As you make your way through the automotive repair world, you will most certainly run across left hand thread. Most thread is traditional right hand thread, which means turning the nut or bolt clockwise will tighten the aforementioned object (turning counter clockwise loosens).

There are occasions where left hand thread is required. Left hand thread loosens and tightens opposite to regular right hand thread (turn clockwise to loosen left hand thread). If you have an object that is spinning, it may spin regular right hand items loose, and thus they use left hand thread.
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Whatever your relationship with the automobile, it is important to understand who built it. The trouble with auto manufacturers is that they are always building stuff for each other. This post will help sort out who built what, for who, and why it matters.

First thing first, let’s get acquainted with the major automotive families. Automotive families are different makes that are all made by the same manufacture. Many times manufactures will want to produce a regular run of vehicles, and then a more luxurious run of models. They will produce what is essentially the same vehicle, but badge them differently and pack one with all the high end wonders people love.

The major automotive families include …

Toyota, Lexus, and Scion. Honda and Acura. Nissan and Infinity. Hyundai and Kia. BMW and Mini. Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat. Jaguar and Land Rover. Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury. Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Plymouth and Eagle (Here shortly, toss in Fiat). General Motors, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Pontiac, Buick, Hummer, Saturn, and GMC (As well as Opel, Vauxhall, Holden and Daewoo). You can always tell a terrible product, because they will have numerous names for the same bad product.
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The other day I was installing an axle. When I pulled the new axle out of the box, an instruction sheet was present. I opened it up, flipped through it, and found an interesting noise/ vibration chart for drive line problems. Complaints, or problems, are across the top row, and possible causes are listed down the left hand column.

noise complaint chart
(click to see full size image)
This chart is interesting, accurate and a helpful place to start diagnosing drive line noise or vibration complaints. None of the information is earth shattering, but it is handy to have in a chart. More importantly, the lesson learned here is that regardless of how many times you have made a repair, if there are instructions with your replacement part, take the time to read though them, you never know what you might come across.

Often times, in order to make a repair, you will have to remove the alternator. When it comes time to install the alternator, you may find it is a very tight fit. Many alternators have a part that slides in order to fit snugly when installed. To reverse this process, and to make the installation of the alternator much easier, all you need is two nuts and a bolt.

alternator trick

Put the bolt and nuts in place as shown, and then slowly twist the two nuts away from each other. The device will push the slider out, and make the installation a piece of cake. My only word of caution is to work slowly, and add a bit of lubricant. The alternator’s case is aluminum, and is therefore fairly fragile. If you proceed with too much gusto, you can break the alternator’s case.

good luck, and happy motoring.

A quick note about oil changes. All good techs will clean the mating surface on the oil filter housing. Furthermore they will also lube the oil filter gasket with oil. Almost no techs I have met will pre-fill the oil filter. By filling the filter with oil, you are reducing the time it takes for the engine to achieve oil pressure. A minor detail, but a detail I wish more techs took the time to perform. If you are using BG’s MOA, it’s an easy solution to add the MOA to the filter.

Wet Oil Filter

So the next time you go in for an oil change, ask them for a “wet filter”. They should know what you want, and if they don’t, maybe you need a new mechanic.