond appropriately, you have to know what each light means. Follow this guide to decode your dashboard and prevent costly breakdowns.

ABS Warning Light

The ABS warning light features the initials ABS surrounded by a circle, and with parentheses outside the circle. If you see this light, you need to get your brakes serviced. It could indicate a problem with the anti-lock brakes or with your Toyota’s Brake Assist system.

Tire Pressure Warning Light

A flat tire can ruin your day, so look for the horseshoe-shaped light that features an exclamation point in the center. This warning light indicates that your Toyota’s tire pressure has gotten too low, so you need to visit a dealership or service station to add air. Failing to do so could make your vehicle more susceptible to a flat. Plus, it will reduce your fuel efficiency because the tires won’t spin as smoothly.

Overheating Warning Light

You can monitor your Toyota’s engine temperature in two ways. First, the temperature gauge lets you know if your car has ventured into the warm zone; second, look for the icon that resembles a thermometer floating on water. If the icon illuminates, your car could overheat.

Fuel Warning Light

The last thing you want is to run out of gas. Your Toyota helps you stay on top of your fuel levels with the gauge. However, if you get close to empty, you’ll see a warning light that looks like a gas pump. Find the nearest gas station to fuel up.

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What Does Each Toyota Dashboard Warning/Indicator Light Mean?

Dashboard Warning Lights

The dashboard warning lights on your Toyota are designed to alert you to problems and to remind you to conduct routine maintenance. Ignoring a warning light could have serious consequences, but to respond appropriately, you have to know what each light means. Follow this guide to decode your dashboard and prevent costly breakdowns.

ABS Warning Light

The ABS warning light features the initials ABS surrounded by a circle, and with parentheses outside the circle. If you see this light, you need to get your brakes serviced. It could indicate a problem with the anti-lock brakes or with your Toyota’s Brake Assist system.

Tire Pressure Warning Light

A flat tire can ruin your day, so look for the horseshoe-shaped light that features an exclamation point in the center. This warning light indicates that your Toyota’s tire pressure has gotten too low, so you need to visit a dealership or service station to add air. Failing to do so could make your vehicle more susceptible to a flat. Plus, it will reduce your fuel efficiency because the tires won’t spin as smoothly.

Overheating Warning Light

You can monitor your Toyota’s engine temperature in two ways. First, the temperature gauge lets you know if your car has ventured into the warm zone; second, look for the icon that resembles a thermometer floating on water. If the icon illuminates, your car could overheat.

Fuel Warning Light

The last thing you want is to run out of gas. Your Toyota helps you stay on top of your fuel levels with the gauge. However, if you get close to empty, you’ll see a warning light that looks like a gas pump. Find the nearest gas station to fuel up.

Check Engine Lights

Check Engine Light

Modern cars are so complex that the check engine light is impossible to diagnose on your own. This warning light has several possible meanings, such as:

Low oil pressure

Failing battery

Damaged or worn serpentine belt

Engine misfires

Faulty oxygen sensor

Issue with the catalytic converter

Damaged mass airflow sensor

Many other problems can trigger your check engine light to appear, ranging from very minor (such as a loose gas cap) to more serious issues (such as engine failure).

You’ll recognize the check engine light because it looks like a tiny engine. It might have the words “check engine” in the middle of the icon or a lightning bolt striking through it. Regardless, take your vehicle to a mechanic right away. He or she can diagnose the problem and recommend solutions.

Low Oil Pressure Warning Light

The low oil pressure warning light looks like a fuel can with oil dripping from the end. If it flares on your dashboard, pull over to the side of the road immediately and turn off your Toyota, especially if the engine makes noise or if you feel vibrations. A drop in oil pressure could cause irreversible damage to your engine.

This issue could involve low oil, which can be fixed by adding more oil. However, if the problem is more serious, simply adding oil might lure you into a false sense of safety. The best course of action is to have your vehicle towed to a repair shop or, if the engine isn’t showing any signs of distress, driving to the nearest mechanic at a low rate of speed.   Warning Light

If you see an illuminated icon that looks like a battery on your Toyota’s dashboard, there’s a problem with your vehicle’s charging system. This icon brightens every time you start your car — it indicates that the vehicle is testing its charging system — but it should disappear after a couple of seconds. If it doesn’t, your car needs service.

It could mean that you need to replace your battery or the connectors. However, your vehicle’s charging system involves a complex array of components and functionality, so only a licensed mechanic can tell you how to remedy the problem.

