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Useful Tips for Your DIY Car Projects So You Still Have A Car After The Pandemic

Useful Tips for Your DIY Car Projects So You Still Have A Car After The Pandemic

COVID-19 has been a challenging proposition for many people but it has also brought along with it something valuable: free time. With all social gatherings and entertainment canceled, we are left with significant amounts of extra time. Netflix, bring it on! But after a few days, you realize you can only handle binge-watching so much Netflix. Then it hits you - you are going to do something productive, and the car sitting in the driveway could use some TLC.

You’re not alone. DIY car projects are looking tempting to many people cooped up in their houses. In fact, car manual publisher Haynes has seen a stark increase in sales of car DIY manuals over the last couple months, which means more people are turning to car maintenance and restoration to help fill voids during COVID-19 seclusion.

Why DIY car projects are a good idea

Leaving cars sitting in the garage or driveway for too long is never a good idea. It can cause rust to build up on the brake rotors. The battery can diminish over time, after all, computers in your vehicle are always drawing juice out of the batter even if your car is not running. And, there’s the air pressure in the tires as well as oil and other car fluids.

Here are some useful tips for your DIY car maintenance projects so that you still have a car at the end of the pandemic.

1. Keep it simple

Even though you have all the time on your hands and you want to supe up your ride, novice car mechanics need to understand that it’s impossible to do everything the DIY way. It’s much more realistic to start small, then work your way up to bigger, more ambitious projects.

Looking for ideas and inspirations? Family Handyman has a list of 100 easy car maintenance projects to DIY.

2. Patience is a virtue

If you think you will be able to perform a simple car fix in an hour or so, think again. Many car maintenance projects can last days and difficult fixes can take weeks. It can be easy to lose your cool. But, our biggest advice is to take it slow and take the time to document everything you do and label every part you pulled out. This can prevent a number of headaches and panic attacks later on.

3. Don’t start a project without the right tools.

Unfortunately, you will need more than the 17-piece tool kit from IKEA. Without the proper tools, fixing your car can be frustrating and even dangerous. While most fixes can be done with a few wrenches and sockets, you never know when a more complex tool will be needed to get the job done.

For instance, you might think that changing your car’s oil is a simple task, but there’s so much more to it than simply pouring in a new bottle of oil. Typically, you will need a drain pan, paper towels, and a car jack. Gear 4 Wheels has a good list of tools you need to start working on your own car.

The OBDII Scanner is your new best friend

Aside from the wrenches and screwdrivers, one tool that you really need in your car toolbox is an OBD II scanner, which really comes in handy if you need to troubleshoot problems. Okay, so you don’t need an OBD II reader if you are working on an old Jag or MG, but if you have anything made after 1996, this tool is invaluable.

Say, you’re playing around in your car and all of a sudden the “Engine Check” light pops up on your dashboard. What’s happening?! Good news is, there really is no need for a panic attack just yet and you certainly don't have to start yanking out everything from under the hood. All cars made since 1996 have an OBD II port. It stands for Onboard Diagnostic. The OBD II port is typically located under the dash, above the brake pedal. All you need to do is plug the OBD II scanner into the port to scan for fault codes (or problem codes) in your car.

OBD II scanners are inexpensive, with budget units capable of reading (and providing the code description), and clearing codes. The higher models can troubleshoot not just the standard codes, but also the transmission, ABS, SRS, airbag, and more.

If you are looking for an easy-to-use OBD II scanner to add to your toolbox, the ThinkOBD 100 from ThinkCar is a good option. It is an inexpensive, no-frills OBD II code reader that can read and clear codes from your car, including that frightening “Engine Check” light.

In other words, if you see a problem on your dashboard, just plug the ThinkOBD 100 into your car’s OBD II port and you can easily do a quick scan to pinpoint the problem. You don’t even need an Internet connection to perform a diagnostics scan - it gets power from your car via the OBD II port. Stranded in the middle of a parking lot with no data left on your plan, the ThinkOBD 100’s got you covered! It’s smaller than most smartphones and will easily fit inside your glove compartment.

The ThinkOBD 100 is great for diagnosing common problems, but if you need a tool that gives you more manufacturer-specific codes, you will need something more advanced, like the ThinkDIAG.

ThinkDIAG = OBD II scanner + factory service manual

The most valuable tool when working on your car is the factory service manual. All the exact specifications for your specific car are all documented in the manual. While you may ask why, when there are so many tutorials on YouTube and forums online. Google and forums, and even the Chilton and Haynes manuals, are great for common jobs like changing brake pads or adjusting a carburetor, but they don’t always have the right answer you need specifically for your car. This is when the ThinkDiag shines.

Unlike the ThinkOBD 100, the ThinkDiag is a dongle + app diagnostic tool. Simply plug the dongle into your car’s OBD II port and you can connect to it via Bluetooth using your smartphone. Anything the ThinkOBD 100 does, the ThinkDiag can do, too: read and clear fault codes, and other standard OBD II functions.

But what makes the ThinkDiag that much better is the included Manufacturer Software subscription, which gives you access to all diagnostic and maintenance functions specific to your vehicle’s make and mode. For instance, you need to reset the tire pressure on your BMW. You won’t be able to reset that with the ThinkOBD 100, but with the ThinkDiag, it’s as easy as a tap on your smartphone.

Each ThinkDiag comes with a Free 1-Year Manufacturer Software Subscriptions for 2 manufacturers and each manufacturer software subscription will give you access to all diagnostic functions and all maintenance functions for your vehicle plus all car models from the same manufacturer. So if you nothing buy Hondas, all you need is just one Honda software subscription and all your cars are covered!

ThinkOBD 100 and ThinkDiag now available

DIY projects are supposed to be fun

Performing work on your car is a valuable skill to have, but if you do not have the patience or proper tools, you could be doing more damage than good. Keeping it within your abilities and having the proper tools are key.

Remember, DIY projects are supposed to be fun. If reading all of this is giving you the urge to start your own car maintenance project, that’s awesome! But if it’s giving you unnecessary stress, then we strongly recommend you check out DIY Joy’s 30 DIY Ideas for your car or truck.

Until next time, Safe Driving and Stay Healthy!

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