Use Penetrating Oil to Loosen a Stuck Nut or Bolt

byMatthew Wright Updated September 19, 2018

The penetrating oil is most useful when you have a corroded or rusted bolt or nut that just won’t budge. Pretty much every home garage or workshop needs a can of spray penetrating oil on a shelf. If you don’t have one, you probably should. But if you already have a can, there is also a good chance you’re using it incorrectly. It’s not uncommon for people to use a can of spray penetrating oil as an old-fashioned lubricant, but that’s actually not what it’s intended for. Spraying a bicycle chain or gear linkage with WD-40 or PB Blaster, won’t really offer the lubrication you wanted.

Penetrating Oil Defined

Although manufacturers vary in how they label their products, the spray oil you are looking for will be called “penetrating oil” or “penetrating lubricant”—even though it’s really not a typical lubricating oil, such as what is used to keep machinery gears running smoothly. 

Penetrating oil is a petroleum-based oil with an especially fine viscosity—so fine that it can be sprayed as a mist, and so fine that it will find the smallest openings between metal parts and penetrate them. Because penetrants have such low surface tension, they can seep into almost invisible crevices and over time loosen metal connection that appeared to be rusted solid. 

True penetrating oil is sold under many different brand names, including WD-40, PB Blaster, Liquid Wrench, and AiroKroil. This can be a little confusing, especially since brands like the WD-40 offer not only a true penetrating oil but also sell spray lithium or silicone lubricants. And some may be marketed as “multi-use” lubricants that supposedly can be used both for penetrating and other general-purpose lubrication. However, the best products for loosening nuts and bolts and other parts will specify themselves on the label as “penetrating” oils. 

Penetrating Oil Uses

When faced with a rusty bolt or nut or other parts that seem corroded together, the secret is time. After spraying a healthy dose of penetrant on the fused parts, give them several hours—or even overnight—to sit while the penetrating oil seeps in. Then use your wrenches to try and loosen the parts. If they refuse to budge, hit them with another heavy dose of penetrating oil and again let them sit for several hours and try again. 

Sometimes, very stubborn parts can be loosened if you apply heat to them. For example, a stuck nut that is warmed up with a heat gun will expand just enough to allow your wrench to turn it. However, don’t apply direct flame to parts that are still wet with oil. Penetrating oils will evaporate rather quickly, but remember that these are petroleum-based products, so there is the possibility of igniting them.

Other Types of Spray Lubricants

True penetrating oils aren’t the best product for every use and not every spray lubrication product is a penetrating oil.

Here are some of the other spray products available, along with their recommended uses:

Lithium Grease: This is a mixture of lithium hydroxide and petroleum oils. This is a true lubricant, not a penetrating oil, and it works well for lubricating parts where heavy loads or pressure is present, such as the hinges on heavy doors or mechanical cranks.

PTFE: This name stands forpolytetrafluoroethylene, but it really is just a Teflon spray. It is very good for lubricating chains and cables. It is a great material for lubricating parts on a bicycle. 

Silicone: This is a spray lubricant containing about 1.5 percent silicone suspended in other materials to allow it to be applied as a spray. Silicone lubricants repel water and work well at extremely high or low temperatures. It is also unusual in that it can be used on rubber, wood, and plastic parts without staining them. It is not intended for applications where there will be heavy pressure.

Dry Lubricants: Although in spray form, dry lubricants come out damp, the solvents used to support the tiny, dry particles, usually graphite, quickly evaporate, leaving surfaces entirely dry. Dry lubricants are ideal for locks, indoor hinges, and drawer slides, since there is no oily mess and dirt doesn’t stick to them. Dry lubricants to not displace water, though, and they wear away fairly quickly and must be regularly reapplied. 


Why and How to Change Brake Fluid

byBenjamin Jerew Updated March 09, 2018

Your brakes are arguably the single most important piece of equipment on your car, and a faulty brake system quickly puts you and others in danger.

While it seems obvious that brake pads, brake rotors, and brake calipers should be maintained, brake fluid maintenance seems to be altogether forgotten—many owner’s manuals stop at checking and adjusting brake fluid level. Below we cover whether and how often brake fluid should be changed, and for do-it-yourselfers, we’ll cover the hows as well.01of 04

How Does Brake Fluid Work?

diagram of brake system operation
 Brake Fluid is What Makes the Brake System Work.

The brake system is made up of levers, pistons, and hydraulic fluid (brake fluid), designed to transmit brake pedal force to the four brakes. When you step on the brake pedal, small pistons in the brake master cylinder convert mechanical force into hydraulic pressure. Because brake fluid is incompressible, it transmits this pressure equally to the brakes.

The brake caliper pistons convert this hydraulic pressure back into mechanical force. Because the brake caliper pistons are larger than the brake master cylinder piston, it multiplies your force by many times to compress the brake pads.

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Why and How Often Do You Need to Change Brake Fluid?

brake rotor heated up during racing
 Hot Brakes Can Reveal Neglected Brake Fluid.

