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  #1  
Old 11-05-2011, 07:26 PM
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Is there a car forum that discusses reapirability

of new cars?

Just had a VERY frustrating day. I've been after my MIL to let me change the Timing belt on her 2003 Honda Civic. ( I know its not a new car...)

I did the belt on the wife's Hyundai Elantra a few months ago, and it was a piece of cake. Nothing unusual--just remove and replace parts.

The Honda was frustrating from the beginning. I couldn't brake the crank nut loose. I tried a 1/2" dr Air Impact, 1/2" dr electric impact, and even rented a 3/4" dr electric impact. Nothing touched it. No real way to get a breaker bar and cheater on it, and no way for one guy working alone to hold the pulley from turning while breaking loose the nut. I even tried a porta-power wedge under the pulley to keep it from turning--with no success.
Then I backed off and thought I'd only replace the 2 drive belts. Look! they use a captive screw for belt tension adjustment--just like on my 300SD--except Honda put a wing screw to make it even easier. Not! There is no room for my hands to get in there. I am bloodied and badgered, but I got the tensioners loose and replaced the belts--in about 3 hours! Ridiculous amount of time for such a routine and simple service. If I had done the timing belt, I would have been at it all night.

So the question is, Is there a web site that rates cars on ease of DIY repairs? I sure would like to have that information before I make that purchasing decision.

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  #2  
Old 11-05-2011, 07:41 PM
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I've never seen what you ask about.
I think CR might have the average cost of certain common repairs listed.
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  #3  
Old 11-05-2011, 09:38 PM
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The ability to reap? Must be an option dear to farmers.
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Old 11-05-2011, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MS Fowler View Post
The Honda was frustrating from the beginning. I couldn't brake the crank nut loose. I tried a 1/2" dr Air Impact, 1/2" dr electric impact, and even rented a 3/4" dr electric impact. Nothing touched it. No real way to get a breaker bar and cheater on it, and no way for one guy working alone to hold the pulley from turning while breaking loose the nut. I even tried a porta-power wedge under the pulley to keep it from turning--with no success.
Have you done any research looking for DIY tips for the timing belt job?

Just a brief session of Googling turned up a couple of DIY procedures, both of which emphasized that the crank bolt removal was a bit of a job, even when using a specialty tool to keep the pulley from turning. They gave the impression that it might be nigh impossible to do it without such a tool.
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Old 11-05-2011, 10:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MS Fowler View Post
I've been after my MIL to let me change the Timing belt on her 2003 Honda Civic. ( I know its not a new car...)
I'm still trying to figure this out

Check cost of ownership guides and shop time for maintenance tasks as a surrogate. Of course neither tells you if you need special tools. But, really, would you advise her to get a Cavalier rather than a Civic because you can't change the timing belt of the Civic? What if one family moves away?

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  #6  
Old 11-06-2011, 01:23 AM
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I have not done any looking at the moment, but I know that an award used to be given to the auto engineers that designed the easiest cars to work on. This was back in the 60's, though.

I think the sponsor of this award was Chilton since they sort of had the lock on repair manuals for the non-dealership shops.

I do remember that Chrysler won the award for several years running in the 60's since there was so much room in the engine bay. The only exception was the Hemi, but most Chrysler products, like the Dart or Coronet, has lots of underhood room since the biggest engine you could get was a 440 c.i. but for the most part the biggest engine was a 383. Since many of the cars had the 225 slant six they were incredibly easy to work on.

It might be time for someone to start hosting such an award again.
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:37 AM
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After giving it some thought, I would have to say the two stand outs in my mind would be a 123 240D or any Volvo 240 series with a 4-cyl. The only thing tough to repair on a 4-cyl Volvo of that series is the S shaped water hose on the back of the engine.

The 740 Volvos are pretty easy to fix, too, which is a good thing because they sure seem to break down a lot.

The 115 Mercedes were just a little too tight in the engine bay. Parts are cheap but you have to tear half the front end out just to replace the water pump.

An Audi 5000, if you could find one, would be easy to work on unless you have an electrical problem or need to replace the heater core. The book on the heater core is six hours and you will need everyone of them.

