Import Auto News: Volume 7 Car Repair & Car Care Advice For Do-It-Yourselfers

Polish Discolored/Dull Aluminum Wheels at Home - Here's How
Thanks to Greg C. (from his own experience)

I have polished several sets of wheels in the past few years with great success. I have the tires removed and pull the valve stem and weights off. I then use aircraft stripper to remove all clear coat. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 applications and a toothbrush.

Once the stripping is done, I put the car on jackstands, securing it as best I can. I mount a wheel (finger-tight), start the car and put it in gear (usually 3rd or 4th gear). Sitting in a chair and using a garden hose, I start wet sanding with 400 grit and work all areas that need it, always using a tiny stream of water. I then step up to 600, 1000 and 1500, again always using a tiny stream of water.

After I am satisfied with the sanding, I use cotton rags and Mother's Mag Aluminum Polish to polish the wheel to a mirror sheen. Then I pull the wheel off and wash it thoroughly with Dawn dishwashing detergent and a toothbrush. Allow to dry (I actually use a leaf blower) and then apply 2 coats of spray-on polyurethane clear coat to seal. Works great! If you decide to try this tech tip, good luck and be careful!

A Note From Autohaus: We concur with Greg's warnings - be EXTREMELY careful if attempting this car care tip. Injuries and damage to property could result if your car falls off the jackstands. And we recommend the use of safety goggles and gloves to avoid flying debris getting into your eyes and dangerous chemicals burning your hands.

How to Easily Replace the Shift Rod Bushing in the Tunnel
Thanks to Pete R. (from his own experience)

The shift rod bushing is mounted in the tunnel behind the shifter. It's a plastic part and slips into position easily as long as the shift rod is removed (which is a pain). But by removing the shift coupler from the transmission end, the shift rod will slip (on a 1971 Super Beetle) all the way up front and out of the way of the shift bushing housing.

Once the shift rod is out of the way, just slip the bushing in place and then thread the shift rod back into the bushing. It took a pair of large vise grips to hold the rod in place and then a medium hit on a screwdriver placed against the shift rod collar to coach it through the bushing. But then the rod just slides back into place. Of course, you will also need to replace all the shift collars and put it back together but this tip should make the process alot simpler!

Hard-to-Reach Spark Plugs? Here's a Trick for Easy Replacement
Thanks to Kenneth D. (from a friend's experience)

To install hard-to-reach spark plugs, just connect a piece of vacuum hose to the the end of the spark plug (length varies per circumstance) and the other end to a phillips head screwdriver. Position the spark plug and turn the screwdriver clockwise until tight. Follow up with the appropriate ratchet/socket to ensure the spark plug is secure.

Easier Install of Heater Core or Blower Motor on Saab 9000s
Thanks to Jonah G. (from his own experience)

If you need to replace the heater core or blower motor on a Saab 9000, it makes it a great deal easier if you bend up the metal just above the blower motor. This area is covered by the black exterior moulding, and you can just bend it back in place when you are done.

Locked-Up or Leaking Audi Windshield Washer Pump? Here's an Easy Fix
Thanks to Joel M. (from his own experience)

The windshield washer pumps on Audis often "freeze" and can leak. To repair, simply pull the motor out of the reservoir located near the driver's side fender. Disconnect the wire and turn the impeller. If it does not move freely, squirt a little WD40 on the shaft and free it up. Then reinsert into the reservoir and reconnect the wires. This should have the unit working as good as new.

I have found that Audi components are generally very well made. When they don't perform as designed, the problem is usually something that a little tinkering can fix.

A Note From Autohaus: And, of course, if "a little tinkering" doesn't fix the problem, chances are we can provide you with a great price on a new one! We concur with Joel's statement on Audi parts. Actually, most German and Swedish car manufacturers have very stringent requirements for the parts they use in assembling cars. That's why AutohausAZ is equally as strict with the brands we sell for those cars.

You have a lot invested in your European car and we highly recommend not being penny-wise and pound-foolish. The OES/OEM brand parts are usually not significantly more expensive than cheap aftermarket imitations and they're much higher quality. For more information on how to shop for the right brands for your car, see Shopping Tips.

Quick Fix for Diesel Leaks at Fuel Filter on MB 240Ds, 300Ds and 300SDs
Thanks to Stan V. (from his own experience)

Here's a quick fix if your Mercedes 240D, 300D or 300SD has a diesel leak at the bolt head of the fuel filter: Remove the bolt and throw away the aluminum o-ring. Cut an 8" length of teflon tape and roll it between your hands to form an 8" string. Wrap this "string" around the underside of the bolt head (where the old o-ring previously was seated). Insert the bolt into the housing and DO NOT turn it (turning the bolt head could tear the teflon tape). Now just screw on the fuel filter and tighten it by hand (as if it was a typical American car oil filter). It won't leak anymore!

Free & Quick Tachometer Repair for MB 300Ds and 300SDs
Thanks to Stan V. (from a friend's experience)

If you have a Mercedes 300D or 300SD and your tachometer bounces around and works randomly, try this: On the left inner fender well in the engine compartment you'll find a round black, screw-on cap (this is your tach amplifier). Unscrew this cap and remove the rubber o-ring and screw the cap back on tightly. By removing the o-ring, the contact pins in the cap will penetrate deeper and make better contact and will probably fix your tach problem. Could it be any cheaper or simpler than that?

Troubleshooting Increased Gas Usage Accompanied By Overheating
Thanks to Ken M. (from his own experience)

When gasoline usage increases accompanied by some overheating (with thermostat open) and electric fans are not working, check your high speed and low speed (auxiliary fan) relays (particularly in 4 year old or older Mercedes models).

Follow-Up to Sell Your Car Easier & For More Money . . .

This is a follow-up to the article "Sell Your Car Easier & For More Money with Complete Maintenance Records" which appeared in Import Auto News Volume 6. We mentioned there that there are many "required" maintenance jobs for your car and that you need a good way to keep track of all maintenance and repairs performed on your car.

We're happy to announce that the promised free Maintenance Reminder Service is now available to you in the Members Only Area. You can allow the system to automatically schedule routine maintenance based on your car's service profile and/or manually add repair jobs to be done on a specified date. You'll automatically receive an email reminder 5 days before the scheduled service date.

Moreover, when you indicate you've completed a scheduled repair, it's moved automatically to your car's Service Log. You can also manually enter other repairs performed into your Service Log to compile a complete service record for your car.

In other words, use your Member Profile to store all your repairs to-be-done and completed. And, when you want to sell your car, you can easily print out the complete Service Log for your car, showing when you performed what services. It doesn't get any simpler than that!

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.

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