Auto Repair Guide

replace the battery
Replace the Battery

I wrote an auto repair guide covering my experiences in the auto repair business way back in 2006. Unfortunately, I was not much of a writer when I penned the guide. Maybe someday I’ll rewrite and expand it hopefully, in the near future. Meanwhile we made many of the original stories and articles available at no charge for site visitors over at auto facts.org.

The original auto repair guide came in around 68 pages of true automotive insider information. Of course, it’s told from my jaded point of view. You can browse through these different posts on my auto repair book page at the previously mentioned website. The guide sheds light on what it’s like to work as a mechanic in the sometimes perilous world of retail car repair.

The original intent of sharing this information remains the same today. The more you know about the automobile in the business that is set up to suck money from it the better equipped you are to handle the unavoidable maintenance situations. With that said the more things you learn how to do yourself less reliant and become on the honesty of complete strangers.

Do-it-yourself Auto Repair

Certifiedmastertech.com Online Repair Manuals
Certifiedmastertech.com Online Repair Manuals

Throughout the pages of this website and the two others that I manage we share detailed information about fixing things yourself. In addition, learning to do your own maintenance can take you out of the cross hairs of possible scams and rip-offs associated with some auto repair businesses.

When you start to learn your way around the automobile having access to quality information becomes important. This is why I’ve always recommended getting your hands on a factory auto repair manual. These complete car specific workshop manuals provide an unparalleled level of expertise.

Of course they’ll tell you what kinds of fluids to use and supply capacities. But they also give you part numbers of the original equipment maintenance items that belong on your specific automobile. Although all of this maintenance information is great to have where an auto repair manual becomes a necessity is when diagnosis is necessary.

Diagnosing Cars with an Auto Repair Guide

Repair your car book cover
Repair your car book

Automobiles built in the last 20 years are complicated pieces of equipment. The car makers employ technical writers to help dealership level technicians quickly evaluate and solve car problems. These form the pages of a factory auto repair manual.

Some manufacturers will not ship new products until these books are on the shelf at the dealership location. Although all of the employees that work in the service department understand the importance of these materials often do-it-yourself mechanics do not.

Professional technicians use these service manuals for diagnosis of complex problems. They included tree charts and latter diagrams. These walk you through a rational step-by-step process. This directs you to the root cause in the shortest amount of time. After the failed component is isolated these manuals then explain how to replace the failed part with precise step-by-step instructions.

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It will be a big help and assures this automotive blog will continue to grow. This auto repair information guide is meant for retail service consumers. However, not shop owners or mechanics that already know what happens behind the scenes.

26 Replies to “Auto Repair Guide”

  1. paula

    Good Morning

    I have a 1994 chey pick up with a 350
    its leaking transmission fluid, seems to be running down the pan
    where is the first place i should look
    i put a quart in and she drives fine, then it just has a steady
    stream right out. its the left side not in the middle

  2. Mark

    Paula: With the age of your 94 Chevy pick up the trans leak could be from many places. Two popular places to check that “Will Leak” from the sides is the selector shaft seal and also the dipstick tube seal.

  3. tommy

    i have a 1994 honda civic eg 3 door hatchback, when i replaced the carburetor due to accident. now, the car is running in a low performance. is there a guide how can i put the tubes exactly where they should be?

  4. Mark

    tommy: A good way to find out where the vacuum hoses belong is to visit a junk yard and find your exact model car (94 Honda civic). Take some pictures of the layout of the hoses. Not only is this free but is also a great way to get your vacuum diagrams.

  5. sydney

    long story made short ok? any questions asked and i’ll be sure to give a long answer whatever ya need… my LS430 2003 engine seized while on the highway. the dealer is telling me everything checks out…oil is in the car water etc… the only recourse? they say culprit must be in the engine block assembly… 14K is the cost. i’m getting a second opinion of course meanwhile i’m paying on a rental from enterprise and thinking about an atty. this car has been maintained with ONLY this lexus dealer regularly… every time we received a notice for upkeep, it went in the shop within a week total cost of the upkeeps? 10379.06

  6. Lonnie

    I have a 97 Olds Bravada. Im having issues with no fuel to the injectors, I think. I`ve changed the spark plug wires, plugs and the fuel filter . I know I have good spark. There is suposed to be apoint on top of the intake for fuel pressure check. Thats what I`m checking next but am unsure of this point.