Slip Warning Light

This light looks like the back of a car with two backward S shapes trailing behind it. The slip warning lets you know that your Toyota’s TRAC (traction control) or VSC (vehicle stability control) system has been engaged. The car is attempting to avoid an accident or other issue by stabilizing the car, but you could be close to slipping.

You’ll most often see the slip warning light when you’re driving in inclement weather, such as on icy roads, or when you’re navigating a steep incline or decline. It means you need to exercise caution or find another route, depending on the circumstances.

EPS Warning Light

The EPS (electrical power steering) warning light lets you know that your Toyota has experienced a malfunction in the power steering system. The icon looks like a steering wheel sitting next to an exclamation point. Sometimes, it means that your power steering fluid levels have dropped. If you replace the fluid, you shouldn’t experience further issues.

However, if your fluid levels are appropriate and the light stays on, visit a mechanic as soon as possible. You don’t want to lose control over your steering wheel. If you notice that your wheel becomes harder to turn or less responsive, don’t delay in visiting your dealership or repair shop.

Maintenance Required Warning Light

Toyota has created a robust system of indicators that can help you stay on top of vehicle maintenance. You might see the maintenance required warning light if your car is due for an oil change, tire rotation, and other regular maintenance. It generally features the words “Maint Req’d.”

This light doesn’t spell devastation, but you shouldn’t ignore it. When it’s convenient, take your car back to the dealership for regular maintenance and a tune-up. This is the best way to catch potential problems before they cause an issue for you on the road.

Open Door Warning Light

You might see an icon that features a car with four doors open flash on your Toyota’s dashboard. This light lets you know that one of the doors is open so you can shut it properly.

Low Windshield Wiper Fluid Warning Light

If you see an icon that looks like a windshield with waves across it, you need to top off your windshield wiper fluid. This shouldn’t require the assistance of a mechanic; simply buy a bottle of fluid and fill the reservoir.

System Indicator Lights

Toyota vehicles feature several indicators to let you know that certain systems are functioning or engaged. These include:

Security: An icon with a car and a padlock lets you know that the security system is engaged.

Airbag: You’ll see an icon with a person in a seat and a dark circle. It lets you know the airbags are set to deploy in the event of a crash.

Turn signal: Two arrows pointing away from each other remind you that you’ve turned on your turn signal.

Cruise control: A picture of a speedometer and an arrow lets you know that you’ve set your vehicle to cruise control.

Headlight and high-beam: Icons that resemble lamps tell you if you’ve turned on your headlights or high beams.

Check Engine Lights

Understanding your Toyota’s dashboard warning-light system can help you take care of your car. Pay attention to these lights and follow the recommendations above to keep your car in top running order.

 

 

13 Sep

Image showing car wiring on Lexus 400H and Honda accord

 

 

Brave autos offers one of the best car wiring system your car would need for its design factory composition. Now let us understand how electrical car wiring is done.

The electrical wiring in a car is a system of color-coded wires called the loom. Where several wires run side by side they are bound together with insulating tape. Several modern cars have separate thin wires embedded in flat plastic strips. These strips are very compact, and are used mainly for accessories and relay controls that require little power. Wires and bundles of wires are clipped to the bodywork to keep them out of the way. Where they run through a hole, the sharp edges are lined with a rubber grommet, Sometimes the loom is divided into sections joined by multi-pin plugs and sockets, so that it can be removed and refitted section by section. Individual wires are usually made with crimp connectors, the color on the sleeve of a connector denotes the size of wire it will take. The bared ends of each wire are pushed into opposite ends of the metal-lined plastic sleeve, and squeezed with crimping pliers. There are multiple sleeves or other special connectors where a wire branches off.

Wires are usually connected to components by plastic-covered terminals which push on to a blade on the unit called a spade terminal, Nearly all types of terminals should be fitted to the wire with crimping pliers .There are a few types such as the `Scotchlok’ which are secured by clips. For additional security, you can add solder to the wire. Use a 25-65 watt iron for most work, and a 150-250 watt one for large cables.

 

Working safely

  • Disconnect both terminals of the battery before doing any work on wiring other than testing.
  • Whenever you work on the car, watch for any part of the loom coming loose from its clips, for there is a risk of it getting trapped or burned. Always replace wiring in its clips.
  • Also look for grommets that have come out of their holes.
  • Whenever you pull a connection apart, look for corrosion which might cause bad contact.
  • If necessary, clean contacting metal surfaces with a fine file or emery cloth. But it is better to replace the terminal once corrosion has destroyed the surface coating.

