Top Ten Mechanic Lifehacks You Need To Know:
These are actually time-tested mechanic life hacks. I have personally done each one of these, and have found they work great. From my research, and my own experience I have compiled this list of 10 actual time saving mechanic life hack tips if you’re working on cars/trucks/a DIYer. If you don’t want to read the whole article, here they are in a list:
- Apply Dielectric Grease before Heat Shrink Tubing to create an awesome waterproof seal.
- Use a Seam Cutter to Easily Open Up Pesky Electrical Tubing.
- Use a Turkey Baster to fill batteries, empty fluid reservoirs easily.
- Never Misplace Bolts. Easily Pick Up Those You Dropped. Use More Magnetic Trays.
- Use More Car Ramps + This Life Hack To Keep Them From Slipping
- Use This Awesome Grease (Castrol Red Rubber Grease) The Absolute Best Grease
- If You Work On Lots Of Different Cars, Get This Oil Filter Removal Strap Wrench (links to Amazon).
- Broken Hood Struts? Grab This Tool (Links to Amazon) and stop worrying about the hood hitting your head.
- Use T-pins To Back Probe Connectors (Professionals and DIYers’ alike)
- Use a Power Probe III to make short work of electrical diagnosis.
It is sad how much bad information is out there now, and I hope this list helps you save time and money.
List of products you will need, you may already have some, in order to do these 10 Mechanic Life Hacks That Actually Work.
Links to All the Products You Will Need (none are very expensive):
- Dielectric Grease (This is Marine Grade awesome stuff)
- Heat Shrink Tubing (A kit like this is great to have)
- Seam Cutter (For Sewing, Yes this is very handy!)
- Turkey Baster (Aka Battery Filler)
- Magnetic Tray W/ Picker Upper & Mirror
- Car Service Ramps
- Castrol Red Grease (Synthetic / Rubber Safe) Also grab an old paintbrush for the life hack part / any old toothbrush.
- Oil Filter Strap Style Removal Tool (You Probably Haven’t Seen This Type Yet)
- Lift Support Tool (Never drop another hood on your head)
- T Pins (for back probing connectors)
- High-Quality Multimeter & Bonus Points (Power Probe III)\
I am tired of fake lifehacks that don’t work:
Way too often these days there are tons of people posting so-called “life hacks,” which actually are utterly useless. Just search online for worst life hacks ever suggested, you will be entertained for hours.
Unfortunately, there are a ton of people suggesting life hacks for people working on cars that are downright stupid or dangerous.
Just look at this “life hack” for refilling your radiator in a pinch.
I would love to see the how-to/results of this in a video :).
If you don’t believe me that people actually think that works and are a good idea, there are 650,000 results on google.
The moral of the story is please please don’t just blindly trust everything you read online.
Guide to Using the 10 Lifehacks that actually work:
1. Apply Dielectric Grease before Heat Shrink Tubing to create an awesome waterproof seal.
In order to make really awesome seals and keep water out of any electrical repair, you’re making be sure to use solder, heat shrink tubing, and this awesome life hack. Basically, all you do is smear some silicone grease (dielectric grease) on the two wires you just soldered together.
Then slide the heat shrink tubing over the spliced wires, and use a lighter like you normally would use to shrink the tubing. It will squeeze the silicone grease out of the heat shrink tubing making sure to block any water from entering the two open ends of the heat shrink tubing.
Thank you Schrodinger’s Box for the awesome video:
2. Use a Seam Cutter to Easily Open Up Pesky Electrical Tubing.
For only a couple dollars you should be carrying one of these around.
It makes quick work of splitting the rubber tubing around wires in cars so you can more easily diagnose what’s wrong.
Get easy access to back-probe wires, and you don’t have to worry nearly as much as splitting the wire as when you use a box cutter or razor blade.
I am trying to find the original video in which I saw this trick used, but I know it was on Flat Rate Master’s YouTube Channel. Link to his channel here. This guy works on hundreds of different types of cars. When he recommends a time-saving tip, pay attention!
3. Use a Turkey Baster to fill batteries, empty fluid reservoirs easily.
A quick way to empty any fluid reservoir under the hood. Want to quickly add some fresh brake fluid to your reservoir?
Grab the baster and start sucking it out. Top it up with some fresh fluid (a great way to get a head start before you bleed the brakes).
Empty the coolant overflow easily on everything from a small scooter to a large car. It also works for its intended purpose (refilling batteries with acid). The options are endless.
Lastly, just please don’t use it for cooking after!
4. Never Misplace Bolts. Easily Pick Up Those You Dropped. Use More Magnetic Trays.
This isn’t so much a life hack when it comes to learning to work on cars.
More like something people don’t necessarily know about at first, and it can save you so much time.
I have probably lost ten or twenty hours of my life just looking for a dropped bolt. Or forgetting where I put it.
As soon as I started using more magnetic trays that dropped by %99. Combine that with a magnetic extendable picker upper tool, and seriously you’ll save yourself so much time.
I would buy a couple of these trays in different sizes, as it is nice to be able to keep bolts/nuts separate as you work on different parts.
