How to Perform an Oil Change at Home in a Few Simple Steps

fotolia 104898766 subscription monthly mThe oil in your vehicle is a lot like the blood coursing through your veins. It’s what keeps the car alive. And every once in a while, it requires a detox to maintain optimal health.

For a car, this means having a regular oil change. In most cases, vehicles need an oil change every 3,000 miles or every three months. So if it’s about that time to have your oil changed, you can either take it to a mechanic or do it yourself.

A lot of today’s car owners are opting for the latter. It’s good to know how to perform an oil change to save money and your vehicle in case you’re unable to get it to a mechanic.

So let’s review the steps it takes to properly change your vehicle’s oil.

Purchase the Right Oil and Filter

Now, you don’t want to make the mistake of purchasing the wrong oil and filter. By now, you should know how detrimental it can be to buy the wrong parts.

Review your car manual (or look it up online) to see what type of oil and filter your engine requires. All makes and models are different, so get it right.

And once you find the right part and oil, go for the premium options. This way, it lasts longer and performs better. One place you can purchase quality motor oil from is

Tools and Materials Needed

Next, you need to purchase the right tools and materials for the job. This includes rags, wrench set, oil filter, oil gasket filter, motor oil and a container to pour used oil into.

Make sure to run the car for about five minutes if the engine is cold. If it’s hot, allow it to cool for a half hour to avoid the risk of burns.

Now, let’s get to the steps.

Step 1: Pull the Plug

The first step is to unscrew the plug using one of your wrenches. You can review your manual to locate this beneath your vehicle. Make sure the container is there to catch the oil once it pours out.

Step 2: Remove the Oil Filter

Next, get rid of the old dirty oil filter. Make sure to remove the rubber gasket along with it. This may get stuck, so check for it and pull it off if attached to the engine.

Step 3: Add Clean Oil

After screwing back in the plug, it’s time to get from under the car and pour in some fresh oil. Use your funnel to ensure it pours directly in with little to no mess. Then turn on your car and allow it to run until your oil light turns off.

Then check the dipstick to see if it’s full or requires more oil.

Step 4: Recycle the Old Oil

Before driving off, don’t forget to do something with the old oil. Never toss this out on the ground or down a drain. It needs to be recycled properly. Pour inside of a large used jug and take it to a designated collection site near you.

Start Doing Your Own Oil Change

Learning how to maintain your own vehicle is key to saving money and becoming self-sufficient. We all know how expensive mechanics can be, especially for simple tasks like oil changes.

At YouFixCars, you can learn a lot about auto repair. There are plenty of DIY guides and tips to help you along.

So stop by today to become an educated vehicle owner!

Solve Car Repair Problems

Driveway Mechanical Repairs

Driveway Mechanical Repairs

This solve car repair problems article originally focused on hands-on diagnosis. I wanted to point out the differences between a professional car mechanic and a do-it-yourself driveway warrior when it comes to the diagnostic mindset. However, as we started putting this article together, I realized an opportunity existed to provide a lot more value to a larger audience.

If you own an automobile long enough, you’ll need to solve car repair problems. This doesn’t automatically mean that you have to fix them yourself. Nevertheless, diagnosing the issue and knowing what’s wrong becomes an advantage for both do-it-yourself mechanics and retail auto repair consumers. A properly diagnosed automobile for the driveway mechanic turns into a successful do-it-yourself car repair. In an effort to further define this, we’re talking about replacing one part to solve one problem.

For automobile owners that plan on taking their ride into an auto repair shop, telling them what’s wrong with it can reduce diagnostic charges. With that said, the auto repair shop won’t value your opinion or your diagnosis unless you walk them through the steps you took to achieve the uncovering of the root cause of the problem. It’s important to show respect to the automotive center and speak with them on the same level of knowledge.

Mindset to Solve Car Repair Problems auto repair manualsWhen professional auto mechanics begin diagnosis, they automatically switch the way they think in order to solve car repair problems efficiently. They can’t use shortcuts or guessing at what’s wrong because this often turns into wasted time and money.

This is why skilled technicians grab an auto repair manual and look for a diagnostic tree chart or ladder diagram that efficiently diagnoses this specific problem. The factory created these step-by-step instructions to take the mechanic down the path of logical steps that leads them to a reliable solution. The factory can’t afford to replace the wrong parts and pay the technician extra labor hours for following improper procedures.

Even the most experienced professional technicians will often start by grabbing a professional vehicle specific service manual. This is one of the steps that a do-it-yourself driveway mechanic might try to avoid. All too often a shade tree mechanic considers the $20 spent on reference materials as a waste of capital. However, if this vehicle specific information leads you to exactly what’s wrong with the vehicle in a short period of time isn’t it worth the money?