Brake fluid is so overlooked that about half of all American cars and trucks over ten years of age have never had a brake fluid change. Interestingly, in Europe, where brake fluid inspection is required, about half of them fail the test.

Why do vehicles fail this test? It all has to do with a special property of brake fluid, one that prevents even bigger problems.

Brake fluid is hygroscopic, absorbing water which could easily boil at the high temperatures in the brake system. This is important, because the entire function of the brake system is to convert the kinetic energy of your vehicle into heat energy.

While water is incompressible, it boils at just 212 °F (100 °C) becoming an easily-compressible water vapor. Under normal driving conditions, brakes might reach 100 °F to 200 °F (38 °C to 93 °C), and it’s perfectly normal for the brakes to exceed 400 °F (204 °C) braking on hills.

  • Dry DOT 3 brake fluid boils at 401 °F (205 °C), which is fine in normal traffic, but might cause problems on hills, so some prefer DOT 4 brake fluid, boiling at 446 °F (230 °C).
  • Wet DOT 3 brake fluid, containing 3.7% water, boils at just 284 °F (140 °C), while wet DOT 4 brake fluid boils at 311 °F (155 °C).

The longer one waits to change brake fluid, the more water it absorbs, increasing the chance of brake fade at the worst possible moment.

You should change brake fluid about every 20,000 miles or two years.

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What You’ll Need to to Change Brake Fluid

brake caliper bleeder screw
 This Brake Bleeder Seems Clean, but Yours Might be Rusted.

In order to change brake fluid, you’ll need the following. Note that if you’ve ever “bled” your brakes to address brake pedal sponginess (an indication compressible air has gotten in) then you already know how to change brake fluid.

You’ll need:

  • Jack and Jack Stands – To lift and support your vehicle.
  • Wheel Removal Tools – To remove your wheels to access your brakes.
  • Torque Wrench – To reinstall your wheels.
  • Brake Bleeder Tool – Buy one or make one of a plastic bottle and hose.
  • Brake Bleeder Wrench – Usually an 8 mm or 10 mm box wrench, to loosen the bleeder screw.
  • 32 oz Brake Fluid – You’re going to use a lot to flush out the old fluid.
  • New Bleeder Caps – Bleeder caps degrade or get lost.
  • Brake Fluid Siphon – To remove old brake fluid from the brake master cylinder reservoir.
  • Brake Cleaner and Rags – To clean everything up.
  • PPE – Nitrile gloves and safety glasses, as brake fluid is an irritant.
  • Rust Penetrant – WD-40 or PB Blaster can help loosen an old bleeder screw.

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Step by Step Brake Fluid Change

a brake bleeder bottle
 A Brake Bleeder Bottle is an Easy Tool to Make.

Start by lifting and supporting your car on jack stands and removing the wheels.

Remove the bleeder caps and spray the bleeder screws with rust penetrant. While this is working in, open the hood and remove the master cylinder reservoir cap.

Use the siphon or extractor to remove as much of the old brake fluid as possible. You might need to remove a strainer to get deeper into the reservoir. Refill the reservoir, then move on to bleed each wheel in order, right rear (RR), left rear (LR), right front (RF), left front (LF). Important: Do not let the reservoir go empty, otherwise you must start over to get air out of the master cylinder.

  1. Place the bleeder wrench on the bleeder screw, then attach the plastic hose. Open the bleeder 1/4-turn and pump the brake pedal 5 or 6 times. Check and refill the brake fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir.
  2. Pump the brake pedal another 5 or 6 times. Check for fresh fluid and no bubbles in the bleeder hose. If fluid is still dark, another 5 or 6 pumps might be needed to finish the job. Aim to pump about 8 oz of new brake fluid into the system for each brake, then close the bleeder screw.
  3. Repeat A and B for the LR, RF, and LF brakes.
  4. After checking all brake bleeders are closed, fill the master cylinder reservoir to “FULL,” install the cap, and start the car. Step on the brake pedal and check that it feels firm. Clean any spilled brake fluid, install the bleeder caps, install the wheels, torque the wheel nuts, and go for a test drive. Used brake fluid can be recycled with your used oil.

Now, to change brake fluid might sound like a lot of steps, but it’s a simple job that can significantly improve braking effectiveness and vehicle safety.


Coach’s Corner: Know What to Say with Customer Price-Shopping Inquiries

by Bill Haas


Know What to Say with Customer Price-Shopping Inquiries

Get past the price shopper to a future customer

Making the phone ring at your shop takes tremendous effort. It’s called marketing, advertising and brand awareness. Your business depends on people to respond to these efforts and reach out to you for help with their vehicle maintenance and repair needs .

You already know from my last blog that people calling your store in response to your marketing is the primary reason for your phone to ring. Hopefully, you’re already implemented strategies to move the unnecessary inbound phone calls to outbound calls. When you’re answering the phone for the right reason, you have the time to do a better job serving the caller.

