Tips for Better DIY Brake Jobs

Parts for DIY Brake Jobs

Parts for DIY Brake Jobs

Let’s review some tips for better DIY brake jobs. Despite aiming these tips at people that prefer to work on their own automobiles, retail auto service customers will also benefit from this information. Sometimes car repair shops and professional mechanics are forced into a situation where they cut corners.

These auto repair centers need to remain competitive and therefore operate on thin profit margins for standard brake job services. Unfortunately, many technicians today still get paid on the archaic flat rate pay scale. This means they’re not compensated all that much for brake services on your automobile. The necessity to put food on the table can push them to rush the job. Rushing the job on an automotive safety system seems counterproductive. However, in the real world it happens.

Knowing how to do DIY brake jobs correctly helps those retail customers ask important questions about how their brake service was performed. In this article we’ll focus on items that driveway mechanics can employ to achieve better results. Drivers having the service performed for them, can ask the mechanic if they employed the same tactics. One thing is for sure, the more time you spend on the little details the better these DIY brake jobs turn out. In fact, sweating the details can help the new friction pads last longer and reduce brake noise.

Brake Caliper Slide Issue

Brake Caliper Bolt and Slide

Brake Caliper Bolt and Slide

The brake caliper on all automobiles is a free-floating component. The caliper physically moves when you apply the brakes and then returns when you release them. Manufacturers implement the use of caliper slides differently. In fact, on some old Mercedes-Benz cars the caliper is actually fixed and the pads slide inside the caliper.

Despite the design, the disc brake caliper needs to apply and release. If it doesn’t completely release, the brakes drag and experience premature wear. In extreme situations a dragging caliper can cause the automobile to pull while driving on the road. This condition can often be mistaken for the front end out of alignment. Common factory installed brake caliper slides need servicing during a standard brake job.

Let’s explain the words servicing the slides. The caliper slides accumulate brake dust and can experience corrosion due to their exposure to harsh conditions. These caliper slides are meant to be removed and cleaned when you’re performing a standard brake job. With that said, these same parts need to be lubricated with a specialized caliper lube before you reinstall them.

Caliper lube is manufactured to stand up to the extreme temperatures generated by automotive braking systems. In addition, this specialized grease remains waterproof even in harsh conditions. In most cases the applied lubricant will last as long as the friction pads. The factory installed caliper lube on the assembly line. Mechanics performing DIY brake jobs in the driveway should do the same. For retail automotive consumers, they should ask their mechanic if they cleaned and lubricated the caliper slides on their automobile during brake service.

Brake Pulsation and Noise

Disc Brake Rotor

Disc Brake Rotor

Many auto repair shops just quickly replace the friction pads and move on to the next car. In the industry, we call this a hang and go or a pad slap. During a hang and go operation all of the vital tips recommended by factory trained technicians get thrown into a trashcan. Although consumers might be happy with the price for a pad slap service, they will not be thrilled with how long they last. And the chances of possible problems they might experience in a short time of use increases exponentially.

When retail car repair shops apply the hang and go service to an automobile some of the first complaints from drivers becomes brake pulsation and noise when stopping. Let’s tackle the brake pulsation part first. In this situation professional mechanics recommend you replace the disc brake rotors. In the old days we would recommend a resurfacing operation for the original equipment rotors. However, in an effort to reduce the weight of the vehicle and save money, the rotors installed on modern automobiles don’t resurface well.

They use a composite material instead of pure steel. The other issue becomes the thickness of the rotor installed on the assembly line. These parts are already near their minimum thickness. This means that replacing the disc brake rotor remains the way to go. Thankfully, aftermarket companies offer these replacement parts at bargain prices for most automobiles. Unfortunately, on some German cars these parts carry a high price tag. However, even on German BMW automobiles you can find replacement parts under $200 each.

Problems with DIY brake jobs

Disc Brake Quiet

Disc Brake Quiet

The next problem we run into with a hang and go brake job becomes noise generated while braking. The noise itself is caused by a vibration of the friction pads. There are two things that help reduce the possibility of brake noise performed on a full service brake job. First, mechanics looking to achieve the best results should always replace the hardware. On disc brake systems these are stainless steel clips that firmly hold the brake pads in place.

On rear drum brakes, hardware includes the springs and shoe hold downs. Failure to replace these parts allows the brake parts to vibrate and cause brake noise. The second issue that can cause annoying disc brakes squeal also has to do with brake pad vibration.

