If you have a standard vehicle, not a super-complicated Tesla or other hybrid, you should start working on your vehicle. You don’t have to replace your engine or transmission on your own – I advise against that.
But you do have a lot of opportunities to fix your own car.
Cars are advanced enough now that you can read the engine codes and determine many issues plaguing your vehicle. Other noises, sounds or descriptions can be searched and found online on forums relating to your vehicle.
The biggest issue with making repairs is knowing what to repair.
Getting started is the scary part, and you’ll need a few items before you get started with most repairs:
- Flathead screwdrivers of all sizes
- Phillips screwdrivers of all sizes
- Plier sets
- Socket sets
- Variety of wrenches
- Jack stands and jack or ramps
- Pry bars
- Torque wrench
- Locking pliers
- Lubricants like WD 40
- Allen wrenches
- Bucket or pan
If you have just these items, you’ll be able to fix most of your vehicle’s issues. Maintenance, such as a basic oil change or coolant flush, will be a breeze. You’ll also need to have somewhere to purchase parts for your vehicle and possibly a junkyard nearby to purchase hard-to-find items.
Of course, you also have the Internet and next day shipping if you’re really in a bind.
And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have a garage to work on your car. All you need is a nice, flat space where you can jack up your vehicle or even drive on to ramps to hold the car in place. One key tip is to always use jack stands just in case the vehicle comes off of the jack.
People have been crushed under their vehicle – you do not want this.
Gather Resources on How to Make the Repair
Don’t just jump into the repair without having done your research first. If the problem is a worn belt, go on YouTube and find a video on how to replace a belt. You’ll find that there are a lot of guides and videos available for free.
You can also purchase a repair manual specifically for your car.
When making major repairs, I highly recommend these manuals. You’ll find these manuals at most automotive part stores. When in doubt, you can search the Internet for the repair manual so that you can make repairs exactly how the professionals recommend.
Watch a video on how to make the repair first before giving it a shot yourself.
You’re much more likely to make the repair properly if you have watched the repair on video before getting started. It’s all about familiarizing yourself with how to make the repair so that you have an idea of what to do when you open up the hood.
Basic Repairs and Maintenance Anyone Can Perform
There are repairs that you can make, and repairs you cannot make on your own. If you’re attempting to rebuild an engine with no prior experience, you may be able to do it, but chances are that you’ll have a horrible time.
Start off with minor maintenance and repairs before diving into the more tedious repairs.
The repairs and maintenance that you can definitely perform on your own are:
- Changing belts. Drive belts are easy to replace, and you’ll know if belts need replacing if they’re too loose, cracked or worn. If the belt is loose, you can tighten it rather than replace it. Belts that squeal may need to be replaced. You do not want to try and replace a timing belt because they’re too important to make a mistake on. You can ruin your engine if you make a mistake when replacing a timing belt.
- Basic auto body work. If you’ve been in a car accident, replacing a fender or even a hood is very easy. You’ll have a harder time if the frame is bent or if you need to get dents out of your vehicle.
- Fluid changes. Basic fluid and filter changes are also easy. You’ll find that you can easily change your brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant and oil/filter. These are basic maintenance options that allow you to start gaining confidence when making car repairs.
- Replace spark plugs. Your vehicle’s spark plugs are essential for the entire combustion process. Replacing spark plugs is rather easy, but you’ll want to use a torque wrench to ensure that you do not under-tighten or over-tighten your plugs. If you do either, you may cause your vehicle’s performance to be erratic.
- Change and clean the battery. Your battery may need to be replaced, or you may need to clean off the battery terminals. This is a very easy process, and it’s going to take just two or three minutes and a wire brush if you don’t have one available. You can also test the alternator or choose a multimeter to test your battery.
- Replace brake pads. You can replace your brakes on your own, but this is a tedious replacement. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve read instructions on how to replace the brakes and that you have every tool you need to get started.
- Replace hoses. Leaks often start in your vehicle’s hoses, and a small leak can turn in to a massive leak in just a few months. Replacing a hose is easy and often involves just clamping the hose into place.
- Replace filters. Your vehicle has carbon air filters and regular air filters. These filters take seconds to swap out.
- Replace distributor cap. If the distributor cap is loose or needs to be replaced, the check engine light will illuminate. Replacing the distributor cap is a breeze.
Making basic repairs on your vehicle will help you better understand how the vehicle works and also allows you to save money spent at the mechanic. With code readers, you’ll be able to accurately assess which repairs a vehicle needs and do all of the fun work on your own.