Making repairs to the loom

Use a circuit tester to check if single wires are damaged. The wiring loom itself seldom goes wrong, but after other repairs have been made, a cable may be trapped and its insulation cut through, causing a short circuit, if this does not blow a fuse the wiring overheats and melts insulation, perhaps starting a fire. A similar result can come from fitting accessories incorrectly, or if power demand is too high for the size of the wire being used. After many years, insulation may become hard and brittle, particularly where it is exposed to heat, as in the engine bay. Sections, or all of the loom, may need replacing. The damage caused by overheated wires is easy to find; but if only a single wire has overheated and melted at some point, you may have to use a circuit tester to find the break, If the damage is in an open run of wiring, you may be able to mend separate wires without taking out a section of the loom. If it is in any part of the covered sections, you need to remove at least part of the wiring loom.

Label wires before cutting them when working on a section of the loom. Before you disconnect anything, make absolutely sure you know how to put it back. Number both sides of each connection with labels made of masking tape. If necessary, make drawings of cable routes and how clips fit. Use a craft knife or razor blade to cut away the wrapping from the damaged section. Take care not to cut into the plastic cable insulation. Even if only one wire has overheated, inspect all the others to make sure their insulation is not damaged. Before cutting out damaged wires, make sure that the color coding is the same at each end of the damaged section of each wire, and that it is not so mixed that it is not recognizable. If there is any chance of confusion, label both ends. Cut out all the damaged wires with wire cutters. Spread out the cuts across a bundle of several wires: if many joins are opposite each other their bulk may make it difficult to fit the loom into the car. If possible, replace wiring with new wire of the same color. The new wire must be the right size: there are five sizes, depending on current rating.

Repairs in wrapped sections of the loom are the only places where you may join wires by twisting them together and soldering the joint mainly because there may not be room for any other method. If possible, use an insulated in-line crimp connector. Test each mended wire with a circuit tester and battery, connected to the nearest connectors either side of the mend.

Re-wrap the exposed section of the loom with self-adhesive PVC insulating tape. Put some layers between the exposed section and adjoining wires – not merely a cover over the top – then fit the loom back into the car. Reconnect all terminals and clips, then test all the electrical components involved. If an outlying part of the loom with few wires has been damaged, it may be simpler to replace each wire to the end of the loom instead of inserting a section. If so, use the old, damaged wire as a guide to the length of the new. In an open area of wiring, join old and new with snap connectors.

Fitting new wiring

Fit a rubber grommet when passing wires through a new hole in the bodywork, when you fit accessories you must use large enough cables. As far as you can, route the new wiring along the course of the existing loom, using the same clips and grommets. Push a screwdriver blade through the grommet carefully to enlarge it for the new cables, taking care not to damage insulation on existing wires, if you pass a cable through a new hole, fit the hole with a grommet. To pass wires up door pillars or behind trim, tape them to a piece of fairly stiff wire, poke it carefully behind the trim or up the pillar, and pull it through at the far end, bringing the wire with it. Use insulating tape in a spiral to bind wires together. If you have to lead a new wire along a difficult route – to the rear of the car, for example – you could take the opportunity to lead a spare wire at the same time, for any accessory you might want to fit later. Cover the end of a spare wire with insulating tape to prevent an electrical short circuit.

 

 

 

Identifying cable sizes

Types of cable

Cable sizes are given by two numbers

The first one is the number of strands

The second (which is always the same in car wiring) is the diameter of each strand in millimeters.

Twisting wires together and fitting spade terminals

Methods of joining wires

To connect two wires, use a wire stripper to remove about in. (19 mm) of insulation from each wire.

Twist the bare ends together, then use pliers to press the twisted section into a compact shape.

Solder the wires together so that they cannot be pulled apart, using only a little solder to avoid making the joint bulky.

Wind insulating tape in a spiral over the joint.

To fit a spade terminal, slip the insulating cover over the wire and push it up the wire, out of the way. Use a wire stripper to remove about 1/8in. (3 mm) of insulation from the end of the wire.

Lay the bare strands in the inner section of the connector. Use crimping pliers to tighten the two small tongues firmly around the insulated part of the wire.

On the other side of the connector, push the wire strands back and down flat. Hold the connector blade upwards to avoid solder running into the spade part.

