You are a competent weekend mechanic. Basic skills and tools are available to you. You are proficient in tire rotations and oil changes. It’s time to make a decision when you have to do a major repair.

This was the decision I had to make at the end last summer when my Mazda Miata 1990 suffered a crankshaft problem. I expected a quick fix, but I quickly discovered that the car required a new engine. This was just after I had disassembled the car to the point it could not be assembled again.

Instead of hiring a mechanic to fix my Miata, instead I decided to replace the engine myself. I did it–eventually–though I made plenty of rookie mistakes on the way. Here are the lessons I learned.

Do Your Research

Although aftermarket shop manuals can be a great resource for information about the parts and tools you will need, they may read more like a guide (step one: Remove radiator, front bumper and windshield washer reservoir). You can find detailed instructions and tricks for your vehicle on the internet, often with step-by-step photographs. https://www.google.com/search?q=test&ZfFCWm-59aa75

If you don’t drive anything unusual, you can probably find a site like VWvortex and Jeeps Unlimited that will help you. Web forums are helpful but not the only forum. If you are tackling a major repair, get a manual from the manufacturer.

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Set Up Your Workspace

My teardown began in the corner of my parents’ two-car garage. When I realized I didn’t have enough room to move my engine hoist, I was all set to pull it. Moving a car that was half-assembled was difficult even with my two muscular brothers. Don’t let me make a mistake. Clear enough space before you begin the job. Position your car so that it has maximum elbow room. Although I preferred the middle of the garage, it was not the best location for me and my family. If you want to repair your car and you are not sure where to go for it then you can also check for Mercedes repair St. Paul, they are experts in expensive Mercedes car repair.

It will take time

It takes the longest to repair a machine for the first time. My adventure took nearly a month of tinkering over weekends and nights, which was far more than I had anticipated. I made many trips to find parts, tools and advice. There were also times when frustration was my only option. You should consider alternative transportation options before you take your car out of service. This will ensure that your Monday project doesn’t become a chore.

Take pictures, make notes, label everything

It’s tempting to believe that you will remember which bolt goes where when you are on step 2. However, by step 14, you will have an overwhelming number of clips, fasteners and washers scattered around the house, with no way of knowing where they came.

You can save yourself thousands of headaches by organizing your work from the beginning. Sandwich bags, empty egg cartons, and lots of labels are all good options. For tracing wires, cables and brackets on your phone, a dry erase board and a phone camera are essential. Neither one will fall behind the garage door.

To indicate the origin of metal parts or their orientation, use a white-paint pen. You can use arrows or sides to label the parts. You can also label based on the situation. Do not be afraid to make notes on the parts or to leave notes about how they go together. For example, the orientation of the distributor relative the block. Also, masking tape can be a useful tool.

You can wrap it around a wire, hose, or connector, and then close the 2-inch flap on one side. This will allow you to label the tape or indicate where it is going.

Create a final checklist

It’s an exciting feeling to put everything back together. It’s tempting to rush through the last touches. Don’t. Don’t. A Miata without a bumper, front fenders or hood is not going to impress anyone.

Make sure you have a complete checklist that includes everything you need to check, double-check, torque and test the machine before you put it back on the road. It’s best to review it at work or at the table, not in the garage where you will be nervous about your first drive.

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