Maintaining an automobile can be tough.
Keeping up with the latest accessories and tech is a lot. Plus, relying on mechanics means you have to give up some control. Well, imagine taking back the reins by learning some DIY car repair.
Don't let the though intimidate you, because we've consulted experts about the simplest fixes. And we'll explain each one below to give you the confidence you need. Sure, you won't be switching out transmissions or replacing your engine. But you'll probably be surprised by how easy the repairs listed below actually are.
So save some money, time and trouble by doing things yourself. Plus, the reward of accomplishing the task might just make you want to learn more.
Learn DIY Car Repair Tricks That Will Ensure The Smoothest Ride Possible
There are countless things that could go wrong with your car. But playing an active role in your auto's maintenance will help reduce that risk. Of course, you'll probably start with more than a few questions about the process. We'll seek to answer as many as we can, starting with what might be the biggest.
What tools will you need? Well, if you are just getting started in DIY car repair, you shouldn't overdo it. You might notice garages packed with all sorts of tools and accessories. But if you want to have a few very versatile tools at your disposal, we recommend the following list.
- Jack - You'll need a way to safely and securely raise your car. Your auto might have one in the trunk already. But you can always purchase a more robust model for added ease of use.
- Wrenches - This might be the most useful tool in your chest. And there are a few important styles to remember. Starting out, we recommend finding a good adjustable wrench and torque wrench.
- Socket set - Another must have item for removing and replacing parts is a socket and ratchet. A good set will have plenty of sizes and be made of high quality material.
- Screwdrivers - Whether you're into DIY car repair or not, screwdrivers will probably come in handy. But for our purposes, you should have both flat head and Phillips models. And having them in a few different sizes will help reach all places.
- Pliers - When all else fails, grab a pair of pliers. These aren't quite as precise as sockets or wrenches. But if you need to grab something out of a tight spot, they might be your best bet.
With these tools, we think you should be prepared to tackle most of the steps listed below. But as you become more comfortable under the hood, you might want to expand your toolbox.
1. Coolant Leak Repair
Leaks of any kind can be distressing for a driver. But some are objectively more problematic than others. If you notice a coolant leak, for example, you might be able to fix it yourself in just a few minutes.
When you notice a leak, it's important to identify where it came from. And if it is yellow, green or orange, you should check for a coolant leak. Check under the hood and if you see the leak in one of the hoses, you're in luck. With just a couple of tools and a few easy steps, you can replace the hose completely. Just remove the old one and clamp on a new one. It really is as simple as that in most auto models.
Of course, if you see that colorful coolant coming out of your radiator, that's a different story. In that case, we recommend taking it to your favorite mechanic. That's not really a fix we believe falls under DIY car repair -- at least for beginners.
2. Worn Belt Repair
Along with hoses, belts are a common source of trouble for car owners. But like the repairs above, this can also be a pretty easy DIY car repair. Sometimes, a damaged or worn belt won't even present any initial signs.
So it is important to take a look under the hood on a regular basis. There are a few things to remember when checking your serpentine or other drive belts. First, they could be getting loose. You can also usually spot cracks or other signs of wear upon taking a close visual inspection. And if you hear suspicious noises when you're driving, it could be evidence of a problem.
If your belt is merely loose, you can typically take a wrench with you to tighten it up. But for more serious issues, it's probably best to take it off and reattach a new one. With your trusty tools, it is only a matter of removing and reattaching a few pieces. Once the new belt is taut, you're ready to hit the road again.
3. Battery or Alternator Replacement
If you've been driving for a while, you've probably had that sinking feeling of a dead battery. There are a couple of primary reasons for this, and you can learn to remedy both of them. First of all, let's tackle the simplest issue. Maybe you left an interior light on or drained your battery's power in some other way.
If that's the case, you can simply use jumper cables to recharge your battery. You should always have a set of jumper cables handy in your trunk just in case. And it should be easy to find your battery under the hood. If not, check the owner's manual for its exact location. Another battery issue could be that you simply need a new one. This will happen from time to time, especially in more extreme climates. To turn this into a DIY car repair, first make sure you have the right battery for your car. Then, with just a few twists, you can loosen the brackets keeping it in place. Make sure all the connections are tight and in the right place before tightening the new one.
Finally, you might find that you need a new alternator. If jumping your car does not work in the long term, you can test your battery and alternator. Use a multimeter to see which one is not supplying power. If it's your alternator, that can be a tricky fix for some models. But if you're starting to feel comfortable with auto repairs, you might want to give it a shot. As far as replacing parts under the hood go, changing an alternator isn't all that tough.
4. Brake Pad Replacement
Here's where you'll need that jack we mentioned earlier. Of course you'll want to keep that around in case you need to change a tire, too. We didn't include that in our list, but changing a tire is definitely a DIY car repair you should learn.
But a more advanced replacement involves your brake pads. You can usually tell when yours are in need of a replacement. The most common sign is a squealing sound when you apply the brakes. This is an indication that you should remove the tire and install a new pad. There's also another thing to be aware of where your brakes are concerned.
If you hear a grinding sound instead of a squeak, you might need to replace your brake's rotors. This is an even more advanced procedure, so you can leave this one for the pros. But with a bit of practice, you can easily learn to replace your own.
5. Regular Maintenance
DIY car repair isn't just for when things go wrong. Proper maintenance allows you to ensure things keep rolling smoothly. You probably know about things like changing your car's oil at regular intervals. But there are plenty of other ways to stay on top of these small but critical details.
Many experts recommend giving your car a tune up every couple of years. Of course, any mechanic would be able to perform this regular maintenance. But these are also things you can handle on your own with a little experience under your belt. In addition to the regular intervals you already change your oil, tune ups are a good time for this.
You'll also want to replace your fuel and air filters. These are vital pieces to protect sensitive auto parts from contaminants. Some quick research will give you the simple steps for both of these processes. Replacing the distributor cap goes a long way to ensuring a smooth ride, too. Then you can replace spark plugs, which help create the combustion in your engine. This also goes along with replacing the surrounding wires. There are obvious signs of failing spark plugs, but replacing them in a tune up will help avoid them.
Your next auto emergency could turn out to be a DIY car repair opportunity.
We hope our guide has helped make auto maintenance seem a little less daunting. In reality, most of the typical problems have pretty simple solution. At least they seem simple when you get comfortable with the idea of working on your own car.
Share this article with the motorists in your life to share these tips. And leave us a comment below if you have any final thoughts or questions.
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