Time to start thinking about spring maintenanceWritten by Nick Shultz | | email@example.com
Spring is nearly upon us and it is a great time to think about servicing your car and equipment. My wife is already beginning her spring cleaning, and I have begun the regular ritual of maintenance I perform every spring. Our vehicles, the diesel and gas lawn mowers, the tractor, the gas powered blower and even the chain saws all need to be serviced.
I will get up early Saturday morning and make my way to the parts supplier and buy all the necessary oils and filters and greases necessary to perform the quarterly maintenance on my equipment. When I leave my local parts store, the back of my vehicle will be filled to capacity. There will be enough space on the floor of the front passenger seat for the beer men; don’t fret.
I enjoy the ritual. I feel good when I know I have done all that I can do to ensure my equipment is greased and lubed properly. The maintenance routine gives me an opportunity to check out the condition of my equipment.
Performing the maintenance routinely has saved me lots of money over the years, too. I have been able to catch potentially serious problems before they actually turned into major problems.
You don’t need to be a master technician to perform routine maintenance. Almost every piece of equipment comes with detailed maintenance instructions that are easy to follow. As a bonus, if you are really studious and willing to flip back and forth between pages, you may even be able to master a foreign language at the same time. All a person really needs is a willingness to get his or her hands dirty. Come to think of it, while you’re at the parts store, better pick up some hand cleaner.
Of course you’re going to need a lot of room in your garage to perform the maintenance work, so you’ll have to clean it up a bit before you actually start. If you’re like me, the garage seemed to grow boxes of “stuff” over the winter. Oh well, a few trips to the storage shed will handle the boxes. At any rate, cleaning the garage shouldn’t take all day to get done, and you will feel good about it when done.
Before actually performing the maintenance, we also will need to gather our tools and get them in order. That means we have to weed through the kitchen drawers for some of the tools the wife and kids “borrowed” since last fall.
Be sure to look in the silverware drawer for your missing screwdriver. It will be there behind the large spoons. Don’t ask me why gentlemen, that’s just where women put the screwdrivers. Deal with it. You will find the adjustable wrench either under the sink or in the bottom drawer of the bathroom vanity.
That seems to be the “logical” place for adjustable wrenches. You will find the oil drain pan in the back of the garage filled with your garage -floor drying compound your kids decided was cat litter. The plastic cat litter pan did not hold up well to the cold this winter. However, your metal oil-drain pan has filled the niche just fine.
Oh yeah, don’t forget to pick up more floor-drying compound at the parts store while you’re there. Once the tools are all gathered, we can actually get to work on the maintenance. We can attack the first project right after supper. Yippee!
It is a good idea to drain the oil on your equipment when it is warm, so you may want to run the equipment for a bit outside before you bring it into the garage to actually drain the oil. Be careful; the oil will be hot. You may want to have a few rags handy for this step. You will find the rags in one of the boxes you moved out to the shed.
With any luck, you’ll find your favorite “Grateful Dead” T-shirt in the rag box as well. Consider it a bonus. When reaching up the side of the engine, you may burn the inside of your arm on the exhaust manifold. This is a normal experience. Retrieving the Solarcaine from the medicine cabinet will give you reason to stop at the fridge for a beer. The cold beer bottle actually serves two purposes. Not only does the bottle hold the beer, but it also soothes the burn, too. Don’t forget to lightly lube the seal of the oil filter when installing it.
Remember to “hand-tighten only” the replacement filter. Replenish the oil in the crankcase and grease all the necessary fittings and you’re done with the first piece of equipment. It will be pushing 9 or 10 o-clock about this time so you might want to put the rest of the maintenance off till tomorrow.
Mice are attracted to the warmth of the engine compartment on our vehicles. When we park them at night, the little critters make their way under our hoods and build their nests and raise their young. It really must be a comfortable environment for them because almost all of my equipment will invariably have mice nests somewhere in them. Usually the nests are located in the air-cleaner box.
I am not sure why that is, but it seems to be the prime real estate for mice nest building. Cleaning mice nests out of the equipment is a part of the spring maintenance ritual. Bleach mixed with water in a spray bottle helps knock down the smell of the mice.
Yes friends, I find the spring maintenance routine relaxing. It’s an opportunity to really learn our equipment and organize a few things around the house, too.
Nick Shultz is an instructor of Automotive Technologies at Owens Community College. He is an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau who specializes in cases involving the Ohio and Michigan Lemon laws. He is a certified master automotive technician by ASE, General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. Shultz will take automotive technical questions from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org.