It stems from when the brake caliper piston applies the friction pads against the rotors. We need to dampen the vibration between the face of the piston and the back side of the inboard pad. High quality replacement parts include a vibration dampening shim on the inboard brake pad. When you buy cheap parts they often lack this shim. Some auto repair shops apply a silicone substance called disc brake quiet to the inboard pad. However, they would not have to do this if they bought high quality replacement parts in the first place. Disc brake quiet can wear down over time and annoying brake noise becomes the result.

Universal Auto Repair Tools

Impact Universal Socket Joint

Impact Universal Socket Joint

Are you thinking about adding universal auto repair tools to your collection? See how a professional car mechanic feels about these alluring tools. I’ve purposely chosen the word alluring, because of its extended definition. Mr. Webster says the word stands for having a strong attractive or enticing quality.

Our friend the Internet dictionary describes the definition as a temptation or attraction to something desirable. How does this apply to universal auto repair tools? What if you could buy one tool that performed the job of a complete set of tools. The answer is, you would spend a fraction of the price and at the same time get a tool that satisfied your every need.

Does this sound too good to be true? In my opinion, it is too good to be true. With that said, I have more than three universal auto repair tools in my professional collection at this very moment. In this article we’ll provide examples of universal tools that will surely disappoint you. To balance this out we’ll provide a couple of universal tools I would never live without when it comes to fixing cars.

Universal Socket Tool

Universal Socket Tool

Universal Socket Tool

There are several different varieties of universal socket tools available. One of the more popular styles becomes a large socket filled with hardened steel pins. As you push the socket over the nut or bolt it displaces the pins in the way by pushing them upward into the top of the cylinder. The remaining steel pins surround the bolt head and provide the force necessary to remove the fastener.

There remain several issues with these kinds of designs. In an automotive tool application you often need deep or shallow sockets. When the pins rise up into the tool they often don’t allow the clearance necessary to accept the head of the fastener. Another issue becomes the remaining pins leave a little slack on the flats or corners of the nut or bolt. If this threaded retainer is extremely tight, the possibility of slippage and stripping the part exists.

However, one of the biggest drawbacks becomes the physical size of this universal tool. The tool shows removal of fasteners from a quarter inch to three-quarter inch in diameter. Of course, this also applies to 7 mm to 19 mm retainers. In fact, that’s the plus side of this universal auto repair tools. It doesn’t care if the fastener is standard or metric. With that said, if you are removing an 8 mm bolt you usually don’t have that much room around it. If automotive manufacturers use a small fastener they do so because of limited accessibility.

Universal Wire Stripper Pliers

Universal Wire Stripper

Universal Wire Stripper

I’ll try to get into a rhythm of mixing in the truly valuable tools among the ones that I would pass on. When it comes to a universal auto repair tool, my favorite is the universal wire stripper. These wire stripping pliers cleanly remove the insulation from almost any size automotive wire. My pair advertises coverage from 10 to 24 AWG wires. It’s rare that you’ll find an automotive application outside of these specifications.

The tool works by automatically sensing the gauge of the wire with a plastic feeler blade as it clamps on to the wire. It works on both solid core and stranded types of wire. The cost of this universal auto repair tool comes in at only a few dollars more than your standard wire strippers. Although I use this tool in most situations, I still own a smaller pair of specialized automotive wire strippers.

The reason is, you need a fair amount of room to use these types of automatic wire strippers. Another slight downside to using this tool becomes the case of stranded wire used on automotive sensors. In the situation where there’s a small gauge wire, the automatic function can sometimes clip off a few strands. With the gauge of the wires already tiny, losing a few more strands can change the operation of the circuit. Nevertheless, despite a few shortcomings, this is my go to automotive electrical tool.

Universal Multi Use Tool

Universal Multi Tool

Universal Multi Tool

I’m sure you’ve seen these heavily advertised universal multiple usage tools. They claim to replace a toolbox full of sockets and wrenches with a tool that you can hold in the palm of your hand. If you say this sounds too good to be true, I believe you’re correct. The list of shortcomings of this particular design becomes quite extensive. Nevertheless, I’ll hit on a few of the main points.

As you can see this tool will not handle any nuts where the bolt sticks through more than a quarter of an inch. It’s a very short or shallow well socket. The other problem becomes that they designed the tool to fit metric and standard hardware alike. They do this with an odd pattern on the inside shell. Surprisingly it fits firmly on a wide variety of metric and standard fasteners. However, the fact that it’s universal becomes an issue on stubborn nuts and bolts.

