Episode-1347- Max Maxwell on Vehicle Maintenance and Prep

Turning a Wrench Ain't What It Used to Be.

Turning a Wrench Ain’t What It Used to Be.

Phil “Max” Maxwell is a Toyota master diagnostic tech, a.s.e. 4time recertified master tech who refers to himself as a “prepper from when the mayans never came”.  Today he is raising chickens, goats, pigs, and growing a garden.

Max is also a form US Army Sergeant and shares some common ground with me as at one time he was stationed at Fort Kobie in Panama.  I spent most of 1992-1993 there myself.

Max is a tinker and DIY style prepper and has built a solar hot water from a gas hot water heater tank and prius parts. He has also built a hot air heater from dryer vents and bricks and is currently working on making a solar oven from an old  big screen TV.  In only half jest he states, “I think i need a maxx1234.com website in the style of Steven Harris at this point”.

Max Joins Me Today To Discuss…

  • How do you get started doing repairs
  • When do you know your over your head
  • Oops, i went to far, now what
  • Why is magic smoke so bad for my wallet
  • Is a dealer really as bad as they say
  • How do i prep my vehicle for the every day disaster
  • Dealing with flats, lights on dash, no gas, etc
  • How complicated have they made cars and why
  • Why is everything push button now

Resources for today’s show…

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK (866-658-4465) and you might hear yourself on the air.

Also remember we have an expert council you can address your calls to. If you do this you should email me right after your call at jack at thesurvivalpodcast.com with expert council call in the subject line. In the body of your email tell me that you just called in a question for the council and what number you called in from. I will then give the call priority when I screen calls.

Our Expert Council is Made Up of…

Join the MSB Today

Join the MSB Today

Want Every Episode of TSP Ever Produced?

Remember in addition to discounts to over 40 vendors who supply stuff you are likely buying anyway, tons of free ebooks and video content, MSB Members also get every edition of The Survival Podcast ever produced in convenient zip files in blocks of 24. More info on the MSB can be found here.

26 Responses to Episode-1347- Max Maxwell on Vehicle Maintenance and Prep

  1. I loved the show Jack and I agree cars are way to complicated and over regulated!
    I have a 1990 Honda Civic as a 3rd car and it’s 25 years old and gets 40 MPG, the Civics they make today can only do that one the highway…Maybe!
    I do all the work on that car myself because I only paid $800 for it LOL and no way I’m paying $250 to change the Thermostat and yes that’s what they wanted $250 to change a $4 part, i looked it up on YouTube and changed it myself in less than 15 minutes….Never underestimate the power of YouTube LOL, but make sure and watch a few Videos on the part you are changing because some of the vids don’t give you ALL the steps you need.

  2. I sold a 97 Golf a couple years ago because the heater core broke. The mechanic said, it’s a $30 part but it’ll be a metric ton of screws to remove it: $800 labor to replace the $30 part. I still regret selling the car and curse VW at the same time for the design.

  3. I totally disagree about dealerships being a rip off. I was 200 miles from home when my windstar acted up. The hotel could only give me the local dealership as a resource. My coil pack, new plugs and plug wires cost $962. Shop labor rate was $139.95/hour I paid $8 per plug for 6 plugs and I paid $130 for the 6 new plug wires. 200 miles from home I was just stuck like a pig by the Roseville MN Ford dealership.

    • Paul, You think $140 is fair rate? And felt that 5.6 hours labor is fair for a plug job? I got a quote for a fan clutch for my nissan titan, wanted about $300 for a 20 minute job and $30 part. If you hand been at home not 200 miles from home would you have gone to the dealer? And why the hell is a windstar problem fixed with plugs and wires?

      • ahh shane, I disagree with Max that dealerships give one fair value because they are competing. They are a rip-off if they do more than a diagnostic of the vehicle

        • Like i said, it really depends. One dealer looks at every person as a paycheck, another as a long term relationship. Its hard to find somone to trust but when you do, hold on. I have had some customers so long that i work on there kids vehicles. I think this is a rare thing but there are still people that put there name on a product and stand behind it. How do you find a good one……. Trial and error i guess. I will say this though, the ‘import’ dealers on average try harder for a relationship not a goat rodeo as far as i have seen.

    • I have to agree. I’ve have several times when I found outrageous prices at dealerships even on the price of parts. I had Mitsubishi that needed a power steering pump. The dealer wanted 600 to do it using a rebuilt part.

      I found the a rebuilt pump for 110. Putting it in meant removing 4 bolts and 2 screws and replacing the belt. It took 15 minutes. Piece of cake.

      I also agree with Jack that they really do try to take advantage of women’s lack of knowledge. Which is what it is rather than taking advantage of women. They will take advantage of a man who demonstrated a total lack of knowledge the same way.

