When it comes to do­ing your own main­te­nance, how far is too far?

Calgary Sun - Autonet - - NEWS - BRIAN TURNER

No mat­ter how ad­vanced our daily rides might get, there’s al­ways a mea­sur­able seg­ment of driv­ers that will want to do a lit­tle drive­way tin­ker­ing. And what’s wrong with that? Some do cer­tain main­te­nance and re­pair items to save money, oth­ers be­cause they en­joy it, and some just out of con­ve­nience be­cause they hate to have to make ap­point­ments and wait in line.

The in­ter­net is full of de­bates re­gard­ing what type of re­pairs DIYers should and shouldn’t tackle, and whether or not back­yard tech­ni­cians are risk­ing the safety of oth­ers with home­made re­pairs. Of course, the en­tire de­bate hinges on the skills and knowl­edge of those hold­ing the wrenches; for ev­ery am­a­teur more skilled than the best trained and li­cenced tech­ni­cian work­ing in a shop, there’s another am­a­teur who shouldn’t be al­lowed to add air to their tires.

If you’ve ever con­sid­ered do­ing some of these re­pairs to your own ve­hi­cle, here are a cou­ple gen­eral guide­lines to keep in mind.

Reg­u­la­tions. Al­most ev­ery mu­nic­i­pal­ity from coast to coast cov­ers home au­to­mo­tive re­pairs in their by­laws. And of course, as you might sus­pect, they pro­hibit them in most forms. These reg­u­la­tions are com­plaint-driven for the most part, so un­less you tick off a neigh­bour with ex­ces­sive noise, fumes, or toxic fluid leaks, you’ll likely not run into any prob­lems.

But if your friendly by­law of­fi­cer does reg­u­lar tours and sees you haul­ing an en­gine out of your car in your drive­way, you can ex­pect a visit – and pos­si­bly a fine. These rules are in place for good rea­sons; they’re on the books to help keep res­i­dents safe, re­duce the risks of en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion, and to keep neigh­bours on good terms with each other. Chang­ing en­gine oil or sea­sonal tire swap­ping swap­ping aren’t likely to get you on the en­force­ment radar, but pull out a paint-gun or start ham­mer­ing off some sus­pen­sion com­po­nents, and, well, you’re on your own.

Safety. If this isn’t your first con­cern be­fore haul­ing out the tool box, then maybe you re­ally shouldn’t be do­ing any drive­way re­pairs. Any time a ve­hi­cle is lifted, the only safe way to se­cure it (with­out a hoist) is with prop­erly rated and well-placed jack stands. Drive-on ramps are just an in­vi­ta­tion for in­jury and ve­hi­cle dam­age, no mat­ter how care­ful you think you are.

And never rely solely on the trans­mis­sion’s park gear or hand­brake to make sure a ve­hi­cle can’t roll when one end is jacked up. Wheel chocks are cheap in­sur­ance. Also don’t for­get that as­phalt is sel­dom as strong as con­crete when sup­port­ing a jack stand; a thick piece of ply­wood is a good item to use to make sure that the sharp steel legs of the stands don’t sink into the pave­ment.

When­ever you have to drain any fluid from a ve­hi­cle, plan in ad­vance for its con­tain­ment as any type of it will pose a risk to the en­vi­ron­ment or hu­mans. Re­mem­ber that most flu­ids sel­dom pour straight down but rather on an arc due to vol­ume pres­sures. Stay tuned next week for a few more tips and words to the wise on DIY re­pairs.

SUp­pliEd/ iStock via Getty imaGeS

When it comes to DIY main­te­nance, it’s far too easy to get car­ried away.

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