Solder the wire to the connector with just enough solder to secure all the strands. Let the connector cool before sliding the cover back.

 

Fitting a bullet connector

Remove insulation with a wire stripper.

Use a wire stripper to remove about 3/8 in. (10 mm) of insulation from the end of the wire.

Push the wire into the connector so that the strands just protrude from the round end. Grip the cable, connector uppermost, in a vice or self-locking pliers, so that the connector rests on top of the vice and cannot slide down the wire when soldering. Apply solder on the top of the connector, and let it melt and run down inside.

So when it comes to car wiring all you need is an expert and the right expert you need is brave autos we are the best in what we do. Your safety and your life comfort is what we are made to guarantee.

26 May

HYBRID BATTERY

What Is a Hybrid Car Battery?

A hybrid car battery is like any other battery—except that it is rechargeable and has enough juice to move a large heavy vehicle down the road for a few feet or a few miles.

How Does It Work?

Like all batteries, hybrid batteries have two electrodes (which collect or emit an electric charge) that sit in an ion-rich solution called the electrolyte. (An ion, by the way, is an atom or group of atoms with an electrical charge.)

The electrodes are typically very close, so a polymer film, called a separator, prevents them from touching, which would create a short circuit. An on-off switch in whatever device is powered by the battery—your phone or laptop—bridges the cell’s electrodes to generate power. That’s when the electrochemical reaction begins.

Keep in mind: What we commonly call “a battery” is actually a battery pack that houses many individual cells. Your mobile phone battery is just one single cell, but anything larger—even a laptop battery—uses multiple cells working together.

Ionized elements in one electrode are in a chemical state where they are easily attracted to combine with other molecules, emitting electrons (energy) in the process. Those elements are tugged through the electrolyte and the separator toward the opposing electrode. The ions of the negative electrode (anode) give up electrons; the positive ions coming toward the anode accept them. The electrons released during this process travel through the external circuit (e.g. your phone), producing a flow of charge in the opposite direction to the flow of ions. During recharge, current is forced into the cell, reversing the process.

As we take a tour of hybrid batteries, remember one thing: Total energy determines the vehicle’s electric range, whereas available power determines its acceleration.

Today’s Hybrid Car Battery: Nickel Metal Hydride

Toyota Prius Hybrid Battery

Toyota Prius Battery

The battery pack of the second generation Toyota Prius consists of 28 Panasonic prismatic nickel metal hydride modules—each containing six 1.2 volt cells—connected in series to produce a nominal voltage of 201.6 volts. The total number of cells is 168, compared with 228 cells packaged in 38 modules in the first generation Prius. The pack is positioned behind the back seat.

The weight of the complete battery pack is 53.3 kg. The discharge power capability of the Prius pack is about 20 kW at 50 percent state-of-charge. The power capability increases with higher temperatures and decreases at lower temperatures. The Prius has a computer that’s solely dedicated to keeping the Prius battery at the optimum temperature and optimum charge level. The Prius supplies conditioned air from the cabin as thermal management for cooling the batteries. The air is drawn by a 12-volt blower installed above the driver’s side rear tire well.

(Photos courtesy of the Automotive Career Development Center.)

 

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Battery

The nickel metal hydride battery used in Highlander Hybrid—and the Lexus RX 400h—is packaged in a newly developed metal battery casing. The 240 cells can deliver high voltage of 288 volts—but the motor-generators units can operate on variable voltage anywhere from 280 volts to 650 volts. The battery pack supplies 288 volts, but the boost converter, a part of the inverter above the transaxle, changes this to 500 volts. This battery pack provides 40 percent more power than the Prius battery, despite being 18 percent smaller.

Each of the modules has its own monitoring and cooling control system. The cooling performance reduces efficiency losses due to excessive heat, ensuring that the battery can supply required electric power to the motors at all times. The battery-monitoring unit manages discharge and recharging by the generator and motors to keep the charge level constant while the car is running. The battery pack is stowed under the rear seats.

Ford Escape Hybrid Battery

The Ford Escape Hybrid’s battery pack, made by Sanyo, consists of 250 individual nickel metal hydride cells. As with other hybrid battery packs, the cells are similar in shape to a size D flashlight battery. Each individual battery cell, contained in a stainless steel case, is 1.3 volts. The cells are welded and wrapped together in groups of five to form a module. There are 50 modules in the battery pack. The total voltage of the battery pack is 330 volts.

