Tips & Tricks

  1. With both standard and metric hardware on so many trucks these days, it’s easy to find yourself wasting time searching for a smaller wrench that doesn’t seem to be at hand. A quick solution may be in your pocket. A few pieces of change can often be used to take-up the space between the ends of an open end wrench and the nut.
  2. Have you ever mixed up your ignition wires when changing distributer caps? To be sure of preserving the correct firing order, collect 4, 6, or 8 of the little plastic bread wrapper clips. Write the cylinder number on both sides of clip. Then simply snap them on the distributer cap ends. They can be left in place and are really handy for tune-ups and spark plug changes.
  3. If rust is a big problem where you live try this. When you first spot the rust, spray on some Easy-Off oven cleaner, wait five minutes then rub it off with a damp cloth.
  4. When changing the axle, transfer case and transmission fluids, use an angle spark plug boot, clamp, and a fuel line hose to get the oil in difficult to reach fill holes. The angle spark plug boot keeps the line from kinking.
  5. When replacing radiator or heater hoses, cut the old ones into short sections and split them lengthwise to make protective sleeves for the new hoses. This will protect the hoses from any sources of abrasion or heat. The sleeves can be tie-wrapped or clamped in place.
  6. Don’t find out the hard way that a few years of dusty offroading can deposit enough dirt in the brake (or clutch) fluid reservoirs to ruin the entire system. To keep the dust out, remove the vent hole cover and insert a piece of foam covering the hole. You may have a different vent system butthe foam filter works great.
  7. If you have a problem with worn out door seals take some 1/2″x3/4″x1/4″ foam weatherstrip and place it over the old worn out seal. The adhesive foam sticks to any clean surface and makes for a cheap and easy way to beat the cold. It also does wonders for wind noise.
  8. When working with plexiglas for headlight covers, windshields etc., I found that it often cracks when drilled. The solution is to heat up a nail with a torch or (or by other means) and use it to melt through the plexiglas. If you want to make a larger hole use a threaded bolt after starting the hole with a nail.
  9. To keep from making a big mess when changing your motor oil, slip a plastic bag over the filter after breaking it loose with the filter wrench. Then with one hand hold the neck of the bag tight against the engine block use the other to unscrew the filter. The mess will be contained within the plastic bag.
  10. If you have offroad lights mounted to your truck and are worried about them being stolen, here’s an easy way to keep them theft resistant. After mounting your lights and tightening them down with the origanal hardware install a second nut and spot weld so that the bottom of the nut is flush with the mounting shaft. This arrangement makes the light still adjustable but very hard to steal. To remove just grind off the weld.
  11. If you use your reciever hitch as an anchor point for your tow-strap the edges will quickly cut and ruin the strap. To help prevent this damage cut an old bicycle tube and put it over the end of the reciever.
  12. A quick and easy way to protect any electrical connection is to coat the connection with a liberal amount of hot glue. It holds insulates and seals the connection.
  13. A nice and clean way to store your chains. Take an empty gallon jug of antifreeze and cut the top off around the spout. It’s an easy way to keep the interior of your 4×4 clean. The handle makes it easy to carry.
  14. When working on fuel lines siphoning is a major problem. To cure this keep a box of golf tees handy. To prevent spillage, simply install the tee into the fuel line after disconnecting it.
  15. A good way to keep your spare keys secured under your vehicle is to drill a hole in your frame, drill a hole in your key the same size. By using a bolt a lockwasher and a wingnut you can secure your spare keys to the frame knowing you won’t lose them.
  16. If your wiper arms aren’t doing the job like they used to even after you replaced the blades. Check your wiper arms for an extra hole in which to put the tension spring. If you can move the spring it will put more tension on the blade.
  17. If you want to build an inexpensive heat shield for your starter. Cut a coffee can to fit your starter and drill some holes for air to escape. You can attach it with cable ties or hose clamps.
  18. If you need an add-on tow hook but don’t have room to drill any holes in the back of your rig. Purchase an 8″ to 10″ piece of 2″ square tubing to fit in the back of your reciever hitch. Drill a hole for your hitch pin and then two more holes to bolt on the tow hook. It’s fast and cheap!
  19. For a quick and easy way to air down your tires. Try cutting off the end of a “Fix-a-Flat” can. To air down screw the end on to the valve stem until the desired pressure is acheived.
  20. If you ever break a accelerator cable while your out four wheeling (or anywhere) and you need a quick fix. Cut back the cable housing to expose the broken cable end, then using locking pliers attache a piece of electrical wire. By pulling on the wire you can control the throttle. Make permanent repairs ASAP.
  21. When descending a steep hill and you want to take advantage of your gearing and engine compression, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Try turning on your Air Conditioning. The drag of the compressor assists the engine braking power.
  22. A 3/4″ PVC tee makes for a cheap wrench for your old manual locking hubs. Simply cut two notches in the short side of the tee to fit over the hub lock. It also works great when wearing gloves.
  23. If you ever blow a radiator hose or heater hose fix it and find the only water available is in the mud hole next to you, you can use a rag to filter the dirt out of the water. Place the rag over the open radiator and pour the dirty water through the rag. Be sure to change the water as soon as possible.
