Valvoline, one of the leaders in car care (after all, they have spend 140 years under the hood) released some nifty tips on car care as well as some things that people tend to overlook when they’re working on their beloved vehicle.
If you’re reading this you’re likely one of those hearty few that revel in fixing things yourself. You enjoy the satisfaction in knowing that you made or fixed something. While that crooked spice rack in the kitchen may not be your finest work, it represents valuable lessons learned for the next spice rack. When it comes to working on things with engines and four wheels, it helps to know a few of these lessons going in. There is also a very real factor of danger that must be considered. Some errant coriander falling off a crooked shelf may cause a bit of a mess. A mechanical misstep in the automotive world can cause expensive damage or injury. Protecting your vehicle and yourself from harm is easy if you follow a few simple steps before starting work on an automobile. We’ve made plenty of the automotive equivalent of crooked spice racks over the years. Here are a couple of the things we’ve learned to save you from making work for yourself.
1. Label Now for the Future
One way to insure that things get put back together the same way they were before they came apart is with simple labels. Some long masking tape and a marker are good tools for marking vacuum hoses and electrical connectors. Mark each hose with a matching number, or each wire with a matching letter. A paint marker is great for daubing identifying left or right marks on larger parts. While changing the oil, a bit of tape or post-it on the steering wheel with the words “NO OIL!” scrawled on it is a good idea to prevent turning over the engine without oil and turning it into scrap metal. Tear the note off only after you’ve tightened the drain bolt, spun on the filter, and poured fresh oil in the engine.
2. Jack of All Weights
With 27 different kinds of airbags and side impact support built into the doors, even compact cars can easily tip the scales over 2000 pounds these days. While it would be nice to have a two-post rack like the do-it-yourself shop guys on TV, most of us are stuck with a garage full of boxes with mystery contents and only a little space. Never work under an unsupported vehicle. Original equipment emergency jacks are designed only for emergency tire changing—not for working under the vehicle. Use a quality jack and jack stands rated for the weight of your vehicle. Use a wheel chock to prevent unwanted rolling. A wheel chock does not have to be fancy—a block of wood is better than nothing. A set of drive-on ramps is great for oil changes. Never attempt to use ramps or jack up a vehicle on anything other than level, solid ground.
3. Circuit Breaker
Disconnecting the battery negative post not only prevents any accidental electrical shorts, it also disables the vehicle ignition system to prevent accidental starts. The first step is to turn the ignition key to the off position and remove it. This will prevent accidental power ups when the battery is reconnected. Even something as ordinary as an electric radiator fan can cause a nasty finger or hand injury if it starts unexpectedly. After disconnecting the battery place a thick rag across the top of the two battery posts. Keep wrenches or watches away from the battery to prevent arcing power. Warning: Radio and other vehicle settings may be lost. Check your owner’s manual to find details on battery disconnect.
4. Mirror, Mirror
This tip is similar to the labeling idea. Always leave one side assembled while working on the other. This is especially handy when working on the brakes. The orientation and arrangement of the various clips, spacers, springs, and shims that comprise a brake assembly are surprisingly easy to forget. A phone call, football game on TV, or other interruption can accelerate this memory assembly loss. While it’s tempting to blow everything apart into a million pieces with the 150-piece pneumatic power tool set you just picked up on sale, leave one side for reference is an idea that always works.
5. Wear Protection
The same folks that spend countless dollars and hours shining and protecting their cars often skimp when it comes to protecting themselves. The words “wear protective goggles or gloves” are not just written for legal reasons. Battery acid is corrosive. Automotive potions, such as engine oil and brake fluid, do a stellar job of helping gnashing aluminum and steel survive, yet can be detrimental to the human body. Fumes from canned solvents, such as brake cleaner or spray paint, can cause both short and long-term physical damage. Fortunately, protective goggles, masks, and gloves are relatively inexpensive and readily available. Putting them on and using them is the real trick
For more info about Valvoline, check out Valvoline’s Official Site