Easy DIY Car Repair

Little Kid DIY Repairs
Robert Benner, Flickr

So easy a kid could do it? Not quite, but if you’re handy with a wrench, you might be able to try your hand at the below repairs.

Owning a car can cost you a lot of money, even after you’ve paid it off. Even with gas prices hovering around $3.00 these days, filling up isn’t cheap. There are also yearly registration fees, property taxes (excise tax) and insurance premiums to consider. And then there’s the cost of performing routine maintenance, which can further dent your wallet. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about any of these things. Or is there?

When it comes to auto repair and maintenance, there are many things that you can perform yourself, without getting a professional mechanic involved. And we’re not just talking doing an oil change in your driveway, either. Assuming you know how to handle a wrench, a screwdriver, and don’t mind getting a little dirty, here’s a list of DIY car repair services you probably didn’t know you have it in your power to do.

  1. Replacing Your Car Battery – Most people will take their vehicle to the nearest auto repair shop to have a new battery installed. But replacing it yourself is a relatively simple process that only involves removing the connection terminals, lifting the old battery out, and dropping in a new one.
  2. Rotating Your Tires – Tire rotation is a simple procedure that simply requires you to switch your front tires with your back tires to ensure they wear evenly and last longer. While rotating tires can be done quickly in an auto mechanic’s garage, you don’t need any special tools other than a lug wrench, a floor jack, two jack stands, and a torque wrench to ensure you don’t over tighten your lug nuts when all’s been done. Many auto repair shops provide a lifetime free tire-rotation service if you purchased tired from them, so check with your shop before you start jacking the car up.
  3. Fix a Dangling or Loose Exhaust Pipe – Many people don’t know (because they rarely stick their heads underneath their cars) that their exhaust pipes are held in place by simple muffler straps that can wear out and break over the course of your vehicle’s life. If you’ve started to hear an odd clunking sound when you go over bumps, or have noticed that your exhaust pipe is drooping, you may simply need a new muffler strap, also known as an exhaust hanger. Instead of taking your car to a mechanic, you can buy a replacement part and take care of this yourself.
  4. Replace Your Engine Air Filter – Manufacturers recommend you replace your air filter every 12,000 – 15,000 miles for optimum engine performance and maintenance. Air filters remove dust and solid particles, preventing them from entering the engine. Air filters may need to be changed more often, depending upon the external conditions, geographic location, and vehicle use. For example, an air filter may need to be changed more frequently if a vehicle were regularly used on construction sites, where dirt and concrete is everywhere.
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Most people tend to shy away from even attempting to perform minor fixes to their vehicles out of a lack of experience and a fear of messing something up for good. But as long as you avoid getting your car into an accident, it’s actually pretty difficult to “break” your car beyond a professional’s ability to put it back together again.

All you need to get on the path to auto-repair independence is a little bit of self-confidence and the desire to save a few bucks. Oh, and maybe an adjustable wrench, a pair of pliers, an assortment of screwdrivers, some sockets and ratchets, and a torque wrench.

If you’re feeling a bit flustered with the DIY car repair approach (and prefer the DIFM (a.k.a. “Do It For Me”) approach, just remember – there’s an app for that (and it’s free!). Openbay, also available online, is a great way to quickly compare pricing and book service with a top shop in your area.