Saturday, February 27, 2016

Car maintenance and tools

A lotta exhaust parts. Photo is by Tim from Flickr. CC-BY-2.0
I have to do the dreaded car maintenance on one of my older cars. My Chrysler needs an exhaust and the brakes done. I know how to do both. Brakes are easy. The exhaust part I've been putting off because it's still the factory exhaust that's all welded together.

I know it should not matter because it will get cut off with a rotary tool or Sawzall or air hammer. I just am not a fan of getting under the car. I don't have a hoist. For the longest time, I used an old bottle jack and stands. At one point, I did one of those unsafe things like use a bottle jack to lift a car, then put no jack stands under it, and took the wheel off. Not too bright. The only good thing is that I read quite a bit about good hydraulic jacks and good bottle jacks before I bought one. Anyhow, I'm getting distracted here.

The point was the exhaust. These things are always so rusty and nasty. Mine vehicle is no different. It's 15 years old. Pretty much an antique! I did some cost checking at the local parts store. I checked online, specifically Rock Auto. I also checked with a local shop to see what they would charge. The shop wanted close to 1000 bucks between parts and labor. Ouch. No surprise that the parts cost from buying online is cheapest at about 400 bucks. I would have to do the work. I thought by writing this it would give me a clear answer, but it hasn't yet. I think I'll turn my attention to the brakes now.

Brake jobs are easy to do. I should qualify that statement: Brake pad changes are easy to do. Take the wheel off, take the caliper off, take out the old pads. Reverse the procedure and call it done. What part of brakes that sucks is bleeding them. It takes two people to do the job. This can be tough if you are working on the car late at night after work and nobody is around because they are with their families. I did learn that there are brake bleeders on the market. That was news to me.

They make a few different designs. There are and pump-and-hold kits, vacuum kits, and pressure kits. I've read that they work pretty well so I bought one. I have not had a chance to use it just yet. (The last time I did bleed the brakes -- when a brake line gave up -- was around the time I replaced the timing belt in the car -- about 30K miles ago.)

Speaking of the timing belt (the 100k maintenance): There's a ton of info on the web about that service for my car. Just perusing a couple forums, I found step-by-step instructions on how to change the water pump and timing belt. It's just insane the amount of information that is out there nowadays.

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