And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Replace Struts - Part 1


The history behind the modern strut type suspension has its origins in the United Kingdom. Henny Youngman would find a joke here. Something about Scotsmen, a Lotus, a spring, and a shock absorber. The punchline would be the MacPherson strut suspension. I love this crowd! The integral spring and shock absorber… » 4/27/07 1:30pm 4/27/07 1:30pm

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Replace Shock Absorbers


Without the shock absorber the modern automobile would simply flail about on its springs. The shock absorber is technically a damper. The shock absorber works to dampen the bounce created by bumps in the road and the weight of the vehicle acting on the suspension and springs. The less obvious yet more important… » 4/20/07 2:00pm 4/20/07 2:00pm

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Taken Apart

As we're off to Las Vegas for Mopars at the Strip this weekend and riding the red-eye out to the New York Auto Show next week, the Trail of Parts will remain apart until our return. In the meantime we would like to call upon our readers to suggest both useful and amusing topics for this ongoing exploration into the… » 3/30/07 1:00pm 3/30/07 1:00pm

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Polishing Aluminum Wheels


It may seem unlikely that the first step in polishing aluminum to a near-mirror shine is to score an extra crusty set of '70s vintage US Indy slot mags of off an equally '70s vintage Toyota SR5 Liftback at the local junkyard. Mag wheels are named as such because the aluminum is mixed up with a bit of magnesium to… » 3/23/07 1:11pm 3/23/07 1:11pm

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Radiator Repair


In order for the miracle of the automotive cooling system to march on unabated all the components must be able to hold up under pressure. The heavy hitter in this equation is the radiator. Inside the radiator are coolant passages. Connected to the passages are the cooling fins. As hot engine coolant passes through… » 3/16/07 1:00pm 3/16/07 1:00pm

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Replace a Water Pump

At the heart of the cooling system is the water pump. It spins as does the engine in order to continuously circulate engine coolant through the automotive cooling system. Out from the engine, into the radiator, and then back again. So goes the water-cooled internal combustion engine. If the water pump fails in its… » 3/09/07 12:00pm 3/09/07 12:00pm

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Replace a Thermostat

The difference between the rows of late model cars at the junkyard awaiting the crusher and Grandpa's 400-thousand mile 1974 Mercury Bobcat Wagon with genuine simulated wood grain paneling is regularly scheduled maintenance. The failure of an inexpensive and easy to replace part can cause a heap of pricey damage.… » 3/02/07 12:00pm 3/02/07 12:00pm

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Replace a Radiator or…


While there are still a few air-cooled automobiles on the roads the good majority out there these days are of the liquid cooled variety. Those driving an old Karmann Ghia or a pre-98 Porsche 911 can take the time spent reading this series of articles on the automotive cooling system and instead check their oil… » 2/23/07 1:00pm 2/23/07 1:00pm

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Replace an Alternator

Recent dash light disco electrical mayhem from the Starlet served as a reminder that an automotive electrical system can go haywire at any time. An automobile electrical system comprises three key parts. The battery stores electricity to spin the starter and start the engine. The alternator produces electricity once… » 2/16/07 1:15pm 2/16/07 1:15pm

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Change an Air Filter

The internal combustion engine at its core is an air pump. It takes in air, mixes it with fuel, and ignites the mixture to make power. Over the course of even a minute, an engine can breathe in a massive volume of air. A 2-liter engine can inhale nearly 3000 liters of air per minute at cruising speed. That's 1500… » 2/09/07 1:34pm 2/09/07 1:34pm

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Check Tire Pressure

The reason to check your tire pressure is usually explained with some nearly unbelievable statistical simile bordering on hyperbole. If everyone checked their tire pressure once a month, we could save enough oil to build comfortable cities on the moon and help kittens. Or something like that. The fact is checking tire… » 2/02/07 10:50am 2/02/07 10:50am

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Replacing 30 Year-Old…

At least one, and perhaps more of us here at the the Jalop not only fantasize about cars on a minute-by-minute basis, but also find time to squeeze in wet dreams about transportation of the two-wheeled variety. While the world of motorcycles can seem foreign and dangerous to the cage driver (that's what we call you… » 2/01/07 10:00am 2/01/07 10:00am

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Using a Floor Jack and Jack…


The scissor or corkscrew jack in your trunk is somewhat adequate for emergency wheel and tire swaps. Drive-on ramps are good for oil changes and whatnot. When it comes time to blow apart the front end, swap out some brake pads, or replace some spent struts, a floor jack and two or more sturdy jack stands are the… » 1/26/07 4:52pm 1/26/07 4:52pm

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Check the Oil


The reason to check your oil begins with an understanding of the oiling system itself. Bolted up to the underside of the engine is an oil pan. At the bottom of the oil pan lives a pickup for the oil pump. The oil pump takes up oil through the pickup and circulates it through the engine. In this way the miraculous… » 1/12/07 4:58pm 1/12/07 4:58pm

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Parts: Lift Support

The materials that comprise a hatchback or hood can add up to wicked heavy in a hurry. Heavy is the absolute last thing you need to knock you on the noggin while attempting to retrieve an errant can of pork n' beans or your favorite beverage out of the trunk or hatchback floor. Lift supports work in much the same way… » 1/05/07 4:38pm 1/05/07 4:38pm