Auto Repair for Dummies

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2019-01-07
  • Publisher: For Dummies

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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.

Author Biography

Deanna Sclar is an acclaimed auto repair expert. She has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including NBC's Today show and the NBCNightly News. Sclar lectures internationally on the ecological impact of vehicles and is active in promoting residential solar energy programs. Sclar is also the author of Buying a Car For Dummies.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

How I Became Intimately Involved with My Car, and Why You Should Too 2

Conventions Used in This Book 3

How I Picture You 4

How This Book Is Organized 5

Icons Used in This Book 7

Where to Go from Here 8

Beyond the Book 8

Part 1: Getting to Know Your Vehicle 9

Chapter 1: Things Every Driver Should Know 11

Before You Tackle Any Job 12

How to Fill ’Er Up Yourself 16

How to Open the Hood 17

How to Take Anything Apart — and Get It Back Together Again 18

How to Use a Jack Safely 20

How to Change a Tire 23

How to Get In When You’re Locked Out 28

Chapter 2: Preventive Maintenance: A Monthly Under-the-Hood Check 31

Getting Your Bearings under the Hood 32

Check the Air Filter 33

Check the Accessory Belts 34

Check the Battery 35

Check the Coolant 38

Check the Hoses 40

Check the Dipsticks 40

Check the Brake Fluid 44

Check the Wiring 46

Check the Windshield Washer Fluid 46

Check and Replace Windshield Wipers 46

Check the Tires 47

Drive and Enjoy! 47

Chapter 3: The Way to Your Car’s Heart Is through Your Toolbox 49

Shopping for Tools 50

Screwdrivers 50

Screwholders 52

Wrenches 53

Pliers 57

Gauges 59

Work Lights 61

Jacks 62

Jack Stands 63

Creepers 63

Fire Extinguishers 64

Funnels 64

More Things to Carry in Your Vehicle 65

Chapter 4: What Makes It Go? The Inner Secrets of Your Car Revealed! 69

Keeping Your Owner’s Manual Handy 70

Introducing the Engine Control Unit (ECU) 72

What Makes Your Vehicle Start? 72

What Makes Your Vehicle Run? 77

What Makes Your Vehicle Stop? 80

Part 2: Powering Up with Air, Fuel, and Fire 83

Chapter 5: The Electrical System: Your Car’s Spark of Life 85

Introducing the Engine Control Unit (ECU) 85

The Starting System 87

The Charging System 90

The Ignition System 92

Warning Lights and Malfunction Indicator Lights (MIL) 100

Other Electrical Gadgets 101

Chapter 6: Keeping Your Electrical System in Tune 103

Determining Whether Your Vehicle Needs a Tune-up 104

Changing Your Spark Plugs 105

Replacing a Battery 118

Changing Fuses 121

Dealing with Headlights and Directional Signals 123

Chapter 7: The Traditional Fuel System: The Heart and Lungs of Your Car 129

Basic Fuel System Components 130

Following Fuel through the Fuel Injectors 134

The Engine Block: Where the Fuel System and Ignition System Meet 139

Supercharging with Turbochargers 144

The Exhaust System 145

Chapter 8: Keeping Your Fuel System in Tune 149

Maintaining Your Air Filter 150

Replacing a Fuel Filter 153

Servicing the PCV Valve 156

Troubleshooting Catalytic Converters 159

Checking the Compression in the Cylinders 160

What to Do When All Else Fails 163

Chapter 9: Diesels For Dummies 165

Clean Diesels: Nontoxic Newcomers 165

The Pros and Cons of Diesels 167

What Makes It Go? 168

The Fuel System 171

The Electrical System 175

The Emissions System 176

Caring for Your Diesel 177

Getting Started on a Frosty Morning 182

Finding a Reliable Diesel Mechanic 184

Chapter 10: From Horses to Hybrids: Alternatively Powered Vehicles 185

Ethanol 186

Flex-fuel Vehicles 188

Hybrids 188

Electric Vehicles (EV) 192

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Vehicles 194

Part 3: Staying Cool and In Control 197

Chapter 11: The Cooling System Up Close 199

Coolant/Antifreeze 200

The Radiator 201

The Fan 204

The Water Pump 204

The Thermostat 205

The Heater Core 205

The Transmission Cooler 206

Air Conditioning 206

Chapter 12: Keeping Your Car from Getting Heartburn 207

Overcoming Overheating 208

Checking and Adding Liquid to Your Cooling System 210

Flushing Your System and Changing Your Coolant 215

Finding Leaks in the Cooling System 221

Buying and Replacing Hoses and Hose Clamps 224

Repairing Leaks in the Cooling System 230

Adjusting and Replacing Accessory Belts 233

Replacing Your Thermostat 234

Servicing Air Conditioners 236

Chapter 13: Oil: Keeping Your Car Young and Happy 239

How Oil Benefits Your Vehicle 240

What You Should Know about Oil 242