  4. Rick Allen

    Eugenics, sad as this is, had its start in the U.S. and parts of Europe (Great Britain). Every feminist liberals anti-hero, Margaret Sanger, was a big proponent of eugenics. She was not alone. Many of the people praised for being great philanthropists (Carnegie) were also in favor of eugenics, including euthanasia. Hitler took their ideas and ran with them.

    • When ever I show a fan of Margaret Sanger, a picture of her speaking at Klan rallies, you can see the confusion and shock in the person’s eyes.

  5. Great show. I’ve been meaning to get some cans of fix-a-flat for a couple months, and actually entered my PIN at Autozone as the outro music played.

  6. the coil pack was the issue. They told me the plugs and plug wires were original and I did agree to have those replaced. If I had been close to home my regular mechanic would have got the job. I like my regular mechanic… an old school guy who is right up front… I can fix it by the book and it will cost you X or I can do down and dirty, get it fixed most economically and charge you Y.

    Ex: my 96 chevy cheyenne 1500 needed a fuel pump. He gave me the option of by the book… empty the tank, drop the tank install the pump and reinstall or for a fraction of the time (and $$) he could cut a hole in the box, replace the pump and patch up the hole in the pickup box….. on a 96 I had him do the quick and dirty fix

  7. MichiganNimrod

    Great show Jack. Enjoy the current stuff but I miss these commonsense,nuts and bolts, real deal shows.

    Thanks to Max for coming on… stop and take a poop. THE greatests advice in recent memory!

    Long for a campfire and beer with both Jack and Max! Hooah!

  8. Ft Kobbe, Panama on and off 1989-1991. Speaking of cars in need of maintenance , had some wild rides in those Russian Lada taxis. We’d pile in two of them, offer the winning driver $30 extra for first to town and off to the races we’d go, full-throtle into the city. Reckless? Of course, we didn’t dare live any other way.
    Best thing about Veracruz beach was the father & son that would cook fish out of what looked like a hubcap. It didn’t taste great but their smiles made it worth it.
    The xylophone temporary morgue hooches on the Veracruz end of Kobbe was always home while transitioning to & from someplace further south. Hadn’t heard that Kobbe name in a long time but it still feels like yesterday. It brought back good memories when you mentioned it Jack. First place I’d ever been that sold cold canned beer out of a vending machine. First place I took a photo of a U2 taking off. I’d hear it every morning about 5:30 and decided me and my camera would go visit it and see if there really were El Caminos. Still have that photo. First place, while in the city shortly after Just Cause, I walked outside to an oncoming anti-American march. So I did what guys like us TSP’ers do, I stretched, looked the other direction, turned around and walked back inside. I’m sure the tan and older clothes helped me fade away on that one.
    Too many Ft Kobbe, central and south memories. Jack, we enjoy it when you reflect back on your (our) enlisted time. And we love your show and great way you open our minds to both new and old ideas.
    North Alabama.

    • Modern Survival

      Mingo, all that is good memories for me too. I didn’t go downtown that much but did go to My Place on occasion or as the sick mentality of a solider called it, “The Grenade Pit”. Favorite place in the city to eat was called La Cascada. (not sure on spelling) and the 24 Hour Combination Sandwich at the 24 Hour Store, what a god awful looking mess but so damn good tasting.

      You ever spend anytime at the NCO club on Clayton, specifically the third floor. I was pretty well known up there, my nickname at the time was JJ (Jack Jr.) not a nickname I have gone by since I got out. There was something about leaving service that made me want to put some things behind me and going to being called simply Jack was part of that.

      I spent most of my time off base in Northern Panama and Southern Costa Rica or fishing Gatun Lake. Or in the hills of Cerro Azul. Those things I miss more than partying and clubs but part of me misses that stuff too. I think more I miss the part of me that used to even want to do that crazy shit.

      • Dont forget the gate date and the peacock bass!!!

      • Jack,
        Never made it to Clayton, too busy putting my name on the wall at 2nd or 3rd(?) floor Howard. I too enjoyed a few good meals at La Cascada, if that is the whitewashed, open air, tree and plant abundant restaurant. Much of my down time was either in a rental car seeing how far we could get on a 3-day pass or at Taboga island putting a dent in the country’s supply of Atlas. From there, we’d row out to meet the international deep sea fishing boats hoping to make a trade for some fresh fish or meet the world travelers anchored there prior to a pass thru the canal.
        I agree with you on moving on from those glory days. Today it’s family, permaculture, modern survival and making an even better name. Glad we made it safely thru those bulletproof days.
        Mingo

  9. steelpenguin

    Great show Jack @ Max! I do all of my own work and have done so since I learned how to drive. My first car was a 1972 Dodge Dart and I learned how to change motors, transmissions, rear end gears, and pretty much everything else. Of course it’s much easier to work on that car than it is on my wife’s Buick Enclave. People need to learn basic maintenance if the SHTF or/and have a skill to barter with!

  10. In regards to the car code scanner: You can also get one with (the dreaded) Bluetooth that talks to an app on your phone (for example, Torque on Android) to interpret the code. Haven’t done it myself, but I’ve heard good things about doing so.

