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How many of you still twist your own wrenches, change your own oil, and do most of your own vehicle maintenance?

While trying to get preventative maintenance done before hunting season, before the odo hits 100k, and before winter sets in, I changed my first serpentine belt this evening. Good thing I compared the old one with the replacement before I tried threading the new one around the pulleys, because I got the wrong belt! There was no way it was going to stretch several inches to match the old one.

Back to NAPA to exchange for the correct belt. My mistake was ordering one for electronic power steering when what I needed was the belt that included the length for a power steering pump.

Threading the new belt was quite a challenge, especially in such a cramped space. (2012 Kia Forte Koup, 2.4 liter engine.) Overall it was both simple and hard. The simple part is the use of a belt tensioner, but its placement proved challenging to get and hold a wrench on it to release the tension on the belt while loading tension on the wrench. It took several attempts to move the tensioner far enough under pressure to get the new belt back over the last idler pulley, but it sure felt good to "git er done!"

How many of you get personal satisfaction from doing your own mechanical and other work, home remodeling projects, landscaping, etc.? It seems too many don't know how to do anything themselves any more.
 

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Ban Hamster
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I used to wrench quite a bit, born out of necessity, learned a lot and loved the satisfaction of a job done right (CV axle swap, clutch job, engine rebuild, whatever). That, and I really enjoyed tearing crap apart to figure out how it worked :)

Now we drive modern Hondas, and the cradle setup ensures that no major work will be done w/o a lift (middle finger emoji).

Don't have the time anyway :(
 

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I do my own wrenching whenever possible. It's still fun and relaxing but when it comes to the electronics I get lost quickly.
 

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I used to wrench quite a bit, born out of necessity, learned a lot and loved the satisfaction of a job done right (CV axle swap, clutch job, engine rebuild, whatever). That, and I really enjoyed tearing crap apart to figure out how it worked :)

Now we drive modern Hondas, and the cradle setup ensures that no major work will be done w/o a lift (middle finger emoji).

Don't have the time anyway :(

I have done quite a bit of simple replacement stuff. But never any real engine work. Even at 50 years old I would like to sit in and get my hands dirty on an engine rebuild just for the experience of doing so.


By the way I am getting ready to change out the valve stem seals on a 1993 GMC Sonoma. That will be my first time using a tool to pressurize the cylinders and a valve spring compression tool. I am looking forward to it.



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Since I now have a camera with me every minute in the form of an IPhone, I take numerous pictures, from different angles of anything before I take it apart.

It's saved me several times.

The worst belt I ever replaced was the drive belt on my riding mower. Three blades. It followed an unimaginable path that I swore could not possibly be right, and the angle to work on it is maddening.

But, I engage it and the cut grass comes out the chute. I assume it's right.
 

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Ban Hamster
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By the way I am getting ready to change out the valve stem seals on a 1993 GMC Sonoma. That will be my first time using a tool to pressurize the cylinders and a valve spring compression tool. I am looking forward to it.

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Just don't drop a valve ;)

Probably the most involved repair I did was a motor swap on an 88' Nissan Hardbody 4X4.

About 14 hours (should have been 4-6), and I wish to thank the engineers at Nissan for requiring the front member / running gear (torsion bars & all) be dropped in order to slide the engine from the trans.

Good times :)
 

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I hate belts. and second the electrical comment.
I'm learning! My old man is a mechanic. his winter projects growing up used to be literal frame up resto's on mopars. I kid you not whole car apart in the garage and restored come spring. I never had an interest in it growing up. Now I wish I'd taken some lessons from the old man. Now I was rebuilding starters and alterators at age 12 (his business), but I had no idea how or what was wrong. just knew new parts, re assemble and she worked! lol I really enjoy the work now and it helps that my good friend knows a thing or two, he is my life line.