This guy loves magnetic trays so much he made a 4-minute youtube video about it:
5. Use More Car Ramps + This Life Hack To Keep Them From Slipping
If you don’t already own a pair of car ramps you need to pick up a pair. They look like this:
I have bought my fair share of used ramps, and I must say I highly recommend that you just buy a new pair.
I did some research on Amazon, and if you won’t be working on super heavy duty equipment (then you should buy a pair rated to hold that weight) this set should serve you great. Click here for the price on Amazon.
The problem with ramps is that they quite often slide around when you try to drive the car up on them.
One of my favorite Automotive Technician’s on YouTube (Schrodinger’s Box) shows us his life hack for fixing this problem.
Just simply tie a piece of rope or strap on the bottom of your ramps and run it under the rear tire before driving up the ramps.
It’ll keep your car from pushing them out as you drive it up. No more sketchy ramp climbs.
Here’s the video where he explains how to do it:
6. Use This Awesome Grease of the Gods (Castrol Red Rubber Grease)
Lastly, not all grease is created equal.
This grease is highly reviewed because it is made with components that do not degrade rubber products.
However, you can still use it for everything you need high-quality grease for. Lubricating bolts before install, any rubber parts, or anything that needs some extra lubrication.
The benefit is that unlike petroleum-based grease (seriously %90 of what you find at your local parts store) this stuff will not degrade rubber. Another grease, petroleum-based especially, causes rubber to swell or burst.
You want to be sure the grease you’re using is the right stuff for your application.
That is why I just like keeping a grease around that I know will not be bad for rubber, even if it is a little bit more expensive. That way I can use it liberally without worrying about it.
For example, no need to buy separate brake caliper grease, just use this stuff. For me, it is so much better to just have one chemical or grease that I can use for pretty much everything. Spend less time searching, just grab and go.
Lastly, a BONUS TIP:
Cut a hole in the top of the lid and put in an old toothbrush or paintbrush (small). You can now quickly apply grease to any bolt easily.
7. If You Work On Lots Of Different Cars, Get This Oil Filter Removal Strap Wrench (links to Amazon).
It is honestly best to just watch the video where this guy shows how it works and why it is such a time saver.
No more 15 different types of Oil Filter Sockets. No more awkward Oil Filter Wrench, that I personally hate.
The strap allows you to use it on any sized oil filter, and especially if you work on a bunch of different rigs this is worth it.
However, if you’re just working on your one car, then find out what size oil filter socket fits it and just buy that. But if you like being able to be flexible best grab one of these and keep it in your box. Thanks to Oz Mechanics for the video.
8. Broken Hood Struts? Don’t Trust Vice Grips? Grab This Tool (Links to Amazon) And Never Risk It Again.
Yes, people use vice grips. Or you can buy a fancy tool that extends and holds up the hood (that is a good option as well).
But for the majority of cars where the hood struts aren’t working but are still there. Just clamp this tool on the strut and it will hold it up from falling.
Unfortunately, Vice Grips work until the day they don’t. Then you end up eating the hood on your head, or hands, and it hurts bad. For like $10 or less you can just avoid that happening.
Plus unlike a hood prop thing, it doesn’t take up any of your space under the hood.
Finally, here is an example of a similar clamp working (in case you can’t visualize it):
9. Use T-pins To Back Probe Connectors
Why? They’re cheap. They work great. And they will save you a ton of time.
What you need:
Buy yourself a box of these. Bend them, break them, use them. Doesn’t matter. They’re cheap and they work great.
One quick warning. Never use two of these on the same circuit or adapter. If they touch (which they likely will) then you can short out your connector and fry your PCM / ECU.
Just use one at a time and avoid that happening.
Here is a video showing how useful they are in the shop. Thanks, FixyourNissan (links to YouTube Channel)
10. Understanding the difference between a ground controlled circuit, and a power controlled circuit.
This is less of a “life hack” per say, and more of something everyone who works on cars should understand (but few do).
Sure, you can get by not understanding this basic principle.
However, once you do you’ll be a better technician and better at diagnosing bad grounds, short circuits, and avoid doing damage to the cars computer (expensive).
Basically, any circuit on a car is either turned on and off via a ground wire or a power wire. It can be a confusing thing to try to explain via text, so I will leave it up to the experts. This video by EricTheCarGuy and ScannerDanner is awesome.
Watch the video, take notes, and go practice it.
How fast can you tell the difference between a ground switched circuit and power switched circuit?
I admit I didn’t really understand this concept until watching this video.
Now, I feel way more confident now in my ability to use a power probe effectively and not screw anything up.
You definitely do not want to be using a power probe without a good understanding of this basic electrical concept.
Once you do you can do tons with the Power Probe III (here are another one of my favorite examples):
There you go! 10 Mechanic Life Hacks That Actually Work.
Go out there and put them to the test. What works for you? Any tips and tricks I missed (I know I missed a ton).
Some of my favorite products to get the job done safer and faster are available on Amazon for great prices. Here they are again!
Finished reading? Click here to find out how I almost died under a car.