  24. If you have a puncture in your gas tank, take a bar of soap and shove it up against the hole. It will stop the leak so you can get back and have it fixed properly.
  25. If you have a tube bumper on your truck, you can store tow straps, axles etc. in the tubes by removing the plastic caps on the ends. It’s easily accessed and safely out of sight.
  26. When making your own gaskets you can pierce the gasket with an empty bullet casing. To create a clean bolt hole, .22 caliber = 1/4″ 9mm = 5/16″ .38caliber = 3/8″ .45 caliber = 7/16″ .50 caliber = 1/2″.
  27. If you have a rollbar in your vehicles bed and would like to have tie-downs but don’t want to drill any holes in your trucks bed. Replace one of the bolts rollbar bolts with an eye bolt. It’s a cheap and easy way to have convenient tie-downs.
  28. If you are trying to jockey a stack of washers and a nut in a tight or out of sight place, try putting a light coat of grease on the washers and stick them together. The grease is usually strong enough to keep the pieces together while you install them.
  29. If you don’t want to get dirty while doing a bearing pack… place the bearing in a Zip-Lock bag and fill it with grease. Seal the bag and squish it around until the bearing is packed. When done you can use the bag for future bearing packs or keep spare bearings in the bag for field repairs.
  30. If you do any desert pre-running use spray silicon on your tires sidewalls so the rocks don’t rip the sidewalls.
  31. If your battery goes dead in the middle of nowhere and no one is there to jump you and you just happen to have a chainsaw, you can charge your own battery. Take the belt off your alternator, remove the arbor from the chainsaw and you can now wrap the belt around the sprocket on the chainsaw to charge your battery.
  32. If you are offroad and need to break a bead on a tire you can use your Hi-Lift jack Place the tire flat on the ground and put the Hi-Lift on your bumper with the base on the tire close to the rim. As you work the jack, the weight of the vehicle will pop the bead so you can complete the repair.
  33. After changing your motor oil, transmission, transfer case, and differential fluids what should you do with the used oil? Recycle it. Most of your local automotive parts stores will take the old oil and dispose of it properly.
  34. When rebuilding something involved such as transfer cases, transmissions and engines for the first time it’s hard to remember where everything goes. To help you remember where the parts go, get some Ziploc baggies with labels and a black marker and label the bolts and nuts as you take them off. Such as transfer case tailshaft bolts or engine cylinder head bolts. You can also spray some WD-40 into the bag to help prevent rust.
  35. If you are planning on installing or having a lift kit installed you should first check or have your vehicle checked for any worn components such as your steering linkages, brakes, u-joints etc. A lift kit changes the angle of your steering linkage and driveshafts. If these parts are worn before the lift is installed, you may have problems such as vibrations or breakage. larger tires make the vehicle harder to stop. If the brake system isn’t working properly it can get real expensive to fix afterwards. Better to be safe than sorry.
  36. To determine what gear ratio to change to after installing larger tires just use this formula to get you in the ballpark. MPH x Gear Ratio divided by True Tire Diameter x 336 = RPM
  37. When you go out wheelin’ sometimes the brush will move your side mirrors and you have to re-adjust them when the trail is over. Take some fingernail polish and mark the mirror at both ends so that all you have to do is line up the marks and drive away.
  38. Your Hi-Lift jack is getting dusty and full of dirt. WD-40 works to keep it lubricated but collects more dirt and dust. Take an old inner tube and cut out a section big enough to stretch over the working parts of the jack. For best results tie the ends shut with some tape.
  39. Brake fluid bottles aren’t always easy to pour the fluid out of. Especially into small clutch master cylinders on some of the new trucks and cars. Get an old dish soap bottle, clean it extremely well and dry thoroughly. Fill with brake fluid, now you have an easy fill bottle.
  40. If you are bleeding your brakes manually you must be careful not to over extend the piston in the master cylinder. You don’t want the brake pedal to travel all the way to the floor. On some of the newer cars with ABS and sensitive brake systems allowing the piston to travel farther then it would normally could rip or tear piston cup seals resulting in master cylinder failure. Some of these new systems aren’t cheap either. It’s simple to cure this problem, just put your free foot under the brake pedal while bleeding, preventing the pedal from going all the way down. Check the brake bleeding sequence for your vehicle.
  41. When replacing four wheel drive hub bearings and races. Place the new race in the hubs and place the old race inverted on top of the new race. Using a long punch pound in the new race and the old race removes easily.
  42. To avoid large oil spills such as when you change transmission fluid . Get a garbage pail lid and drill some holes near the center. Place it over your regular drain pan and you have a large funnel ready to catch any fluids. This will save you time you could spend doing something more productive.
  43. Can’t find small oil leaks? Check your PCV valve and make sure it is working properly. If the PCV system checks out try plugging up your PCV system temporarily. Start your engine and check for leaks. The crankcase pressure will build up and any small oil leaks will probably get big enough to find easily. It also helps to start with a clean engine to make the leak more apparent.
  44. Don’t have the right Torx wrench or socket to remove something off your truck? This is not always a problem. A torx wrench has 8 points and an Allen wrench or socket has 5 points. Try using an Allen wrench which has 5 points instead of 8. This will sometimes work to remove this not so popular Torx screw.