  11. Lifeon2Whls

    Good show but I really have to disagree with the “Made in China” comment regarding tools. As a shade tree mechanic, I’ve gone so far as to rebuild multiple engines with a mix of US and Chinese tools, the only one that ever broke was a US made Craftsman wrench and that was MY fault, not the tool’s. For those getting started, if you can afford US made tools, by all means get them. If not, the Made in China sets that are sold are a great way to get started and you can add more to it and/or replace what you don’t like later (and put the Chinese stuff in a secondary location – car/truck, etc). Just don’t forget that you’ll be able to afford many more tools if you go Chinese and as the saying goes, “Quantity has a quality all of its own.”

  12. For all you ladies out there. Learn about how the car works and do the small things and work your way up. I’m 64 and learn how to do new things on my cars each year. I do my oil change and spark plugs routinely. If you don’t like to get dirty, wear gloves and old clothes. Over the years I’ve replaced a power steering pump, radiator, water pump (on an old car where it was easy to get to), changed wheel bearings ( also on a car with simple ones not the pressed on ones) and changed my brakes.

    Find someone to mentor you, to walk you through your first time changing the oil or spark plugs. These are the easiest places to start, especially on slightly older cars. Believe it or not, working on your car with your significant other can be real quality time.

    Remember you won’t learn to do it any younger. And you might be surprised who great you feel the first time you accomplish changing your oil yourself. It’s a matter of getting over the fear which is usually stops us from trying new things.

    For you Firefly fans, think Kaylee.

  13. Great Interview Jack, I didn’t see a contact link for Max. And wanted to ask him a question. Can I ask a car centric question here and maybe you kick it over to him?

    I have a 1993 Saturn SC2. My 3rd fuel pump just went out. In all my years of driving I’ve never had a fuel pump go out, let alone 3 in less than 2 years. There must be something wrong that’s causing so many fuel pumps to crap out.

    I don’t let the fuel level get below 3/8 go avoid sucking up stuff from the bottom of the tank.

    Changing the fuel pump is past my skill level at this point since it requires dropping the tank. I’m blessed to have a good friend who does it for 100 bucks but I’d like to find out if there’s something I can do to prevent the next one from going out.

    Thanks.

    • Ok, this will be fun, I dont have a lot to go on here but here are a few advanced things to look at.
      Fuel pressure, if its to high you might have a stuck regulator and its overworking the pump
      Fuel filter or pickup sock is clogged
      You really have bad luck with fuel pumps,
      Or you have a voltage drop with the pump. You need tomeasure the voltage at the pump with it running. It should be very close to battery voltage, then measure voltage coming out, that should be almost at zero. Any differance of more than .2 volts is a issue and thats where the fun begins. Hope this helps ya out!!!!!

      • Thanks, Max. That at least gives me a few things to check out other than the “I have really bad luck with fuel pumps”.

        Still didn’t see if you have a website. If so, I’d love to check it out. It really was a great interview.

  14. Back when I first got my drivers license and first vehicle I needed shocks. So I went to the library to look at the auto manuals and decided hey shocks were easy and changed them myself. Then I needed brake pads. Not knowing anything about brakes I took my truck to a local brake/ muffler shop that was part of a national chain. The mechanic put my truck on the lift and called me in the shop and told me my shocks were leaking and need to be replaced. I told him to take it off the lift and that I just changed the shocks. Well I bought the repair manual and did the brakes myself, also learned how to fix a stuck caliper. Never trusted a mechanic after that.

  15. Every job out there has a crook that gives it a bad name. A mechanic that tries to fluff up a repair, a painter that shortcuts preparing so the paint will peel off later, even the guy at McDonald’s that doesn’t fill your drink all the way up. These are the people that you remember. Thats the sad part of the human experience. So many people do try and do the right thing but the one that cheats you overshadows the 3000 that does not.

  16. Greetings, I was disappointed with the podcast! That’s unusual!! Most likely Max is a great mech, I’d prob have him fix my cars! But from the title of the podcast I anticipated coaching on how one becomes a “shade tree mech”. As a teenager 5 decades ago I learned if you don’t want to get ripped off, learn about your car. Start with the owner’s manual, next buy a repair manual at your local parts store. Take pictures as you take off each part. Lay each part in line, first part off, first part in line. Tuna fish cans! Each part has it’s own can with the nuts & bolt to re-install. Keep Charlie out of the cans, big feet spill cans!
    Permaculture: Keep the end in mind. If you intend to keep this car for years, don’t install junkyard parts, use good quality new. That car in the junkyard is worn our too.
    There is hope. Today I have a 1200 sf shop, full of tools and they have all earned their way! I drive a late model PU truck so mostly I work on my wife’s ’51 Dodge, or the ’29 Chevy, or ’51 Henry J, or ’30 Chevy, or …or,…