Picking up a wrench for the first time can be intimidating. Check out these Powerbuilt Tools car maintenance and tool tips from Eric the Car Guy. Eric is an ASE Certified Master Technician, so he knows his stuff.
With over a million YouTube subscribers, the ETCG automotive channel offers useful and understandable information and advice on repairs, modifications and tool use.
Needless to say, we're proud to be associated with Eric!
What if I break something expensive? What if I do it wrong and blow up my car? Valid concerns, but if you start small and work your way up, you’ll be wrenching like a pro in no time.
Get Some Tools
If you’re going to do any kind of maintenance on your vehicle, you’re going to need tools. Start with the basics, wrenches, sockets and ratchets, pliers, and a screwdriver set. Perhaps an inexpensive OBDII reader.
The Powerbuilt 261 Piece Tool Set covers the basics at a great price.
Get a Toolbox
You’ll also need something to put your tools in. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just needs to hold, and even better, organize your tools. Nothing is more frustrating than having to look for a tool. Where are you 10mm?!?
Get Familiar with your Vehicle
Once you’ve got a basic set of tools, the next step is to familiarize yourself with your vehicle. A good place to start is with your owner's manual. The owner's manual outlines every single button, lever, switch, and feature your vehicle has to offer.
I can’t tell you how many vehicles I’ve fixed just by changing a setting that the owner wasn’t aware of, but would have been aware of had they read their owner's manual.
Never forget the most important tool in vehicle maintenance is your knowledge. The more you know about the vehicle you’re working on, the better. With that knowledge you’ll then know when something is wrong, and possibly how to fix it.
Get a Service Manual
Next, take your vehicle knowledge to the next level with service manuals. Service manuals are different from owner's manuals and contain information on how to service and repair your vehicle.
In my opinion, the factory manuals are the best, but not always easy to get your hands on. You can sometimes find paper copies on eBay, but many new vehicles have digital service manuals. You might have to dig a bit deeper to find these, but they are so worth it.
Service manuals contain things like service procedures, torque specifications, and wiring diagrams. If they’re factory manuals, know that this is the same information factory technicians use to perform services and repairs at the dealer.
In my experience, the best service and repair information comes from the manufacturer. Do what you can to get your hands on manufacturer information when possible.
Get to Work
Once you’ve got the tools and the knowledge, it’s time to start wrenching on your vehicle. Start small. Perhaps an oil change would be a good place to start. Then try other small maintenance jobs.
Maybe try servicing your brakes. Meaning, take them apart, clean and inspect them. This will not only give you an idea of what kind of shape your brakes are in, but it will also show you what’s involved with replacing the brakes on your vehicle when that time actually comes.
Get It Up in the Air
This exercise will also give you an idea of what it takes to properly lift and support your vehicle. This can be more challenging than you think. Consult the owner's manual for jack placement and proper lifting of your vehicle. Always use jack stands! Never get under a vehicle that is only supported by a jack.
Don't Get in Over Your Head
Challenge yourself with each new job and your skills will improve. Just don’t get in over your head. Know your limits. If you get into a service and repair and you can’t sort it out, be aware that taking it to a mechanic at this point could be a lot more expensive than if you had just taken it to them in the first place.
Mechanics don’t like to work on vehicles that someone else has worked on before. It can be very time-consuming. Time-consuming for your mechanic means more expensive for you. So be sure to fully research a service or repair before you dive in to avoid a costly situation like this.
The take away here is to start small and avoid getting in over your head. Things like oil changes and cabin air filter replacements can save you a lot of money. They’re also not usually that difficult. These jobs can also help you build your mechanical confidence. Practice makes perfect as they say.
Good Luck and Stay Dirty!