Even more important, if it stops you from replacing a part that’s good and nonreturnable to the parts store wouldn’t it have paid for itself on the first use? If experienced mechanics and technicians wouldn’t attempt to solve car repair problems, without factory-based reference materials, then neither should you.

Tips for Retail Car Repair Customers

car problemsOne of the common scenarios I find out in the wild is when an auto repair shop recommends multiple replacement parts for one individual complaint. This should serve as a red flag to customers. To further explain this point, let’s talk about what happens when the factory pays dealerships for warranty repairs.

The dealership enjoys a superior level of experience with that particular automobile. Therefore, the car maker realizes it should only take one part to solve one complaint. In cases where multiple parts are used the factory often finds misdiagnosis or the replacement of good components. This remains something they can’t tolerate, because warranty service charges come out of the profit side of the automobile business.

Therefore, domestic car manufacturers use a standardized method for dealerships to apply for reimbursement for warranty repairs. This is known as the complaint, cause and correction format. The strict rules keep the dealership tightly focused on the customer’s complaint, what caused it and what it takes to fix it. Customers of retail automotive repair centers should apply these same rules to each line or complaint on their repair order. In situations when a shop recommends more than one part to solve one problem customers should demand an explanation of why.

Tips for Do-it-yourself Mechanics

Automotive help me chart

Automotive Help Me Chart

At home mechanics face a completely different set of challenges than professional technicians. They put a complete process in place for those that earn a living fixing cars. From the minute the customer walks in the door and the service advisor documents their complaint, the mechanic complies with a rigid set of standards that keeps them on track.

Those performing car repair at home lack this guidance. Therefore, distractions can take these people down the wrong path. This can lead to wasted time and buying parts the car doesn’t need. Let’s apply some specific examples to the situation. If you believe you found a failed relay take the extra step. Learn how to confirm a bad car relay. The same rule applies to switches and automotive computer sensors.

People fixing cars in the driveway might not realize that access to reference materials changed drastically. Vehicle specific auto repair manuals use to cost more than $100 in paperback format. Now they convert this auto repair information into a PDF file. Take a look at this Chevrolet auto repair manual in PDF format as an example. With the cost of under $25 you get the same information provided to professional technicians that keeps them on track. Finally, when you find yourself purchasing multiple parts to solve one problem it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate your diagnosis.

Final Thoughts for Solving Car Problems

One of the common problems that both professionals and do-it-yourself technicians run into stems from jumping into diagnosis. You must truly understand how the system operates. Take a few minutes to not only look at the wiring diagram, but understand how the electronics and circuit works. This becomes time well spent. When you truly understand how a circuit works, malfunctions become easier to detect. After you gain this understanding take another five minutes to physically look at the entire circuit and/or system on the automobile. This visual inspection can often uncover problems stemming from physical damage to the wiring, connectors or the individual components.

Common Car Gas Tank Problems

Car Fuel Tank Problems

Car Fuel Tank Problems

Unfortunately, common car gas tank problems are exactly that. We expect that our gas tanks will behave themselves and happily accept the fuel we try to put into it. However, sometimes it puts up a fight and doesn’t want to accept that fuel. This is the type of situation where the pump nozzle continually turns off when you’re trying to fill the tank. We also think our gas tank should store that fuel without any inconvenience to us or the passengers of the vehicle. This is a reasonable expectation and remains the case unless a problem exists.

Despite our wishes, sometimes our car gas tank allows fuel vapor to escape inside the automobile. In this situation passengers complain about a raw fuel smell and you might set a fuel vapor leak code. This happens after filling up and maybe even topping off the gas tank at the pumping station. It’s nice to squeeze all of the fuel that you can into the automobile in an attempt to increase the range. With that said, it’s not a good idea to leave no airspace inside the fuel tank. It’s even a worse idea to fill the tank to the very top and then fill the fuel filler hose. In this brief article we’ll talk about all of these common car gas tank problems. In addition, we’ll talk about diagnosis and repair of these situations when a good car gas tank goes bad.

Car Gas Tank Won’t Accept Fuel

gas moneyWhen you pull up at the gas station, you should be able to insert the fuel pumping nozzle and hold it wide open until tank becomes completely filled. The shape of the gas tank allows some fuel to back up into the fuel filler hose to shut the nozzle off automatically. The fuel then settles back in the tank leaving a small air gap. This is how it’s supposed to go when you arrive at the gas station.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out that simple. If you pull the handle and start filling the tank and it continually turns off and requires restarting, you have a car gas tank problem. In order to allow the liquid fuel to flow into the tank the air inside needs venting. Car manufacturers install a complete fuel vapor system to handle the filling and venting of air from the tank.

