Easy Paint Cleanup

I’ve been doing a lot of work around the house lately to get it ready for our upcoming move next summer. We went crazy with different paint colors when we moved in almost a decade ago. Since it’s a big 5 bedroom McMansion we now have way too many paint cans in the garage. I’m repainting room by room so that we’ll have more of a consistent and neutral color palette throughout. It won’t be all the same but just a bit less ADD and more neutral which should help with the showings. It’s amazing how many people can’t see pass the color so neutral FTW! Continue Reading

MINI Cooper DIY – Wiring for a Trailer

In a quest to make my MINI Cooper The Ultimate Hauling Machine I’ve added a tow hitch last fall. Six months later and I’ve only been using it as a bumper protector, leaving the draw bar in with a metal ball protruding out back. It certainly helps to prevent bumper scratches when parallel parked downtown. But that’s not why I added a tow hitch. I wanted to be able to tow a lightweight trailer. To do that I still needed two things – a trailer and a converter kit to make the trailer lights work with the MINI. Continue Reading

Spray Painting Light Fixtures DIY

A lot is happening in the Insourcelife household this spring. Last couple of posts give you an idea of where our hearts and minds are at the moment. We’ll get to the news soon enough but today I wanted to take a break from it all and talk about a simple DIY project that I just completed. It happens to fall into my favorite do-it-yourself project category – easy, quick and possibly free. Continue Reading

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Replacing Rear Shocks on a Mercedes-Benz Ultimate DIY

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You don’t have to be rich or go into debt to drive a luxury car. Anyone that can afford a used Honda or a Toyota could own a BMW or a Benz if they are willing to a) drive an older model and b) get their hands dirty. Today we’ll address the latter with a step-by-step DIY on how to replace the rear shocks on a Mercedes-Benz. This post is based on a Mercedes-Benz C-Series, AKA “W203”, but the general approach is similar on other Mercedes models as well as other car brands. For illustrative purposes all pictures were taken while replacing the rear shocks on a 2003 Mercedes-Benz C320.  While there are other guides on the internet, I found them lacking some important details – stuff that “I wished I knew” before I started. I decided to document the procedure in the most straightforward fashion to crate a definitive one-stop guide on the subject! Continue Reading

Xeriscaping Continues

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Fall is my favorite season… Last time we had AC on was back in August and we just fired up the gas furnace a couple of weeks ago. We usually get 4 months per year where HVAC sits switched off. If we need to cool down the house we use box fans. If it gets cold we open all the curtains to passively heat with the sun. Sometimes I fantasize about living in a place like San Diego where the weather is always perfect. Although I bet plenty of people in San Diego still run the AC. We have neighbors that never open their windows too, which never ceases to amaze me when we are out on a perfect day. Continue Reading

The Perception of Old

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If you’re serious about getting ahead financially you probably don’t want to be driving a new car. Most self-made millionaires, the ones that had to work for their money, drive older cars. It’s common knowledge yet most people prefer a short-term thrill of buying a new car over a long-term reward of becoming financially independent. Where I live, the majority of cars on the road look like they just came off a showroom floor. Sure, you see cars from the 90’s and the early 2000’s but it seems that they are a minority nowadays. Continue Reading

MAXI Cooper – First Steps

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From time to time I’d browse the local Craigslist ads to see if I can find a cheap pickup truck for sale. Not the Tundra-RAM-1500-F150-king-cab monstrosities clogging the American roads but those smaller Tacoma-Ranger-Frontier varieties from the early 2000’s. Something with a 4-cylinder engine and as simple and as economical as pickups get. I was thinking that I should be able to find a small pickup truck with under 100K miles in good condition for around $5,000. Turns out that’s not really possible based on all the ads I’ve seen. Continue Reading

Diagnosing RPM Idle Issues in a MINI Cooper

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Back in 2012 I bought a 2009 MINI Cooper hatchback to replace the aging 2004 BMW 330i ZHP that was rapidly approaching the point where a bunch of expensive work would be needed on a regular basis. Bimmer was a wonderful performance car but at 130K miles it was definitely a liability. I wanted to replace it with something sporty yet “frugal” and after multiple test drives of different makes and models I decided on an R56 MINI Cooper with a naturally aspirated non-turbo N12 engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. If you search for “MINI Cooper problems” you will find enough to run the other way. However, if you do a bit of digging you’ll find that most issues discussed ad nauseam on various forums are mostly for a Cooper S i.e. turbo engine. Since I wanted something reasonably reliable and easy to DIY, I decided to go with a base model known as “Justa” as in “Just a Cooper”. After 4 years of ownership the car proved to be as reliable as a Toyota Corolla…until now. Continue Reading