  45. Your wiper blades leave streaks across your windshield but they’re not very old. Simple, just take some fine sand paper and fold it in half. Lightly rub it along the wiper blade once or twice. This sort of re-sharpens the wiper blade.
  46. Tire Rotation. All tires should be rotated every 3,000 miles. Larger more aggressive tires should be rotated more often then passenger car tires. Proper air pressure and alignment should make those off-road tires last for a long time.
  47. Do you keep forgetting your gas cap after refilling your four wheeler on the trail? Drill a small hole in the cap and another hole in the body. Then run a small chain and attach with sheet metal screws. You will never need to worry again.
  48. Need a tool box that will hold large or small things and keep dust, dirt and water out? Go to your local surplus store and get some ammo cans and boxes they are water proof. Plus the surplus store has lots to offer in the way of camping, and small storage items.
  49. Ever had a problem driving up car ramps on a concrete floor? The ramps keep sliding away as you try to drive on them. To solve this problem drill a hole in the bottom of each ramp, loop a 10 foot length of rope through each hole. Now when you drive up, the back wheels sit on the rope to keep the ramps in place.
  50. To find the right air pressure to run in your tires on pavement. Find some smooth concrete and wet a section about 3 feet wide by 8 feet long. Over inflate your tires and drive through the water and see how much tire is making contact with the ground by looking at the pattern of water left on the concrete. Air down until the water pattern and your tread width measure the same. Note: front and rear tire pressure may not be the same.
  51. Corroded battery cables or rusted bolts. Take some Coke Classic and soak the parts in the coke for about an hour, remove the corroded or rusted parts rinse them off and reuse.
  52. Not all tires measure out to be exactly what they say they are. To find the true tire diameter mark the bottom of the tire and rotate one revolution. Measure and divide the distance by pie (3.14) and you have the true tire diameter.
  53. Here’s an easy way to keep those worn out hatch struts up and locked. Take a piece of pipe and slide it over the piston to lock it in.
  54. The use of old style VW fuel filters are a great way to top off your rigs vent hoses.
  55. Tired of your old universal joint sockets being “limp”? Place an O-ring over the swivel section of the socket and that should fix the problem.
  56. Use your old three ring binder rings to hang your tools up in your garage.
  57. If you’re ever out fourwheeling and develop a pinhole leak in one of your radiator hoses try this; a tire plug repair kit works great. Just use the plug like your plugging a tire. It should get you back home so you can replace the hose.
  58. An easy way to mount a CB is to buy some hook and loop fasteners with adhesive backing and secure them to your CB and dash. This way you can take the CB with you when you’re not using it and you don’t have to drill any holes.
  59. A great way to make hook and loop fasteners adhesive strips stick better is to add a couple drops of crazy glue to the adhesive strip before installing it. This will make an incredibly strong grip.
  60. If you are tired of making messes when filling your differentials. transmissions or transfer cases, take a dishwashing liquid bottle top and screw it on the bottle of gearlube.
  61. When installing a clutch and you don’t have a special alignment tool, try this. Take a deep well socket that fits in your crankshaft pilot hole then wrap the socket with tape until it contacts the splines. It’s cheap, easy and it works!
  62. If you have ever tried to change your gear oil on a cold day you’ll soon find out it’s nearly impossible. Try sticking the bottle of gear oil in the microwave oven for 30 seconds at a time until it warms up. The gear lube will now flow much easier.
  63. You can make a one-piece service kit by adding the tools you need to the ends of a lug nut cross wrench (AKA star wrench). One end has a hex wrench to undo locking hubs, another end has a spindle nut socket welded to it, the third end has the wheel lug nut socket and the fourth has a 9/16″ socket to fit wheel flange bolts (spindle bolts). This tool works great and saves alot of time.
  64. When greasing any grease fitting, clean off the old grease and crud from the zerk. This will keep dirt from being forced into the component.
  65. Usually, it takes at least two people to remove or re-install a hardtop on a Blazer, or a regular camper shell on a pickup. To do it myself, I took two 10 foot pieces of strong rope and connected them to the rafters of my carport via eyebolts. Now I can simply get inside the shell, lift each side of the top with my back and loop the ropes under the shell. This suspends the shell leaving it hanging when I drive out from under it. This also saves garage space because I can drive underneath the hanging shell.
  66. When changing the oil in a hot engine, it’s all too easy to spill the oil all over, on yourself, or to lose the drain plug in the hot oil. Instead weld a cheap socket to a piece of strap iron and bolt it to a metal funnel. Loosen the plug with a wrench then spin it off the rest of the way with the funnel. The oil will drain into your container below with no mess, no loss of plug and no hot oil burns for you.
  67. When headers are installed on a vehicle, the use of the air pre-heating system is lost. This results in a rough idle and stalling on starts. The problem can be eliminated by using an exhaust pipe adapter with one end the size of the hot airtube and the other end about 1 inch larger than the header tube size. Clamp the hot air tube, which runs up to the aircleaner, to one end of the adapter. Slit the other end 4 times, bend the two “ears” outward and clamp them onto the header tube. The new arrangement brings hot air from the header tube up to the intake just like the stock system. (This also helps when the vehicle needs to be emissions tested).