 

6 May

Car Care Tips – How do you save on gas

Use regular gasoline

Unless your vehicle requires premium gasoline, filling up your car with high-octane gas is a waste of money. The premium gas doesn’t boost your gas mileage or performance. If you’re not sure what grade works best for your vehicle, your owner’s manual will tell you. You can also ask our mechanics what grade to use. Using regular gasoline over high-octane gasoline could save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Don’t top off

Don’t top off when filling your car’s gas tank. Any additional gas is just going to slop around or seep out. Stop pumping at the first indication that your tank is full when the automatic nozzle clicks off.

Tighten up the gas cap

Gas will evaporate from the gas tank if it has an escape. Loose, missing or damaged gas caps cause 147 million gallons of gas to evaporate each year, according to the Car Care Council. So be sure to tighten up that gas cap each time you fuel up your car.

Go for the shade

The hot summer sun that makes the inside of your car feel like a sauna also zaps fuel from your gas tank. So park your car in the shade of a building or tree whenever possible. And buy a good windshield shade. A windshield shade blocks sunlight and helps to keep heat out of the inside of your car.

Use your garage for your car

Got a garage? Clear it out and make room for your car. Parking in your garage will help your car stay warm in winter and cool in summer, and you won’t have to depend as much on your gas-guzzling air-conditioning or defroster when you drive.

Pump up your tires

Don’t get caught driving on under inflated tires. Under inflated tires wear down more quickly, and they also lower your car’s gas mileage. Your car’s gas mileage may plummet by as much as 15 percent. Driving on under inflated tires may also reduce the life of your tires by 15 percent or more.

Check your tire pressure once a month

Buy a digital gauge and keep it in your glove box. Compare the pressure in your tires with the recommended pressure listed in your owner’s manual and on the placard located in your car door. Then inflate your tires as needed. Be sure to check tire pressure when your tires are cold. A good time is early in the morning after your car’s been idle overnight. Most newer vehicles are equiped with tire pressure monitors which alert you automatically if there is a problem.

Keep your engine in tune

Fixing a car that is out of tune or has failed an emissions test can boost gas mileage by about 4 percent. So be sure to give your car regular tune-ups. You’ll also want to watch out for worn spark plugs. A misfiring spark plug can reduce a car’s fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent. Ensure your mechanic checks for them.

Replace air filters

When the engine air filter clogs with dirt, dust and bugs, it causes your engine to work harder and your car becomes less fuel efficient. Replacing a clogged air filter could improve your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent and save you 15 cents a gallon. It’s a good idea to have your engine air filter checked at each oil change. The Car Care Council recommends changing your car’s air and oil filters every three months or 3,000 miles or as specified in your owner’s manual.

Use the right oil

You can improve your vehicle gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. Use motor oil with the words “energy conserving” on the API (American Petroleum Institute) performance label. This oil contains additives to lower the friction.

Don’t skimp on maintenance

Your car’s performance depends on it being properly maintained. The owner’s manual of your vehicle will tell you what maintenance is needed and when. If you have any questions, your repair shop will be able to show you the recommended maintenance for your car. Follow the car care guidelines outlined in your owner’s manual. Not only will they improve efficiency, they will also save you money on costly repairs in the long run.

1 May

How Can I Tell If My Radiator Is Leaking?

How can you tell when your car’s radiator is leaking? When the temperature gauge on your dashboard reads high or a temperature warning light comes on, you have a cooling system problem that may be caused by leakage — be it in the radiator itself or some other component.

First, make sure it’s coolant that’s leaking, not another fluid. (Coolant is often referred to as antifreeze, but technically coolant is a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water.) You can easily check the coolant level in your see-through overflow tank. If it’s empty or low, the next step should be to check the coolant level in the radiator, but that should be done only when the engine is cool. Having too little coolant in the car’s cooling system can cause engine overheating and/or make your cabin heater blow cold air.

Once you know you’re losing coolant, the radiator is a good place to start. Some radiator leaks will be easy to spot — such as a puddle underneath the radiator — but others not so much. It’s best to check the radiator from every angle, not just from above, and pay particular attention to seams and the bottom. Rust inside the radiator or holes from road debris also can cause coolant leaks. Your vehicle may have an aluminum radiator that technically can’t rust, but aluminum can corrode or develop pinhole leaks too.

