How do I replace a part on my car on my own?
July 18, 2005 12:15 PM   Subscribe

The other night, a part of my car fell off. How should I replace it and could I do it myself?

Caught out in a sudden torrential downpour, I drove my car through water that was much deeper than I anticipated. After successfully fording my (2000 Ford) Focus through the unexpected streetpond, I drove on to higher ground and pulled into a gas station parking lot. Steam was billowing out from under my hood and there was an awful grinding from under my car. I took a look under the car and found a piece of molded plastic clinging to the undercarriage, just inside the right-front wheel. I retrieved it and let the car idle for a short while. Nothing was overheating and everything sounded okay, so I drove on home very carefully.

I believe this piece of plastic is meant to guard an engine belt against things popping up from the road. It looks fairly simple, just held on with a few bolts, but I suspect that this is the kind of part that costs more than it should and will mean quite a hefty bill at the dealership. If I just wanted to buy this part from a third party and stick it back on myself, where would I start shopping? I'm handy around the house (electrical / plumbing), but not too experienced with car repair, so might this be too much bother for an amateur?
posted by grabbingsand to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
hie thee to a pick n pull or other DIY auto wrecking yard in your area.

(agree that it just looks like a shroud or skirt or whatever)
posted by fishfucker at 12:41 PM on July 18, 2005

go to a junkyard or used parts place - you can get the part for much cheaper than new.

If you jack up the car to fix it yourself, make sure you use jackstands and blocks to prevent the car from rolling.
posted by quibx at 12:42 PM on July 18, 2005

Sounds like just a stone shield, it's an easy part to replace. It is fairly important, otherwise road debris can randomly bounce up and damage things like your radiator.
posted by knave at 12:57 PM on July 18, 2005

Well, assuming that the part is damaged (you don't say that it is), you should probably read the number off of it and call the parts factor at your local dealer.

It may very well be overpriced, but I'm skeptical that the part will really be that expensive.

Also, you can probably get new hardware to do the job right from the dealer. Unless you have the parts with which it was originally affixed, you'll have to fashion something from a generic parts store, which isn't always easy.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:59 PM on July 18, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks so far!

The grinding noise hasn't resurfaced since I pulled the loose part free. It was probably more from it dragging the ground, but with the rain being so loud, I can't say ... it could've been partly from the belt, but I don't think so.

The part is not in bad shape, really ... the bolthole here is stripped, but odindream's epoxy idea might help that. There are some other little missing bits and a gouged out chunk. I've noted these with Flickr notes for the curious.
posted by grabbingsand at 1:14 PM on July 18, 2005

Are you sure this part is from your car? That is, are you sure it's not something you picked up in the puddle, from someone else's car?

Take it to the parts guy at a Ford dealer and ask nicely if it's a part from a 2000 Ford Focus. If it isn't, your worries are over. If it is, you can find out which part it is, how important it is, and how much a new one costs. Then you'll know what to look for at the junkyard and whether the junkyard is charging too much for it.
posted by bricoleur at 1:38 PM on July 18, 2005

I'd suggest using fender washers (if possible) rather than trying an epoxy repair.
posted by Kwantsar at 2:02 PM on July 18, 2005

Have your shop also eyeball your CV boots. Hate to find it got torn from the force of water.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:10 PM on July 18, 2005

Have your shop also eyeball your CV boots. Hate to find it got torn from the force of water.

Yeah. While it's probably just a shield that you've lost (and it won't be very expensive or hard to replace), whatever took it off might have done other damage to your front end, oil pan, etc. I'd get the front end inspected by a mechanic. One ignored torn CV boot can end up costing you hundreds of bucks (and lead to a safety problem), whereas replacing the rubber boot is cheap enough.
posted by realcountrymusic at 2:55 PM on July 18, 2005

Beware of damaged CV boots! My car had a twisted CV boot. That CV joint failed after about three years and 50k miles. The dealer wanted $700 for a rebuilt part and several hundred more for labor*. The equivalent Focus part might cost less since the Focus is a small, light car. But it might cost more since the Focus is front wheel drive. CV joints on FWD cars require a much larger range of motion to allow for steering.

* Fortunately, a friend gave me a used CV joint for free. It took a couple hours to install it. Now that I'm familiar with the procedure, I could do it in under 45 minutes.
posted by ryanrs at 3:37 PM on July 18, 2005

« Older What is up with the flies?   |   Nintendo headphones Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.