Gas Saving Tips:

The consensus is that tire pressure maintenance is key. Check your tire pressure on a monthly basis, weather and altitude changes will affect tire pressure as well.

Turning off the air conditioning will offer the most savings, that is if you can stand the heat.

Add on items that will help you save gas:

It’s difficult to tell what items work and which ones don’t, most independent tests seem to have difficulty validating what the manufactures of gas savings gizmos say it will save you.

Here is my opinion on what may actually work:

‘Performance Programmers’ work by changing the setting on the computer in your vehicle. They claim to save up to 4 mpg on diesel engines and 0.5 to 1.5 on gas engines. It would take 6-8 months to get your investment back in your fuel savings. Testimonials seem to support the effectiveness of these programmers.

‘Cold Air Intake system’ work by allowing more unrestricted air into the carburetor. Makes sense, the more oxygen the better fire will burn. These systems will boost horsepower and should reduce fuel consumption under normal driving conditions. You carburetor or fuel injectors may need to be adjusted to fully take advantage of this system used in conjunction with a performance programmer that should help even more.

Here are my opinions on what to avoid:

Simple logic, independent studies and general consensus show that these items don’t really seem to save you anything.

‘Vortex air intake’ systems work by spinning the air going into the carburetor. It’s true that air conditions like; how thin the air is, humidity and temperature can affect how well the fuel burns, but I don’t see how spinning it will do anything productive.

‘Platinum vapor intake’ system works by adding platinum vapors to the vacuum intake of the carburetor. In theory, this vapor make the fuel burn more efficiently. The fact that the company claims 22% gas savings tells you its too good to be true and no studies I have seen show anything at all in savings. I am trying it on my Durango but have since parked it due to high gas prices, I’ll let you know how it does for me. Note: I got it for free from an estate, someone bought a bunch of them but didn’t seem to use them?

‘Magnetic fuel line attachment’ works by separating the molecules in the fuel or something like that, but for the brief period that this may occur for a split second in the fuel line, it would most likely revert to its natural state by the time it hits the carburetor.