Car Self-Maintenance

JustinHS

Robin
Orthodox
I used to think torque wrenches were overrated and always torqued things down gutentight.

This year I’ve had issues with aluminum wheel lugnuts coming loose while driving so I finally broke down and bought a Craftsman 1/2” from Lowe’s. I know it’s not the best one, but it’s better than nothing. Haven’t had a problem with lugnuts coming loose since.
 

Gazeebo

Sparrow
Orthodox
The USDM form of Gutentight is the Ugga Dugga, which is always why I wince at taking anything I own to a generic lube shop where they just impact gun everything 'till it stops moving...

View attachment 45170
some of the younger guys don't know what a torque wrench is. But they sure do know the Ugga Dugga. Just today i watched a new lube tech take 10 seconds on one lugnut(he did have the torque stick on it at least.) Basically revoked his privilege of using the impact till further notice.
 

mountainaire

Robin
Orthodox Inquirer
Zero billed shop hours. Just lots of work since last winter, learning as I go. Working on cars as a hobby is cathartic in a certain way. I certainly wouldn't want to do it for a living, but there's a certain feeling of triumph that comes with fabricating something, or coming up with a clever solution to a problem that works like a charm and saves you money. I guess driving it is fun, too bad gas is so expensive now.

The coolest thing about this project in my mind is the fact that I'm still getting tippy top stock fuel economy numbers, which is unheard of after you start modifying things for off-road performance. People usually report their MPGs taking a huge hit, and I fully expected it with this project, too. The tire choice is what made the difference I think, along with not weighing it down too much with unnecessary crap like rooftop tents and all that. I went with taller but skinnier tires. They roll well and allow me to cruise on the highway at 20mpg, which is what these get stock.

IMG_20201122_124902.jpg
It's a lot of fun going out to trails and wheeling with $70,000 Jeeps in my cheap little old Jap truck.
 
Last edited:

dicknixon72

Pelican
The coolest thing about this project in my mind is the fact that I'm still getting tippy top stock fuel economy numbers, which is unheard of after you start modifying things for off-road performance. People usually report their MPGs taking a huge hit, and I fully expected it with this project, too. The tire choice is what made the difference I think, along with not weighing it down too much with unnecessary crap like rooftop tents and all that. I went with taller but skinnier tires. They roll well and allow me to cruise on the highway at 20mpg, which is what these get stock.

M/T tires kill MPG like nothing else, yet people still - stupidly - run them on pavement because they like the look. I get it, but you can get a similar look and stance with a nice set of highway A/Ts without the huge hit to fuel economy, roadnoise, ride quality, and premature wear.

I like those Xterras, especially the '02-'04 midcycle refresh with those round headlamps that doesn't give it an ancient 90s aesthetic. They're body-on-frame, so they are plenty rugged and anything that breaks is easily and cheaply repairable. You're right - yours will give a $70k Rubicon a run for its money on anything except the most demanding terrain that requires crazy articulation (one probably shouldn't be driving through that anyway). They are also much better ergonomically than XJ Cherokees everyone is so enamored with because you can actually drive it to work every day and be comfortable.
 

mountainaire

Robin
Orthodox Inquirer
I like those Xterras, especially the '02-'04 midcycle refresh with those round headlamps that doesn't give it an ancient 90s aesthetic.
Thanks. Yeah, they also have 10 extra ponies, stronger transmissions, and slightly more civilized interiors than the earlier ones. Good and cheap platform to build off of. The drivetrain and chassis are very solid, if a bit antiquated for modern standards. It was the last of the old school Nissan truck DNA before they changed everything. I didn't know all this when I bought it, just got lucky I guess.

A lot of the "off-roaders" where I'm at are all about having new and expensive stuff, and think bigger=better. The new jeeps with the super wide track width (and they install wheel spacers to make it even wider) do not fit so well on the narrow forest trails in the rockies. The old wd22 xterra fits fine.

If I had to start over I'd probably pick something even smaller like an old Suzuki.

20babed7b7e61b7d2e688d758f2a963d.jpg

Aside from being way out of my price range, the new jeeps just seem like huge luxury SUVs for suburbanites compared to the old purpose built ones.
 
