DIY Auto Repair: Basic Car Repairs Everyone Should Know

diy auto repair

If you drive your vehicle 15,000 miles per year, the average cost of ownership is over $8,000 per year.

Although basic maintenance items don’t seem to cost that much, having to change your oil every 5000 miles can add up. While necessary to keeping your car on the road, it’s not necessary to pay for the time, labor, and overhead of a mechanic. At least, not for some basic repairs and servicing.

Tackling car repairs can seem like a daunting task for those not mechanically inclined. But there are routine repairs and fixes that can be accomplished with a few good tools and a little know-how.

Keep reading to find out what DIY auto repair you’re more than qualified to perform. They’ll save you money in the long run.

The Toolbox

You don’t need a big fancy toolbox to complete these basic repairs. All you need is:

  • An adjustable wrench
  • Pliers
  • A torque wrench
  • A set of ratchets and sockets
  • Screwdrivers (Phillips head and flat head)
  • A car jack

You don’t even need the most expensive tools. Just look for tools with good grip and sturdy handle. That will make them easier to work with.

If you have to purchase new parts, look for the part number. It’s usually right on the part you’re replacing. If necessary, go to a parts store who can help you determine what you’re looking for.

DIY Auto Repair

These repairs are easy to perform, even with the least amount of mechanical know-how.

Oil Change

Your oil keeps your car running well. Changing your oil every 5000 miles is recommended. That will make your car last longer because oil is directly related to the engine.

You don’t have to take your car into the mechanic every time you need to change your oil. If your oil filter and drain plug are easy to reach, this is simple enough to do at home.

All you have to do is remove the drain plug and drain the oil. Unscrew the oil filter and empty it, then put the filter and plug back. The fill it back up with fresh oil.

Drive Belt Replacement or Tightening

Your drive belt connects the loops and pulleys on the engine. It’s a rubber belt that you’ll find at the front of the engine. It’s responsible for charging the battery, ensuring the cooling system is working, and controlling the windshield wipers and steering.

You’ll know there’s a problem with your drive belt if you hear your car squealing when you use some accessories of your car. Open the hood and check for cracks and wear.

If the belt is loose, all it needs is a tightening. If it’s cracked or worn, you can replace it with a ratchet, sockets, wrenches, and a screwdriver.

Changing a Tire

Switching out a flat tire or putting on winter tires is an easy task. Loosen the nuts on your tire (lefty loosey), then jack the car up.

Remove the nuts and then the tire. Replace the tire with your spare, new tires, or winter tires. The tighten the lug nuts (righty tighty).

Battery Replacement

Your battery is the big box located under the hood, at the front of your vehicle. Your car manual can tell you the exact location of your battery. It provides the power to the alternator so your car can start.

Your battery needs a replacement if the car doesn’t over when you turn the keys in the ignition. If your lights and other accessories aren’t working, that’s another good sign that your battery is dead.

To make sure your battery is dead, grab a multimeter. If it doesn’t measure any power, you’ll need a replacement. If it does measure power, check your alternator because that might be your problem.

To fix this problem, you need wrenches, a socket set, and a screwdriver. Disconnect the negative cables from your battery first. Then, move the clamp away from the negative and positive post.

Remove all of the screws and place the new battery where the old battery was. Reconnect the cable clams when you’re finished.

Sometimes, what you think it a battery problem is actually a problem with the alternator. You can learn how to replace your alternator here.

Changing Spark Plugs

The spark plugs create a spark that ignites gasoline. This is what makes your vehicle run and they need to be replaced about every 10,000 miles.

Use your car manual to find your spark plugs if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Remove the wire as well as the spark plug that isn’t working. Then simply replace that with a new plug.

Removing Scratches

Paint scratches not only make your car look worn, they can also cost you thousands of dollars. Taking them to a body shop for a paint and touchup is a costly endeavor that can be easily avoided with a little know-how.

If the scratch isn’t too deep, you can fix a scratch on your own. For shallow scratches, you can start by sanding the scratch and the surrounding area. After cleaning the sanded area, polish the area with a rubbing compound.

Wash the scratch for the second time. To protect and seal the scratch, touch up the area with a little bit of wax.

Sand, wash, polish, and wax. That will keep thousands of dollars in your pocket.

Brake Pads Replacement

Your brake pads help your brakes work by providing force to stop the car. It’s an important part of your braking system.

That’s why they come with their own warning system. If your breaks squeal when you use them, there’s a good chance that your brake pads are worn down. You can do this replacement at home

Just like you’re changing a tire, start by loosening the nuts on your wheels and then jacking the car up. Remove the wheels as well as the slider bolts.

Take the old brake pads off. Place the new brake pads on. Then put the slider bolts back on.

It’s as easy as that.

Learn More About Your Vehicle

You can save yourself a lot of money by doing basic DIY auto repairs from the comfort of your own garage. The truth is, it’s really difficult to break your car by doing these repairs. All it takes is watching a few tutorials and giving it a shot.

To learn more cool stuff about your car and how to take care of it, check out our blog.

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