Antifreeze comes in different colors — green, yellow and pinkish-red, for example — feels like slimy water and usually has a sweet smell. If you can’t see coolant dripping or seeping, look for rust, tracks or discoloration on the radiator. Those are telltale signs of where it has leaked.

If the radiator appears to be OK, the cooling system offers several possibilities for leaks, including the hoses from the radiator to the engine, the radiator cap, water pump, engine block, thermostat, reservoir tank, heater core (a small radiator that circulates hot coolant into the dashboard for passenger-compartment heating) and others. A blown gasket between the cylinder head and engine block is another possibility, allowing coolant inside the combustion chambers — a problem that must be addressed immediately by a mechanic. (Thick white smoke coming from the tailpipe is actually steam, a telltale symptom.)

If you can’t find a leak, have it checked by a mechanic. Coolant has a way of escaping only under pressure when the car is running — possibly in the form of steam, which may not leave a trace. If the culprit continues to evade detection, you might consider a radiator stop-leak additive, available at auto parts stores, which seals small leaks — but it’s always better to find and repair the problem’s source, especially in the case of faulty head gaskets, which can lead your power supply to overheat and cause catastrophic engine damage.

4 Mar

Car Maintenance Tips You Can Handle – Checklist

1. Air Filter

technician holding dirty car air filter

  • Tools You Need: None
  • Time to Complete: 10 minutes

You need a new air filter for your car every 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. You can pay a mechanic and give up your car for a day, or you can replace your air filter at home in about ten minutes.

  1. First, find your filter under the hood of your car. It’s in a black rectangular box with metal clips on the side. Check your owner’s manual if you don’t see it as soon as you pop the hood.
  2. Open up the casing, and check out how the air filter fits inside it. Make a note of which way the filter faces.
  3. Remove the old air filter, and insert the new one exactly how the old one sat.
  4. Remember to close the metal clips when you’re done.

That’s it. For extra savings in the long run, you can extend the life of your new air filter by hitting it with some compressed air to clear out any debris.

2. Windshield Wipers

cleaning a windshield with a microfiber cloth

  • Tools You Need: None
  • Time to Complete: 15 minutes

I laugh when I visit my local auto parts store and see that they’re having a sale on wiper blades, offering free installation. The free installation only applies if I buy the most expensive blades in the store, so I started changing them on my own. You’ll need new wiper blades after about six months or a year of use. You probably tend to go a little longer before asking your mechanic to change them, but you shouldn’t deal with the danger of streaking while you put off an inconvenient trip to the auto shop.

Wiper blade setup differs quite a bit from car to car, so you may have to follow a few different steps according to your owner’s manual. Basically, the process is similar to changing your air filter:

  1. Lift the blades, as if you were washing your windshield by hand, and remove the old blades.
  2. Pay attention to how the old blades connect to the metal arms.
  3. On most models, you’ll see a tab on the underside of the wiper. Push the tab to remove the old blade.
  4. Attach the new blades, being careful not to bend the wiper arms or scratch your windshield. Line everything up and make sure the new ones are secure and tight.

If you get distracted or just can’t remember exactly how the new blades should fit on the wiper arm, don’t worry. The packaging for the new blades should have a general set of instructions and a helpful diagram.

3. Spark Plugs

spark plug replacement

  • Tools You Need: Ratchet or socket wrench, 12″ socket extension, spark plug socket
  • Time to Complete: 20 to 30 minutes

Most spark plugs need replacing after about 30,000 miles, but check your owner’s manual to see if your vehicle is any different. While changing spark plugs might sound like intense work, it’s a pretty simple process. You just need to set aside some time and exercise patience. Don’t rush, because you need to install the replacements in a specific order.

  1. You should be able to locate your spark plugs fairly easily, because they’re attached to thick rubbery wires.
  2. You’ll find either four, six, or eight plugs, depending on how many cylinders your car has.
  3. Remove the wire to the first spark plug only. Do not remove all of the wires at once. Your spark plugs are installed in a certain order, which you need to maintain.
  4. Use your spark plug socket and extension on your ratchet to remove the first spark plug.
  5. Install the new spark plug, screwing it in by hand at first and then tightening it with a wrench for a snug fit. Do not over-tighten.
  6. Re-attach the spark plug wire.

Repeat these steps for each spark plug, one at a time. If you buy the right plugs, you won’t have to worry about “gapping” the plugs, because they’ll come pre-gapped.

