The longer you do a thing, the more ways you figure out to do that thing. Sometimes, you figure out a way to do it better, or make it easier on yourself.
* A three foot length of plastic (or metal) conduit tubing –
Next to duct tape, leverage is the mechanic’s best friend. And an easy way to increase it is by increasing the length of the lever you’re working with. A breaker bar is a specialized tool many mechanics have – but you can make your own (and for free or next to it) by cutting a length of conduit tubing (metal pipe works also) and slipping it over your ratchet handle.
What was hard to turn – like a really stubborn bolt – should now be easy.
The conduit tubing trick sometimes works even better than a breaker bar – unless you have a really long one. Douse the bolt you’re trying to break loose with a rust-penetrant such as PB-40 before you begin your efforts.
You can buy a length of conduit at any hardware store for about $10.
You can use this to increase the effective lifting range of a floor jack – and also to distribute the load as you raise the car, so that the weight o f the car isn’t all focused on the jack’s relatively small contact patch.
Using a wood block is particularly useful when working on old cars that have bolt-on front subframes that flex when you jack ’em up. A 4×4 block about 8-12 inches long (cut to fit your car) will reduce that, a lot. The block of wood will also not dent metal/chip paint (and undercoating), which is another plus, if you don’t like rust.
* An old syringe (big one) and length of clear tubing –
Use this to suck out various fluids that can’t be easily drained, such as the hydraulic fluid in a power steering reservoir or the brake fluid in a clutch slave cylinder. If you’re patient – and have a long enough length of clear plastic tube (buy this for a couple bucks at a Home Depot or Lowes; look in the plumbing department) you can also suck out the fluid from an automatic transmission, via the dipstick tube.
This latter can be very helpful if you accidentally over-fill the transmission – which is easy to do because (unlike engine oil) it is harder to drain all the fluid from an automatic (there is still some in the torque converter, also the cooling lines and so on) even if you dropped the pan. If you accidentally put in say a quart too much, it’s easier – much less messy – to suck out the excess than it is to drop the pan… again.
*Floor mats –
Drape the mat over the lip of the trunk, carpeted side down, half inside the trunk, the other half covering the painted part of your bumper. Now lay whatever the object you meed to car home happens to be on top and secure the trunk lid with a bungee cord or piece of string or whatever else is handy. The mats are usually heavy enough to stay in place without having to tie them down.
You can also use the mats to protect interior surfaces of cars, such as seats and center consoles, etc. Flip them over (carpeted side down). The rubber side (which is often ribbed or similar, to hold the mat in place on the carpeted floor of the car) provides a good no-slip surface for whatever you’re carting home.
*Motorcycle chain lube –
Is just the ticket for protecting exposed bolts (and threads) that – at some point, you’ll need to loosen/remove again. Shock absorber bolts, for instance. If you coat them when they’re new, they’ll come right off when the shocks are old.
I also use this stuff – it comes in an aerosol spray can – to cover prone-to-rust (and expensive to replace) parts located in areas that tend to get wet, underneath the truck. For example, the fuel pump/sending unit that Nissan (based on my experience with two Frontier pick-ups that have had the same problem) didn’t rust-protect very well from the factory. A couple of winters down the road and the tubing begins to Swiss Cheese and once there’s even a pinhole leak, there will be a gusher.
I learned – the hard way – to do some DIY rustproofing and have found that chain lube does a really good job. Wax works, too. Also, old motor oil (but that’s a mess). The chain lube is clear and doesn’t make a mess. It also lasts for a long time, unless physically disturbed.
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