The car with the most room is probably the Geo Metro since you don't really know if the 3-cyl you are looking at is the real engine since it is so small. But everything is easy to get to!
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Old 11-06-2011, 06:10 AM
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I have been shocked to see how much gets taken apart to service modern automobiles. You walk in the shop in a dealership these days and see dashboards out on the bench and engines and transmissions out on stands just for routine maintenance. The doomsayers overdid the whole computerized car scenario back in the 80s by saying it would be impossible for home mechanics to fix them but these cars today with all of the easy chair gizmos and gadgets look like a nightmare.

Still I wish the clunkers program hadn't been a scam, I was going to buy a new one until they jacked up all of the prices and pissed me off.

I don't work on cars too much anymore, that is the upside, they don't need much work anymore. Drive less, pay less, work less. There still isn't time in a lifetime to do everything there is to do, screw the plan.
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Old 11-06-2011, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eskimo View Post
Have you done any research looking for DIY tips for the timing belt job?

Just a brief session of Googling turned up a couple of DIY procedures, both of which emphasized that the crank bolt removal was a bit of a job, even when using a specialty tool to keep the pulley from turning. They gave the impression that it might be nigh impossible to do it without such a tool.
Yes. Which is why I moved, "Remove" Crank bolt to near the top of the repair order. Right after jacking up, and removing LF wheel, and splash shield to expose the bolt.
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by MS Fowler View Post
Yes. Which is why I moved, "Remove" Crank bolt to near the top of the repair order. Right after jacking up, and removing LF wheel, and splash shield to expose the bolt.
By putting it near the top of the list, you decreased the time required for you to experimentally determine that you were outgunned with respect to tools required to accomplish the job.

Sometimes one can work around the need for a specialty tool; sometimes not.

In addition to a tool for keeping the crank pulley from turning, I saw some references to using a square drive extension to get "outside" the fender well to allow use of a big breaker bar (and sometimes a cheater on the handle) - with a jackstand used to vertically support the outboard end of the extension.

Hey, at least you didn't get into a situation like the poor guy who manages to get the drain plug out of a differential, but then is stopped cold by a recalcitrant fill plug...
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  #11  
Old 11-06-2011, 06:25 PM
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^^
But unless you can stop the crank from spinning, all the breaker bar/ cheater in the world would not help. They talk about using a strap wrench on the crank pulley. Its just difficult for a one-man operation to do both at the same time.
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  #12  
Old 11-06-2011, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by MS Fowler View Post
^^
But unless you can stop the crank from spinning, all the breaker bar/ cheater in the world would not help. They talk about using a strap wrench on the crank pulley. Its just difficult for a one-man operation to do both at the same time.
OK, I think I need to clarify my language. When I used the words, "in addition to", I didn't mean that the breaker bar / cheater were an alternative to using a specialty tool to restrain the crank pulley. In the references I saw, they were being used to loosen the bolt while the crank pulley was being held in place by a specialty tool.

Perhaps we're looking at different DIY procedures, or perhaps the tool to which I'm referring isn't applicable to the car on which you were working - but here's a video of that tool in use.
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  #13  
Old 11-06-2011, 09:25 PM
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Fashion from an old bendix gear a flywheel locking tool that fits in place of the starter or buy something like this -



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  #14  
Old 11-07-2011, 01:46 PM
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As of the last few model years Honda's now have chains.

Changing the belt in a Civic really isn't too bad. When my Dad was alive, when he retired he bought wrecked Honda's at the auction sale and fixed them up to sell. He made pretty good money at it. He could knock out a timing belt in a Civic in very short order and he wasn't in very good physical shape at the time.

I never did one, but I've looked them over and the only thing that appears to make it a hassle is supporting the engine so you can get the drivers side engine mount out of the way. Even then, I believe my Dad was right. It just wasn't that big of a deal.

That said, I'm very pleased that my wife's Fit has a chain.
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:15 PM
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Maybe your Dad had smaller hands, or maybe this one had some components mis-installed. There just wasn't enough room to to get my hand near the wing-screw adjuster for the A/C compressor. There was a nut below the wing, but I could only get 1/16 of a turn per wrench application.

As I said, the Hyundai Elantra was a piece of cake with no problems. Current Hyundai uses chains, too.

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