Hooniverse Asks- What Wrenching Do You Do at Home?

Cars and trucks keep getting more and more complicated, but one maintenance job that has remained fairly easy and within the scope of the amateur wrencher is the oil change.

As long as you have a level spot, a pan and a jack stand, you can change out the Texas tea with little drama. But what else are you hoons doing to keep your hoonmobiles happy and hooning?
Older cars that still have things like distributors and carburetors have lots of potential for the DIY mechanic. But what about these new-fangled cars with their fancy-pants fuel injection and self-adjusting engine management controls? Most of them even have sealed for life chassis lubrication, meaning that your grease gun does little more than gather dust on the garage wall.
What do you do with these modern machines? Do you try and do the the fluids and the filter changes, or are you more ambitious and try and dig into things like replacing timing belts and water pumps, despite the 500 or so vacuum lines and wires under the hood?
Or, do you just truck ’em back to the dealer to fix when the dashboard light goes on?
Image sources: [Photobucket, Janetkruskamp.com]

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  1. P161911 Avatar

    I stay away from automatic transmission rebuilds. If it is a big job and I need the car quick I might take it to a shop. I had to do that when the Z3 needed a new engine, but I used a redneck shade-tree mechanic. I'll take newer stuff to a shop to have it diagnosed and then fix it myself. I don't do alignments or mount and balance tires. Anything else I might at least attempt. I'll do water pumps, alternators, brake pads, brake master cylinders, calipers, rotors, drums, belts, hoses,plugs, wires, coils,power steering pumps, u-joints, and radiators without a second thought. I've never attempted body work or upholstery.

    1. ptschett Avatar

      This is about the same system I use. With the motorcycle I'm game for anything, but on the cars I let the shop do anything that needs more than a decent set of hand tools or that I can't do by myself in a day.

  2. lilwillie Avatar

    None. Not a bit. I do my wrenching at the shop. Once I am home my brain turns off for all things Repair related. I may wash/wax and detail the cars at home but not a wrench spun.
    At home is the time to watch racing, talk racing, enjoy the outdoors and the cars.

  3. joshuman Avatar

    At home in the garage I have done brake jobs, fluid changes, and various other medium to minor fixes. One time I replaced a head gasket. One of my favorite fixes replaced the headlight washer pump with a wine cork. These days, I don't really have the time to undertake anything as serious as an engine swap or transmission rebuild and my cars are new enough and reliable enough that I should not have to worry about it. One day I will have a project car but the kids need to get a little older so they can help me with it.

  4. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    I have swapped an engine in a Grand Cherokee, oil changes, trans fluid changes, trans adjustment (auto magical trans), starters, coils, sensors, radiators, waterpumps, haven't done a timing chain or belt but I will work up to it. I have done seals, bearings, bushings shafts…. Unless it takes special equipment (i'm looking at you alignment) or I don't have the time or space I will do it. Try to take time and teach yourself something new.

  5. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    Oil changes, when the weather is warm…… why didn't I buy a house with a big garage… I don't know.
    Brakes, brakes, and more brakes. Once someone knows that you can do it, they want you to do it too. Saves a bundle too. Of course the Cutlass runs through rear brakes every year, so I can get the parts for free (warranty) and do it with my eyes closed now. (yeah, I could always look for the source of that problem, but……. i'm lazy)
    Repair jobs always require beer.
    One thing I won't do, is track down why the brake lights are no longer working. 3rd brake light works, so the switch must be good, right? The parking lights, turn signals and hazard flashers all work, so it's not the bulbs….. I hate electrical work.
    So, until I bring it to the shop, I just keep driving other vehicles.

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      Ah! I have the outside rear brake lights, but not the inside ones or the high-mount. Switch is good, fuse is good… so it's a wire or a ground somewhere! Wheeeeee! And they all went at the same time, and occasionally work!
      Electrical work is about the only thing I can do properly. I'd change my own oil if I had jackstands. Beyond that, I'm not really qualified. Well, I cleaned my throttle body and changed a battery, but everyone should be able to do that.
      I'm certainly not replacing my own windshield, though. No sir.

  6. Manic_King Avatar

    I used to change my Peugeot 205 GTI's clutch cable every week in front of my house as they kept breaking because of bad clutch (top tip: OEM product from main dealership can be cheaper and better than no-name crap from parts shop). At the end that job took only about 5 min. to complete. Also changing Lancia Prisma's door handles took only about 15 minutes, these parts were made of stupidly soft plastic and so were easily breakable when opening the door without fastidious care.

  7. citroen67 Avatar

    What wrenching do I do at home…? Well…everything… <img src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/citroen67s_pix/4081508747/&quot;

    1. citroen67 Avatar


      1. citroen67 Avatar

        I give up!

  8. Michale Kalehuawehe Avatar

    Great article. I’ve favorited this page so I can follow your follow-ups. Thanks for taking the time to share this.

  9. Khadijah Mattera Avatar

    Good post