Cover image for The complete idiot's guide to trouble-free car care
The complete idiot's guide to trouble-free car care
Ramsey, Dan, 1945-
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alpha books, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxii, 265 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TL152 .R28 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Sometimes car owners find themselves spending more money on car repairs than they did on the car. This guide relieves every car owner's biggest nightmares by giving helpful advice on everything from fixing problems to checking parts and fluids.

Author Notes

Dan Ramsey is the author of 60 how-to books on automotive, consumer, and business topics. Because he has maintained and repaired his own cars for over three decades, he knows exactly how to teach you to care for yours!

Table of Contents

Part 1 Understanding Your Carp. 1
1 How Cars Run: What Makes Them Go?p. 3
How Your Car Runs--Assuming That It Does!p. 4
The Infernal Combustion Automobilep. 6
Fuel System: How Your Car Digests Gasp. 8
Ignition System: Keep the Spark in Your Lifep. 8
Cooling System: Cool It!p. 9
Lubrication System: It's Not Just Snake Oilp. 10
Exhaust System: Why Your Car Burps and Belchesp. 11
Emission-Control System: Smog Gets in Your Eyesp. 11
Transmission System: Getting That Power to Work for Youp. 11
Electrical System: Battery Powered!p. 12
Steering and Suspension System: Keeping Control!p. 13
Brake System: Stopping Without Bumpsp. 13
Other Systems: All the Other Junk You Needp. 14
Rocky Road, Maple Nut, or Vanilla?p. 14
Modern Home-Grown Carsp. 14
Immigrant Carsp. 14
Senior Citizen Carsp. 15
2 Learning About Your Car: What Does Whatp. 17
Just One Big Happy Familyp. 17
Blood Brothers and Kissing Cousinsp. 19
Playing the Numbersp. 19
The Great Maintenance Trackerp. 22
3 Using Manuals: Doing It by the Bookp. 25
Do It by the Bookp. 25
Owner's Manualsp. 26
Service Manualsp. 27
Doing It Manuallyp. 28
Hell-p! When the Book Isn't Enoughp. 29
4 Cars on the Internetp. 31
Driving on the Internetp. 32
What You Need to Cruise the Internetp. 32
Reading Signs on the Internetp. 32
Auto Manufacturers Around the Worldp. 33
Fun Destinations on the Internetp. 34
Creating Your Own Mapsp. 36
Visiting Friends on the Netp. 37
Using Other Online Servicesp. 37
America Onlinep. 37
CompuServep. 37
Using CD-ROM Resourcesp. 38
Bring on the Questions!p. 38
5 Quarter-Million-Mile Car: Fact or Fiction?p. 41
Your Car Notebookp. 42
Your Workshopp. 43
Planningp. 45
Part 2 Maintaining Your Carp. 47
6 Do-It-Yourself Maintenance, or Getting Your Hands Dirtyp. 49
Pickpockets in Overallsp. 49
In Your Driveway or in the Parking Lotp. 50
How To Get Your Hands Dirtyp. 51
It's Tool Time!p. 51
Wrenchesp. 52
Socket Wrenchesp. 53
Screwdrivers That You Can't Drinkp. 54
Pliers: They're Not Just for Pulling Teethp. 54
Lubrication Toolsp. 54
Other Maintenance Toolsp. 55
Using Tools To Make a Dentp. 55
Finding Parts the Legal Wayp. 56
The CAR Maintenance Systemp. 57
7 Finding a Good Mechanic: Who Can You Trust with Your Car?p. 61
The Dealer's Service Shop: Returning to the Scene of the Crimep. 62
General Mechanics: One-Stop Shoppingp. 63
Specialized Shops: I Don't Do Electric Windows!!!p. 64
Tune-up Shops: Adjusting Your Car's Attitudep. 65
Lube Shops: Fast Food for Your Carp. 65
Don't Pollute! And Do It Safely!p. 66
8 CAR Weekly Check Upp. 69
Every Seven Days or Once a Week--Whichever Comes Firstp. 69
