Category Archives: Automotive DIY

duct tape rear view mirror

12 Reasons to ALWAYS Keep a Roll of Duct Tape in Your Car

“Houston, we’ve had a problem.” In 1975 the infamous Apollo 13 mission was in trouble. After an an oxygen tank exploded, the crew was forced to abort their planned moon landing, and return to Earth. The problem was that they only had enough oxygen for two days, and the trip would take four.

So, how did the crew fix the problem, and make it back to Earth alive? You could say they owe their lives to duct tape, which was used to fix the air filtration system.

Duct tape is incredibly strong, waterproof, and easy to tear. These qualities give it limitless potential uses, and it can really save you in a pinch. If duct tape is important enough to be carried on every space mission since the early 1960’s, I definitely think you should keep a roll in your car!

Here are some Apollo 13-like hacks for using duct tape to fix your car:

bumper fix duct tape

Fix bodywork after an accident

It’s your worst nightmare scenario, you’re at a stop sign and someone rolls right into the back of you. Your rear bumper is cracked and partially hanging off its mounts.

You can’t drive your car with the bumper dragging on the road. Do you rip it off and create even more damage just to get home, or do you whack out the duct tape and put a couple of strips over the flailing bumper?

A few feet of duct tape will hold your bumper on long enough to get your car home, or to the nearest service station.

Patch up your exhaust:

If you have an older car, this is bound to have happened to you at some point in your life.
You’re driving along when suddenly there’s a loud clang and sparks start flying from the back of your car.

Pulling over to see what the hell has happened, you realise that an exhaust mount has snapped. Thankfully, you carry a roll of duct tape with you! So, you can easily secure it, allowing you to make it to the garage so they can fix it properly.

Stop a coolant leak:

car hose fix duct tape

Your top hose splits in your engine bay, coolant is shooting out all over the place and you grind to a halt in a glorious puff of steam.

Have no  fear, you have your trust duct tape with you. Patching it up with a few wraps, you’re good to limp home. You could also do the same if your washer jets have a snagged and damaged hose.

8 More Reasons to Carry Duct Tape In Your Car

That’s just three big reasons we can think of, but there’s countless more potential duct tape hacks for your car. Imagine that…

  • Someone hits breaks off your rearview mirror in a parking lot? Duct tape it back on
  • Your window mechanism fails and you can’t keep the glass fully up? Use duct tape
  • There’s a big rip in the vinyl or cloth upholstery of your seat? Duct tape it
  • Your hood or trunk latch stops working while you’re out and about? Try duct tape
  • There’s a crack in your bumper that makes a whistling noise when you drive? Use duct tape
  • Some interior trim comes loose in your car? Duct tape it.
  • Someone backs into your bumper or headlight, and it’s hanging awkwardly? Duct tape it
  • You’re hauling kayaks to the lake and notice one of them has a small crack or is missing a drain plug? Duct tape it
  • Your kids won’t stop screaming in the backseat, and you just want their mouths to stay shut? DON’T use duct tape! 

You name it, duct tape can usually fix it.

Duct Tape Can Save Your Own Earthly “Apollo” Mission:

car use duct tape

Car issues can quickly become serious, especially if you can’t get cell reception, or if your phone dies.

Even if you aren’t mechanically minded you can still patch up and limp home, or it will hold until you can find someone else to help if you’re in the wilds.

Demonstration of the Uses for Duct Tape on an Old Car: (video)

There’s also specialist types of duct tape too. Even though the normal stuff will see you through most eventualities, you may want to think about buying some aluminum duct tape for high heat scenarios.

Also, Foil duct tape will patch up cracks in your exhaust and last far longer than the ordinary webbed tape.

So there you have it, a bunch of damn good reasons why you should put a small roll of ultra-sticky, (possibly lifesaving) duct tape in your glovebox.

You know it makes sense.


how check power steering fluid

Power Steering Fluid: How to Check + Flush Yourself – DIY Video

What is power steering fluid, and how do you check it? Most people rarely think twice about the power steering unit they have in their vehicle, mainly because it’s not a maintenance issue that commonly gets brought up. However, power steering might be one of the most important functions of your car, because if you’re not able to successfully navigate the wheel quickly, your car is an accident waiting to happen.

How to check power steering fluid:

If you can’t see inside to examine your fluid, a good way to check is to use a turkey baster and look at the fluid that you pull out from inside the baster.

If the fluid is lighter in color and doesn’t give off a burnt smell, then you probably just need to add more fluid to what you already have. As long as the fluid isn’t dirty and isn’t burnt, it’s usually still good to use.

