Thinking of repairing your own car? It’s time to do more than think about car repairs. Some DIY can save you money in the long run.
For a good chunk of car owners, the idea of popping the hood and seeing what’s wrong is more intimidating than driving through a small-town speed trap. The biggest concern is a fear of messing up and ruining your car.
Most cars, though, are pretty sturdy. You might tinker with something and need a professional to fix it, but your vehicle isn’t going to explode because you made a minor mistake while changing the oil.
Pay special attention if you’re working near your car’s gas line since that could cause an explosion in certain circumstances. Otherwise, do your best and try to have a little fun with DIY car repairs.
Image Credits: Pixabay
Read on for 10 car repairs you can do at home.
1. CHANGE A FLAT TIRE
This is one of the most basic repairs imaginable. It’s something every teenager should master when they first learn about cars. If that wasn’t part of your driver’s ed curriculum, it’s not too late to figure it out.
You’ll need a jack, lug wrench, and an inflated spare tire. Keep all those things in your car, since flat tires have poor manners and often strike when you’re out on the road. A flashlight is also a good idea unless you’re OK changing a tire at night with nothing more than your smartphone’s built-in flashlight.
You can find detailed instructors in one of two places: your car’s manual, or the Internet. Whichever source you use, make sure to apply the parking brake before you start. That will keep your car from rolling away mid-tire change.
2. CHANGE YOUR OIL
Don’t pay $50 (or more) at the quick change down the street. It might be convenient, but three or four of those changes a year can add up fast even if the employees there don’t try to upsell you on other services.
It’s a messy job, so be ready to hit the showers once you’re done. Grab an oil pan, funnel, ratchet, and oil filter wrench. Make sure you can capably use a car jack, too, since you’ll need to jack up your car and slide underneath it to change the oil.
Before you start, make sure there’s a place nearby to recycle your car’s old oil. Used motor oil has to be handled and disposed of a certain way, so you can’t just throw it in the garbage.
3. SWAP OUT THE BATTERY
This is a useful skill because every auto parts store will sell you a new battery to replace your dead one, but not every store will also agree to install it for you.
While you’re at it, consider cleaning your car battery terminals, since the sulfate that builds up is capable of corroding the battery.
A simple baking soda and water solution will work to clean the terminals, but make sure you buy a cheap battery terminal brush from a local auto parts store with a reliable supply chain.
4. REPLACE THE WINDSHIELD WIPERS
If a rainstorm is coming and your windshield wipers aren’t up to snuff, you can do it yourself in 15 or 20 minutes. The only tools you need are your hands.
The key is to look for a tab when you’re removing the old wipers. You can press the tab to free the wipers, and if you get lost at any point in the process, there should be instructions on the package that came with your new wipers.
5. CHANGE YOUR TAIL LIGHT
Bring your burnt-out tail light to the auto parts store so an employee can help you find a replacement. Once that’s done, all you need to do is go home and grab a screwdriver, plus maybe a pair of gloves.
Some car brands are known for taillights that seem to burn out quickly, but luckily, you don’t have to know much about how to fix a car to take care of it.
Use a screwdriver to unscrew the tail light housing, you’ll need to either gently pull out the tail light housing or take off the outer cover. After that, remove the bulb holder, take out the old bulb, and replace it with a fresh one.
6. FLUSH THE RADIATOR
The guys down at your local oil change facility have likely offered to flush your radiator for you … for $100 or so. Tell them “Thanks, but no thanks” and do it yourself for one-fourth the price.
Some car models require an annual flush, while others can get by with a flush every other year. Check your car’s manual if you aren’t sure what your car needs.
When you’re done, make sure you take the old coolant to an approved facility for disposal. A little coolant can easily kill your dog or cat, and they’ll drink it because it tastes sweet.
7. MOUNT A NEW REARVIEW MIRROR
Rearview mirrors last a while, but older ones are more prone to loosening and even falling off if you hit a big bump or pull too hard on the work ID that you hang on your mirror.
These sort of DIY car repairs are especially simple: Go to the auto parts store and buy a rear-view mirror that comes with an installation kit. Then follow the directions.
8. CHANGE THE AIR FILTER
An air filter seems more complicated than it really is. Once you pop the car’s hood, all you need to do is find the filter, and you can look up your owner’s manual if it’s hiding.
Once you’ve located it, pop open the filter casing, make a note of how the old one fits, and then replace the old with a new one.
9. CHANGE THE BRAKE PADS
Brake pads should be replaced every 60,000 kilometers or so, although you’ll need to do it sooner if you live in an area with lots of traffic jams.
For this, you’ll have to do things like jack up your car, break the wheel lugs, and remove brake calipers. If any of that sounds like too much, get a friend who knows about cars to assist you.
10. GET NEW SPARK PLUGS
Failing spark plugs drag down your gas mileage and may even make it hard for you to start your car. If you buy a spark plug wrench, you can tackle the spark plugs yourself.
It’s not one of those repairs you’ll have to do every month or two, though. In fact, spark plugs can last as long as 160,000 kilometers.
DIY CAR REPAIR: KNOW WHEN TO GET HELP
Car repairs are a great way to stretch your comfort zone but don’t stretch it too far. If you feel unsafe or even just really confused, stop what you’re doing and call a professional.
Speaking of professionals: Auto Chain has what it takes to help both buyers and suppliers find quality auto parts.
We believe locating DIY car repair parts should be a smooth, efficient process, so contact us today to find out what we can do for you.
This article was previously published on Autochain.co.nz
Featured Image Credits: Imgur
Tips and Advice so You Can Depend on Your Car
A car is an expensive investment, so knowing how to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape can save you tons of money. Overall, the cost of owning a car is a lot higher than many might think – there is the cost of car insurance, taxes, interest on the car loan, repairs, fuel costs, and the cost of the vehicle itself. By implementing all or some of these car care tips, you can begin to save a significant amount of time and money.
Just a little time spent on research can save you future repairs and tons of money. You don’t need to be mechanically savvy to detect common vehicle problems. You just need to be able to use your sense of smell and sight.
Take a Look Around
Are there stains under your vehicle? Do you see drips? They may not be a problem but if you see wet spots, it can be a symptom of something far more serious. What color is the liquid you are seeing? Is it blue, orange, yellowish green? Then it could indicate a radiator leak, damage from an overheated engine, or a water pump that needs repairs. Leaks such as these should be addressed quickly.
Black oily fluid or dark brown could indicate an oil leak on the engine. A bad gasket or seal can cause this type of leak. These types of repairs can quickly run into a lot of money so it’s a good idea to take your vehicle to a mechanic you trust.
A red oily spot could indicate a power steering fluid leak or transmission leak. Sometimes you will see clear liquid, which is usually just condensation and nothing to worry about. If you see light smoke coming from your wheel while you are driving it could mean you have a brake that’s stuck and you should pull over. Any type of smoke means you need to see a mechanic regarding a vehicle repair.
Put Your Nose to Work
Don’t be afraid to sniff around and see if you can detect a problem with your vehicle. If you smell burned toast it may be burning insulation or an electrical short. Don’t risk driving it. If you have a rotten egg smell it’s likely the catalytic converter and it will need to be repaired.
A thick sharp odor is often a symptom of burning oil. Have a look under the car to see if you can spot a leak. You may also see a bluish smoke coming from your vehicle’s tailpipe – you need to have this looked at as soon as possible.
If you smell gas after your vehicle fails to start the engine may have become flooded. Wait a few minutes and try again. If you continue to notice a gas odor you may have a leak somewhere in your fuel system, which can be dangerous, so have your vehicle taken to a mechanic as soon as possible.
These simple tips will help to alert you of a potential problem with your vehicle that should be addressed.
How to Properly Check Your Fluids
Part of keeping your vehicle in tiptop shape is to make sure you regularly check your fluid levels. In fact, monitoring these levels is vital to the health of your car. It’s a great idea to read your owner’s manual. There should be diagrams of the engine there that will show you where to check all the important fluids. It’s a great way to get an idea of where the vital fluids can be found. You can also use the internet to pull up a similar picture that can help you.
1. You’ll find towards the front of the engine a cap marked “Oil.” Check your oil with the engine off. Remove the dipstick
2. Wipe the oil off with a rag
3. Put the dipstick back in
4. Pull it out and get your reading
5. There will be two marks on the dipstick – minimum and maximum – anything in-between means your oils are good. Below the minimum and you need to add oil. In older vehicles, it’s a good idea to check your oil every couple of weeks. In newer vehicles check monthly.
If you have an automatic transmission you will find a dipstick to check your fluid level. It’s usually found towards the back of the engine. There are different methods for checking transmission fluids, which can be found in the owner’s manual. For most vehicles, they have to be running and the transmission needs to be in neutral or park. To get a true reading the transmission should be warmed up so take it for a short drive to bring it up to operating temperature. Checking the level follows the same steps as checking the oil. Check annually.
You should never open the radiator cap when the engine is hot. You can be splashed by the hot coolant and suffer serious burns. The majority of cars have an overflow bottler with visible level markings. You should make sure your coolant is between these markings.
Power Steering Fluid
Your car uses oil to assist with the power steering. This fluid should be checked regularly. Often it is checked at the pump but sometimes the reservoir is separate and away from the pump.
Most of the newer cars allow you to check the brake fluid levels without ever having to remove the master cylinder cap. There marking on the side of the reservoir identifying the different levels. When you are removing the cover be careful none spills on the paint as it lifts paint quickly.
