Questions about general routine maintenance of a vehicle or engine.

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48
votes
7answers
8k views

What to check when buying a used car?

I'm looking to buy a used car. What do you think I should check (mechanically) before buying it (especially if it's diesel)?
19
votes
7answers
62k views

Is it okay to leave a car for 5 months without driving it?

I need to travel to the east coast and work from there for a duration of 5 months. I can leave my car in covered parking here and ask a friend to start the car for a few minutes every week. What ...
18
votes
12answers
54k views

Should I pull my wipers away from the windshield when parked during a winter storm?

When we are expecting snow storm and the vehicle is parked, do we pull out the wipers so they don’t touch the glass to avoid the freezing to the windshield? Or would that hurt the springs in the wiper ...
18
votes
12answers
93k views

Is Prestone “All Makes/All Models” coolant *really* compatible with all models?

My car's manual says to use the blue Honda coolant: Always use Honda All Season Antifreeze/Coolant Type 2 [MSDS]. This coolant is pre-mixed with 50 percent antifreeze and 50 percent water. ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the proper way to bleed brakes and replace the fluid?

What is the proper way to replace the brake fluid in a car? What tools are required? I want to make sure I do not get any air or bubbles in the system as this is something that needs to be done right ...
16
votes
1answer
33k views

How can I repair cracks in leather seat?

The leather on the side of the driver's seat has some minor cracks. I am using conditioner to help prevent this in the other seats but these cracks already exist. Is there a product or patch of some ...
16
votes
1answer
10k views

Is this what is making my car sound like a racecar?

Recently, my car (2000 Mercury Grand Marquis) started sounding like a racecar: the engine became very loud. There's clearly something going wrong with the exhaust system. I'm trying to understand ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

Smart and effective ways to light up a garage without relying on power outlets?

I am currently renting an garage in an underground parking lot. The garage has no light inside nor electric plugs. The only form of illumination available comes from the few neon lights in the ...
15
votes
2answers
428 views

Standard Practices for Use and Care of Click-Type Torque Wrenches

Torque wrenches, while straightforward in concept, require much different use and care compared to a regular ratchet. This can be confusing to someone who has never used one before. There are several ...
15
votes
2answers
10k views

Is Anti-Seize a lubricant, abrasive, or both?

I'll flesh my personal bias at the outset - being a heavy diesel mechanic for a time, and mechanically inclined my entire life, I use Anti-Seize wherever I can. If it has threads and it's not part of ...
14
votes
6answers
14k views

How to improve fuel economy in high-mileage car?

I'm driving an 2003 Acura TL 3.2 with 177K miles on it. I bought the car with 110K miles on it. It seems to me that the car is not getting the same fuel economy that it did when I acquired it. I ...
12
votes
3answers
9k views

How do I select the right oil for my car?

I can give you my cars make and model and the conditions that I drive in, but I'm looking for a general guide to selecting the right oil for a car. I'm not really knowledgable when it comes to cars so ...
12
votes
1answer
650 views

Tightening Stud Without Bolt Head

What would be the best way to tighten a stud without a bolt head? It essentially looks like this. I need to tighten it to a specific torque(4 of these have nuts tightened on them to hold the tire of ...
12
votes
7answers
12k views

Most important preventive maintenance for high-mileage car?

My 2001 Chevrolet Prizm (a NUMMI) is about to hit 125,00 miles. I bought a little over 5 years ago, at which time it had ~79,000 miles on it. I bought it from a used car dealer that seemed to have ...
12
votes
3answers
10k views

How to begin learning engine tuning?

Quite simply, I want to begin tuning and modifying automotive engines for hobby. I have always been fascinated with cars, and I want to become knowledgeable in as many aspects of car tuning as ...
12
votes
3answers
413 views

Any recommendations on vehicle maintenance software for the DIYer?

