Mechanical beasts and burnt rubber
RSS icon Home icon
  • Auto repair tools – The basics

    Posted on July 10th, 2015 admin No comments

    DIY auto repair can be fun, informative and save you a considerable amount of money; but it is not something that should be considered lightly. Preparation is essential, as well as having the correct equipment. Here are the basics to get you started.

    car engine tools

    Safety First

    As always, safety is paramount and should never be ignored.

    Eye protection – Correctly graded eye wear for the task, and specialist equipment if welding is taking place in the workshop.
    Gloves – A simple item but they will save your hands from a multitude of injuries.
    Fire extinguisher – Make sure this is the appropriate type for the fire hazards. This should include liquid and propellant fires as well as electrical so more than one type may be required.
    Spillage kit – Inevitably there will be spillages and having a kit on hand allows you to deal with it safely, minimising the potential for accidents.

    The basics

    There are some tools that you cannot do without and here they are.

    • Open ended and ring spanners – You should consider a set of both metric (mm) and imperial (SAE). European cars tend to be metric and US motors are SAE. However Japanese cars can also have SAE fittings too so both are necessary.
    • Hexagonal & Torx keys or wrenches – Many modern vehicles no longer use the hex bolt, in favour of the more secure Torx bolt. A set of each is therefore essential. Detailed information on the Torx wench can be found here.
    • Ratchet drive – These are available in a number of sizes: 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2″ drive. The bigger the drive, the more force it is capable of withstanding. It makes good sense to have a least two of these options available. Each generally come with their own set of sockets and having metric and SAE available for each makes practical sense. It is also essential to have a set of extensions to allow you to remove and fit nuts and bolts in difficult to reach areas.
    • Pliers – Cutting, flat nosed, long nosed and adjustable. All these will be invaluable at some point. Not everything is within easy reach and pliers make those difficult tasks far easier.
    • Strong arm or breaker bar – Far longer than a standard spanner or ratchet drive, this is designed to remove wheel nuts or other fittings that are tightened to a very high torque rating.
    • Hydraulic jack – For lifting the vehicle or holding heavy engine components.

    These are only the basics and the more involved you become, the more you will discover about auto tools and their uses.

  • 4 of the most complicated car repairs that you shouldn’t do at home

    Posted on June 26th, 2015 admin No comments

    Thinking about replacing your timing belt? Fixing your suspension? Think again! Here are four of the most complicated car repairs you shouldn’t do at home.

    car engine

    1. Replacing the timing belt

    Most vehicles have a timing belt that will need to be replaced. If the belt fails,, it could pose a significant safety hazard, and you will need to enlist the services of a trained professional to rectify the problem. Although replacing the belt isn’t the most complicated of jobs, it can cause further problems to the vehicle if you don’t know what you’re doing. Stumping up the cash for a mechanic might not be your first option, but it could save you more money than if you were to attempt the project yourself and encounter further problems.

    2. Repairing the transmission

    Your car’s transmission is a complicated beast, with many small parts that interconnect with others. Although something like a transmission oil change may sound easy enough, it’s often a lot more complicated than you think. So, if in doubt, stay well clear. A trained mechanic will be able to replace the transmission oil quickly and safely at your local garage. Doing the job yourself could expose the transmission to dirt and grit which could cause serious damage.

    3. Trying to fix a car that’s overheated

    If your car has overheated, it’s time to call in the professionals. Never attempt to fix the problem yourself, otherwise you could risk doing further damage to the vehicle. A mechanic will be able to identify the cause of the car overheating in the first place, and then take the necessary steps to solve the problem.

    4. Replacing suspension parts

    The problem with replacing suspension parts by yourself is that one small slip up could cause further problems without you realising it. Take a compressed coil spring as an example. This small part has a large amount of energy, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re asking for trouble. Suspension parts also need to be replaced in the right order, which is why it’s a much better idea to contact a professional. For example, a wheel alignment may need to be performed, and it’s unlikely that you have the right equipment at your home to complete the job properly.

  • How to Make the Most of Your Garage

    Posted on May 12th, 2015 admin No comments

    The garage is often a place to dump anything that’s taking up space in the house, but it doesn’t have to be this way. A cluttered garage means less space to work with and can make tasks more difficult such as working on the car. To make the most of your garage space, check out the tips below.

    garage in house

    Working in Small Spaces

    In small garages, it’s best to have everything on wheels so you can easily use items and then shift them out your way. Things like tool boxes, cabinets and benches with wheels are a must in confined work spaces and will make life much easier. Even for making a temporary space to work in, wheeled items could be effortlessly pushed to another area of your garage.