I actually spent all of today working on cars, changing the oil on my truck then putting in a new exhaust on my friends 12V cummins. it sounds awesome. Tuesday my next day off I am putting in a new fuel filter on my truck when my Amazon order arrives, it seems to have gotten "lost in the sauce" per se, I wanted to bang that out today

next project before the "cold" sets in is changing my glowplugs. I direly hope they are not cheapo crap ones as they have a proclivity to swell and not come out, then break off and fall into the motor and frankly I am not playing that game
 

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How many of you get personal satisfaction from doing your own mechanical and other work, home remodeling projects, landscaping, etc.? It seems too many don't know how to do anything themselves any more.
Absolutely! There's a sense of accomplishment, and I love the cost savings. I learned to do minor things as a teenager, like changing brakes, spark plugs, nothing too major.

When I moved to Australia and found out there was no such thing as a quick change oil place... you had to schedule in advance, drop your car off for the day, and pay $150+, I said F' That!!!

Ever since, I do as much work as I can by myself. I'm self-taught (wonders of the internet), and have fixed quite complex problems that would've cost mucho bucks at a shop since they weren't straight forward. I've even caught out problems that the "professionals" didn't catch/fix properly. I am not exaggerating at all, either.

Some things though, depending on the issue, can be easier to just take in, but that's not always the best course of action, either... see previous paragraph.

No offense to our resident GT techs, but ASE certification (or any other certs) obviously doesn't mean much these days: Getting front subframe replaced under warranty at dealer, and having them not tightening bolts on either the subframe or control arms? Could've resulted in my entire family being killed in a high speed wreck. That was the last straw.

Other issues over the past few years:

- Radiator blew, mechanics replaced radiator and thermostat, said bad thermostat was the reason. Upon previously looking at service manual, I determined that was impossible based on where the radiator blew. Got it home, ran it for a few minutes, it started getting a bit warm, fan didn't kick on. The fan was dead, not the thermostat.

- After an inspection (had to have one to sell car private party in Queensland), had shop owner tell me that the VIN on engine block didn't match the vehicle, said was swapped out at some point, possibly stolen. Got it home, looked in the engine compartment and found the number he cited... it was the casting number, every Jeep 4.0 block from that era had the same number. About six inches away was the VIN that matched the vehicle.

- Same shop owner said "front struts" on the Jeep GC needed to be replaced. When I said I could do that myself, he made a snide comment something about only if I had the right spring compressors, etc. I informed him that it had separate shocks and springs, and he argued with me for a short while, before going back into the garage and asking one of his techs. When his tech shouted back "shocks," he came back and gave some BS excuse as to why he was confused.

Currently I'm fixing up a Wheel Horse tractor that the previous owner of my house left behind. Just waiting for one part in the mail and should have it going strong. I really do enjoy fixing things up.

Obviously you've touched a nerve of mine! Sorry for the rant.
 

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I grew up in my fathers garage. My first grade school was just a few blocks from the garage. Dad would drop me off at school and if weather was decent I'd just walk down to the garage and stay till closing. Later I had a bike and high school wasn't that far away. Then a car and I went to college in my hometown. So I spent a lot of hours in that garage.

I had my own wrenches in grade school, and was doing simple stuff at a very early age. By high school I could tear an engine down, and it didn't take long till dad trusted me to put it back together.

I still do as much work as I can. Simple engine overhauls, except I have to hire the valve job done, since I don't have the machines to do it. If I run into a problem i can't solve, such as electronics, I have a good friend who is a professional mechanic. He will put his machine on it and if it's something I can fix, I do it. If not, I pay him to do it.

I also still have a couple of 60's model vehicles and of course a couple of old farm tractors. I can still do just about everything on them. And all my farm equipment is old, so I repair that as necessary.

MY SKILLS HAVE SAVED ME A TON OF MONEY OVER THE YEARS. I generally run a vehicle until the wheels are about ready to fall off. I generally get at least 300,000 miles on most vehicles, before I get rid of them.
 

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Sarcasm Inc.
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I used to run my own garage and still do all my own work except for tires, alignments and warranty work.
It could be a combination of my cheapness or the fact that I want the work done my way.