  7. Mark

    Lonnie: There is a port to test fuel pressure in the rail leading to the injectors on your model. It is a shrader valve fitting at the rear of the plenum. It usually has a green or black screw on cap covering it. Note that 2 common problems for your vehicle would be fuel pump failure and CPI injector problems. Of course these might not be an issue on your vehicle but I thought I would mention that they are common problems. There is No substitute for hands on diagnosis.

  8. Gerry

    I have a 2000 chev corvette with air conditioning problem. Purchase compressor, dryer and orfice tube, paid to have installed and it failed within 50 miles. Went to a second repair shop but question their knowledge as they have removed the water pumb and front of air intake. Found old orfice had not been replace, would this cause the new compressor to fail and should they have taken off the water pump, air intake.

  9. Mark

    Gerry: Not sure if it is necessary to remove the water pump on your model but it does sound strange. When your original compressor failed it was very important to replace the orifice. It is standard procedure to also use a liquid flushing agent to flush any metal partials out of the system before installing the new orifice tube and related parts.

    I put together a page about how to properly replace an ac compressor. It outlines 10 steps that should be performed when replacing this expensive part. If your 2 shops have not performed these steps your problems may continue. Here is a link to my compressor article. http://www.youfixcars.com/car-ac-compressor.html

  10. Gerry

    Thank you Mark for your input. The auto parts store is not willing to warranty the compressor or dryer as the original orifice tube was trapped in the line by a mechanics wrench denting the line while removing. PARTS COST $287.00 PLUS $250.00 LABOR AT FIRST SHOP. Second repair shop quoted $359.00 plus tax to replace the compressor, dryer, orifice, this is the shop that removed the water pump etc mentioned above.

    The second repair shop said that the parts supplier was at their garage when the line was removed seeing the old orifice tube and claimed that the condenser needed to be replace also or there would be no warranty on the new parts, which turns out not to be true, as they only require the dryer and orifice tube replaced. The labor cost increased to $609.00 plus tax from the original $359.00 and the new parts $475.00. The parts store hearing this story suggested that I pay the second shop for the work to date and they would have a car hauler pick up the car and take it to a reputable shop.

    I paid the second shop $136.00 for the labor and collected the parts remove. The third shop called the say that the cost to replace the compressor, dryer and orifice tube $406.00 plus tax even though they don,t have to remove the compressor or water pump. To date I have $673.00 in parts, labor repair and plan to have the car hauled from the third shop to home and fix it myself. By to time that this is over and hopefully my car repaired I will have over $1,000.00 invested, what a nightmare.

  11. ultra

    I cannot wholeheartedly agree with all of the conclusions in your e book. I am a diligent and honest mechanic. Not perfect but when I make an error, like you, I correct it.

    Ford white collar guys nixed the engineers recommendations on transmission service on mid-1990’s F150s. This resulted in torque converter lockup shudder. A conversation was had directly with the Ford engineers to obtain this data. The white collar guys knew better than the engineers and recommended do trans service at any interval. They were wrong. Manufacturers do not always have correct recommendations.

    I know a lot of good honest mechanics. I know a few stooges as well. Shops that I have worked for for any prolonged period have been honest and reputable. At one shop run by a 35 year veteran with me as his only tech, we virtually never replaced any major components. I attribute this to the good work we did, following manufacturer recommendations on viscosity, diligently selling them valid work which I noticed needed to be done and really staying in communication with them regarding what they were experiencing with their vehicles.

    On occasion we had owner diagnoses which we would talk them out of. We would only repair what we could observe, diagnose and honestly would have done for our own vehicles. Of course, I did work for 2 small shops that were less than honest sometimes. I left them. Your book is essentially doing a good thing but some revisions are due. I would love to work with you on it.

  12. Mark

    Ultra: I appreciate you taking the time to read the book and commenting about it. For the record it is just my opinion. You also have to remember that I am a mechanic and not a writer. In fact the book was written in 2006 and I give it away for free because it is far from perfect! I would like to rewrite it someday but right now I am to busy wrenching.

