Import Auto News: Volume 5 Car Repair & Car Care Advice For Do-It-Yourselfers

Summer's Here - Have You Checked Your Car's Cooling System?

It really doesn't take much time or effort to keep your car running at peak efficiency and avoid those really irritating breakdowns during the hot summer months. If you haven't yet read the tech article Cooling System Repairs: It's Easy to Prevent Breakdowns BEFORE They Happen, now would be the perfect time to do so and possibly save yourself a lot of headaches!

Another great source of quick tips for keeping your car happy can be found in Perform Monthly Car Maintenance & Keep Auto Repair Costs Way Down.

And for goodness sake, don't ignore the suggestions to check all your belts and hoses - particularly at this time of year. These are usually inexpensive replacement parts that can save you from breaking down and possibly incurring a lot of expensive in terms of towing and repair bills!

Do-It-Yourself Refrigerant Recovery
Thanks to Hank B. (from his own experience)

I have a used 30-pound R12 cylinder that I use for freon recovery from R12 systems. I made a 1/4" copper tubing line with a home AC refrigerant filter in it (about 10‘ long in my case) to adapt it to my gauge manifold.

I place the 30-pound cylinder in the freezer in my garage with the copper tubing coming out of the freezer and going to the gauge manifold. I evacuate the tubing and cylinder to prevent entry of air into the cylinder, then connect the gauge manifold to the auto AC system. The cold cylinder causes essentially all the R12 to evaporate from the warmer (80 deg. F) auto AC system and the pressure drops to near zero psi. Then I close the cylinder valve and proceed with AC repairs.

When reinstalling the freon, I pass it through a receiver drier and filter it again. The receiver drier can be rejuvenated by evacuating it while heating it in an oven to 200 degrees. This drives all water from the desiccant. This trick should work for any kind of refrigerant including R134a but I wouldn't use an R12 cylinder for R134. Find an R134 cylinder (higher pressure). Please don't attempt this tip unless you know exactly what you're doing!

How to Make An Inexpensive Volvo Bushing Replacement Tool
Thanks to Russ H. (from another website)

If you need the tool to replace Volvo 200 series trailing arm bushings, you can spend $200 buying it from Volvo or you can make your own in an hour for $25. All you need is a bench grinder and a 3/8" or 1/2" drill. Full instructions can be found at Homebrew Volvo Trailing Arm Bushing Tool.

NOTE: The plumbing fittings that I found at Home Depot were not the exact sizes that the author used, so it took a little more work and a hacksaw. Grade 8 bolts are hard to find, so I tried to get by with a standard bolt from Home Depot. I twisted it in two on the second bushing. It takes a lot of torque to get those bushings to budge.

Once you have made this tool, you can easily make tools to replace your torsion bar and lateral stabilizer bushings. Just buy smaller plumbing fittings and grind to fit the bushings you are replacing.

Mercedes 190E Fuel Injection - What the Manuals DON'T Tell You
Thanks to James G. (from his own experience)

If your Mercedes 190E is experiencing hard starting, check to make sure the vacuum hose from the idle advance is connected to the bottom of the throttle housing. I've seen cars run with the fuel mixture at full rich with this hose disconnected, usually because the vacuum hose was bypassed by a green mechanic and confiscated fuel for air to make the car run.

Generally, if the hose comes loose, your car will stall and not restart. Reconnect the hose and try to start it again. If the car fails to start, your fuel mixture needs to be reset. It takes expensive machines to get the exact mix but you should be able to back off on the mixture by depressing the 3mm Allen screw key down and backing off counter clockwise on the fuel mixture located to the right side of the fuel distributor and left of the throttle plate (may be capped). Once your car is started, you should get it adjusted for emissions by a certified mechanic.

If the cap is still in place, then the mixture wasn't played with and should be left alone. At this point, the fuel distributor should be checked for a sticking plunger. Remove the injector lines at the fuel distributor and remove the fuel pressure regulator line to the fuel distributor (three retaining or torque screws). Remove and check that the rod or plunger moves freely up and down. Service if needed and replace the connections.

A cold start valve or fifth injector will not cause a "non-start" condition in the 190 but it may make the car harder to start. If you have the 2.3 and it's hard to start but runs fine otherwise, you should replace your cold start valve. If your car starts fine but runs rough and stumbles, a clogged injector may be your problem.

You may find some other useful fuel injection repair tips in Fuel Pumps & Fuel Injection Repairs.

Quick & Easy Way to Reset Your Car's ECM/ECU in Just 2-3 Minutes
Thanks to Kevin H. (from his own experience)

So, you just got your new high performance exhaust system, intake or whatever. Now you want immediate results, right? Okay, it's now time to reset your ECM/ECU for optimum performance. The good news - this will only take about two or three minutes!

