DIY Honda Auto Repair and Maintenance

Honda Auto Repair and Maintenance

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Simple Automotive Tune Up Work You Can Do Yourself

July 25th, 2011 · No Comments

When attempting to improve a cars performance and to avoid problems occurring over time, regular vehicle maintenance should be performed.  This article provides information on how to perform many of these basic maintenance tasks which can be performed by most owners with only a few hand tools and their owners manual as a guide.

If you do not have an owners manual you may be able to find owners manuals and repair guides on amazon.com.

For manufacturer recommendations on fluids, maintenance intervals and other recommendations you will need to get the specifications for your vehicle using your specific car’s owners manual, repair guide or the information found on your vehicle’s stickers found on the side of the door or under the hood.

Spark Plug Replacement

Spark plugs deteriorate and get corroded over time.  Various engine problems can be identified by the wear the spark plug shows. To replace spark plugs you generally only need a socket wrench and a spark plug socket that will fit your particular spark plug.  A spark plug gap gauge tool is a optional tool that will allow you to properly set your spark plug gap.

Spark plugs will usually come gapped correctly, but you can use the gap tool to check them before installing to confirm the gap is correct.  Spark plugs wires may also be changed and is fairly easy to do at the same time.   Care should be taken when replacing the spark plug wires that the proper wire positions are maintained.

Air Filter Replacement

The air filter should be changed per manufacturers recommendations found in your owners manual.  Generally these are fairly easy to replace, and can be done by removing the cover held in place by a few clips or screws and swapping out the old filter inside with a new one.

PCV Valve

The PCV or positive crankcase ventilation valve ventilates the crankcase by pulling harmful vapors and combustion by-products out of the crankcase into the intake where they are burned.  The valve can easily be removed.  remove the connecting hose from the valve and then pull the valve out of the valve cover with a twisting motion.   If you shake the valve, you should hear the bead rattle inside.  If it does not rattle, the valve has become clogged up and should be replaced.   Another test is to blow air into the valve, don’t use your mouth to this.  Air should flow in one direction only; when blowing the other direction the bead should prevent the air from going through the valve.

Other Fluids

You other automotive fluids should be filled to their recommended levels.  Some of these are listed below, again you should always check manufacturers recommendations for your specific vehicle.   Some of the more common fluids include the radiator coolant and overflow, brake fluid in one or more reservoirs, power steering fluid, transmission fluid for automatics, washer fluid, and battery water level for unsealed batteries.

Tires

You can check your tires for many problems yourself. you should at least check for uneven wear, minimum tread depth and proper tire pressure.  To perform these checks, you really only need a tire pressure gauge.   A tread depth indicator can be used to check tread depth, but it isn’t necessary since you can use anything that fits into the treads that has a known dimension to check the depth.  The tire pressure gauge is really an indespensible tool, you can keep one of the small pencil style tire pressure gauges in the glove box of each of your vehicles – It will come in handy anytime you suspect your tires are low on air and when filling them.

Uneven wear can be identified by measuring the tread depth of the tire at various points on the inner, center and outer treads.  if you do not have a depth gauge you can use a penny or a quarter to measure the depth of your treads.  To measure the depth with the coins you should place the coin upside down into the tread.  The top of Lincoln’s head on a penny is approximately 2/32 inch; the top of Washington’s head on a quarter is approximately 4/32 inch.  These measurements are the minimum depths your tires should have per various recommendations.

2/32 inches of remaining tread depth will have significantly less grip in poor conditions than 4/32 inch.  Frequent poor weather may dictate that you should have a minimum of 4/32 or greater tread depth.  Wear bars are bumps placed inside the grooves in the tire tread by the manufacturer that can assist you in determining if it is time to replace your tires.  When these wear bars appear flush with the tread, the tire has been worn to its useful life and should be replaced.

Oil Change

Every few thousand miles the oil should be changed. Check your manufacturer’s manual to find the specific mileage recommendation.  When changing the oil you should also change the oil filter. The recommended oil weight and amount will also be listed in your owners manual.

Changing the oil is a little more involved than the other maintenance previously described in this article since it will generally require you to go under the car.  A good quality jack, wheels blocks and stands or ramps are needed in addition to an oil filter wrench, something to drain the used oil into and sockets.  Most auto parts stores will recycle your used oil for free.  For these reasons some people prefer not to change their own oil, many repair shops will offer discounts and coupons that often compete well with the cost of doing it yourself.

Cap and Rotor

The distributor cap and rotor are are inside the engine compartment and mounted on the distributor.  The spark plug wires connect to the cap.  The contacts inside the cap and on the rotor deteriorate over time and your engine will produce less spark.  You can remove the cap by taking off the wires – mark each wires location on the cap before removing them, you don’t want to mix them up – and then removing the screw holding the cap on.  Inspect the contacts in the cap and on the rotor for wear.  The rotor is underneath the distributor cap and may have a set screw holding it in place.  It can generally be pried off after loosing the set screw.

Many of these items are things that are normally performed in a tune up at a shop, learning to do these things yourself can save you money and help keep your car running well.  Most of the maintenance items discussed in this article can be performed easily with minimal tools and experience and the owners manual or repair guide.

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