For all the effort put into making the phone ring, a similar level of effort is required when answering the phone to achieve the desired outcomeOur purpose in answering the phone is to make an appointment. That’s the measurement of the interaction with the caller. The owner is responsible to make the phone ring. The customer service staff is responsible for turning that phone call into a car in the service bay. As a service adviser, you’re expected to assure the caller that they found the right place – a place that’s a better choice when compared to all your competitors.

Frequently, when a service adviser fails to make the appointment they’ll suggest the caller was just another “price shopper.” In reality, many callers are incorrectly categorized as price shoppers. Just because the caller inquires about the price of a repair or service doesn’t mean they’re shopping. The label “price shopper” infers they’re looking for the least-expensive price. Service advisers often have the preconceived idea that the caller already has a price or is prepared to make additional calls until they find the lowest price.

The real reason they called is the result of a referral, your website, a social media post or your customer reviews. Any of which gave the caller an expectation that your store could help solve a problem. The caller asking, “How much is [a certain product or service]?” is often simply because they don’t know what else to ask. The caller’s price inquiry usually prompts a thought process of “how do I respond, should I give them a price or how do I avoid giving a price?”

I suggest you take the price inquiry as an invitation to have a discussion if they have a problem with something, and every sale starts with a conversation. A great way to respond to a query like that is to ask why they think they that product of service or ask if they have a problem that requires the product or service. The caller will usually describe the situation they need help with, and you can shift the focus of the conversation away from price.

Instead, discuss how you can help resolve their problem and assure them you are capable of seeing the car quickly, resolving the problem and having them back on the road in a minimal amount of time. Time is today’s currency.

The conversation with a true “price shopper” is different. The caller responds with the fact that they have their car with a certain shop and they’ve been told about a product or service and how much it will cost. They’ll want to know how much you’ll charge for it. The chances of the vehicle leaving that store to come to your store depend strictly on price.

Unless you’re desperate for work, this isn’t the customer you’re looking for. Unfortunately, these calls can become long and unproductive. A suggestion for avoiding these conversations is to ask why they’re uncomfortable with the other shop doing the work?

When you have a sincere desire to help, callers know it. Allow them to tell their story and you learn what’s really important. Focus on whatever that is. You aren’t able, or expected, to repair the car in the course of your conversation. Find a way to alleviate the pain caused by time without their transportation, and you win. Leave the repair or maintenance to the techs in the shop.

Remember, there was something that influenced the caller to contact you in the first place. Chances are, it was not price. Your job is to confirm they find competent and qualified help to resolve their problem.



Don’t Overlook Automotive Technology as a High-Tech Career Path

Written by Tony Molla

Parents, if becoming an automotive technician is not high on your list of career choices for your child, perhaps it’s time to look again.

Automotive service and repair has changed dramatically in just the span of a generation. Working in the automotive service and repair industry is now one of the high-tech careers that is always in demand and can’t be outsourced overseas.

Sophisticated computerized control systems, unheard of 30 years ago, are now standard equipment on much of the nation’s fleet of vehicles. Modern advanced driver assist systems (ADAS), such as stability and traction control, adaptive cruise control, automatic braking and variable valve timing, just to name a few, are part of the rolling computer network we use every day for personal transportation.

In the 21st century, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles are commonplace; hydrogen fuel cell and other alternative fuel vehicles are deployed in municipal fleets around the country, and internet connections, voice recognition commands and GPS mapping are available in economy to luxury models.

Given the advance of technology and a richly varied automotive industry that offers an array of positions and career paths, the future is bright for talented young people with math, science, communications and technical skills. And unlike many high-tech careers that require four, six or even eight years of college, automotive technology careers can begin after just two years of education.

As with any career, lifelong learning and continuing education is necessary, but the simple fact is that students in automotive technology can get out into the real world sooner – and with less college debt.

This is the first of a series of blogs wherein we’ll explore the wealth of choices and opportunities a career in the automotive service industry can offer. I think you’ll find it an enlightening journey. Next up: job prospects and career paths that may surprise you.


Do-It-Yourself Shop Opens in South Carolina

Thoughts on this Article Written by Rachet and Wrench?

Lug Nutz- a do-it-yourself auto repair shop recently opened in Columbia, S.C., according to a report by WACH FOX 57. The shop is equipped with seven bays and two additional motorcycle bays that anyone can rent, WACH FOX 57 reports.

Shop owner, John Adams, told WACH FOX 57 that there will be a mechanic onsite to ensure that everyone is working safely.

“If you know what you’re doing, but you live in an apartment, you can’t fix your car in the parking lot—it’s against the rules or you don’t have the tools,” Adams told WACH FOX 57. “But [if] you know how to do it, you can come here and we have all of the stuff for you.”

Adams says the mechanic is the only one who operates the lifts, WACH FOX 57 reports. Mechanics will not diagnose your car, but will monitor your work. In order to use the building, individuals will have to sign a waiver saying the shop is not responsible in the instance that someone is hurt, the station reports.

“If you don’t work on your car, you won’t be a customer,” Adams said to WACH FOX 57.