Auto Repair For Dummies book cover

Auto Repair For Dummies

By: Deanna Sclar Published: 01-07-2019

Auto Repair For Dummies, 2nd Edition (9781119543619) was previously published as Auto Repair For Dummies, 2nd Edition (9780764599026). While this version features a new Dummies cover and design, the content is the same as the prior release and should not be considered a new or updated product.

  

The top-selling auto repair guide--400,000 copies sold--now extensively reorganized and updated

Forty-eight percent of U.S. households perform at least some automobile maintenance on their own, with women now accounting for one third of this $34 billion automotive do-it-yourself market. For new or would-be do-it-yourself mechanics, this illustrated how-to guide has long been a must and now it's even better. A complete reorganization now puts relevant repair and maintenance information directly after each automotive system overview, making it much easier to find hands-on fix-it instructions. Author Deanna Sclar has updated systems and repair information throughout, eliminating discussions of carburetors and adding coverage of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles. She's also revised schedules for tune-ups and oil changes, included driving tips that can save on maintenance and repair costs, and added new advice on troubleshooting problems and determining when to call in a professional mechanic. For anyone who wants to save money on car repairs and maintenance, this book is the place to start.

Deanna Sclar (Long Beach, CA), an acclaimed auto repair expert and consumer advocate, has contributed to the Los Angeles Times and has been interviewed on the Today show, NBC Nightly News, and other television programs.

Articles From Auto Repair For Dummies

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101 results
101 results
How to Jump-Start a Car

Article / Updated 03-15-2022

If your car battery has died, you may be able to use jumper cables to jump-start it with the help of some good Samaritan's vehicle. If you can safely use jumper cables on your vehicle, make sure that the battery on the good Samaritan's vehicle has at least as much voltage as your own. As long as you hook up the cables properly, it doesn't matter whether your vehicle has negative ground and the other vehicle has positive ground, or your vehicle has an alternator and the other vehicle has a generator. If either vehicle has an electronic ignition system or is an alternatively fueled vehicle, the use of jumper cables may damage it. To safely jump-start, follow these steps: Take out your jumper cables. It's a good idea to buy a set of jumper cables and keep them in the trunk compartment. If you don't have jumper cables, you have to find a kind stranger who not only is willing to assist you, but who has jumper cables as well. Place both vehicles in Park or Neutral and shut off the ignition in both cars. Engage both parking brakes as well. Attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery. It has "POS" or "+" on it, or it's bigger than the negative terminal. Attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the other car. Attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal on the other battery. Attach the last black clip to an unpainted metal surface on your car that isn't near the battery. Use one of the metal struts that holds the hood open. The cables should look like this. Start the working vehicle and let the engine run for a few minutes. Try to start your vehicle. If it won't start, make sure that the cables are properly connected and have the other person run their engine for five minutes. Then try to start your car again. If it still won't start, your battery may be beyond help. If the jump works and your car starts, don't shut off your engine! Drive around for at least 15 minutes to recharge your battery. If the car won't start the next time you use it, the battery isn't holding a charge and needs to be replaced. If your car doesn't start, check out these tips for troubleshooting a car that won't start.

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How to Clean the Interior of an Automobile

Article / Updated 03-04-2022

Keeping your car’s interior clean is more than a matter of pride; dirt contains grit and chemicals that can eat away the surfaces of your car’s interior. Generally speaking, the same procedures and products that you use at home work quite well in your car. Clean the interior before you do the exterior. The most effective thing you can do is vacuum the seats first, remove and clean the floor mats, and then vacuum the carpets. Dust the dashboard, rear window shelf, and other surfaces, and use swabs or a toothbrush to get into A/C vents, around dashboard knobs, and other tight places. Aerosol cans of air used for cleaning cameras and computers can force dust from tiny apertures. Never use a dry rag or paper towels to clean the plastic lenses on instrument panel gauges. Small, dry particles of dust and grit can scratch the surface. If the lenses are clouded, use a plastic cleaner sparingly with a clean, damp terry cloth rag or sponge. Excess moisture can damage electronic instruments. Cleaning the upholstery You can use the same products to clean car upholstery and carpeting that you use to clean your chairs, sofas, and rugs. Keep the following in mind: Avoid using large quantities of water; you don’t want to get the padding under the fabric wet or rust the upholstery buttons, if there are any. Avoid sponges, working instead with damp rags wherever possible. If you think that you’ve gotten things too wet, use a portable hair dryer to dry the padding quickly and evaporate water from around buttons and seams. To keep upholstery from fading and deteriorating, park the vehicle facing in a different direction as often as possible so that the sun doesn’t keep hitting the same surfaces. During dry seasons, keep a window or the sunroof open a crack to prevent heat from building up inside. It can dissolve fabric adhesives and crack vinyl seat covers. Cleaning vinyl and plastic surfaces Vinyl seats and interiors and plastic surfaces such as dashboards, steering wheels, and interior moldings usually respond well to water and a mild soap or dish detergent, but you may have to resort to special vinyl-cleaning products if you’ve let things get out of hand. Protect all vinyl and plastic surfaces from sunlight and heat with products designed for those materials. While you’re at it, use them or a spray silicone lubricant on dashboards, weatherstripping, vinyl or rubber floor mats, and tires, too, to prevent them from cracking and drying out and to keep them supple. Avoid oil- and petroleum-based products that can damage vinyl and leave it brittle. Caring for leather seats If you’re lucky enough to have leather seats in your vehicle, take care of them. If properly cared for, leather can last a long time but, like all skin, it dries out and ages prematurely if it’s not kept clean and moisturized. Follow this advice for caring for leather upholstery: Use a high-quality product like saddle soap to clean and preserve leather seats. Neatsfoot oil waterproofs, softens, lubricates, restores, and preserves leather that has been cleaned first. If you must park where the sun can get at your leather seats, lean them forward or drape something over them to protect them. If conditions are severe, think about installing window film that blocks UV rays. If this is impossible, take comfort from the fact that leather seats don’t get as hot as vinyl ones, so you can probably sit down on them without screaming.

