The Hippo


Jun 17, 2019








Courtesy photo

When to toss it

Tires: If your tires are worn out, there’s no real way to get any more time out of them. When it comes to punctures and holes, the quicker the problem is identified, the more likely it can be repaired instead of tossed and replaced. 
Windshield wipers:  In some cases, parts of windshield wipers can be temporarily replaced, but if you’re beginning to get streaks on your windshield, it’s a sure sign to replace them soon. 
Brakes: When brakes start to go south, there’s no reversing it. It’s always best to replace rotors along with brake pads, but “at the very least if  you don’t replace the rotors, you’re going to want to have them resurfaced,” Reynolds said.
Air filters: If air filters are close to new or only slightly dirty they can be blown out and reused, Reynolds said. “But if dirt just just keeps coming out, they should definitely be replaced.”

Conquer car troubles
Should you get under the hood?


 A strange rattle coming from under the car. A sort of hissing noise when shifting into park. A burnt out lightbulb. What’s a busy driver to do? 

The average car has about 1,800 parts, each doing a specific job to help you get from A to B safely and quickly. With so many pieces, tune-ups and fixes are a necessary part of owning a vehicle. If you’re not schooled in auto mechanics, determining when you can save a hefty chunk of change on a do-it-yourself job rather than paying oodles to the experts can be tough to figure out. 
“I get a decent amount of customers who do their own little jobs,” said Ross Reynolds, owner of RST Auto in Manchester. “I would tell customers, if you feel confident go ahead, but if  you’re unsure, it will cost more money and be more of a headache.” 
On the whole, people are afraid to touch things they don’t know anything about, Reynolds said. While some jobs need special tools and equipment — a major DIY deterrent — others require little more than the items on a typical toolbelt. With a little consultation from the Internet and a repair guidebook about your specific make and model, most prospective do-it-yourselfers can save themselves a pretty chunk of change. 
DIY: burnt out tail light, oil change
A burnt out tail light is dangerous on the road. It’s also a great way to get a hefty fine from your friendly neighborhood traffic cop. 
Luckily, fixing the problem shouldn’t require a trip to the auto shop. The step-by-step operation varies from car to car, but, according to Reynolds, it’s as easy as changing a light bulb. 
Typically, to change out any dead bulb in a car, whether it’s the taillight, headlight or a blinker, all you need is a phillips, plain, or torx head screwdriver, depending on the car. You can pick up a basic halogen bulb for your make and model at any parts stores for $10 to $20. 
The first step in replacing the tail light is finding the path to the back of the tail light housing. This means taking off the covering and removing screws that hold the tail light in from the outside or accessing it from the trunk. 
“Sometimes it’s as simple as opening up the trunk,” Reynolds said. “Sometimes you can get to it right there. You take off the trim panel in the trunk, pull the trunk carpet away, and you see the back of the taillight.”
The job requires removing any bolts and screws in the way and then reaching your hand in to twist the bulb 90 degrees and pull it right out. To put the new bulb in, just twist it 90 degrees the other way. 
Another easy (yet significantly messier) money-saving job is a good old-fashioned oil change. This is simpler to do on a truck because it won’t require ramps or a jack. Those cost about $100, and a jack requires a safety stand too. You’ll also need a wrench, oil drain pan, funnel and some latex gloves as well as oil and an oil filter. 
“You’ve got to pay attention and figure out how much oil your car calls for, and what kind of oil filter,” Reynolds said. “Tell the associate at the parts store the make model and year of your car and they will get you a filter. They’ll tell you how much oil and the viscosity needed.” 
Once you can get under the car, put the drain pan in place and slowly remove the drain bolt with the right size wrench to allow the old oil to come out. When it’s drained, tighten the bolt back on, replacing the plug washer if required. Then remove the oil filter and screw the new one in. The last step is adding the correct amount of new oil. 
A little more work: brakes jobs
Ready for a challenge?  Replacing brakes is usually “the furthest most customers are going to want to go if they are doing work at home,” Reynolds said. 
Changing your own brakes can mean pocketing at least half the money you would have handed over to the mechanic. Brake pads and rotors are typically in the $50 to $60 range, while front rotors range from $40 to $60 each. You’ll need to pick up some caliper lube and have handy a larger socket set because tires are held on by bigger lug nuts. 
“And that’s it,” Reynolds said. “If you take  the same job to a garage that’s roughly, for a front brake job, in the high $200s to $300 depending on the vehicle.” 
Another option is calling up the nearest junk yard and asking if there are any vehicles with your make and model in the lot. This is the cheapest way to find replacement parts, and disassembling the lot car to take the parts is an excellent way to get familiar with the job. 
Don’t try this at home: timing belt replacement 
Unless you’re close to an expert yourself, steer clear of attempting to change out your own timing belt, Reynolds said. 
A timing belt is the part of the engine that makes sure all the other parts, including the camshaft, crankshaft and engine valves, are synchronized and moving when they are supposed to. Because they wear out with use, timing belts need to be serviced about every 60,000 to 90,000 miles. 
The tricky part is making sure everything is perfectly timed, which can even be tricky for mechanics if they don’t have the right information for a specific vehicle.  If  parts are moving wrong they can end up hitting each other and cause even more damage. 
“Some people attempt to do that and it ends up on costing them more money and more headache,” Reynolds said.  

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