The length of the tool provides a clue into this issue. They don’t give you a lot of leverage with a long handle, because the tool slips and then strips the corners off the fasteners when you apply a major amount of force. This isn’t the kind of tool that you can slide a pipe over for extra leverage. If you elect to ignore this warning, you’ll either strip the fastener or break the tool.

Universal Ball Joint Press

Universal Ball Joint Press

Universal Ball Joint Press

The universal ball joint press is a tool that I don’t get to use very often. However, when I need it there’s no substitute for the job it does. Although we consider this tool a ball joint tool, it performs a variety of other functions as well. It’s great for removing u-joints out of rear wheel drive shafts. It’s also good for removing brake caliper anchor pins.

Believe it or not, you can get your hands on a decent ball joint press in the $50 price range. One of the factors that determine the cost becomes the amount of included adapters. Obviously the more adapters contained in the kit the wider the coverage for the automobiles that you might run into.

As an example, I have an eight piece universal auto repair tools set that covers a nice variety of cars and trucks. It cost me $60. A 16 piece set runs in the $150 range and gives you more depth of coverage. With that said, if you buy a large 16 piece ball joint press you’ll probably have adapters that you’ll never use in a lifetime.

How to Open a Mechanic Shop in Your Garage

how to open a mechanic shopThere is always going to be a need for mechanics. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 763,700 mechanics in the U.S. today. And as you read this, many more young adults are studying to become one.

By 2018, the number of mechanics is expected to grow by 5 percent so more people are wondering how to open a mechanic shop. However, only a few know how to do it fast and correctly.

How to Open a Mechanic Shop on a Budget

Are you one of the many who owns a garage? If the answer is yes, great! Let us tell you that you are actually thinking about your new mechanic shop right now.

However, just because you know how to fix cars or test oil pressure doesn’t mean that you are a natural at running a business. Luckily, we are here to help!

Keep reading and you will find the top 4 key factors to lead you to success.

Of course, since this is a story on how to open a mechanic shop and not on how to become a mechanic, we are going to assume you already have an ASE certification.

If you don’t, go get one and get back here as soon as possible!

1. Get the Paperwork Done

Creating a business comes with responsibilities and opening your doors is just not enough. Make sure you contact authorities like your secretary of state’s office and get your license.

Also, head over to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website to get your EIN (Employer Identification Number) and have your papers somewhere easy to find — you never know when someone might ask for them.

We would recommend a business plan. as well. First, it will help you figure out how you will conduct your business. And second, it will be your point of reference in case you want to submit it to a potential lender or investor.

2. Financing

Getting some help from a local lender is not that difficult. Managing your money is, though. Invest just enough to get your business up and running until revenue begins coming in. But don’t be a spendthrift — at least not right from the start — and make slow steps.

To get your equipment and start with the basics, at least, get in touch with a mobile tool dealer. Get the best deal and create a network of trusted associates. Also, you can always join a trade association — you will be surprised by the number of people that might be willing to help you.

Whatever you do, start small. You can always expand later.

3. Look Professional

We don’t want to ruin the romance here, but you have to be honest with yourself. It is a garage that you want to turn into a mechanic shop, after all.

Invest in your business in terms of appearance and facilities. Give your garage the look and the feel of an actual mechanic shop. Your clients are going to trust you even more and realize that you are serious about your business.

You don’t need to spend much. Some paint, a basic waiting room area, a brand new garage door from A-1 Door Company, and a great sign. That would be a great start!

4. Marketing

Everyone markets their products or services. You have to think differently, though. Don’t be just another mechanic shop in the neighborhood. To be honest, promoting the fact that your shop used to be a garage, might be a great idea.

People will become curious, they will most likely visit your shop and, at this point, all you will need to turn them into regular clients is a great service. Just stick out and be the cool mechanic in the town.

So, now you know what to do! But do you have all the knowledge required? Make sure you keep up with our blog, a great car resource.

How to Find the Perfect Car for Your Lifestyle

perfect carHow do you know a car is “the one” for you?

Finding the perfect car can be almost as tricky as finding the perfect partner. There are seemingly endless factors to consider.

It is important to remember that no matter how stressful picking a car can be, it is important to remember that there is a perfect car out there to fit your unique lifestyle.

No two people live exactly the same way as you, and a car the seamlessly fits into your life is important in years to come.

The best thing you can do is take time to research all of your options and proceed with caution.

Read on to learn how to find your perfect car to fit your lifestyle.

The Car’s Purpose

The first step in car-discovery is asking what the car is for, and how it will assimilate into everyday life.

