Auto Repair: The Key to Disassembly and Assembly

One of the biggest fears of someone just wetting their toes in the shallow end of auto repair is that the minute they take something apart, they’ll never be able to put it back together again. This is a legitimate fear. It is closely related to the reason many PC owners don’t know much about their own computers. Once you get past the Start menu, things get scary for the uneducated. Same with cars. Programming the clock is one thing; doing something underneath the hood is quite another. Here is the key to taking something apart and putting it back together again, a useful skill to have when working on your car.
Lay Down a Rag
This is an important step. Ideally, the rag will be white and clean. Each time you remove a part from your car, you’re going to lay it on this rag. There will be no exceptions. Keep it in a place where it isn’t going to get a bunch of dirt and oil on it. At the same time, it should be within easy reach. Once you’ve begun to put parts on it, try not to move it again. It is a rule of auto repair that states if something can be lost, it probably will be. Don’t take that chance.
Make Notes
These don’t have to be actual written notes, though they certainly can be if you’re concerned about your ability to remember. But mental notes will suffice otherwise. The important thing is to be in the moment, and this is the mistake many amateur auto repair beginners make. They take something apart without thinking about what they’re doing. Stay with the task. Make a note about each part you set aside. What does it do? Where does it go? How does it do what it does? You may not be fully aware of all the answers, but even getting close can help you tremendously when it comes to putting it all back together.
Start a System
Putting down a rag isn’t enough. You’ll want to lay the parts aside systematically. The easiest way to do this is in a clockwise fashion. What’s the reasoning? Because when you begin putting it back together, you can simply start from the bottom and work your way back up. Go counter-clockwise, and you won’t have to worry about getting what you thought was the end and still having a piece left over. If you go one at a time, you’ll never have to worry about your auto repair turning into a hair-pulling nightmare of frustration. Well, not from this aspect, anyway.

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