The major components include a vent valve on the top side of the fuel tank. A vent hose connects to this valve and sends the fumes to the vapor canister. Car makers usually mount them in the engine compartment. However, on some automobiles the vapor canister is mounted near the fuel tank. If the vent valve malfunctions or the vent hose clogs air becomes trapped in the tank. Without the proper venting of this vapor the liquid starts to back up into the fuel filler hose. This then turns off the pump because the gas station thinks the car gas tank is already full.

Fixing the Car Gas Tank Vent System

Car Gas Tank Vent Valve

Car Gas Tank Vent Valve

When you’re car won’t accept fuel, how often the pump shuts off becomes a clue into how serious the problem is. If it turns off three or four times when filling an empty tank the vent is working. With that said, it’s not working efficiently. This points to a partial clog. If the fuel tank refuses to accept more than a gallon of gas at a time this means a malfunctioning vent system. Or the vent hoses completely clogged or kinked.

When you have this common car gas tank problem the first item to check is the vent hose. This becomes especially true in the scenario where the fuel pump turns off three or four times indicating a partially clogged vent hose. You start by locating your charcoal canister. The Easiest way to find out the component location is to gain access to a professional service manual. If you take this step, not only will you find a fuel system diagnostic tree chart to solve the problem, you’ll also find a detailed diagram of component locations.

Some species of spiders love the smell of fuel vapors. They work their way down inside the vent hoses and build nests. These nests partially clog the vent hose and cause the situation described above. In addition, a stuck or inoperative fuel tank vent also causes a stubborn to fill fuel tank. In this situation, lowering the gas tank down to replace the fuel vent becomes necessary.

Why Does My Car Stink like Gas Inside

Gas Tank Vent Solenoid

Gas Tank Vent Solenoid

A lot of motorists complain about a raw fuel smell inside of the automobile. Keep in mind that a small amount of gas puts off a major odor that lasts a long time. Because gasoline remains a thin weight petroleum product, it sticks to surfaces and evaporates slowly. Therefore, the most common cause of a fuel odor would fall into the fuel leak category.

If you’re the kind of motorist that likes to top the tank off at the fuel pump, you’ll find yourself more susceptible to this problem. When you fill up the fuel filler hose you can get some seepage around the hose clamps that attach it to the car gas tank. Once you get a few droplets of raw gas on the top of the tank, these vapors tend to rise and find their way into the passenger’s compartment.

Another possibility of having a fuel smell inside the car becomes a fuel tank vent that’s not closing properly. The gas tank vent needs to open when you’re filling the tank to allow the air to escape. When you stop filling the tank this vent should close completely and seal the vapors inside the tank. With that said, these are usually cheap plastic components. As we have learned, when the car manufacturer attempts to save a few pennies per car, they can get themselves into a situation where they’re putting troublesome parts on our automobile. I have seen some fuel tank vents fall into this category.

Auto Body Repairs: Do It Yourself?

auto body repairsDoes this sound familiar to you?

You go into the auto body shop to get what you thought was a cheap dent repair. Several hours and several hundred dollars later, you’re left wondering just how much a minor repair can really cost you.

It’s true that dent repair can easily run $450 or more. But not all dents, scratches, and bumps require a trip to the shop. You can fix small and minor dings without ever leaving your house.

Not every repair is catastrophic enough to warrant an unsightly bill. Learn about auto body repairs you can do yourself and ones to leave to the pros.

Dent Repair

Do you have a dent? You can roll up your sleeves and fix it yourself.

Before you go out and buy supplies, try to use some items around the house as dent pullers. Everything from plungers to hair dryers can be used to pop a dent back into place. You should also read up on do it yourself safety tips to protect yourself during repairs.

Dent pullers are usually successful for small and minor dents. In many cases, you’re going to have to go out and invest in some supplies. Check to make sure you have sandpaper, epoxy, creme hardener, a plastic spreader, paint, and primer.

The first step is to sand the dent to remove the paint from the affected area. You can then spread a body filler across the damaged area. Create a body filler with the creme hardener and epoxy according to instructions.

Spread the body filler across the afflicted area and make sure to cover a few extra inches. Use the plastic spreader and stroke the filler across the area until it is flat, smooth, and dry.

