The more you know about your vehicle, the more likely you’ll be able to head off repair problems.

You can detect many common vehicle problems by using your senses: eyeballing the area around your vehicle, listening for strange noises, sensing a difference in the way your vehicle handles, or even noticing unusual odors.

When handling auto repairs, you may feel overwhelmed and lost.

So, take the scare out of basic automotive engine repair with some handy repair tips.

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Take Pictures, Make Notes, Label Everything

When you’re on step two of a big job, it’s tempting to think you’ll remember which bolt goes where, but by step 14 you’ll have a plethora of fasteners, washers, and clips lying around that give no indication where they came from. Save yourself a thousand headaches by being organized from the start. Use sandwich bags, empty egg crates, and plenty of labels.

A phone camera and a dry-erase board are indispensable for noting the layout of wires, cables, and brackets, and neither one will blow away behind the workbench when you open the garage door.

Use a white-paint pen on metal parts to indicate where parts came from or their orientation. Choose a universal reference point, like “front of the car,” “passenger side,” or “driver side,” and label things with arrows and sides. Label clearly based on situation too. Don’t be afraid to write notes directly on the part, or leave yourself notes about how things go back together, such as the orientation of the distributor relative to the block. Masking tape is also a great tool as well. Loop it around a hose, wire, or connector and close a nice 2-inch flap on the other side that you can use to label what it does or where it goes.

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