Check Oil Level (H)p. 71
Keeping Your Car's Cool (H)p. 73
Can You See Out of That Thing? (H)p. 73
Check Power Steering Fluid Level (H)p. 74
Check Brake Fluid Levels (H)p. 75
Check Tires and Pressure (B)p. 76
When the Bottom of the Tire Is Flatp. 77
9 CAR Quarterly Check Upp. 79
A Quarter's Worth of Maintenancep. 79
All Charged Up (H)p. 80
Hosing Around (H)p. 82
Cool It! (H)p. 83
Shifting Fluidly (H/U)p. 84
Check the Differential Lubricant Level (U)p. 86
You're Suspended! or Steering the Right Course (U)p. 86
When Your Car Is Exhausted (U)p. 87
Wiping Away the Raindrops (B)p. 88
10 CAR Semiannual Adjustmentsp. 91
Semiannual Specialsp. 91
Dirty Oil and Filter Adjustments (H, U)p. 92
How Much Gas Do You Want? Adjust Throttle Linkage (H)p. 94
Give Him Some Air: Adjust the Carburetor (H)p. 95
Stopping on Time: Adjusting Brakes (U)p. 96
The Wheels on the Bus Go 'Round and 'Round: Adjust Tire Rotation (B)p. 98
11 CAR Yearly Replacementsp. 101
Keep Firing, or Readjusting the Ignition Timing (H)p. 102
Belts Do More Than Keep Your Pants Up, or Replacing Engine Drivebelts (H)p. 104
It's Transfusion Time, or Replacing Chassis Lubricant (U)p. 105
12 CAR: Biannual Replacementsp. 107
Keeping Cool, or Replacing Radiator Coolant, Cap, and Hoses (H)p. 108
Keep It Clean: Replacing the Fuel Filter (H)p. 109
Cleaning Up the Air, or Replacing the Air Filter (H)p. 110
Keep the Spark Alive: Replacing Spark Plugs (H)p. 111
Replacing Spark Plug Wires (H)p. 113
Igniting the Fire, or Replacing Other Ignition Parts (H)p. 113
Replacing PCV, EEC, and EGR Parts (H, U)p. 115
Keeping It Automatic: Replacing Automatic Transmission Filter and Fluid (U)p. 116
Trans Who? Or Replacing Manual Transmission/Transaxle Lubricant (U)p. 117
What's the Difference? Or Replacing Differential Lubricant (U)p. 118
Replacing Wheel Bearing Lubricantp. 118
13 Body and Interior Maintenance: Keeping Your Car All Spruced Upp. 121
Splish, Splash, Give It a Bathp. 122
Wash Behind Your Mirrors and Under Your Fendersp. 122
Your Car Needs Sunscreen, Toop. 123
Be Careful Not to Hurt the Soft Spotp. 123
Bathing Your Car's Enginep. 124
A Facial for the Finishp. 125
Chrome Is Chrome Is Really Plastic and How to Clean Itp. 125
Clean Wheels Go Fasterp. 125
Can You See Through That Windshield?p. 126
Inside Tipsp. 126
Permanent Makeup for Your Carp. 126
Part 3 Repairing Your Carp. 129
14 Why Cars Don't Run: The Little Car That Couldn'tp. 131
Making Sense of Your Carp. 133
Driving with Murphyp. 134
Engine Problems: Did You Hear That?p. 134
Fuel Problems: What To Do When Your Car Is Starvedp. 134
Ignition Problems: Rekindling the Sparkp. 135
Does It Compute?p. 135
Exhaust Problems: Cough, Coughp. 136
Electrical Problems: Short Circuits and Morep. 136
Cooling Problems: Changing Hot to Coolp. 136
Lubrication Problems: Keep Friction Out of Your Relationshipp. 137
Brake Problems: Stopping in Timep. 137
Suspension Problems: A Shocking Storyp. 137
Transmission Problems: When Your Transmission Doesn't Transmitp. 138
Body and Interior Problems: Ouchies and Crunchiesp. 138
Free Repairs!p. 139
Three Years or How Many Miles?p. 139
Is Your Car Under Warranty?p. 139
Oops! When Your Car Gets a Recallp. 140
15 Don't Shoot! Troubleshootp. 141
I Can Answer That Question in Three Minutesp. 141
How to Listen When Your Car Talksp. 142
If Your Car Is in a Comap. 144
Do Idiot Lights Have an IQ?p. 144
Troubleshooting by the Bookp. 144
Ya Gonna Fix It or Pass the Buck?p. 146