The next step is to further sand the dent area to make it as smooth as possible. You can also use spot putty to fill any deep areas.

Finally, you need to apply primer to your car. Make sure you cover any indented area to prevent the primer from bleeding onto the rest of your car. Add several coats to the dent.

Scratches and Scrapes

It’s almost impossible to avoid getting superficial blemishes on your car. Fortunately, it’s easy to fix your scratches and scrapes at home.

The first thing you should do is get the manufacturer’s paint code from your glove box. This will specify what kind of touch up paint you need. If you can’t find the paint code, you can always ask a technician for free advice.

Once you purchase touch up paint, you can get to work. Make sure you have wax, sandpaper, and some water with soap.

First, apply the soapy water to the scratch to clean the area. You should then wet your sandpaper and apply it to the edges of your scratch. Let the area dry before adding paint.

You should then add a layer of touch up paint to the blemish. Let that dry and add additional layers as needed. Let the paint dry overnight to make sure you’re satisfied with the appearance.

You may have to consult a professional if the paint continues to chip or looks discolored. If that’s the case, give a call to a local auto body like JH Body Shops.

Do It Yourself Auto Body Repairs

Auto body repairs don’t have to be expensive. By learning a few tricks, you could save yourself hundreds on a minor repair.

Are you interested in learning about more do it yourself repairs? We can help. Check out our blog for more tips on fixing up your car.

Diagnosing the Oil Pressure Warning Light

When drivers see the oil pressure warning light appear on the dashboard they need to take immediate action. Unfortunately, the possible causes for the light to come on run the gambit of extremely serious situations or minor problems. Here in this article we’ll talk about both of these major and minor root causes. With this information drivers will perform a few checks and determine a course of action.

Overview of Oil Pressure Problems

Low oil Pressure Light

Low oil Pressure Light

Automobiles come equipped with an oil pressure gauge and or a warning light. Unfortunately, most of these automobiles get a simple sending unit that turns on a red oil pressure warning light. These sending units are simple pressure operated switches. They mount in an oil gallery and the pressure of the oil pushes up on a contact arm that opens the switch to turn off the lamp. Therefore, most of the sending units remain in the closed position when no oil pressure exists.

Obviously, the light notifies drivers to turn off the engine or damage could occur. DIY minded people can make some basic checks to determine whether they’re getting a false reading from a defective sending unit or if their problem represents a serious issue. The obvious first step when drivers see the oil pressure light come on is to pull the dipstick and check the oil level. A Low oil level causes low pressure and therefore turns on the light.

You can refer to your auto repair manual or owner’s manual for the location of the dipstick, the type of fluid and capacity required for your specific automobile. After taking this all important first step it’s time to move on to the other possibilities if the light remains on. In this article we’ll talk about the simple things and the best case scenarios, then work our way down to the more serious internal engine problems.

Checking the Oil Pressure Sending Unit

Oil Pressure Sending Unit

Oil Pressure Sending Unit

Diagnosing problems with the oil pressure sending unit really become a model specific operation. Some cars have a simple two wire switch that turns the oil pressure warning light on and off. Some automobiles feed power to the electric fuel pump through the sending unit. This gives manufacturers a layer of protection if the engine is suffering from an oil pressure problem. If the switch turns on the light it turns off the fuel pump to stop the owner from running the engine to destruction.

In the case of a simple two wire oil pressure sending unit you can simply unplug it and see if the light goes off on the dash. If this is the case and the light comes back on when you plug it in, you know the sending unit is commanding the oil pressure warning light to illuminate. This however, doesn’t mean the sending unit itself tests good. It means you confirmed the proper operation of the wiring and the.

Here’s the proper way to diagnose an oil pressure sending unit. First you remove the sending unit from the oil gallery and install a trusted mechanical oil pressure gauge. Then you start the engine and take an oil pressure reading. On new automobiles you would like to see 30 psi of oil pressure at idle. On older cars with more than 100,000 miles 15 to 25 psi keeps the light off on most models. If you see these pressures then you have a bad sending unit. As an alternative method just go ahead and replace the sending unit. The average cost of a replacement sending unit falls in the $20-$50 range.

Most Common Oil Pressure Problem

Testing oil pressure

Testing oil pressure

As a certified mechanic with 30 years of experience I have seen my share of oil pressure warning lights. Unfortunately, the most common thing I find with this complaint remains a lack of car maintenance. This rings truer on automobiles with over 100,000 miles or older than 10 years. When car owners neglect to change the oil and filter as recommended by the manufacturer problems result.