If your fluid is a darker brown or black color and smells like something that was pulled from a fire, however, that’s when you might need to flush your power steering fluid. One common way to replace your fluid is to simply remove the contaminated fluid with the turkey baster and replace it with newer fluid. If you’re only somewhat savvy when it comes to cars, this method of replacement rather than a full flush is a much safer way for you to handle your car’s maintenance.

How to FLUSH power steering fluid:

If you know what you’re doing when it comes to cars, however, a full power steering flush makes sense. The best way to do a proper flush requires the help of a friend who you can trust to start the car while you examine the fluid.

  • Disconnect the main low-pressure hose from the steering pump, allowing the contaminated fluid to drip out of the bottom.
  • Add enough new fluid to fill the system to the halfway mark, making sure that you’ve filled the steering system to the halfway point before starting the vehicle.
  • Once you have the system at the halfway point, have your friend start the vehicle to get the power steering pump engaged.
  • For best results, you’ll want your friend to turn the steering wheel back and forth to help get the new fluid pumping through the system.
  • As this is happening, you’ll notice the old fluid coming out of the back to be replaced by the new fluid. What you need to watch for when you replace power steering fluid is the color of the fluid that’s coming out of the system.
  • Once the color that comes out matches what you know is new fluid, then this part of the job is done and it’s time to get the hoses reattached.

Power steering change cost

For some people, the average power steering fluid change cost of $115 isn’t something that bothers them, but if you’re the type that doesn’t mind getting your hands dirty, it’s a relatively simple process that can lead to some moderate savings.

In fact, you can check the monthly flyer of stores like Advance Auto Parts to see if they have any on sale in-store. If you’re lucky, one of their mechanics might even check it for free at your local store.

The first thing to know about a power steering fluid change is that it’s not always necessary to go for a full flush. In order to know if a full flush is necessary, it’s a good idea to take a look at the existing fluid that’s already in your power steering system.

Test your power steering

However, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the job is done and getting right back on the road immediately after you complete a power steering fluid change. Once you think you’ve removed all of the contaminated fluid from the system, it’s time to put the cap back on and test the steering with the car in a safe area.

Make sure that the wheel turns smoothly in each direction. When you operate the wheel, it should be easy to turn, with no difficulty in changing direction. If you find yourself getting stuck making a turn and having to use incredible force to complete it, that’s a sign that you might have a bigger steering problem.

Checking & flushing your power steering fluid is an important habit!

When you really think about it, the decision to replace power steering fluid is mostly about common sense. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a very straightforward maintenance procedure that you can do at home. If you can read a dipstick and determine how much fluid to add, managing your power steering fluid and keeping yourself and others safe on the road won’t be a difficult task at all!

emergency prepare kit car noah

Make a DIY Roadside Car Emergency Kit: Prep Like a Suburban Noah

jumper cables carIt wasn’t Raining when Noah Built the Ark: Out here in Pennsylvania we’ve been blessed with some great weather lately; so nice that it made me forget how awful last winter was. (Can you say, “polar vortex”?) However, check out this recent headline:

The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that this winter will be another arctic blast with above-normal snowfall throughout much of the nation. The extreme weather will continue into the Summer.”

try imagining a few scenarios that you might face unexpectedly in your car, like being stranded roadside, or stuck in gridlock traffic in various weather. If it happened tomorrow, would you be prepared?

While Noah had a pretty big task set before him, the good news is that yours will be simple. (And no animals needed!) While this list may be altered due to the season, your geographic location, or whether you travel with kids or others, here is a basic list of what you should have for an emergency kit for your car:

noah ark prep car

other drives won’t be so lucky

  • Flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Jumper cables and/or a charged jump starter
  • Extra fuses (often fix electrical problems)
  • wool blanket
  • first aid kit
  • Road flares
  • rain poncho / umbrella
  • auto fire extinguisher
  • Ice scraper (seasonal)
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable snacks (like granola or energy bars)
  • Paper and pen (to make a sign, or write down information)

Many of the items above will fit into a backpack or plastic storage bin, and not take up too much room in your car. You can certainly add to this list, and the emergency lists can get pretty long and intimidating. You can grab most of these items at your local Advance Auto Parts (click for coupons) Walmart, or AutoZone. Personally, I think some of the recommendations from Consumer Reports and Edmunds can get a little intense; like quarts of motor oil, antifreeze, tire chains, etc.

*Tip: Know how to jump start a car!

A better alternative might be to join AAA for 24 hour roadside assistance for auto / mechanical problems. Unless you have an inner-MacGyver, you might just want to get towed to the nearest service station.

car emergency kit winter

Shoes: If you do a lot of driving in heels or fancy dress shoes, also consider having some backup shoes or rain boots in case you need to do any walking in bad weather. (*see for great footwear coupons)

Kitty litter: I thought you said, “no animals?!” True, but you can pour kitty litter under your tires if you are stuck in icy weather for traction. It’s a nice winter addition to the list, and more practical than tire chains.