  13. Charlie

    I have a 98 Intrepid with a 2.7. My sister was told that the motor needed to be replaced; the shop that she took it to had removed the intake and the valve covers. Turns out that she just ran the car out of oil causing the timing chain cover to fail and put the car out of timing. I have reset the tensionser (I hope that it will work), changed out the gaskets on the timng chain cover, the intake, and the valve cover gaskets. I have also replaced the spark plugs. I bought some cheap motor oil to run the motor for a few minutes then drain and change oil and filter. I also bought some fuel additive to clean up old fuel/water. However, the tank still has half a tank of old fuel, I can not fing anywhere to drain…any suggestions? Also I bought a fuel filter, but the books I have say nothing about the location of the filter…is it in the fuel cell? Have I missed anything on what I am doing?

  14. Drew

    When I went to get my oil changed on my ’97 cavalier the guy told me I needed a new serpentine belt. So I went out and bought one and now can’t get the new one on. I’ve checked and made sure I have the right belt. I’m pulling the tensioner all the way down and still don’t have enough slack to slip the belt over all the pulleys. I managed to get my old one back on and the car runs fine so I don’t think I have the wrong position of the belt. Do I need to stretch out the belt in any way or is there something else I can do to make this new belt slip on?

  15. Mark

    Drew: New belts do not need to be stretched before installation. When ever I have run into your situation it was due to the wrong part. I usually confirm the wrong parts by measuring the old belt against the new one. Belts do not stretch much like they did in the old days. You might want to try a different brand new belt?

  16. Tommy P

    As part of an inspection process, the Dealer replaced and EGR valve in my 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan that has 72K miles. My electronic info center indicated that my gas mileage went from 20 mpg to 10 mpg. So I decided to check it the “old fashion way”. I filled it with fuel, drove and then did the math calculation. This confirmed I am getting only 10 mpg. I am continuing to do this as we speak. Have you ever heard of this and if so, what is the solution? I’ve already contacted the Dealer, Chrysler Corp and conducted research and, so far, don’t have an answer. And as a side note, my wife’s Dodge Journey is doing the same thing. Any solutions??

  17. James Van Reenen

    I have a 1997 GMC Suburban and the power windows won’t work. My dad used is power test light and tested for power. It showed power everywhere. What should I check now?

  18. James Van Reenen

    We have replaced the button pad because when we checked out the wiring there was power on both ends of each wire. My dad suggested we replace the button pad because there was power to the entire system but thought maybe the sensor was bad. We replaced that and the power lock worked (it worked on the old pad also) but the windows still wont work. Also within 24 hrs of replacment, the power lock wont work and now my interior lights don’t work either. We have checked all the fuses and none are bad but there are still the problems mentioned. My dad suggested we just take it to a dealer but I am wanting to see if it’s something that has happened on more than just my vehicle.

  19. Kathy

    My daughter has a 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier. The windshield wipers will not stop after you turn them on. The delay works fine but when you put them on regular wipe they won’t turn off unless you turn the car off. Where should I check for this problem?

  20. Mark

    Kathy: It could be a few things and might need professional diagnosis BUT, two common problems on that model would be the Park switch which is inside the wiper motor assembly and is not usually serviced separately ( just replace the motor) or the off switch that is part of the combination lever.

  21. Angie

    My right turn signal blinks faster (about 1 in 3 times) and acts like it is out, but all of the lightbulbs are fine and working. Could this be in the wiring? What would I need to look up to research this more?

  22. Jennifer Williams

    Hi, I have a Ford Fiesta, 2011, 76,400 miles on it. The car runs well except for the a/c. It blows cool on the passenger side but on the driver’s anything over level 2 and it’s hot air. Especially now that it’s the middle of summer here in Florida. After 5 minutes the car cabin is nowhere near cool, please help.

    • Mark Gittelman

      Jennifer: A good place to start is to take temperature readings at the outlets and see how different they are from side to side. The results can indicate a climate control or tempeture door issue. If the air discharged is above 55 degrees on either side it will be time to take low and high side pressure readings to diagnose the issue.

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