More lim­its for your DIY re­pairs

Mod­ern cars and their sys­tems re­quire more knowl­edge and the right tools to fix

Edmonton Sun - Autonet - - NEWS - BRIAN TURNER

Au­to­mo­tive de­sign and build has changed a lot in a very short pe­riod of time. For Satur­day morn­ing drive­way techs, a lot of what’s un­der the hood and un­der the car­riage might look a lot like dad’s 1974 sta­tion wagon, but treat cer­tain sys­tems or com­po­nents the same way as dear old dad did in his day and you can earn your­self a tow-truck ride to the near­est shop. This doesn’t mean we should park the tool chest in the back of the garage un­der some old paint cans, but tak­ing the time to do some home­work and prep re­search can save you a world of trou­ble.

Where to look for help? The in­ter­net and YouTube might be great re­sources when try­ing to find a new recipe for shep­herd’s pie, but get­ting your ve­hi­cle’s steer­ing tie rod on cor­rectly can lit­er­ally mean the dif­fer­ence between life and death, not sim­ply un­sat­is­fied din­ner guests. For non-safety items such as learn­ing how swap out a cabin fil­ter, free re­sources are usu­ally okay, but you shouldn’t al­ways trust them when re­plac­ing a fuel pump or al­ter­na­tor. Sites linked to man­u­fac­turer backed owner fo­rums can be a lit­tle more trust­wor­thy, but re­mem­ber, trolls and tech­ni­cally-de­fi­cient types post there too, so it’s ad­vice-seeker be­ware. Some­times of­fi­cial car­maker web­sites have an­swers but usu­ally only to rel­a­tively or­di­nary pro­ce­dures like check­ing your tire pres­sures or lo­cat­ing and us­ing a jack.

Parts re­tail­ers can of­ten of­fer tips on com­mon re­pairs they han­dle the hard­ware for and of course your faith­ful reg­u­lar ser­vice provider might be will­ing to pass along a few trade se­crets pro­vid­ing you’re a good cus­tomer in the first place. When reach­ing for the phone to dial th­ese sources, re­mem­ber their staff isn’t paid to help you out of your jam, so try to con­tact them dur­ing non-peak hours. Paid auto ad­vice web­sites can be bet­ter but you get what you pay for, so don’t ex­pect step by step in­struc­tions on a ma­jor over­haul for a $10 sub­scrip­tion fee.

If you’re de­ter­mined to tackle some au­to­mo­tive main­te­nance jobs your­self and you don’t have an in­side con­tact to the au­tomak­ers tech­ni­cal man­u­als (and now many of th­ese are avail­able to deal­er­ships in pro­tected elec­tronic ver­sions only) you might want to con­sider some con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion cour­ses at a lo­cal col­lege. They’re of­ten in­ex­pen­sive and tai­lored to dif­fer­ent lev­els of skill and in­ter­est.

Elec­tron­ics can ar­guably be lumped in the group of au­to­mo­tive de­sign that has ex­pe­ri­enced the largest ad­vances in the short­est amount of time re­cently. And while the wiring in a mod­ern ve­hi­cle might look like that found in an older auto, there is a world of dif­fer­ence in how it should be treated by techs. Most on­board com­put­ers re­ceive their sig­nals and com­mu­ni­cate with other com­put­ers and ac­ti­va­tors in a low volt­age mode (far less than the stan­dard 12 volts of days gone by). Us­ing an old-fash­ioned elec­tric probe test lamp to lo­cate a short or break can cause a lot of problems on ve­hi­cle cir­cuit boards. If you’ve got one in your tool box, rel­e­gate it to the bot­tom drawer and get a proper mul­ti­me­ter, prefer­ably with in­duc­tive cir­cuit testers to avoid punc­tur­ing any wire’s coat­ing to con­nect to its cop­per wires in­side. Any time you poke a hole in any piece of ve­hi­cle wiring, you’re open­ing the door to cor­ro­sion.

Sun Me­dia

Home me­chanic.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.