Also, please consider these tips:

  • Don’t drive your car on “empty” – Keep at least a quarter tank of gas in your car
  • Check your car battery – Have your battery checked free at Advance Auto Parts to see if you need a new one
  • Keep up with oil changes (at least every 5000 miles or so)
  • Check your tires – Have them rotated when you get your oil changed, and check your tire pressure
  • Consider joining AAA, or have a premium roadside assistance program in place. It costs a lot to call them and join when you are stranded!
  • Keep your cell phone charged, and have a car charger
  • Know how to jump start your car
  • Keep an emergency $20 bill in your glove compartment – Lots of reasons that might make sense. And if the power is out, you might need it!

While driving in remote, rural areas or extreme conditions may present more potential for emergencies, the list above will greatly prepare most suburban drivers and commuters for the most common suburban emergencies. The good thing is that you can always find coupons for at least 20% off your order at Advance Auto Parts, and you can even pick them up for free in 30 minutes from your nearest store.

Think you have nothing to worry about? Remember the Chinese proverb, “when men speak of the future, the gods laugh.” Hey, if Noah can build an ark bigger than a football field at age 600 to prep, you can do this! Not only did I make a car emergency kit, I got a backup generator installed in my house as well! (I’ve already been through a 3-day power outage with three kids once)

If you think it might be helpful to a friend, please share this post!

jump start dead car battery

How to Jump Start a Car: Connecting Jumper Cables, FAST & EASY!

How to jump start a car – Is there anything worse than realizing you’ve got a dead car battery? Unless you enjoy the exercise associated with pushing your car to the nearest gas station, it’s a good idea to carry jumper cables, and to know how to jump start your car!

How to jump start a car with jumper cables

how to jump start car diagram

When jump-starting a car yourself. Remember to always have a good set of jumper cables in the car, as this happens to the best of us. Here’s how to jump it:

  • First park your working car next to the one with the dead battery (not touching)
  • Shut off the ignition, lights, radio, and anything else that might use the power (including any dvd player. Also disconnect anything that might be charging, like a phone.)
  • Get the jumper cables
  • connect the red positive clamp to the dead battery’s positive post (has a “+” plus sign)
  • connect the other red clamp to the good battery’s positive post
  • Make sure that the cables aren’t dangling into the engine, where they can get caught or tangled on moving parts
  • Connect the first black negative clamp to the working car’s negative battery terminal
  • Connect the other black clamp onto any unpainted metal surface on the dead car’s engine
  • Start the working car, and idle a couple of minutes
  • Start the dead car
  • Once it’s running, disconnect the cables in reverse order, and run or drive for at least 10 minutes (while listening to song, “Jump Start My Heart,” by Natalie Cole?)

Here’s printable instructions of how to jump start your car:

jump starting your car

It’s not a bad idea to make a little card to remember the order in which you connect the cables. In fact, we just made one above that you can click on and print out for your glove compartment.

It’s also a good idea to consider a portable jump starter in your car, but you’ll have to charge it every few months. Ever wonder how long car batteries last? That’s helpful knowledge, too.

Thanks for visiting, where we post the best deals that we can find for automotive parts online, as well as helpful how-to videos like this one showing you how to jump a dead car. Please see out coupons for up to a 40% discount on auto parts like new batteries!

penny test worn tire treads

5 Ways To Tell If You Need New Tires: Try the Penny Test

How can you tell if you need new tires? Tires are one of those important things that you don’t really think about much until something is wrong; kind of like the foundation of your house. However, it’s a good idea not to let potential problems with your tires develop if you can avoid it. Here’s one way to save money with coupons for Advance Auto, and 5 ways to tell whether you need new tires:

1.) Tire tread depth:

Madonna once said, “Get into the groove, boy you’ve got to prove your love to me,” and I believe she was referring to her tires. The tread on your tires should never be less than 1/16 of an inch, and if you are driving on wet surfaces, you should have closer to 1/8 on an inch.

The penny test: How can you measure the tread? One simple way is to put a penny between the treads, with Abe Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can still see all of Abe’s head, you honestly need new tires.