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Auto Repair For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-14-2022

Following some basic auto repair safety rules and a monthly maintenance schedule will keep you safe and prevent auto problems later. Disassembling auto parts and putting them back together is easier if you stay calm and avoid distractions.

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Diagnosing Automobile Ignition System Problems

Article / Updated 12-30-2021

If your car is having problems, and you think that your engine is getting enough air and fuel, you’re probably having ignition system trouble. On traditional vehicles, the “fire” that lights the fuel/air mixture is really electric current that’s stored in the battery, replaced by the alternator, monitored by sensors, and directed by the ECU to the spark plugs in the cylinders at the proper time. If something along the way goes wrong and the spark fails to reach the plugs, all the air and fuel in the world won’t produce combustion in the cylinders, and the vehicle won’t go. If the engine was running before it died, it’s probably not the fault of the battery, solenoid, or starter. If just one spark plug suddenly malfunctions, the engine will continue to run on the other cylinders. It won’t run smoothly, but it will get you off the road and into a repair shop. If your car has an electronic ignition system, the ignition module may have gone bad. Because these vehicles have high-energy ignition systems that operate at 47,000 volts or higher, the old technique of pulling a distributor or spark plug cable to test for a spark is unsafe. Whether the vehicle has a distributorless ignition system or has an electronic ignition, you need to have a professional check it out. The good news is that these systems aren’t prone to breaking down, so they probably aren’t the problem. If your vehicle is an older model with a non-electronic ignition system, you can check the distributor cap to see whether the spark is getting from there to the coil and on to the spark plugs.

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How to Check Your Brake System's Master Cylinder

Step by Step / Updated 12-03-2021

Essentially, when you check your master cylinder, you’re making sure that you have enough brake fluid, which is stored in the master cylinder. When you step on the brake pedal, fluid goes from the master cylinder into the brake lines; when you release the pedal, the fluid flows back into the master cylinder. To check the brake fluid in your master cylinder, follow these steps:

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How to Replace Your Vehicle's Thermostat

Step by Step / Updated 12-03-2021

If your vehicle has been overheating or doesn’t warm up properly, you may need to replace your thermostat. If the thermostat sticks in the open position, it doesn’t keep the liquid in the engine long enough, so you have trouble getting your car warmed up. If the thermostat sticks in the closed position, the liquid isn’t allowed to get to the radiator, and overheating results. Because replacing the thermostat is quite simple and thermostats are quite inexpensive, you may want to try this task before you take more drastic measures. Just be sure that you do this when your engine is completely cooled.

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How to Install a Spark Plug

Step by Step / Updated 12-03-2021

When you're changing your vehicle's spark plugs, work on one spark plug at a time: Remove it, inspect it, clean it, and — if it’s salvageable — gap the spark plugs. Then replace it before you move on to the next spark plug in cylinder sequence order. To maintain the proper firing order, each spark-plug wire must go from the spark source to the proper spark plug. Therefore, only remove the wire from one plug at a time, and don’t disconnect both ends of the wire! To insert a spark plug into the engine, follow these steps:

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How to Repack Your Wheel Bearings

Step by Step / Updated 12-01-2021

If you have disc brakes, repacking wheel bearings isn’t a difficult job. It’s just that you may not get the calipers back on right, which could cause your brakes to malfunction. If you have drum brakes, go right ahead and repack the bearings yourself. Follow these steps to repack the wheel bearings for drum brakes:

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How to Bleed Your Brakes

Step by Step / Updated 12-01-2021

If your vehicle has squishy-feeling brakes, the way to get the air out of the lines is to bleed the brakes. To do the job, you need either a brake bleeder wrench or a combination wrench that fits the bleeder nozzle on your vehicle, a can of the proper brake fluid, a clean glass jar, and a friend. If you have ABS, EBD, BA, or another sophisticated brake system, you should really have a professional bleed the brakes for you to avoid getting air into the actuator. Follow these steps to bleed your brakes:

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How to Change a Tire

Step by Step / Updated 12-01-2021

Having a flat tire and not knowing how to change it can leave you feeling helpless. With a few simple tools, you can do it yourself. Changing a tire is easy, and everyone should have a general idea of what's involved. Here are the steps:

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