Last edited:

dicknixon72

Pelican
I'm a dealer and one of my niches are used Wranglers. Its crazy the money they command and fascinating the types of folks who buy them.

Absolutely zero people will listen to this, but for the majority of the 'off-roading' most folks do, which involves a few unpaved roads or trails, wet weather, some light mud/sand, and occasional now, a 2WD '07-'10 Unlimited with its traction control will do just fine; hell, even a Compass/Patriot with a manual gearbox and their FWD-biased 4WD will handle a lot. Unless you're tackling terrain that requires extreme articulation or you're going to high-center, then you don't need most of that Rubicon/Moab-trim equipment.

You're right about them becoming a bougie vehicle. Remember that Range Rovers became popular in England because one assumed you were land-owning gentry if you had once, so they became cargo cult for the masses to reflect that idea of wealth and status. Same here where you see Wranglers outfitted with more hardcore offroading equipment than anyone in history that are pavement princesses.

Anyhow, glad to see you built a vehicle that looks like it belongs offroad AND are using it as such.
 

stonesfan99

Chicken
Catholic
I will only ever buy Toyota or Honda vehicles now. My first car was a '95 Civic EX 2dr that, although it was small, always started and ran. I never had a single issue with that car. I stupidly sold it, wanted something bigger.

Bought an '08 VW Jetta 2.5 SE brand new. It was a good car for about the first 120k miles. That's when stuff started breaking. Lots of sensors started failing and the dealerships were the only ones who would work on the car (indie mechanics really didn't want to). The dealership I went to always tried to upcharge me on things I didn't need. I remember one time when they tried to charge me $400 for a new radio (because the battery has to be disconnected during work, and it clears the radio programming) and they refused to look at it again. Well I went on VWVortex and apparently you can reprogram it with a free application that runs on Windows, a VAGCOM cable for plugging into the car, and a laptop. I rented the cable for like $18 a week. I fixed the issue in my garage in about 15 minutes. That dealership, I don't know what the problem was. I also had a sagging headliner which the dealers wouldn't work on, just told me to call an upholstery shop. Later on, the alternator failed too and I decided to have the indie shop work on that one and it sounded like it was a real pain. Got rid of it. Some kid bought it.

I now have a '16 Toyota Camry SE 4cyl. I love the car. It's a little bigger than my VW, a little more power. But like my Honda, I don't have to worry about this thing breaking down or having some stupid sensor fail that will cost a fortune to fix. The only problem my family has ever had with Toyotas is rust. Here in WI, the winters are rough on cars. But I'm glad I'm in this one now. Toyotas last forever if you do the maintenance (which costs less than on other vehicles) and it will hold its resale value unlike that VW.
 

Gazeebo

Sparrow
Orthodox
I will only ever buy Toyota or Honda vehicles now. My first car was a '95 Civic EX 2dr that, although it was small, always started and ran. I never had a single issue with that car. I stupidly sold it, wanted something bigger.

Bought an '08 VW Jetta 2.5 SE brand new. It was a good car for about the first 120k miles. That's when stuff started breaking. Lots of sensors started failing and the dealerships were the only ones who would work on the car (indie mechanics really didn't want to). The dealership I went to always tried to upcharge me on things I didn't need. I remember one time when they tried to charge me $400 for a new radio (because the battery has to be disconnected during work, and it clears the radio programming) and they refused to look at it again. Well I went on VWVortex and apparently you can reprogram it with a free application that runs on Windows, a VAGCOM cable for plugging into the car, and a laptop. I rented the cable for like $18 a week. I fixed the issue in my garage in about 15 minutes. That dealership, I don't know what the problem was. I also had a sagging headliner which the dealers wouldn't work on, just told me to call an upholstery shop. Later on, the alternator failed too and I decided to have the indie shop work on that one and it sounded like it was a real pain. Got rid of it. Some kid bought it.