I currently use a combination of Car Minder for the iPhone - it's only $2.99 but limited functionality - and Excel spreadsheets. Ideally I'm looking for something that will track all service for up ...
11
votes
2answers
509 views

Keeping an old car alive?

So I drive a '97 Subaru Legacy with about 200,000 miles on it. Still runs like a charm, never gives me any trouble. Had the brakes, rotors, and calipers all replaced recently, tightened the power ...
11
votes
1answer
348 views

Tire Maintenance

I just bought a new car and I have heard three things about tires: They need to be aligned They need to be balanced They need to be rotated Now, what I do not know is how often each needs to be ...
11
votes
4answers
111 views

What is gained with “performance” spark plug wires?

When heading to the store to pick up a new set of spark plug wires, I found three products at this particular shop: Product #1: Price: Cheap Boots: EPDM Core: Suppression Insulation: EPDM Max Temp:...
11
votes
5answers
11k views

What is a good car to start with if I want to learn auto repair?

A couple of other "getting started" questions have been closed (as redundant with these questions), so I hope that my question is different and specific enough. I'm interested in learning to repair ...
10
votes
5answers
879 views

Should I buy a car or get my current one repaired?

I am in a bit of confusion on what I should do. If this is not the right place for such a question, I apologize and I will gladly kick myself out - just let me know. I have a Honda Accord EX 2000 for ...
10
votes
3answers
14k views

What material should I look for in an oil drain plug gasket?

I've recently purchased my first car (2004 Subaru Legacy), and though I sent it to the shop soon afterward for routine maintenance, I want to learn and do as much as possible myself. 3,000 miles have ...
10
votes
2answers
111 views

1982 Yamaha Virago - Several things are wrong and i'd like to repair myself

Several things have happened in the past couple days and I would like to know what could possibly be wrong before I take it all apart. Engine dies after letting off the throttle while on the road. ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

How do I tell if I screwed up my oil change?

I just changed my oil in my 2500 HD Silverado for the first time by myself. I've changed my oil in a 2004 Toyota Camry a handful of times, but I always had a friend supervise me. I need to know common ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

How to prioritize repairs?

My car needs some work, but I don't like taking out too much debt and my savings are sort of depleted for the moment, so I need to do a little at a time. How can I prioritize the work that needs to be ...
9
votes
3answers
172 views

Where can I go to do basic work on my vehicle?

I live in the middle of a city. I have a tiny parking spot in an underground parking garage (have to fold the mirrors in just to get in!). Doing any maintenance is officially verboten, and it wouldn'...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

Caliper piston will not collapse on Almera 98

I was changing brake pads on a Nissan Almera 98 and I accidentally pumped the brake piston a bit out. I tried putting it back with a C clamp and the old pad but it won't budge. It's completely stuck! ...
9
votes
3answers
20k views

What are the audible symptoms of a failing starter motor?

My 2004 Subaru WRX has 110000 miles on the odometer and I'm worried about the original equipment starter motor. Here are the audible symptoms that have me concerned: During the winter, I noticed ...
9
votes
3answers
6k views

Good template for keeping maintenance records?

I'm looking for ideas on templates to use to record service for multiple vehicles. Excel is preferred format, but open to all in interest of gathering ideas. Anyone have any templates?
9
votes
1answer
118 views

My feet turn black

I left the pedicure salon, started my car and drove less than 3 miles to pick up something from the store, when I stepped out of my car my feet were black... and I don't meant just from dirt, It ...
9
votes
1answer
150 views

Why use distance to indicate the usage of an engine

I fear that this question might be bordering on opinion based so sorry about that if it is. When looking for cars one of the primary indicators that people seem to use when trying to determine the ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the causes of fluctuating intake manifold vacuum

I have a 2005 Honda CBR600 F4i which suffers from occasional hesitation at low rpm when accelerating. I also get occasional fault codes from the ECU indicating a vacuum leak. Today I connected a ...
8
votes
6answers
522 views

Are there “standard” torque values for fasteners?

For "normal" applications (say attaching the oil pan or valve cover) are there standard or typical torque values for fasteners? I'm wondering if it is possible to use a rule of thumb for those ...
8
votes
4answers
389 views

What is the best practice to maintain a bike?

I have an Avenger 180cc bike, I want to maintain the bike without much help from the service center, external help etc. What would be the best practice methods?
8
votes
3answers
116 views

What are common cold weather starting issues with cars?

Based upon the current weather in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, I would imagine there are some people suffering from all manner of cold related vehicle issues. What are some of the leading issues ...
8
votes
2answers
78 views

Can I only get an alignment on new tires or is the salesman just being pushy?

When purchasing new tires, the salesman is quick to recommend getting an alignment as well to prevent premature tire wear. I've even been told that you have to get the alignment done when the tires ...
8
votes
1answer
115 views

How often do you need to run a car?

I have a car that is garaged and not used much. How often should I take it out for a drive and for how long each time? I currently get it serviced every 10,000 KM.
7
votes
3answers
922 views

Car enthusiast beginner kit

What is a good place to begin building a kit/set up for performing your own service? For ex: oil changes waxing detailing What is the best starting equipment one can start on?
7
votes
5answers
8k views

Viability of using an electric impact driver instead of an air impact wrench

I'm an amateur mechanic, and i'm wondering if i could use an electric impact driver in place of an air driven impact wrench. I don't have a lot of space to use and store an air compressor, so a ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Why does my car scream on cold start?

My 1988 Subaru XT6 2.7L engine screams at me on a cold start then it will stop and then do it again when I take it out of park, but then it stops. Also, my car is losing antifreeze. Any ideas why?
7
votes
3answers
20k views

What is a rod knock?

What is a rod knock? What causes a rod knock, how bad is a knocking rod, and how can I tell if a rod is knocking?
7
votes
3answers
167 views

What are some typical maintenance things that every owner should do regularily?

Right now I just get a car wash every month, and my oil changed and whatever is included in that. Usually just a quick "inspection". Is there anything else I should be doing for my car? Or also, is ...
7
votes
1answer
142 views

What makes a worn car shock spongy and soft?

I'm unfamiliar with car shocks. In motorcycles many rear shocks are charged with nitrogen which acts like a spring. I've seen motorcycle shocks that I've rebuilt have the correct amount of nitrogen ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Do I need to go to a dealer for a simple maintenance?

I just bought a 2012 CRV. Now, it's time for an oil change. I already moved so the dealer is too far away from my house (may need half day off) and there is no other public transportation to go there. ...
7
votes
1answer
268 views

Long term storage of parts

I recently bought some spare parts for my Subaru Forester XT and would like to store them the right way until I need them. Specifically, I have a turbo, injectors, exhaust and intercooler that needs ...
7
votes
2answers
78 views

Honda R8X-S heat seize

I've got a Honda R8X that heat seizes when I'm riding it when it goes over 40mph. The lad I got it off said he had it re-bored and that it was run in. Will I need to re-bore this again or is there ...
7
votes
1answer
63 views

Frozen windshield wiper fluid on road trip

We are driving in a winter storm and our old wiper fluid is frozen. We picked up some de-icer fluid from a gas station but it has not yet unfrozen the fluid. Any suggestions for an on the road fix? ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

How to maintain power windows to keep them from freezing stuck?

I recently got a car with frameless side windows. Whenever a door handle is touched, the door window is automatically slightly lowered to release it from upper sealing. During winters, temperatures ...
7
votes
2answers
637 views

How to detect a failing car alternator..?

Is there some way we can predict that the car alternator is about to fail in order to avoid a discharged battery situation on the road.. Although it will slow the sound of horn and will dim the ...
7
votes
1answer
99 views

How to test gas station air compressors before use?

Yesterday I was with my wife and three children in the car, 300 KM from home just after sunset. I pulled into a gas station and as before all long trips, I dialed 31 PSI on the gas station's air ...