4. Oil and Oil Filter

young hispanic mechanic changing oil filter

  • Tools You Need: Ratchet, oil filter wrench, oil pan, funnel
  • Time to Complete: 30 to 45 minutes

Experts say you should change your oil every 3,000 miles, but with better products and cars operating more efficiently, I think you can get away with changing it every 5,000 miles. Whichever benchmark you decide to use, you can save time and money by handling the change yourself. Before you start, keep in mind these precautions:

  1. Never change your oil when your engine is hot. Park, wait for it to cool, and then get started. Driving around the block to heat the car and loosen the oil can result in a more effective drain, which is good news, but you must let the engine cool before going to work.
  2. You’ll have to jack up your car, so make sure you’re comfortable safely handling a jack.

Now that you’ve covered safety first, it’s time to get a little dirty.

  1. Get under your car and locate the vehicle’s oil pan. It shouldn’t be hard to find.
  2. Unscrew the drain plug and drain all of the old oil into your oil pan.
  3. Once all of the oil is drained, replace the drain plug.
  4. Go back to your engine and remove the old oil filter with your oil filter wrench. (Be careful, because the oil filter contains some old oil as well).
  5. Lubricate the rubber gasket on the new oil filter with some new motor oil.
  6. Fill the new oil filter about two-thirds of the way with new oil.
  7. Screw in the new oil filter. Hand-tighten it only.
  8. Fill the engine with new oil, using your funnel.
  9. With a dip-stick, double check your oil level to be sure you’ve added enough.
  10. Discard the old oil filter and recycle the old oil (most gas stations will take it).

Changing your oil is the dirtiest job on the list, but it might be the most rewarding too. Though you can find plenty of quick-service stations nearby, when you think about going possibly four times a year, the expense and time commitment adds up.

5. Battery Maintenance

car repair

  • Tools You Need: Wrenches, corrosion-removal fluid, wire brush, rags
  • Time to Complete: 20 minutes

The key to keeping your car running smoothly and efficiently is a good battery connection. Just a few specks of crunchy white residue on the posts can keep your car from starting. A simple visual check of the condition of your battery will tell you when you need to perform this process.

  1. Remove your battery terminals, which should be a fairly straightforward process. Make sure you always remove the negative cable first. If they’re stuck, use a flathead screwdriver to pry them loose.
  2. Clean the posts. Some say Coca-Cola will work, and it does, but I suggest using a more professional product from your local auto parts store. Keep in mind that most of these solutions are nothing more than baking soda and water, so if you’re feeling extremely frugal, feel free to create your own cleaner. Generously apply the fluid to the posts, and clean vigorously with your wire brush.
  3. Rinse the cleaning fluid with a little water.
  4. Dry the posts with rags.
  5. Replace battery terminals.

A dead battery can be one of the most frustrating car problems, because it’s usually so simple to avoid the trouble. Especially if you’ve had the same battery for a few years, pop your hood every few months and take a look at the battery to see if it needs a simple cleaning.

6. Radiator Flush

pouring coolant

  • Tools You Need: Phillips-head screwdriver or wrench, rags, radiator flush solution, coolant, funnel, used coolant receptacle
  • Time to Complete: 30 minutes

Your car’s radiator and cooling system need to be clean to work efficiently and effectively. With normal wear and tear, your car’s radiator builds up deposits that can disrupt the cooling system. A radiator flush is a quick and inexpensive way to keep your system in shape. Consult your owner’s manual to find out if you need to flush the radiator yearly or every two years.

  1. Make sure your car is completely cool before you begin.
  2. Check your owner’s manual to find the radiator’s drain plug. Put your used coolant receptacle in place, unscrew the drain plug, and let the old coolant drain completely.
  3. Replace the drain plug and remove the radiator cap.
  4. Use the funnel to add the radiator flush cleaning solution and then fill the rest of the radiator with water.
  5. Replace the radiator cap.
  6. Start the car, and let it run until it gets to its normal operating temperature.
  7. Turn on your heater to its hottest position, and let the car run for 10 minutes.
  8. Turn the car off and wait for the engine to cool completely.
  9. Drain the contents of the radiator.
  10. Refill the radiator with fresh coolant.
  11. Be sure to dispose of the old coolant safely, by bringing it to an auto parts store, gas station, or mechanic. Old coolant is fatal, but its sweet taste can be enticing to pets.

