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Auto Repair Projects You Can Do at the Same Time

Car Repair and Automotive Projects

Not all auto repair projects and maintenance should be done alone. If you’re replacing a timing belt, for example, then it often makes sense to change the water pump, too. While an extra job does take time and costs money, in the long run you’ll come out ahead, especially if you have a mechanic servicing your car.

Water Pump and Timing BeltTiming belt

When your timing belt needs replacement, it usually makes sense to swap out the water pump, tensioner and pulleys at the same time. In some systems, a timing chain or a fan drives the water pump. However, in most cars, the timing belt does the driving.

Why change the timing belt or chain at the same time as the water pump? Essentially, time and labor costs. If your belt or chain has only a few thousand miles left on it, you’ll be doing much of the same work over again. Save time and money by consolidating your auto repairs wherever possible. For many vehicles there are complete kits that include things like the water pump, timing belt, tensioner, and more for a complete repair.

Clutch and Flywheel

Replacing a clutch requires you to remove the car’s transmission or transaxle to reach the clutch (unless you have an old Saab, they are an oddball design). You’ll unhook the clutch cable (or linkage) and the positive battery cable before removing at least one engine mount bolt to remove the trans.

Separating the trans from the engine also requires removing the bolts around the flywheel bell housing. Once you unbolt the pressure plate and slide the clutch out, inspect the flywheel. If it’s damaged but repairable, then you can resurface it. Otherwise, replace the flywheel before sliding the new clutch disc in place. Work your way back to reinstall the transmission or transaxle.

Struts and Shocks

The wear rates between shock and strut pairs should be the same. Unlike some other steering and suspension components, shocks typically wear uniformly. This fact applies to all four corners of your vehicle, so be prepared to swap out all four at once to ensure a balanced ride.

Car Battery and Cables

When your car battery reaches the end of its life, use this opportunity to check the cables. If they’re frayed or broken, you’ll want to replace them as well.

The cables run from the battery to the fuse box, starter, or frame. Pull the damaged cable off the box and the battery, then replace it with a new one — positive or negative.

If the cable is fine but the terminal ends are damaged, you can replace the terminals alone. Here, you’ll need to use a wire cutter to separate the cable from the ends, then attach it to a new end before fastening it to the appropriate battery post.

Tires: Pairs or Sets

Just as struts and shocks usually wear uniformly, the same can be said for your tires, especially if they were placed on your car at the same time. Be sure to replace your tires in even numbers — two or all four to ensure even tire wear everywhere. When replacing two tires, the new ones always go on the rear, regardless whether you have front-, rear-, all-, or four-wheel drive.

Are there other auto repair projects that can be done in pairs or in groups? Yes, especially if you inspect nearby components and find extensive wear. In that case, avoid a potentially greater expense and solve the problem now.

Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on auto repair projects, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Matthew C. Keegan View All

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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