DIY Auto Repair Tips » Blog Archives

Tag Archives: safety

How to Choose a Car Jack and Jack Stands for DIY Auto Repair

Oftentimes, when doing DIY auto repair, the one aspect that you may not notice you use and need for most projects, is a car jack. We take for granted the one tool that can actually lift your car off the ground and allows a safe and comfortable environment for you to work in. In order for a car jack to provide that safety, however, the right jack must be in your possession. There is no one-jack-fits-all kind of jack, especially if you just accept the cheapest, most portable jack you can find. So what car jack should you get that will make your DIY auto repair project a safe project? …a car jack that gives you the peace of mind so you can focus on the work and not worry about any danger? Let us take a look at a few different jacks and lifting techniques that can be used to match your DIY auto repair needs.

  • Jack stands are a type of safety equipment that by definition are life savers. As their name implies, they are just stands that are a support after your car has already been lifted off the ground. They are often overlooked by those working under their vehicle, but jack stands are just one failed jack away from being the tool you owe your life to. So before you life your car to do any DIY auto repair job, be safe by making sure you have jack stands ready to place underneath.
  • An interesting alternative to lifting the vehicle off the ground, which some DIY mechanics forget about, are ramps. They don’t allow you to do much work on the wheels or brakes necessarily, but for most projects under the vehicle, especially towards the front, ramps are safer to use than a car jack. If you use ramps, always remember to use wheel chocks and set the parking brake, as well.
  • Floor jacks are the most common lifting tool used on both DIY auto repair and regular maintenance. Many floor jacks come with the car, often as mobile tools, useful for changing a tire and other situations where working around the tire area is necessary. These car jacks are not safe for working under the car as they have a small surface area on the lifting pad and are not rated for any in-depth repair conditions. If you are wanting to use a floor jack, make sure to go out and buy one that is designed for working under a car, and as stated previously, always use jack stands with them.
  • Bottle jacks are small, funny looking, and extremely powerful lifting tools. They can lift more than many floor jacks can, but because of their compact size and shape, they may not be as stable. You will also want to ensure the bottle jack is on a flat, strong surface, for your safety. It is particularly important for you to accompany bottle jacks with jack stands, as they offer even less stability than floor jacks.
  • There are some specialized jacks that are made specifically for a DIY auto repair project, and can make your job considerably smoother than previous situations without the jacks. Just because these jacks were made for the specific projects you need them for, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use caution. All car jacks have a crushing hazard, and therefore taking necessary precautions before and during the project is very important.

Just as a car jack can make a DIY auto repair situation safe, it can also make it extremely dangerous. Choosing the right jack, and practicing safe lifting techniques, can make your DIY auto repair project an enjoyable one and get you out from under your car in one piece.

Published by:

How to Replace a Side Mirror

You could simply be leaving to go to work when suddenly-you misjudge the distance between the wall and your car, or more specifically, your side mirror. This most likely leads to an infuriating moment where you curse the car, the mirror, the garage door, and possibly your job for putting you in this predicament in the first place.

Leave that unpleasant disposition at home, because replacing a side mirror isn’t too difficult and there are a few benefits of replacing the side mirror yourself. For example, you can choose the brand you want yourself, you don’t have to pay for the repairs, and because the repairs would most likely be below your insurance deductible anyways, asking them to replace a side mirror would be futile or, worse, hurtful. In other words, replacing the side mirror yourself will save you money and help you get back to focusing on more important things.

How do you replace a side mirror? Here’s a few steps to follow to help guide you in the replacement process.

• Step one involves getting the tools necessary to replace a side mirror and prepping the door for the new mirror.  You will need screwdrivers, sockets, and a door panel removal tool. It will be used for removing the door panel and all the retainer clips. If it is a manual window, that has a crank handle, then you especially need the door handle removal tool. It is used to slip between the window crank handle and door panel, which opens up the spring clip that holds the crank, allowing the crank to be pulled off of the spline. If you want the tool to work correctly, you must insert it from the side of the handle knob. In a pinch, you can use a long, thin screwdriver, but it is much easier with the door panel removal tool.

• Step two in replacing a side mirror involves retrieving the mirror and prepping it as well. You can often get aftermarket mirrors far less expensively than going for the on-brand type, which will help keep your expenses on this project down. The mirror will most likely come in black, which means it will need to be painted, at least if you want it to match the rest of the car. If not, black is always “in” and matches everything, anyway. You want to do this before installation to make it easier to mask and lowers overspray issues. You’ll find the paint color code from the manufactures information label normally located on the driver’s door. Once you have the paint, mask the mirror and any other glass found on the mirror. When you are painting, try not putting on too heavy of a coat for it could run. Do multiple coats for it to come out best, as well as painting rapidly so the paint does not dry after each pass.

• Step three involves removing the old mirror or what is left of it. To remove the old one, you will find many screws in hidden areas that are not plain to see. Some may be covered by small plastic caps, which can be removed with a screwdriver. There will most likely be a separate triangular trim piece where the mirror is mounted. You remove the panel by taking out the screws and clips holding it on, and then prying on it to loosen it up. The different wiring you see does not need to be messed with as long as the mirror’s wiring is accessible. Remove the mounting screws and disconnect the electric connection to pull the mirror off. Make sure the connector and wiring don’t fall inside the door as this will cause unnecessary trouble for you in the next step.

• Step four, the last step, is the one you have been waiting for, installing your new mirror. You basically are going to retrace your steps from when you removed the old one, starting with connecting your wiring. Put the mirror in the correct position, aligning it with the window trim. Make sure to figure out whether your car’s mirror mounts with the base flange under the rubber window seal or not. If it does, it is an important step to keep in mind as it ensures your window seals. Keep following your bread crumbs by tightening your screws, checking the wiring, finding all your clips and making sure they are undamaged. Finally, line up your door panel and tap liberally at the different clips’ locations and reinstall the screws, caps, and the mirror trim cover.

Having your side mirror set up and ready to be used is a responsible necessity. Following these simple steps to replace a side mirror will help you always be safe for both yourself and the many drivers following at your six.

Published by: