At Home Car Repair Tips and Tricks
Are you someone who likes to work on cars? Do you like a good challenge when you need something fixed? Maybe you like helping people and you’re the person who enjoys making DIY YouTube videos or reading car manuals to help others? This article will give you a few ideas on how to make repairs yourself, and when you should hire a professional.
DIY Car Repair
YouTube is the best for how-to or DIY videos. From home improvement projects to baking, there’s something for everyone! Sometimes you’d rather fix something yourself or try to before calling in a professional. Sometimes doing repairs yourself is worth the cost of parts. Let’s take a look at some DIY car repair options.
Change your own brake pads
This is an easier task than you’d think. All you need is a wheel lug wrench, some basic wrenches, pliers, and of course a jack and set of jack stands (never get under a car unless it is on jack stands; you cannot rely on the jack as it may fail). A DIY job can save you money. A set of new brake pads will set you back just $20–$40, depending on the car and pad material. Compare that to the industry average cost of $250 per axle.
The process is basic. Take off the wheel, remove the hardware, pull out the worn pads, push in the caliper piston, install the new pads, and reinstall the hardware. You should be able to do all four wheels in under an hour, even if this is your first time doing the job. The new pads will last between 30,000–50,000 miles, and you should check them every 10,000 miles. When the pad thickness falls below 2mm–3mm, it’s time for another replacement set.
Change the battery
A car battery lasts about 3 to 5 years and you don’t want to wait until you’re having problems starting your car to change it. No one wants to be stranded somewhere alongside the road with a dead battery. The average price of a new battery if you do it yourself is around $80. However, it could be more or less depending on the make and model of your car. A dealer will charge you up to $200 to change the battery, so it’s worth it to some people.
To do the swap, you just need a basic set of wrenches. The biggest warning here is the order in which you remove and replace the cables. Remove the NEGATIVE (black) cable FIRST, and when you have installed the new battery, replace the NEGATIVE cable LAST. If you don’t do it this way, you could short circuit the positive (red) terminal to a grounded part of the car.
Do your own oil change
Doing your own oil change is another car repair you can do yourself. A typical lube place will charge $30 to $70 and some as high as $90 to $100 if you own an expensive import. Check your car manual to know when to change your oil.
To change the oil, buy a good quality oil filter and the best oil you can afford from your local supplier (it can be an auto specialist or a retail store). In addition to jack stands and a jack, you’ll need an oil filter, wrench, and a drain pan. These only have to be purchased once and will last you decades. You can find videos online walking you through oil changes on a variety of different vehicles.
Replace a headlight or taillight
At some point in time, your headlight or taillight may burn out and you’ll have to replace it. It’s important to stay on top of replacing headlights or taillights when they are out for your safety and the safety of other drivers.
If one (or more) isn’t working, it’s time to buy a replacement and do it yourself. With the average hourly repair rate of a garage being $100, you could easily spend $25–$50 per bulb, especially if the shop has a minimum charge.
One of the most important things to do is bring the old bulb with you to the store. You want to make sure you are getting like for like. And, when it comes time to change it out, never touch the bulb glass with your bare hands. The grease from your fingers can cause the bulb to burn out early.
Replace your windshield wipers
Windshield wipers are another repair you can easily do yourself. You must be able to see clearly out the windows of your car when a rain or snow storm hits. A set of wipers will run you between $20 and $40 on average, but the dealer will charge you about $100. It takes minutes to replace the wipers on your vehicle yourself, and all of the instructions are provided in the replacement wipers you buy.
Car Repairs You Should Not Do Yourself
Some car repairs are fairly easy to do yourself, but there are also some repairs that should be left up to the professionals.
Repairing the AC system
Replacing the AC system is more complicated due to its many parts. It can be physically hard and the chemicals involved can be harmful. Therefore, it’s best to leave it up to the professionals. The last thing you want is your car to be too hot or too cold!
Repairing the ignition system
Like the AC system, the ignition is attached to your car’s electrical system. This means that you could end up short-circuiting the system or shocking yourself with 50,000 volts of electricity. This is another repair to leave up to the professionals.
Electric system repair
Car electrical systems are complex with many wires involved. It can be difficult to figure out what’s actually causing the problem and then identifying how to fix it. The fix itself will be complicated and has many steps that could go wrong.
Car engines these days are way more complicated and just looking under the hood isn’t the best option. Therefore, it will be difficult for you to actually identify what’s going on in your engine. If you make the wrong repair, then you’ll have to pay for another repair to fix that mistake.
Some car repairs can be easier than others and done on your own. Other repairs are more complicated and you should leave it up to the professionals. For the repairs that are DIY, remember the different resources available to you, such as YouTube or a credible website with instructions. You want your car to be the safest it can be for you and your passengers, as well as others on the road.