Windshield Washer Fluid
You’ll see the jug that contains the blue liquid that’s magical for keeping your windshield clean. Most of the reservoirs are visibly marked. However, in some of the newer vehicles, the reservoir is buried making it hard to see. Just pull the top off and start filling – you can’t hurt anything if it overfills. A funnel can make it much easier to fill your washer fluid and other fluids as well.
image credits: pixabay
6 Summer Car Care Tips That are Essential
Before you jump in the car and head out on that summer voyage it’s a good idea to make sure your vehicle is in ready-to-go condition. After all, there’s nothing worse than sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck when what you wanted to do was enjoy a day at the beach.
1. Check Your Fluids – Run your car for a few minutes and then check the oil. It should be in the ok range and it should also be clean on your dipstick. Oil changes are recommended at different intervals ranging from 3,000 miles to 7,500 miles. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations for your vehicle. If the dipstick is at the add mark, you need to add oil. Regardless of mileage if your oil is dirty you should consider an oil change.
2. Check Your Windshield Wiper Blades – Good wiper blades will be a real benefit during summer rainstorms and thunderstorms, which can occur without much notice. Winter conditions tend to cause blades to become hard and inefficient. Check all your fluid levels including, wiper fluid to make sure everything is topped up before you leave.
3. Know Your Tires – You should know the proper inflation for your tires. You can find this in your vehicle documentation, tire documentation, or on the sidewall of the tire. Then grab your tire pressure gauge and check their inflation. The heat of summer will increase your tire pressure so it’s a good idea to test before you drive far. Remember to include your spare in your tire check.
If you are driving with tires that are underinflated you have a blowout, while an overinflated tire puts you at risk of hydroplaning in rainy weather. Properly inflated tires will increase your fuel efficiency by as much as 3% so there’s a real benefit to making sure you check your tires.
While you are at it, take a minute to check the tire tread. Use a penny – stick it in the gaps with the head face down. If you can see the head it’s time for new tires.
4. Visit Your Mechanic – A visit to your mechanic is a good idea before any long trip or for your regular maintenance if you don’t do it yourself. Your car will need regular tune-ups and regular oil and filter changes.
5. Check Belts and Hoses – Check for heavy wear or cracking and replace before they fail.
6. Be Prepared – Always carry an emergency kit with you that includes a first aid kit, jumper cables, air compressors, blankets, and it is also a good idea to carry water and energy bars.
image credits: pixabay
8 Winter Car-Care Tips
Winter brings along a whole new list of concerns for your automobile. The severity of winter depends on where you live. While newer cars require less intervention from us, humans, they still need to be prepared for winter. By implementing all or some of these car care tips you can begin to save a significant amount of money.
1. Watch Your Tire Pressure – Watch your tire pressure, which will drop when the temperature drops. When you keep your tires properly inflated you will get better fuel economy, and it will also help against flat tires.
2. Keep Your Fuel Tank Above One-Quarter – On older vehicles, this was done to ensure the fuel lines did not freeze. While it doesn’t happen as often with new vehicles it can still happen so why not ensure it doesn’t. In addition, during winter driving it’s a good idea to be prepared in case you become stranded.
3. Check Your Fluids – Some of your vehicle’s fluids are affected by winter conditions. Take a few minutes to inspect your vehicle’s cooling system, and every year you should do a coolant flush. Cooling system failure is the main reason for the engine-related breakdown, which can lead to repairs costing thousands. You’ll need to add antifreeze at a ratio of 50/50 antifreeze/water. You should invest in an antifreeze ball tester so that you can check your ratios throughout the winter season and add antifreeze whenever necessary. Make sure your windshield washer fluid is topped up with winter fluid.
4. Check Your Battery – Older batteries can have trouble during the winter months with the cold. Make sure your terminal posts do not have any corrosion because when the posts are corroded it can make it harder for the battery to start the car. When there’s extremely cold weather the life expectancy of the battery can be shortened. Finally, make sure you always have jumper cables, just in case your battery goes dead.
5. Do an Oil Change – Even if your vehicle isn’t quite due for an oil change, now’s a good time to do an oil change. With older vehicles, lighter weight oil can be used to keep your vehicle’s parts better lubricated during the winter. Newer cars use lighter-weight oil year-round.
6. Change your Windshield Wiper Blades – Changing your wiper blades at the start of the winter season will ensure they are new. Winter wiper blades do a better job of pushing the slush off your windshield and scraping away the ice.
7. Put Snow Tires On – Winter driving conditions mean you want to have good traction. Depending on where you live and what you drive snow tires are often a good investment. In some areas where snowfall is minimal, you can away with a solid all-season radial tire.
8. Carry an Emergency Kit – Your emergency kit should include cold-weather gear such as hats and gloves, jumper cables, flares, flashlight, and basic tools