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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've been a long time lurker of Cruzetalk for several months now, I've read almost every "How-To:" and several other daily threads. I've gained a lot of knowledge about the Cruze from this forum as well as it's users. I've also been watching Youtubers such as: Chris Fix, Scotty Kilmer, and Eric the Car Guy, Engineering Explained, to learn more about DIY car repair. However I've never worked on my own car, when I got my first 2012 Cruze in 2015, it came with 5 free oil changes from the dealer and the only other problem I had with it was the water pump (Replaced under warranty). That Cruze was my first car and I absolutely loved it....till I went and accidentally totaled it earlier last year.



I had to get another car, luckily I was able to find a 2013 Cruze with 76k (122,310 km) miles on it. So now I have a new car and a desire to work on my own car. Well I'm just about to hit 5k miles (8,000 km) since I got it, so I need to change the oil. So after browsing Cruzetalk and Youtube, I wrote down some of the key things down (Dexos approved oil, watch the filter gasket, ect) I went out to Northern Tool to get some of the things I need to start working on my own car.


  • Torque Wrenches (foot pound and inch pound)
  • 3.5 ton low profile jack
  • 2 pairs of 6 ton jack stands (Over kill I know but there was a sale and prefer the added peace of mind, plus I'll never need new ones no matter what car I buy in my life)
  • socket set (mostly metric with external torx)
  • 24 mm socket for the oil filter
  • wheel chocks

Now I think I'm ready to do most basic preventative maintenance on my car. However, I was talking to family member about this and they were saying, "What happens when your oil plug pops out because you didn't tighten it right." or "Just go to a quick oil change place (Valvoline, Jiffy Lube, ect.) and pay someone to do it. I think they're being ridiculous when they said the thing with the oil plug but it still got me thinking "maybe I shouldn't be doing this on my car"

Then I started thinking the things that I'm still not quite sure about. Reading about Torque to Yield bolts, people screwing up their cars with the jack, and horror stories of simple repairs gone horribly wrong. I'm worried that I'll completely destroy my car, even though I know how to PROPERLY use and maintain these tools. Store torque wrenches at their lowest setting, always use the jack and stands on a solid surface and never just use the jack, oil your jack as stated in the manual. You get the idea.

I love this car, and use it to commute to university every day and my life would be significantly more challenging if I didn't have access to it. But I want to work on my own car, its an underappreciated satisfaction working on something yourself. I intend on doing basic things such as; oil changes, spark plug changes, tire rotations, break jobs, fluid changes. At least until I build more confidence.

So some questions for more advanced mechanics:


  • How likely am I to completely destroy my car by working on it myself?
  • How concerned should I be about "Torque to Yield" bolts? I know what they are but I'm confused on if I can reuse them.
  • Any recommendations on service manuals? (Haynes, AlldataDIY, Chilton)
  • Any general advice on beginning working on my own car?
  • Is my family right to say the oil plug could pop out?

Thanks for your time! I really do appreciate it!!
 

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Oil plugs don't pop out. Changing the oil on cars these days is really no different then back in teh 50's.

I"ll take my cars to jiffy lube though as there's really no cost difference between them and me. PLUS, i don't have to dispose of the oil. Although that might change with this new oil being so expensive. $100 dollars what i paid for the first change. I tried the dealer for the first change but didn't like the effects and the mileage drop.

If haynes or chilton come in manuals. That be the way to go. Both are comparable to each other. Alldata looks like an online subcription based fee. Kind of hard to work on your car if you need to have a laptop at your side. That's what it seems to look like to me with a breif glance over.

Take a look at your brake caliper bolts. GM used to use allen bolts. Don't know if they still do or if they've switched to Torx or regular sockets.

Metric sockets, and wrenches, and maybe allen sockets. For basic repairs. I don't know what you'll be working on to be needing torque wrenches. I guess some guys might want it for the oil drain plug.

Having a compressor with air tools is a BIG bonus for quicker repairs. Being a retired mechanic. Not having air tools really sucks and is very time consuming. Look at Harborfreight and whatever store you mentioned. Compressors aren't that expensive. You might not use it much but when you do. You'll be glad you have it.
 

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I’ve been at this since I was 15. Based on my experience I offer the following:

1) Quality tools will last you a lifetime. Cheap tools will cause you heartache.

2) Chiton or Haynes are fine for newbies. But the Factory Service Manual is the way to go. Again, the cheap man pays twice.

3) Anything with torque to yield bolts should not be touched by an amateur unless you have a very expensive torque angle wrench. In my case the cheap man paid thrice.

