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April 5, 2014

DIY car care: Mechanic offers tips on vehicle maintenance

Americans, especially those in rural or suburban areas, depend upon their automobiles. 

Maintaining those cars and trucks can be an expensive part of a household budget.

Many people try to save money by doing regular maintenance themselves. But what can an armchair mechanic safely do, and what should be done by a professional?

According to John Bogart, a mechanic at Monser Brothers Tire and Auto Service Center, different vehicles have different areas of concern when it comes to do-it-yourselfers.

“Like the air filters — on some cars it is easier than other,” Bogart said. “Some air filters are easy to get to, but on some you have to take out half of the motor to find it.”

Oil changes may be done by owners who are careful. The mechanics are relatively straight forward, but care must be taken to avoid a mess and mishap. Oil is difficult to contain once it has spilled. It is an environmental hazard as well as an unsightly mess on carports and driveways.

There are containers that are approved for oil storage, and they should be used to collect old oil. The oil then may be taken to a certified mechanic for proper disposal.

But there is another element to changing oil on a car that can cause problems. Sometimes the former gasket is not removed before a new one is installed, and this may cause the oil to spill out.

“A lot of people when they change the oil filter they forget to get the old gasket out,” Bogart said. “It sticks to the motor, so it doesn’t just come off when you pull out the old filter. It is called double gasketing and it happens a lot. If you don’t know to check to see if that old gasket is off before you put the new one on, the oil will spew all over. It causes a gap in the seal.”

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