3:) Increased Vibration:

Cyndi Lauper once said, “I’ve been thinking of a new sensation, I’m picking up a good vibration. Oop, She bop!” Even though that song apparently alludes to female masturbation, it always reminds me of driving on worn tires. If you notice that your tires have gotten loud, or that your car shimmies when you drive, it might be that your tires need attention. That vibration could mean that your tires aren’t properly aligned or balanced. (Or, it could mean that you need to turn the bass down on your stereo while playing that Sir Mix-a-lot CD!)

tire cracked sidewalls4.) Cracked Sidewalls:

One of the more easy ways to tell whether you need new tires involves visual inspection of the sidewalls. If you see cracks developing cracks or grooves, it’s a good indication that your tires need replacing.

5.) A bulge or blisters on your tires:

If you see a bulge on the side of any of your tires, that’s the internal air pushing out on a weak spot. Get this taken care of immediately, as it might lead to a blowout.

tire wear indicator bars2.) Tread Wear Indicator Bars on tires:

For your convenience, many new tires include tread wear indicators in the form of little bars that appear as your tires get worn. As your automobile’s tires wear down, these little bars appear perpendicular to the actual tread of the tires, and can be seen in the wet tracks that your old tires leave after you drive through a puddle.

How many miles do tires usually last?

That’s an important question, and the quick answer is “between 40,000 and 80,000 miles.” Although tires get a lot better mileage than they used to, the answer still depends on a few important factors. First, tires are rated for tread life expectancy, and the better ones usually last longer.

Here are a few tips to extend the life of your tires:

  • Maintain recommended tire pressure, which may fluctuate seasonally (in winter tires often lose air pressure)
  • Rotate your tires every time you get an oil change
  • Don’t pair new tires with old or mismatched ones
  • Drive responsibly and watch out for pot holes, especially in late Winter!

If you’re still not sure, get the opinion of a someone from a trusted local service station or auto parts store. Although checking whether you need new tires isn’t one of the listed free services from Advance Auto Parts or AutoZone, one of their ASE certified professionals would be happy to give you their professional opinion as to whether you need new tires.

There same auto parts stores don’t usually sell actual tires, but you can get everything you need to maintain and repair your tires and wheels in-store or online. For the best price, be sure to use a coupon for a 30% discount (check out the featured promotional code above) or more!

how to change windshield wiper blades

How to Change Windshied Wipers: Fast & Easy Video Demonstration

windshield wipers symbolChanging your windshield wipers – For the latest and greatest coupons and promo codes to save money on windshield wiper blades, provided through Advance Auto Parts, please visit their coupon page. This post is a review of a short, 1 minute long video tutorial on how to change windshield wiper blades.

Changing your car’s windshield wipers demonstration

Please review this video first, and then read on for more discussion of this relatively easy process:

No tools are needed to change your wipers;  just a rag & some love

auto parts guyYou should not feel embarrassed if you have never changed the blades on your car. As the adage goes, see one, do one, teach one. And so having watched this video from Advance Auto Parts, and then having changed my own windshield wiper blades, I am now ready to teach!

The only tool that is needed for this maneuver is a shop towel and a rag! Having two hands will help, as well as a scissors to cut out the windshield wipers from the excessively sturdy plastic wrapping used on almost everything these days. First, the windshield wiper is gently lifted off the window, and the towel/rag is placed on the window, in case you are klutzy and the wiper crashes down.

But I can’t replace wipers on my own; I’m afraid of failure!

There is nothing to fear. The friendly man with the Santa Claus beard demonstrates how to replace a Bosch Icon blade with another Bosch Icon wiper blade. He then opens a clip cover located directly on top of the windshield wiper holder, and slides off the old wiper from the “J-hook.”

how to change wipersFrom what I can tell, the wiper blade is slid along the axis of the arm “forward” towards the base of the wiper arm, An analogy might be made to the human body: jam the forearm into the shoulder rather than pulling the hand away from the body. Or not. Honestly I felt like this step was not demonstrated very clearly, but upon watching the video and then going out to my own car and applying the same logic, I was able to quickly see what the bearded man was talking about. There really is a j-shaped locking mechanism, easily identified and with a J-type motion, easily released.

Wait for a satisfying click: wiper installation

He then slides the new windshield wiper directly onto the arm, and does not stop until he hears a satisfying click. This click confirms the wiper is fully engaged and will not fly off in the first torrential storm that tests its mettle.

It is very important to close the clip cover, or the whole thing will be unstable and perhaps prone to improper function and wear and tear.

How to change windshield wipers: easy demonstration video

As you can see this whole changing of the windshield wipers is very easy, almost embarrassingly so. For many years I spent extra money having Pep Boys replace my wipers during routine service. There is something very satisfying about doing your own car work, even at this most basic of levels, and so if you are hoping to take more responsibility for the care of your car, this “1 wrench level difficulty” video should be a great place to start. If you have a fear of failure, check out the list of free services at Advance Auto Parts, and they will replace them for you.