4) As with anything in life, you will make mistakes and misjudgments as you learn. Expect to learn on this vehicle. It will prepare you for your next one.

5) Yes, it’s very entertaining and valourising to work on your own ride. Read more here: http://www.cruzetalk.com/forum/17-off-topic-discussion/206458-stupid-car-tricks.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your reply!

Is there any way to know right away that I'm dealing with a torque to yield bolt? Based on what I've read on here, the brakes are probably the only part, that I'd be working on, where this is likely to be a concern.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the advice!

I plan on using the torque wrenches for the lug-nuts for tire rotations, as well as (again for my own peace of mind) torquing the oil plug

As for the compressor, while I'd like one, I live in an apartment and storing all of this in a place that doesn't annoy my roommates is quickly becoming a concern
 

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Thanks for the advice!

I plan on using the torque wrenches for the lug-nuts for tire rotations, as well as (again for my own peace of mind) torquing the oil plug

As for the compressor, while I'd like one, I live in an apartment and storing all of this in a place that doesn't annoy my roommates is quickly becoming a concern
I have a very small 2.5 gallon Makitta compressor. I bought it 20 years ago for its mobility. But if I was to start out today I’d be tempted to buy an electric or battery impact wrench instead.

For power tools Milwaukee is the only retail brand I now use.
 

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We have a 700 ft-lbs DeWalt battery impact that has been absolutely amazing in suspension disassembly & rebuilds of several of our old heaps of crap. Work like that is a little more involved than your typical spark plug/fluid change maintenance, though.

There are lots of tutorials around the site here that will be a huge benefit to learning to work on your own car.

The oil drain plug is super easy to tighten. Make sure you use a 6-point socket rather than a 12, and don't OVERtighten it, as you'll strip the head off of the tiny 10mm drain plug like many quick-change oil places have done to 1st gen Cruzens. It was so common they went so far as to redesign the head of the drain plug on the 2nd gen Cruze, and put a Torx socket just in case people still managed to strip it.
 

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I have never had an oil plug bolt, just pop out!
I tighten them hand tight. (meaning, I put a wrench on it, and by hand I determine tight, but not over-tight).
Despite it being an oil bolt (you'd think the oil will get in the thread, and loosen the bolt over time), I have found in 90% of the times, the bolt to be the exact same shut, as how I tightened them.
Meaning, if I'd have a torque wrench, it would indicate about the same amount of torque to loosen the bolt, as it was given to tighten it.

Use some minor force, to make sure it's tight, but don't even get it so tight that your muscle or hands hurt from the wrench digging in your skin!
 

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The first time you do car maintenance, it may seem intimidating and scary. But, after you do it a few times you find out that it's not that hard and not that scary. It sounds like you are cautious and safety minded, which is very important. The great thing today is that there are tons of good videos that show you how to do almost everything, and there are forums like this with people willing to help. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and review the instructions several times before beginning. Use the right tools. It's always possible for things to go horribly wrong, but if you read the instructions carefully, ask a lot of questions, are careful, go slowly, and double check your work, then you will probably be OK.

Torque to Yield bolts are not that difficult, and you probably won't encounter them very often with basic maintenance. After you do a couple, you realize that it's not as bad as it sounds. All you do is torque the bolt and then turn it another specific number of degrees. If it says 90 degrees, that just means to turn it another quarter turn. You can buy an angle meter if you want to be precise. Watch some videos on TTY bolts before you do one.

Oil changes are super easy on the Gen 1 Cruze. I don't even lift my car to do them. I got a drain pan that slides under the car while it is on the ground, and I can easily reach the drain plug without lifting the car. Everything else is on top. I always make sure to put a rag under the filter housing because it drips when you remove the filter. There are a lot of good posts on this forum that talk about doing oil changes.
 

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How likely am I to completely destroy my car by working on it myself?
Not impossible, but not likely. As long as you take care, make sure you haven't missed something before starting the engine, you should be fine.

For example, on an oil change, make sure you remember to add the oil before starting. :) So much effort is spent getting the old oil out and changing the filter, it could be easy to overlook that little detail. Likewise, make sure you put the drain plug back in before adding the new oil.

The key is to take your time, don't rush, cross-check and double-check yourself. Develop habits that will warn you if you've forgotten something. An example might be to put the drain plug on top of the new oil container. You're not likely to add oil if you see that bolt sitting there. Little tricks like that goes a long way in protecting yourself from your own absentmindedness.
 
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