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November 14th, 1999 Article
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I would like to pass on a few tips to the "Do it yourself" crowd and I would also like to invite anyone with some tips of their own, to pass them on to me. If you have a good tip that you would like to share with others, E-mail them to me at: Or if you like, just click on one of the E-mail boxes in my web site at:

1. Air filters.
Surface dirt on an air filter does NOT necessarily mean that the filter should be replaced. Hold a light up inside the filter and if you can see good light shining through the filter element, then it is still usable. (Holding a light inside different filter elements can also show you the difference between a GOOD filter and a cheap one that. The cheap filter will show all of the tiny little holes in the filter material.)

2. Spark plugs.
Modern spark plugs DO NOT have to be changed every year or 12,000 miles. Top quality spark plugs are warranted for as much as five years and unlimited mileage. (I only change plugs, in my own vehicles, when testing shows them breaking down.) However, this warranty does NOT cover spark plugs that are fouled by fuel control or engine problems. The spark plugs can be like a window into the engine. When you take them out, lay them out in order and give each one a good look. Plugs that show a black sooty coating are fuel fouled from that cylinder or cylinders running too rich. For example, if you have a 6 cylinder engine with Port fuel injection and one plug is black sooty looking and the others are a light chocolate brown, you may have fuel injector problem in that cylinder alone. Plugs that have a gloss or shiny black coating are oil fouling, cause from oil use in that cylinder or cylinders. Spark plugs that are very white and have little black spots on them are caused from lean fuel mixture or improper ignition timing advance. The plugs should have a nice light brown colour (Canadian spelling.) when the engine is operating properly.

3. Rear drum type brakes.
Although most brakes are supposed to be of the self adjusting type, you will find you can DRASTICALLY increase the life of your brakes if you MANUALLY adjust them a couple of times a year. (I find the adjusters never seem to keep up to the wear and if you inspect the shoes and see more wear near the end of the shoe that contacts the wheel cylinder, then your brakes are not self -adjusting enough.) Properly adjusted brakes not only LAST LONGER but they also work better too. I always adjust customers rear brakes, every time I do an oil change for them.

4. This is a tool tip.
The most important tool that I think every person that works on their own vehicles should have, is a small Volt/Ohm meter. This meter is very important in all sorts of testing and diagnosis and you don't need to spend a lot of money on them. (My favorite is a small pocket model that I bought at Radio Shack for less than twenty dollars. It is a digital type and very handy.)

That's enough for this week,

"TOOT" Rick "The Wrench" - November 14th, 1999
Copyright of Rick The Wrench, 1999

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