Why I Love Fixing Cars!

I Replaced These!

Two weeks ago I replaced the Valve Cover Gasket and Spark Plug Seals on my '96 Honda Accord.  I checked the spark plugs and saw that they had a good amount of oil on them.  It was clear the Seals needed to be replaced, but also it was obvious that the Valve Cover Gasket needed to be replaced because you could see it wasn't sealing properly anymore.

It was a simple job that only took a little over 1 hour & 30 minutes with basic hand tools.  After I had finished, I drove my car to make sure everything was working well.  I had an immense feeling of pride on that drive and after I had done it.  I was reminded of the reason I love fixing cars and other things.  Sure, you save money when you Do-It-Yourself, although that is not why I love fixing cars.  The pride came from the fact that I had taken something that needed to be fixed and I made it right again.  I had done it!  Not anyone else!  I was able to fix my own car.  It felt like I had conquered a mountain or crossed an ocean.  I had accomplished something that most people haven't done or will do.  That's what made it so special to me!


Another Freebie, an Actron Scanner

Nice, an Actron Scanner!

On Monday I received this in the mail.  It's an Actron Pocket Scan Plus Scanner.  It's used for retrieving diagnostic trouble codes from vehicles, when the Check Engine Light is on.  A lot of scanners just read codes, but do not tell you what the code means.  This Actron scanner does both, in a very small unit.  It reads OBD II and CAN codes too.  This will be a useful addition to my tool collection.  Code readers are useful for any serious or DIY mechanic.  The best part?  It was sent to me Free of Charge by Actron so I can test out it and write about it.  I can't wait to find some cars to hook it up too.  A thorough review to be posted soon!

Synthetic Oil

In my last post I suggest getting your Oil changed every 3,000-4,000 miles.  If you feel that's just to often for you there is a solution…. Synthetic Oil!

Regular Oil, that you most likely have in your car right now, will only last for 3,000-4,000 miles.  Synthetic can last 2 or 3 times longer.  Meaning you could go 10,000-15,000 miles between Oil Changes!  Imagine saving all that time and hassle!

Synthetic Oil cleans and protects your engine better.  Your car's fuel economy can improve.  It will make your engine last longer.  It has higher boiling point, so if your engine is overheating Synthetic Oil won't burn up as readily as Regular Oil.  On cold days, it will provide more even lubrication.  Many people argue that it's also better for the Environment, because you use less Oil over the life of your car.
Are you asking yourself “Why hasn't anybody suggested Synthetic Oil before?”  There might be several reasons, but the main reason is Price!  Synthetic Oil lasts longer, but is more expensive.  A typical Synthetic Oil change at a shop might cost $70-90, not including disposal fees and taxes.  Many people just don't want to spend that much.  Actually… most shops don't even carry Synthetic Oil, because there isn't much of a demand.

I put Synthetic in my Toyota Camry!  I feel it's worth it.  Usually Auto Parts Stores have special deals to buy 5 quarts of Synthetic Oil with a high-quality oil filter for $30.  It saves me time, since I only change it every 10,000 miles instead of 3,000 miles.  I checked my dipstick yesterday, and 6,000 miles later Synthetic Oil still looks new! 

Even though Synthetic Oil is great, I wouldn't suggest it for cars with 100,000+ miles.  I tried using it in my Mom's Van…… it leaked out.  Synthetic Oil is so viscous and cleans so well, it tends to leak through older engines that have used Regular Oil.

It's better to switch to Synthetic early in a car's life.  You'll prevent any problems from switching over if you do.  Many high-end manufacturers, Ferrari, Aston Martin, etc factory fill cars with Synthetic Oil.  So why not your car?     

Do I Need to Change my Oil every 3000 Miles?

This is probably the most common question I get asked.  My short answer is usually, “No! However it’s a good idea to get it changed often!  Getting it changed every 4000 miles is reasonable if you prefer, but it's good to try to get it changed around 3,000 miles.

Many then argue that in their Scheduled Maintenance Booklet, it might say change the oil every 5,000 miles or even 7,500 miles.  Why spend money every 3,000-4,000 miles?  Modern oil might be able to last that long, but that cheap oil filter you have on your engine won’t!  In my experience I haven't seen these cheap oil filters last long.  Many mechanics I’ve talked to agree on this as well.  Many of the oil filters out there just don’t last long enough to truly filter out contaminants and work properly!

That mileage figure they tell you in that booklet might work in labs, but in the real world it doesn’t!  Check your oil just after it’s been changed.  Then check again 3,000 – 4,000 miles since you last changed it.  You’ll noticed a significant difference.  The new oil will have a Golden-Honey color.  The old oil will look Black and Dirty.

I change the oil on my Mom’s van about every 3,000 miles.  It has over 100,000 miles on it, and I feel it’s the best way to ensure the engine will last a long time.  Even if you only drive a few thousand miles a year in your car, get it changed at least twice a year.  Getting your oil changed isn’t expensive, so do it often.  Your car's engine will reward you with a long life if you do.  Remember….. Oil is Cheap, but Engines are Expensive!