16 Non-Nerd's Guide to Understanding Your Car's Computerp. 147
Who's in Control Here?p. 147
Getting a Sense of Things Automotivep. 148
The Boss: ECMp. 150
The Slaves: Actuators as Employeesp. 150
Shooting Troublep. 151
Fixing Things Without Going Brokep. 152
Moving On with Your Lifep. 153
17 Do-It-Yourself Repair Without Major Medicalp. 155
Tap! Tap!p. 155
Pull!p. 156
Let's Get Precisep. 157
Hello, Mike!p. 158
How Deep Is My Love? Get a Micrometer!p. 158
Calipers, and Rules, and Gauges--Oh My!p. 159
Avoiding Ouchies!p. 160
18 Starting and Ignition System Repairs for the Cluelessp. 163
You Can't Get 'Em Up in the Morningp. 164
When Your Car Won't Wake Up: Troubleshooting Electrical Problemsp. 165
Using Caffeinated Coffee: Replacing Your Car's Starterp. 166
Diagnosing and Treating Ignition Illsp. 167
Switching Switchesp. 167
It's Coiled, But Is It Ready to Bite?p. 168
Replacing Sensors and Control Modules and Distributors, Oh My!p. 168
19 Performing Engine Surgeryp. 171
Diagnosing Your Car's Sick Enginep. 172
Testing Your Car's Heart Through Compressionp. 173
Automotive Head Injuries and Brain Surgeryp. 175
Open Engine Surgeryp. 177
20 Fuel System Repairs: Fill 'Er Up!p. 181
Are You Starving Your Car?p. 182
Painless Carburetor Surgeryp. 183
Don't Choke Your Car to Deathp. 184
If Your Car Injects Itself: Fuel-Injection Repairsp. 185
All Tanked Up: Fuel Tank and Fuel Line Repairsp. 186
Minor Heart Surgery: Fuel Pump Repairp. 187
21 Cooling and Lubrication System Repairs: Fixing a Hot Carp. 189
What to Do with a Hot Carp. 190
If Your Car Is Radiating Too Much Heatp. 190
A Fever of How Much?p. 191
When Your Water Pump Doesn'tp. 192
Turning Up the Heatp. 193
Why You Can't Cool Itp. 195
You Own an Oil Pumpp. 195
22 Transmission Repairs: Those Troublesome Trannysp. 199
It's Test Time!p. 200
Shifting for Yourselfp. 200
Clutch Repairp. 202
Your Automatic Transmission Does It Betterp. 204
What Your Converter Converts and What to Do When It Doesn'tp. 205
Separating Good Joints from Bad Jointsp. 206
Rear End Problems (Your Car's)p. 208
23 Steering and Suspension System Repairs: No More Swerves or Bounces!p. 211
Why Won't My Car Turn Where I Want It To?p. 212
Stopping Arguments Between Your Wheelsp. 212
Suspension and Your Carp. 213
The Steering Committeep. 215
When the Steering Needs a Boostp. 216
24 Brake System Repairs: Stop Ahead!p. 219
Avoiding Skids on the Roadp. 220
When Your Car Needs New Shoesp. 221
Replacing Your Car's Brake Padsp. 223
Masters of the Brake Universep. 224
Boosters for Brakesp. 225
25 Electrical System Repairs: You'll Get a Charge Out of This!p. 227
When the Automotive Power Goes Outp. 228
Energize Me!p. 228
Your Battery on Cablep. 229
What to Do When You Can't Charge Any Morep. 230
Regulating Those Volts!p. 231
Other Auto Electrical Devices to Play Withp. 232
26 Exhaust System Repairs: Fixing an Exhausted Systemp. 235
Troubleshooting Tips for Tailpipesp. 236
The Manifold Life of an Exhaust Systemp. 236
Don't Let Your Pipes Get Exhaustedp. 237
Let There Be Silence!p. 238
TLC for an Aging Catalytic Converterp. 238
Keeping the Environment Clean of Auto Emissionsp. 239
27 Body and Paint Repairs: Giving Your Car a Makeoverp. 243
Makeover Tips for Your Carp. 243
What Kind of a Crack Is That?p. 244
Sagging Doors Make Your Car Feel Oldp. 245
Un-Denting Unavoidable Dents!p. 246
Permanent Makeupp. 246
Beautiful on the Insidep. 248
A Glossary of Car-Care Termsp. 249
Indexp. 259