Working with coolant is a step toward more advanced DIY auto projects. Temperature can be a dangerous issue when you’re working on your car, so make sure you give your engine plenty of time to cool before you start and before you drain the radiator. Don’t rush this job, and always err on the side of caution.

7. Brake Pads

auto mechanic repairing brake caliper

  • Tools You Need: Lug wrench, C-clamp, open-end or adjustable wrench, hammer
  • Time to Complete: 30 minutes to an hour

You’ll need to replace most brake pads around every 20,000 miles, but as always, check your owner’s manual for specifics about your model. If you consistently do a lot of “stop-and-go” driving, you’ll need to replace them more frequently. Brake pads are DIY-eligible, but safety is your top priority. Be careful, get everything ready before you start, and if you’re uncomfortable at all, pay a professional to do it for you.

  1. Jack up your car and rest it securely on jack stands.
  2. Break the lugs on your tires before you do anything else.
  3. Remove the wheel.
  4. Remove the brake caliper so that the brake pads slide out through the top. The brake caliper should be at the 12 o’clock position, just above the lug bolts. On the back of the caliper you’ll find a bolt on both sides. Remove the bolts and set them aside. Hold the caliper from the top and pull upwards. Give it a few taps if you need to, making sure not to disturb the brake line (a black hose). Don’t let the caliper hang from the brake line; find somewhere to set it securely. With the caliper out of the way, the old brake pads should slide right out.
  5. Replace old pads with the new pads, securing them with the same retaining clips that held the old pads in place. If you have an older car, you might need to utilize your hammer here a little bit. Proceed gently!
  6. Compress the brake piston. Get out your C-clamp and put the end with the screw on it against the piston with the other end on the back of the caliper assembly.
  7. Tighten the clamp until the piston has moved far enough to where you can place the caliper assembly over the new pads.
  8. Re-install the brake caliper (the opposite process of what you did when you removed it), and then simply put your wheel back on.

With this project, you’re stepping up to what I consider “DIY 2.0.” If you’re still mastering how to change your oil, you might want to build your confidence level a little before taking on this project.

8. Fuel Filter Replacement

mechanic working on a car

  • Tools You Need: New fuel filter, new fuel line washers, open end wrenches, rags, eye protection
  • Time to Complete: 30 minutes

For $20, a new fuel filter can protect your engine from very costly damages, so follow the rule of thumb and replace it annually. But keep in mind that like changing brake pads, this is an advanced DIY project. Make sure you’re not in over your head before starting this one. I did it once, and did it correctly, but I definitely paid attention to every detail during the process. Dealing with fuel and fuel filters can be dangerous work if you’re not prepared. If you’re not a DIY mechanic, let a pro do this annual job for you.

  1. Most importantly, start by relieving fuel system pressure. If you don’t, the results can be explosive, to say the least. Locate the fuel pump fuse on the fuse box. If you don’t have a fuel pump fuse, find the relay that operates the fuel pump. Start your car, and with the engine running, pull the fuse or relay out. When the engine dies, you’ll know that you pulled the right one.
  2. Disconnect the fuel lines from the fuel filter. Find two open-end wrenches that are the correct size for your fuel filter fittings (usually you’ll need two different sizes).
  3. When the wrenches are in place, put a rag over the fitting to protect yourself in case there is still some pressure in the lines.
  4. Hold the wrench that fits on the actual filter, and turn the other wrench counter-clockwise until that bolt comes out.
  5. Slide the fuel line off the bolt and set the bolt aside.
  6. Repeat the process for the other side of the fuel filter.
  7. Remove the old fuel filter. Most filters are held in place by a clamp that you can release by using a flathead screwdriver. Be careful here, as the old fuel filter could still have some gas in it!
  8. Change the fuel filter washers, which are located on the bolts that connect the fuel lines to the fuel filter. Make sure to match the new ones up correctly.
  9. Install the new fuel filter, which is the opposite of the process you performed to remove the old fuel filter.
  10. Return the fuel pump fuse or relay before you try to start the car.

This project is another “DIY 2.0” task. Dealing with the fuel system is serious business, so if you’re unfamiliar with any of these terms and don’t know where to start, just visit your mechanic for this regular service.

NOTE:

Doing any of these on your own is at your own risk, that is why a mechanic is there to assist you in any way, we know the best thing and way to go about doing any of the exercises fore-mentioned. It is highly recommended you visit your mechanic to get the best result. But if you think you can do it…why now? That is why we provided you with the information.

Good luck!!!