Who will it drive? Where will it go?

Overall, you want to think about what the underlying purpose of the car is, and what value you hope it will bring into your life.

This will help you decide what factors are most important to you. If the car will be used to transport children to and from school, it may be best to consider safety and child-friendly features.

On the other hand, if the car will be used for you to drive to work and other activities, you may only need to consider your preferences,

Once you have decided how it will be used, it should be easier to eliminate a few cars from your list.

Where You Live

The area and city you live can play a huge role in determining your needs. The simple basis of this consideration is whether you are from a rural or urban area.

This is important because it will change the amount you may need to travel in the car you are purchasing.

It also helps determine exactly how much it will be used. It isn’t a good idea to plan for a car to take you to and from work if you prefer to walk.

As well, consider other options such as public transit in some situations. A more economic car may be better if it would not be used as often.

Where You Work

The location of your job and the type of work you do also can influence the type of car you need.

If you work from home or work remotely often, then your car may be used more often for recreation than for work.

Therefore, it may be better to pick a perfect car that encourages the type of recreation that you enjoy.

For example, if you are an avid outdoors lover, a Jeep may benefit the hobby of hiking or camping.

How to Find the Perfect Car

It’s important to have resources in place to help you pick the best car for you and your household.

The internet has become an excellent platform to discover the perfect ride in our technologically focused world.

House of Cars is an excellent option to begin your search and considering different car options.

Learn more on their website, and keep a close eye on changing inventory for your next car.

Check out our blog to learn more about auto repairs and car maintenance once you find the car for you.

5 Tips for Ordering New Vehicle Parts From Your Dealer

new vehicle partsPart of mastering the art of auto repair is getting comfortable sourcing replacement parts for your car. As Americans keep their old cars longer, this is a skill more people need to learn.

One of the best places to purchase new parts–especially if you’re a bit inexperienced–is your local dealership.

Here are our top 5 tips for ordering new vehicle parts directly from your dealer.

5 Tips for Ordering New Vehicle Parts from Your Dealership

1. Figure Out Exactly What You Need Beforehand

If you’re a car repair neophyte, you might not know precisely what part you need for your car. It’s not enough to know you need a new alternator. You need a specific part name–and the part number–if you want to be sure your part will work in your car.

2. Research Average Prices

Before you start calling your local dealerships, you need to know what a good deal looks like for your particular part.

You have a couple of options when it comes to price research, but you really should start out online.

Check out the big-name retail sites–think Amazon and eBay–to see what they might charge. Don’t forget to include shipping and handling fees in your total.

You can also call around to a few local mechanic shops to check their prices. Don’t be surprised if some shops won’t give you a quote, though. Many mechanics depend on those surcharges and service fees and won’t sell parts separately.

3. Take Convenience into Consideration

Sure, you may be able to source a particular part online for a fraction of the price your dealership charges. If it’ll take two weeks to ship and you need it now, however, it’s not such a great deal.

Remember to factor in convenience costs when you’re comparing value. It might be worth it to pay a little extra if it means you can buy the part from a local shop close to your home.

Some dealerships even let you order online, too.

4. Take Advantage of Specialized Service

One of the best things about ordering new vehicle parts from a dealership is it cuts down on any guesswork. You know dealership parts will work with your care because they’re made for your specific make and model.

If you drive a Mazda in the Edmonton area, for example, you know a dealership like Park Mazda will have the parts you’re looking for.

5. If You Have Questions, Ask!

Your dealership can be a fount of knowledge for you. Most are happy to help their regular customers out, so don’t be afraid to ask if you’re unsure about a part. They may even have some advice on installation!

Learn More About Auto Repair from thereadinggroup.us

The world of auto repair and maintenance can be a little overwhelming at first–but it doesn’t have to be. At thereadinggroup.us, we give our readers the info and resources they need to handle their repairs themselves.

You can find your repair manual, follow along with our helpful repair videos, and check out our blog for insider tips and expert advice. Start learning today.

10 DIY Car Detailing Tips Everyone Should Know

car detailing

You’ve invested in a car you love, and now you want to take

pride in it by keeping it in tip-top shape. This includes payi

ng for maintenance, repairs when needed, and regular car washes.

Getting your car detailed feels great. Your car looks wonderful, smells clean, and you feel like a million dollars when you drive it.

However, car detailing can get pretty expensive. Avoid the pricey fees of having it done professionally and learn to detail your car yourself.

