How to not break things when repairing your own car


We all like to think of our autos as sturdy, well-built […]

We all like to think of our autos as sturdy, well-built and reliable L type wrench modes of transportation.That is, until we attempt a simple repair or maintenance item and then we learn what pro technicians have known for years: they really don’t built them like they used to.Yes, as a rule, today’s version of our rides are safer and longer-lasting than their predecessors, but there are still plenty of reasons to be gentle when prying under the hood or just about anywhere else on a vehicle.

The majority of breaks come with dealing with plastic and other like materials, especially on interior and exterior trim. Think things like door trim panels, bumper covers and the like. For most removable trim panels, the first thing you should have is a trim tool. They resemble a flattened two-tine fork and are great for spreading the force you use when trying to release a trim clip or push-pin fastener.Attempting to get by with just a normal screwdriver or pocket knife is almost always bound to end in a split panel or finger.

Make sure you know how the panel is fastened on before you try to pull it off. Carmakers use a variety of fasteners on the same panel; some are pop-off type, some are screws and some are hook-shaped, requiring the panel to be lifted up, not pulled straight off.If you run across a plastic fastener that looks like it has a removable center on its cap, make sure to pop that center up before trying to disconnect the fastener.

Underneath, these clips have an expandable shaft much like household drywall fasteners, and the pop-up section will allow that shaft to collapse to permit its removal.If you’re working on an older vehicle, you can count on breaking at least one trim fastener during your trials. Some carmakers have ridiculous pricing on trim fasteners, and in almost all cases an aftermarket parts store can fill the same need. Just make sure to bring a sample to them to get a suitable match.