I very rarely work on anyone else's cars anymore unless it is a pre 1976 or high performance vehicle.
 

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I hate belts. and second the electrical comment.
I'm learning! My old man is a mechanic. his winter projects growing up used to be literal frame up resto's on mopars. I kid you not whole car apart in the garage and restored come spring. I never had an interest in it growing up. Now I wish I'd taken some lessons from the old man. Now I was rebuilding starters and alterators at age 12 (his business), but I had no idea how or what was wrong. just knew new parts, re assemble and she worked! lol I really enjoy the work now and it helps that my good friend knows a thing or two, he is my life line.

I actually spent all of today working on cars, changing the oil on my truck then putting in a new exhaust on my friends 12V cummins. it sounds awesome. Tuesday my next day off I am putting in a new fuel filter on my truck when my Amazon order arrives, it seems to have gotten "lost in the sauce" per se, I wanted to bang that out today

next project before the "cold" sets in is changing my glowplugs. I direly hope they are not cheapo crap ones as they have a proclivity to swell and not come out, then break off and fall into the motor and frankly I am not playing that game
Avoid autolite. They are the ones that tend to swell. Get motorcraft ZD9 plugs. I have also seen the autolites burn out in just a use or two. With the ford system if just a couple of plugs are out it shuts down the whole system
 

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By the way I am getting ready to change out the valve stem seals on a 1993 GMC Sonoma. That will be my first time using a tool to pressurize the cylinders and a valve spring compression tool. I am looking forward to it.



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Forget using compressed air to hold the valves shut. You'll end up just having the piston forced to bdc, there isn't much pressure holding the valve in place, and if you drop it you are screwed.

Just feed a length of paracord through the spark plug hole and rotate the crank by hand so it smushes the cord into the chamber at tdc. Much less chance of problems.

For reference, a 4" piston with 100psi of air is seeing about 1250 pounds of force.

The valve at say 1.8" is seeing 250#, it probably has 140# of spring pressure on the seat, so you only have 100# of margin to unstick the keepers from the retainer.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
A hint on smaller cramped engines like you are describing. Most of those belts are now installed from under the car up on a lift. Much more room reaching up into the engine as opposed to down into the engine.
In this case, the front (belt end) of the engine is only about an inch from the shock tower, so there's no way to see the entire belt and pulley system from either top or bottom. One could see a bit more, and get better access to the tensioner, by removing the upper motor mount, but it really isn't necessary. Like many things I've learned about auto mechanics, a lot of it is done by feel.

I cut my teeth on small block Chevys with a minor in Fords and MoPar. The worst things I've worked on have been the low end "throw away" cars, particularly some made in a joint venture between GM and Toyota. Generally, Toyotas, Hondas, Mazdas and other Aisian brands are pretty straight forward in my experience.
 

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By doing it yourself you know it was done and done right.

When I took my Honda to the dealer for the airbag recall I let them replace the serpentine belt as they said it was cracked.

When I changed the timing belt myself shortly after I inspected the serpentine belt comparing it to the other exterior belt and I do not think it was ever changed.

More and more I like doing the work myself. With the internet detailed instructions are available preventing mistakes.
 

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I used to do all the work on my crappy cars. I've had a few. Now it's warranty work (for now) so I don't do any of it. I kinda miss it sometimes. I've changed a few transmissions and 2 clutch replacements, some suspension stuff. Rebuilt an old small block Ford in high school.

This reminds me of a funny story. Years back. I was dating a girl that drove a '73 VW bug. I was borrowing it for some reason and had a buddy with me. Just screwing around one day. I was showing off the fantastic handling of the rear engine design. :noevil:Well, I ran it into a curb and bent the passenger side control arm quite severely. Oops! I told her it needed new plugs and a tune up. That bought me another day. I went to a local VW salvage place and luckily grabbed another one. I spent the day rebuilding the darn thing. Upon return she complimented me on my great work as it drove better than ever! Apparently the doggone thing needed replacement anyway. I never told her about it. My buddy later married her so he may have fessed up. Not sure.
 
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