Below, we’ve put together ten car detailing tips that you can do at home. Use these the next time you want to have your car looking spiffy — you (and your wallet) can thank us later.

1. Best DIY Car Detailing Tip: Invest in the Right Tools

Having the right tools and materials to detail your car will make all the difference.

Sure, it may be costly to invest in things like leather repair serum and wax sprays, but you will save quite a bit on car detailing costs in the long run.

Having the right tools helps you to get the job done right in a smaller amount of time. This way, you will be more motivated to do your car detailing at home. Check out Drivek for an example of a beautiful car that’s easy to care for.

2. Use a Leather Repair Kit

If your car has leather seats, they are likely to be damaged at some point. Whether this is from stains, tears, or general grime, having dirty leather can make the rest of your car feel worn-out, too.

Using a leather repair kit to address damage swiftly will help to minimize any permanent harm to the appearance of your leather.

A leather repair kit will contain conditioners, creams, and all the things you need to clean and repair your leather as often as needed. If you do this regularly, it will not be such an overwhelming job every time you go to detail your car.

3. Brush Out the Air Vents

This may seem like a little thing, but it can make all the difference in the cleanliness of your car.

Take a small, fluffy brush — like a makeup or painting brush — and dust out the air vents. Getting rid of the dust and lint trapped here can make a huge difference in how clean your car feels.

Plus, when you turn the air on, there are fewer things blowing around. This will help to keep the rest of your car clean, as well.

4. Polish Before Waxing

Most people assume that polishing and waxing a car are the same thing. That is not the case.

Polishing is the process of removing imperfections on the surface of the car. Polishing helps to buff out scratches and minor signs of wear, creating a nice shine in the process. Doing this makes the waxing even more effective, as it adds further glossiness and protection to the surface of your car.

Having a polisher also keeps to make this process go smoothly and efficiently.

5. Choose the Right Wax

The waxing step should take place after removing surface imperfections through polishing. Waxing will fill in those gaps and make your car glossy and shiny.

Coating your car with a layer of wax also protects its surface and keeps it looking cleaner for longer. Waxing your car is extremely good for it, but you’ll want to make sure you choose the right one.

There are many different types of wax, from carnauba to polymer to synthetic. Do a little research into your car’s paint color and the materials used to paint it. Then, choose a wax that works for you and which you will be able to apply properly.

6. Deep Clean Your Carpets

To get a proper clean of your carpets, you’ll want to remove them from your car and shake them out — and that’s just for starters.

Vacuum the interior of your car and the carpets you have removed. Then, go to town on them with a proper shampoo. Allow them to dry properly and make sure to give them a good scrub to remove dirt, stains, and grime.

There are even small carpet-cleaning machines you can purchase to make this process even easier.

7. Wipe Down the Consoles

You know to clean your carpets, leather seats, and the exterior — but don’t forget about the dashboard and center console.

This is one of the most-used elements of your car. Therefore, it can get the dirtiest. Whether small crumbs or debris, eventually the tiny cracks will be filled with dirt and your car will look dirty.

Vacuum in the cracks, wipe down any fingerprints or stains, and blow off the dust. Once your center consoles are clean, your car will start to feel brand-new.

8. Give Special Attention to Windows

Cleaning the glass of your windows is another important step in DIY car detailing. Your windows see their fair share of use — fingerprints, bugs, raindrops, and more will all leave their mark.

Using glass cleaner like Windex, take a cleaning cloth to both the exterior AND interior of your windows. Having shiny, clear glass to peer through doesn’t just look better — it’s safer, too.

Don’t forget the top edges of your window. This is the part that is tucked into your car when your window is rolled up. Make sure to clean it first, then roll your window back up and clean the rest.

9. Focus on the Wheels

Another seemingly unimportant task that makes a huge visual difference is the wheels.

Wheels begin to look dirty and dingy after normal use. Brake dust, dirt, and off-colored water all begin to build up on your rims, making your car look much dirtier than it is.

Luckily, this is a pretty simple fix. Just wash your wheels — cracks and all — then cover the tires with a nice polish finish. Keeping your wheels looking shiny will make the rest of your car feel brand-new, too.

10. Repair Chips and Damage

If your car shows minor signs of wear, like chips in the paint, scratches, or more, make an effort to repair those.

Filling in the dents and getting rid of those small imperfections will make a big impact overall on the appearance of your car. You may also want to consider removing any stickers or magnets you’ve placed on your car, as they will detract from the impressive appearance, too.

Browse our blog for more tips on the proper care and keeping of your car, from maintenance to washes and more.