Choosing the Right Oil for Your Vehicle 245

How Often You Should Change Your Oil 247

How to Change Your Oil Yourself 248

Chapter 14: It’s the Brakes! 257

Brake System Basics 257

Drum Brakes 262

The Parking Brake 266

Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS) 268

Other Electronic Braking Systems 269

Brake Assist (BA) 269

Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) 270

Chapter 15: Be a Buddy to Your Brakes and Bearings 271

Checking Your Brake System 273

Getting at Your Brakes 279

Checking and Packing Wheel Bearings 287

Flushing and Changing Brake Fluid 291

Bleeding Your Brakes 293

Adjusting Your Parking Brake 296

Checking Anti-Lock Brakes 297

Part 4: Smoothing the Ride: Steering and Suspension, Tires and Transmissions 299

Chapter 16: Steering and Suspension Systems Smooth the Way 301

The Steering System 301

Suspension Systems 307

Chapter 17: How to Keep Your Car from Getting Sore Feet: Tires, Alignment, and Balancing 317

Tire Construction 318

The Secrets on Your Sidewalls, Revealed! 320

Types of Tires 325

Specialized Tire Systems 326

Tips for Buying Tires 329

Caring for Your Tires 331

Dealing with Defective Tires 341

Chapter 18: Take the Drive Train: Understanding and Maintaining Your Transmission without Losing Your Mind 343

The Drive Train 344

How Power Flows through the Drive Train 345

Manual Transmissions 350

Automatic Transmissions 354

Troubleshooting Your Drive Train 358

Taking Care of Your Clutch 360

Undertaking Transmission Repairs Wisely 362

How to Keep from Driving Your Transmission Crazy 364

Part 5: Staying Safe and Dealing with Emergencies 367

Chapter 19: Staying Safe on the Road 369

Air Bags 370

Side Impact Protection Systems (SIPS) 376

Adjustable Devices 377

Child Safety Seats and Booster Seats 378

Smart Seat Belts 383

“Eyes” in the Back of Your Vehicle 384

Brake-Shift Interlocks 387

Traction Control Systems (TCS) 387

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) 388

Rollover Stability Control (RSC) 390

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) 391

Telematics: How Cars Communicate 391

Chapter 20: Troubleshooting Leaks, Squeaks, Smells, and Strange Sensations 395

Sounds 396

Squeaks, Rattles, and Vibrations 399

Smells 400

Smoke 402

Leaks 403

Strange Sensations 405

Directional Signals 406

Chapter 21: What to Do If Your Car Drops Dead or Won’t Start 407

Getting Off the Road Safely 407

Troubleshooting the Problem 410

Handling a Vehicle That Overheats on a Hot Day 413

Overheating When It Isn’t Hot Outside 414

If Your Vehicle Won’t Start 415

Chapter 22: When All Else Fails: Finding and Dealing with a Good Mechanic 419

Choosing a Service Facility 420

Finding a Reliable Service Facility 423

Evaluating a Facility 425

Getting the Best Possible Deal 427

Complaining Effectively 433

Part 6: Helping Your Vehicle Look Its Best 439

Chapter 23: Keeping Your Vehicle Clean and Beautiful 441

Environmentally Safe Ways to Clean Your Vehicle 443

Cleaning the Exterior 443

Cleaning and polishing your vehicle 451

Cleaning under the Hood 454

Cleaning the Interior 456

Remembering Those Final Touches 461

Chapter 24: Bodywork: Getting Rid of Dings, Dents, and Other Hard Knocks 463

Getting Rid of Rust 464

Removing Small Dents and Dings 467

Filling Small Dents and Holes 468

Touching Up Your Paint Job 470

Installing New Weatherstripping or Patching the Old 472

Dealing with Damaged Windshields 473

Turning to the Pros for Larger Repairs 474

Part 7: The Part of Tens 479

Chapter 25: The Ten Most Important Preventive Maintenance Measures 481

Change the Oil Frequently and Regularly 482

Do a Monthly Under-the-Hood Check 482

Check the Tire Inflation and Alignment 482

Keep the Interior Clean 482

Wash the Vehicle Frequently and Keep It Out of the Sun 483

Get Rid of Rust 483

Change the Filters 483

Change the Coolant 484

Lubricate the Moving and Rubber Parts 484

Get Scheduled Maintenance to Keep Warranties Valid 485

Chapter 26: Ten “Eco-Logical” Ways to Save Fuel 487

Take a Look under the Hood 488

Start Up without Warming Up 489

Drive Eco-Logically 489

Structure Trips to Save Fuel 491

Fill ’Er Up Eco-Logically 491

Keep Your Side Windows Shut and the AC Turned Off 492

Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated 492

Clean Out the Junk 492

Keep Your Vehicle Waxed 493

Use a Trailer Instead of a Roof Rack 493

Appendix A: A Practical Glossary of Automotive Terms 495

Appendix B: Specifications and Maintenance Records 527

Specifications Record 528

Maintenance Record 529

Index 535

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