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Auto Repair for Dummies


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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

About the Author

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.

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