Step 1: Turn your key to the accessory (ACC) position.
Step 2: Disconnect your battery's positive, yes I said positive, terminal cable.
Step 3: Wait 30 seconds. Now tap the terminal cable to the positive battery post three times.
Step 4: Reconnect terminal cable.

That's it! You've now reset your computer. Now, wasn't that simple?

You might also want to refer to the tech tip, ECU Resets When Adding Performance Parts, in the Volume 4 Edition of Import Auto News.

It's Simple to Keep Your Car's Battery Posts Clean - Here's How
Thanks to Kevin H. (from his own experience)

Here's a fast and easy way to clean all that icky, moldy-looking green stuff that feeds on your battery terminals like a snail on a fish tank wall. You have two choices: 1) Coca-Cola, or 2) Hot water and baking soda mixture.

Just pour either one directly onto your battery posts and watch all that corrosion instantly dissolve. Personally, I prefer the water/baking soda method, so I'm not left cleaning any dried up sticky Coke later. For best connectivity between your battery post and terminal cable, loosen or remove the cable before cleaning with one of the previous cleaning solutions.

How to Keep Rubber Parts From Cracking
Thanks to Brent B. (from his own experience)

On almost all of my cars, the rack and pinion boots and other exposed boots under the car get cracked over time. I found that spraying all the boots, once a year, with Silicon Spray keeps these boots protected and flexible. It's simple and cheap and keeps all your rubber boots and other rubber parts (door gaskets, etc.) lasting much longer. Silicon does cause dust to cling to certain parts, gathering dirt, so watch where you spray!

10 Cent O-Ring Solves Mercedes Diesel's Problem
Thanks to George A. (from his own experience)

If you've got a Mercedes diesel and are experiencing problems with hard starting, rocking or burning oil (smokes), you can thank MB for cheaping out on placing one 10 cent O-ring on the push rod. Once this goes, it sucks oil and air from the crankcase. It is, however, easy to change this seal.

For anytime my diesel is giving me problems, I now keep an electric pump and a clear hose in the car. If you suspect problems, insert an electric pump, by-passing the mechanical one, as a testing procedure. Having a clear hose at the return line can show if air is present in with the fuel and it shows when all the air is removed after a newly installed filter.

If you own a 190d, I recommend that you change this seal now or keep a spare pump handy. I wonder why there isn't an electric pump used in the tank like in the gas engines - can anyone answer this?

Has Your Car Been Recalled? Check It Out
Thanks to Lloyd M. (from his own experience)

It's easy to check on vehicle recalls just by visiting Safety Alerts. If your car is older than 1998, check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Site.

Tips for Changing Volvo Front Brake Pads
Thanks to Lloyd M. (from his own experience)

Here are some tips for changing the front brake pads on Volvo cars 1992 to Present:

1. Make sure you have a 10mm Allen wrench or Allen socket to remove the calipers.

2. Place a piece of masking or duct tape across the retaining spring prior to its removal to keep it from pinging when released.

3. It's a good idea to prevent excess weight or damage to the rubber brake hose going to the caliper. You can do this by tying it off with a small rope or safety wire to the strut spring. This holds the tension/weight of the caliper once removed from the rotor and prevents brake line damage.

Note: For more information on troubleshooting your brakes and doing brake repairs, check out Brake Repairs Needed? Don't Take Chances with Your Brakes - Repair Them Now.

How to Make Your Wiper Blades Last Longer
Thanks to Steve P. (from his own experience)

To help your wiper blades last longer, just put a drop of dish soap into the windshield washer reservoir and you'll be surprised the difference it makes!

Note: For more information on the importance of keeping your windshield wipers in tip-top shape, check out Replacing Wiper Blades Regularly Saves Lives & Windshields.

Use This Simple Test to Diagnose Skipping Engines
Thanks to Max B. (from his own experience)

This was told to me about 50 years ago and still works today - an easy way to check out a skipping engine (especially if it is due to worn out ignition wires or distributor cap).

Just fill a spray bottle with water. Wait until dark or park car in dimly lit area, start the engine and let it idle. Spray water mist on wires, distributor cap, coil tower, etc. If you see sparking from any of these sources, replace them as this is where your high tension is leaking to ground and causing your skip.

For more information on basic car maintenance, check out:

Troubleshooting Noises Coming From Your Import Car
Tuneup & Auto Maintenance Tips to Lengthen Your Import Car's Life
Perform Monthly Car Maintenance & Keep Auto Repair Costs Way Down

Don't Forget:

Repair articles are added regularly. Come back often to check for new maintenance topics.

These repair tips are designed only as a starting point. Please seek the assistance of a professional mechanic for all repair problems beyond your capabilities.

Return To Import Auto News For More Repair Tips