Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Transportation

My journey to maintaining my own vehicles

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Let me start by saying I am not a gear head at all.

I wanted to start this thread to possibly help motivate and/or encourage other members who aren’t yet doing their own maintenance. Up until a month ago the only thing I could do was change a tire, check (not change) my oil and fluid levels, change wipers and fill up the gas tank. Anything more than that and I went to a shop.

I decided to change all of that because what if there are no shops? What if I need to do a repair on the side of a road because I can’t get a tow or I can’t afford a tow? Also it is a lot cheaper to do the work yourself. I wanted to start learning how to do my own repairs and maintenance. I honestly feel between shop manuals, Youtube, and search engines there is no reason to NOT do your own work, unless you don’t have the equipment (I don’t have a cherry picker so no rebuilt engines for me… yet).

Last month I did the brakes and rotor on my car (05 Chevy Malibu Maxx). Holy cow was that easy. I didn’t take any pictures so I won’t go into detail but I did the numbers and I saved at least $100, gained some knowledge, and honestly it probably took me as long to do the job as it would have if I’d gone to a shop after you factor in driving and waiting.

I will say that a great place I found online to buy parts is They have great prices and quick shipping. Check them out if your local prices are really high.

So here’s the most recent repair I did: I had to replace to filler neck tube on my 94 Ford Ranger.

I got home to find gas leaking onto my driveway. I called a couple of local shops because I thought the tank was going to have to be pulled and no one could even look at it until next week. The leak was right next to the frame and I couldn’t see any holes so I did the only thing I really could which was to siphon out gas. After about a gallon the leak stopped. That was a good thing and after I calmed down about spilling gas everywhere I did some research and determined that it was most likely a cracked filler neck tube as it’s a common problem on my truck. It is almost 20 years old and I’m sure it has never been replaced.

So let’s get started on the repair!

First things first: there are three screws that hold the filler neck tube (FNT) to the side of the bed. Take those out, remove the gas cap, and then push the FNT back through the hole.

I had the option to either drop the tank or remove the bed. I don’t have a vehicle lift of jack stands (those are on my short list and Harbor Freight just did a coupon!), or 15 gallons worth of empty gas cans to siphon off the fuel.

A ranger forum I frequent had multiple people say that removing the bed is the simplest solution. I needed a T55 torx bit that the local auto store had. Lucky me my neighbor had a breaker bar I was able to use.

Once the bolts were loosened I used a ratchet wrench to get them out. They are long!

My bed had six bolts and once all were out I was ready to lift and move the bed. I read that a guy was able move the bed by himself… I’m not really sure how he did that. I guess if I had really wanted to I could have but I caught my neighbor on his way out and he lent me a hand. Also note that I needed to unplug the lights or I would have ruined the wiring.

We only needed to move it back about a foot. I placed some scrap blocks I keep around on the bumper to keep the paint nice on the rear of the bed. The front of the bed rested on my tires. (The bed only weighs about 200 lbs).

Here you can see the FNT and fuel pump and 20 years of dirt. You can also see the stains from the fuel that was leaking. This made me feel good because I had correctly diagnosed the problem without actually seeing the problem.

Here you can see how cracked the end of the tube was that went into the gas tank.

And here is the nice new one right before I installed it. I didn’t take a picture of the whole unit installed, but basically the small end on the left goes into the tank and then there is a c-clamp that you tighten down to secure it to the tank.

I had a friend come over that afternoon and help me put the bed back on the frame. Bolted it down and attached the new FNT to the bed, installed a new locking gas cap and reconnected all of the light wiring (only two harnesses for me, taillights and license plate lights) and I’m back on the road!

In retrospect I probably should have replaced the fuel pump while I had the bed off as it’s probably 20 years old too (I got the truck with 80k original a few months ago). I didn’t think about it and I need the vehicle operational so it’ll have to wait until I either take the bed off again for something else or the pump starts to fail.

How about some project analysis? I ordered the FNT from Amazon as they had the best price. $39 plus Prime 2 day shipping. The local auto store wanted $160 for their cheapest and even FNT’s were running around $80, plus about 5 days for shipping. Total work time was only about two hours, although I spent another hour cleaning the frame, brushing dirt off the lines and using my shop vac to blow out all of the dirt that I broke loose. I had to buy the torx bit for $5.

So for about two hours of work and $44 I fixed my problem, I can only imagine what a shop would have charged me… I’m guessing it would have been in the $300 - $400 range.

As I do more repairs/work I’ll update this thread. One cool thing that has happened from this is my dad now wants to do his fuel pump with me. I showed him these pictures and he was pretty impressed. He is like how I used to be an always goes to a shop. They quoted him $600 for the repair. Rockauto has the pump for $160 and we’ll be doing pretty much the same thing. I’ll post that repair job once it’s been done.

Ms. Albatross:
Kudos to you TWH! :clap:

I remember all of these  :banghead:  when your family doubted your ability to do the brake job.  It's awesome that you got your dad to trust you enough to do his needed repair job. 

Remember, no "I told you so" to your family - just small treats with the money you saved.  ;)
Thanks for sharing.  I look forward to seeing your future repairs documented here.  BTW - great photos.  They really help!

Sweet, bro!  Even better you had a little head out there while you were doing it!  The other day, I dropped the front tank on my truck and had the kids under there with me.  They can't wait to do the rear... and the fuel pump... and the front differential... the list never ends!!


--- Quote from: bdhutier on August 24, 2013, 12:21:18 PM ---Sweet, bro!  Even better you had a little head out there while you were doing it!  The other day, I dropped the front tank on my truck and had the kids under there with me.  They can't wait to do the rear... and the fuel pump... and the front differential... the list never ends!!

--- End quote ---

yeah, she was stacking he spare blocks that i didn't use. she's either doing that or playing inside the cab when i'm out working on it.

and yes the list never ends. my ABS light comes on every now and then which leads me to believe it's a dirty sensor on the rear dif. i need to get under there and take care of that. but since it's not critical i'll probably put it off until cooler weather presides.

Kudos to you on your successful repair.  That is pretty good being able to get info on the web to diagnose the most likely problem.  Besides saving money, you learned more about the state of other parts on your truck, took the time to do some cleanup most shops would not have done, and you increased your skill base.  Good stuff.

I am in the "take it to the shop" club for my vehicles right now.  I do most of my home repairs such as the washer I just replaced the pump and clutch on.  In the past I have installed hardwood floors, replaced central air ducts, vent fans, electrical outlets, laid 18" floor tiles, etc.  But car repairs I just left to the shop.

I want to get an older work truck and then start doing most of the work on it myself.  Your thread here is good inspiration!


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