Specifically, the oil starts to thicken and develop sludge. This sludge settles to the bottom of the oil pan and clogs the oil pump pickup screen. When this happens, it restricts the amount of oil flowing to the pump and therefore throughout the engine. Automobiles with this problem often have a flickering lamp or an oil pressure warning light that comes on and off around turns and stops.

The only way to truly diagnose a situation like this is to remove the engine oil pan and perform an inspection. With that said, when I find sludge in the bottom of the oil pan, I’ll also find sludge throughout the engine. If we caught this soon enough it’s possible to soften the sludge and flush it out with engine flush type products. This is why jumping on the oil pressure warning light problem as soon as possible becomes so important.

Oil Pressure Warning Light the Worst Cause

test oil pressure

test oil pressure

The worst possible situation that can cause the oil pressure light to Flicker or stay on becomes a worn out engine. These motors usually show more than 150k or 200,000 miles on the odometer. As mentioned throughout this article, the oil pump sends pressurized oil through a network of passageways in the engine block. The two primary locations this oil flows to first are the camshaft and crankshaft bearings.

Pumping oil into these critical areas provides resistance. It’s this resistance that develops the amount of pressure from the oil pump. In fact, we can go as far to say the tighter the clearance the higher the pressure. This is why brand-new engines enjoy higher pressures than motors with 100,000 miles or more. The more the bearings wear the larger the clearances become and you start to see the oil pressure fall off.

This worst-case scenario of a worn out engine causing oil pressure warning lights to come on remains verifiable. In fact, you use the same tool that I mentioned for checking the oil pressure sending unit. First, remove the sender and install a trusted mechanical oil pressure gauge. On a hot engine you should see more than 15 psi of oil pressure on a warm or hot engine. If no sludge exists and the oil pump screen shows clear, then you could be looking at excessive clearance in the bearing area. Removal of the engine oil pan and checking the clearance of the crankshaft bearings with a product called plastic gauge verifies these excessive clearances.

Does My Health Insurance Pay for Hearing Aids?

Pay for Hearing Aids

Are you concerned about how you’ll be able to pay for hearing aids?

If so, you’re not alone. The average American pays $2,710 out of pocket for a hearing aid, and one in six spends $5,000 or more.

Will your health insurance cover the cost of your hearing aids? The answer depends on where you live and what type of coverage you have.

Read on to learn which types of insurance pay for hearing aids – and which don’t.

Ways to Pay for Hearing Aids

Medicare and Medicaid

At this time, hearing aids and many hearing tests are not covered by Medicare.

Medicaid often covers the cost of hearing aids, but policies vary by state. You can find state-specific information on The Hearing Loss Association of America’s website.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)

If you have a flexible spending account, you can use that money to pay for certain out of pocket medical expenses.

In most states, the cost of hearing aids and batteries qualify for reimbursement. You cover the initial cost through your FSA account, which later reimburses you.

Veteran (VA) Benefits

Is your hearing loss connected to military service? Have you received treatment for hearing problems at a VA hospital?

If so, your veteran benefits should pay for hearing aids and associated tests. If your hearing loss is severe enough to interfere with daily life, you may be able to receive your hearing aids directly from the VA.

Private Insurance

Unfortunately, few private insurers cover the cost of hearing aids. The exception is health insurance offered in Arkansas, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

If you live in one of these states, insurers must provide coverage for eligible adults. Check with your insurer to find out what type of coverage they offer.

Federal Employee Assistance

If you or your spouse work for the federal government, your insurance plan likely offers some coverage for hearing aids.

Most federal health plans cover the cost of a basic hearing aid. Employees may choose to pay for extras and upgrades.

Affordable Care Act

Under the Affordable Care Act, some states offer coverage for hearing aids and related expenses.

For the most recent information and updates, visit the federal site for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

HSAs are similar to FSAs in that both types of accounts cover the costs of hearing aids and batteries.

Unlike FSAs, the money in your HSA accumulates from year to year. This can help you to save toward the cost of a new hearing aid.

Health Reimbursement Account (HRA)

HRAs are set up and funded by your employer. Because of that, it’s up to them to decide whether hearing aids and batteries are reimbursable.

Check with your company’s benefits department to find out what’s allowable under your HRA.

Final Thoughts

Health insurance coverage is a tricky world to navigate. Policies are always changing, too, which makes it even harder to keep the facts straight.

Now that you’re familiar with different types of coverage, though, you should have a clearer picture of how to pay for hearing aids.

Do you have other questions about hearing aids? Don’t hesitate to call us at (580) 436-3277. You can also use our online form to contact us.