    If you’re garage is so small that it’s not feasible to drive your car in and out of it, purchase a car mover. They are the ultimate choice in convenience when wanting to move cars in tight spaces and when concerned by fumes in the garage.

    Create Space through Better Organisation

    An organised garage will allow you to find things quicker and get the job done in no time. The most important feature to any garage is shelving. A metal shelving unit on wheels offers a robust storage solution that can be easily accessed and positioned, while storing large loads.

    While having places to put things is essential, it’s also important to know where things are. Clearly labelling boxes indicating the contents within will allow you to quickly find things and easily organise spare parts, leaving more space to work in.
    Another storage solution is to convent a wardrobe into an open cabinet display. Remove the doors off an old wardrobe and you’ve got yourself an easily-accessible place to put things, making use of old, space-hogging furniture at the same time.

    Removing Clutter While Making Money

    The garage is often a place where all the clutter from the house is left to gather dust, often out of sight. To remove that clutter and reinvigorate your garage space, why not have a garage sale?

    If there are things you absolutely don’t need taking up space in your garage, a garage sale is the ideal option. Making money while freeing up space is why so many people each year take part in this well-known activity. In the UK, people often travel to car boot sales rather than display their items on the front lawn.

    In the end, having more space to work with will mean you are making the most of your garage space.

    Making the Most of Your Garage

    With this helpful information, you will be well on your way to making the most of your garage space, while creating an organised and ergonomic environment.

  • Easy Car Repairs You Can Do at Home

    Posted on May 4th, 2015 admin No comments

    In the early days of motor travel, basic car maintenance was as vital as owning a driving licence as early cars tended to overheat on hot days, struggle to get going on colder days and suffer from a wealth of other problems, both minor and major that could stop a journey in its tracks, causing great inconvenience and disruption.

    Modern vehicles are better crafted and tend not to break down quite so often, which means that many modern drivers have little or no idea of what to do in the event that their car stops working. The following repairs are quick and easy, and learning how to do them can save you time and money, as well as giving you a tremendous sense of self-accomplishment.

    repairing car

    In all cases, where possible, refer to the manufacturer’s manual for your model vehicle as these will give the best advice for performing these small repairs and replacements

    Fuses, windscreen wiper blades and air filters

    These small but vital car parts are designed to be easy to replace. While at first you may find it daunting to be taking your only means of transport apart, these peripherals are surprising quick and easy to replace. Air filters are held in place with a clasp or two, and it is the matter of a moment to unclasp it, remove the old one, pop in a new one (making sure that it is the right way up!) and reattach the clasps. A mere matter of moments that will save you money in the greater fuel efficiency of your car! Fuses pop in and out as easily as plugging in an electrical appliance and windscreen wiper blades are attached using a hook fitting – both very easily removed and securely replaced.


    Car batteries are immensely heavy, and filled with corrosives which can make the thought of handing them fairly daunting. However, much like the lighter peripherals mentioned above, car batteries are designed to be easily connected and disconnected. Make sure you have plenty of space to manoeuvre and, if you are not physically strong have a friend nearby to help with the actual lifting. Place your new battery nearby, and make sure you have a clear, flat space for the old one – dropping or tilting a used battery is not a desirable happenstance! Most batteries are fixed in place by a bar, held tight by a couple of screws. Unscrew the screws, remove the bar – taking care to not let any of the residue or build-up touch your bare skin – and carefully lift out the battery.

    Spark Plugs

    The driving force behind your engines, spark plugs can suffer from wear and tear and the build-up of grime, necessitating their regular replacement. While old spark plugs needed to be carefully spaced and the timing needed to be manually adjusted, modern ones come pre-spaced and ready to use. Fitting the spark plugs is relatively simple, but do set aside a couple of hours and make sure that you are in the right mindset for some careful and concise work.

    These are just some of the basic car repairs that you can perform for yourself, saving mechanics fees and the time of waiting for the mechanic to move on your vehicle. Not only that, you will get an understanding of what your car should look like under the hood, and you may even be able to pick up on problems before they turn into major issues.