I now have a '16 Toyota Camry SE 4cyl. I love the car. It's a little bigger than my VW, a little more power. But like my Honda, I don't have to worry about this thing breaking down or having some stupid sensor fail that will cost a fortune to fix. The only problem my family has ever had with Toyotas is rust. Here in WI, the winters are rough on cars. But I'm glad I'm in this one now. Toyotas last forever if you do the maintenance (which costs less than on other vehicles) and it will hold its resale value unlike that VW.
You can always tell a northern vehicle due to the rust. Honda and Toyota are the way to go for me as well. I have a coworker that has 2000s VW Jetta and it's the bane of my existence when he gives me a call. It always runs funny regardless of the measures we take.

A running joke at my work is the Check Engine Light (CEL) comes on standard with a new VW.
 

Caractacus Potts

Kingfisher
Gold Member
For anyone who owns a Honda Accord - there is an issue with the power windows not working. The passenger front and rear windows will stop working. You should first check the fuses to see if any are blown. If that isn't the issue then you can try turning the ignition to the 0 and then to II and hold the button down for a few seconds. Repeat this three times to reset. If that doesn't work you may need to pop the arm rest panel off the drivers side door to get to the connections underneath. These connections and switches have been know to go bad.

However, before you do any of this be sure to check and see if you have accidentally engaged the parental window control lock!!!
 

JustinHS

Robin
Orthodox
For anyone who owns a Honda Accord - there is an issue with the power windows not working. The passenger front and rear windows will stop working. You should first check the fuses to see if any are blown. If that isn't the issue then you can try turning the ignition to the 0 and then to II and hold the button down for a few seconds. Repeat this three times to reset. If that doesn't work you may need to pop the arm rest panel off the drivers side door to get to the connections underneath. These connections and switches have been know to go bad.

However, before you do any of this be sure to check and see if you have accidentally engaged the parental window control lock!!!
I have this problem but it’s the driver window, and the switch dislodged itself from the button somehow. Need to take the door panel off and reset the switch. I don’t think my issue is the fuse but rather the button mechanism is the problem. Mine is an 8th gen Accord.

Same with the other poster, I buy cars based on reliability, not status. Plus, reliable cars are usually easier to wrench on.

I had a Mk 2 Golf GTI and that thing was an electrical nightmare. Never again with the VWs. I must’ve swapped the alternator at least three times, replaced the battery a few times trying to chase down a no-charge issue.
 

dicknixon72

Pelican
However, before you do any of this be sure to check and see if you have accidentally engaged the parental window control lock!!!

Japanese/Korean cars lock all windows - even from the master switch - with the WINDOW LOCK button engaged. American cars allow the master switch the ability to roll up/down windows.
 

CaliforniaBased

Woodpecker
Catholic
Thanks for the replies and info. I have a Toyota Corolla that’s about ten years old. Right now it needs an oil change, a new headlight, and some kind of plastic casing broke off near the front and is hanging down from the underside of the car.
You picked about one of the easiest modern cars to fix. good job! I would suggest get a feel for how tight to tighten the various bolts. you could use a torque wrench but its nice to have a good feel for doing it by hand. Also find your local self service junkyard, this will be a great resource for spare parts. I also recommend do your research and study a problem online as much as possible before suffering it out trying to figure it out yourself under the car. Watch some videos on safely jacking up the car and putting it on stands. Remeber to disconnect the battery for any work on the electrical system. Join a facebook group for enthusiats of your car model ( I think it should be 10th gen corolla owners)
 

Kiwi

Woodpecker
Orthodox Inquirer
I have this problem but it’s the driver window, and the switch dislodged itself from the button somehow. Need to take the door panel off and reset the switch. I don’t think my issue is the fuse but rather the button mechanism is the problem. Mine is an 8th gen Accord.

Same with the other poster, I buy cars based on reliability, not status. Plus, reliable cars are usually easier to wrench on.

I had a Mk 2 Golf GTI and that thing was an electrical nightmare. Never again with the VWs. I must’ve swapped the alternator at least three times, replaced the battery a few times trying to chase down a no-charge issue


Mk2 Golf GTI is a very cool car! Hope you kept it. :)

I had a Mk 1 Golf I should've kept. Out of the 20+ cars i've owned over the decades that's one of the few I regret selling.
 
Last edited:
Top