If you don’t have a clue about what is going on under the hood of your car, then you will be amazed at how many things are actually quite easy to do yourself. If you start with the more simple repairs, it won’t be long before even the moderately difficult ones will seem like a breeze. Here is what you need to know in order to get started.
Determine what is causing a problem.
You may know what the problem is, such as the car won’t start or you are getting really terrible gas mileage, but you don’t know the reason for it. Before driving straight into a car repair shop, take just a few minutes to search for possible causes. You may be able to not only find the problem, but fix it much more quickly and cheaply yourself.
You can start with RepairPal, where you can not only get a diagnosis of the issue, but also what the average cost of repairs would be in a shop, which will be helpful in deciding whether or not you want to tackle the problem yourself.
Find out how to fix the issue.
There are any number of things you will be able to do yourself right off the bat, others you may want to postpone until you are more comfortable and experienced in DIY repairs, and some that are better left to professionals. Fortunately, there are how-to guides and videos all over the internet for most common problems, so you won’t have any problem finding out exactly what is involved.
Two good places to start are AutoMD and Expert Village. AutoMD provides specific instructions and videos, as well as diagnostic tools. And it even has a mobile app, so that you can reference it on your phone while actually doing the repairs. Expert Village is another excellent source of videos.
Use the right tools.
You don’t need super expensive tools to work on your car, and you probably won’t need special ones to work on foreign cars, in spite of what you might have heard. What you will definitely want are tools that you can get a good grip on, so try to get ones that have handles with some substance to them.
Study the instructions carefully to see what is required, and make sure you have what you need before you get started.
Many of the most common issues with your car can be fixed using the following tools:
- Flat and Philips screwdrivers
- Adjustable wrench
- Torque wrench
- Socket and ratchet set
- A jack, which usually comes with your car, if you will be doing any repairs below your automobile, as well as under your hood.
- Safety goggles and latex gloves, which you can keep in the trunk or glove compartment. Protect your hands and eyes!
Which repairs should you start with?
The easiest ones can actually save you real money, and should be a breeze for anyone.
- Coolant Leaks Don’t panic if your AC stops working, or you’re seeing colored liquids pooling beneath your car, until you look under the hood. If you can’t locate the leak, then the problem may be inside the radiator and will need a professional fix. But if it’s one of the hoses with a hole or crack in it, that is as easy to replace as changing the accessories on your vacuum cleaner, and all you need is a wrench and a pair of pliers.
- Tighten Belt Even if you don’t feel quite ready to replace a belt, tightening one is an easy fix to a big problem.
- Air Filter, Air Flow Sensor Both of these will affect your gas mileage, particularly on cars over ten years old, and they are among the easiest to replace.
Even repairs that are considered moderately difficult can be undertaken by a newbie. Just spend some time studying the guides and videos online, and also looking at exactly what’s under your hood and your car. Just getting familiar with what and where things are will help you feel more comfortable. Take your phone or tablet, or even printed photos and guides, out to your car.
Then, believe it or not, you will soon be able to replace your battery, alternator, drive belt, distributor cap, even your brake pads, and much more. Just order your car parts online and have at it.