Auto Repairs You Can Do Yourself and Save Money!
As much as we would wish our vehicles to remain in perfect condition at all times, that is highly unlikely. While it might seem easier to drive to the mechanic to fix every fault, it also costs a lot more. And since no one likes to spend hard-earned cash on repairs, car owners frequently delay car maintenance a little longer than they should, only resulting in more expensive repairs in the future.
The easiest way to keep repair costs on the lower side is to maintain your vehicle regularly—and luckily, there are several services you can perform yourself and save even more. With a bit of practice, a couple of tools, and guidance from a trusty car service manual, these are straightforward repairs you can learn to do and save money on labor charges.
1. Brake Pads
You need your brakes in optimal condition to ensure your safety and those around you. Leaving the pads to wear out and become too thin (less than 1/8 of an inch) can damage other parts of the braking system, like the rotors. Replacing the brake pads is a simple routine—you will need a ratchet, a jack, sockets, pliers, and a c-clamp.
To change the brake pads, remove the wheel and pivot the caliper to gain access to the pads—you should be able to easily remove them. The brake pad box comes with a small packet of grease. Apply this to the retaining clips to prevent squeaking. Doing this enables the new brakes to slide in the clips easily. Now, ensure you replace everything you removed and return the caliper to its initial position.
2. Replacing the Battery
Replacing a car battery is a necessary but straightforward procedure and ensures you are not left stranded with a car refusing to start. A battery should last between 4 to 6 years, but when in doubt, you can always use an inexpensive smart battery tester and check how it’s doing.
Depending on your vehicle, batteries cost between $75 and $300, but labor charges alone can quickly add to the bill at a repair shop. In most cases, all you need to replace a battery is a basic ratchet set or a 10mm wrench. Simply, remove the battery cables, put them aside, remove the battery. Install the new one, put back the cables, and voila!
3. Changing the oil
An oil change is also pretty easy to do, but you need to take necessary precautions. Please do not attempt this process until a couple of hours after stopping the car because the oil will be super hot and you risk burning your hands. And just in case, keep in mind that you also need to replace the oil filter when changing the oil.
First, make sure to purchase a quality oil filter and the best oil for your car—changing your oil more regularly makes no sense if you cheap out on replacement parts. If you aren’t sure of what type of oil you should use, check your service and repair manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation. Worth mentioning, if you aren’t sure of what you are doing here, you can also follow the replacement procedure found in a repair manual for cars like those sold by eManualOnline.
Then, locate your car’s drain plug, remove it, drain the used oil, and put the plug back. Find the oil filter, unscrew it and install a new one. Once done, all you need to do is to fill the engine back up with new oil.
4. Windshield Wipers
A clear windshield is crucial for safety, especially in bad weather. Damaged windshield wipers can quickly reduce visibility, yet are very easy to replace and quite affordable, costing only about $12 to $30 on average.
Of course, there are various kinds of windshield wipers designs and how to rake them out will vary slightly. Pin-types and Hook Slot connectors are straightwofrward to change; unfasten the pin or flap to remove the old blade, then slide the new blade in place. Straight-End connectors designs require a screwdriver for the replacement but it’s very similar.
When in doubt, you can find the exact replacement procedure for your specific vehicle in your owner’s manual (usually kept in the glove box).
5. Air Filter Replacement
The air filter prevents dirt from getting into the engine while the cabin air filter protects the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system and prevents pollen and dust to enter the vehicle.
A clogged engine filter can reduce fuel efficiency and lead to overheating in extreme cases. On the other hand, a dirty cabin filter isn’t as bad but while also reduces the efficiency of your car’s HVAC system.
To change the air filter, open the hood and locate the airbox. Unclip the top, take out the old filters, and slide in the new ones—it’s as simple as that.
In most cars, the cabin filter is located behind the glovebox. However, in some cases, it could be somewhere else. On a 2013-19 Nissan Versa, for instance, it’s located behind the center console instead—still, the replacement process is exactly the same. Remove the screws holding the cover, take out the old filter, and slide in the new one.
6. Light Bulbs
These are essential for clear vision while driving at night and for alerting other drivers. You also run the risk of incurring traffic tickets if they are not in proper working condition. Make sure to run regular checks on your vehicle to confirm that all lights actually do their jobs.
The average price of bulbs runs between $15 to $20, and you can easily replace them yourself. Of course, it’s almost impossible to describe the exact procedure here since every car is built differently. But as a general rule, you’ll only need to remove a plastic cover, either twist or pull to take the old bulb out and install the new one. If for any reason, such a procedure doesn’t work for your car, it might very well use a different attachment system. Porsche Cayenne for instance needs the whole headlight to be removed to access the bulb. Still, most cars are a lot simpler than that.
Performing these easy repairs will save you a ton of money, especially in labor costs. You will also learn a lot about cars and pick up handy skills in the process. And the skills mastered will then help you save even more later on. Preventive maintenance and repairs are the best way to prevent breakdowns that will inevitably take your vehicle to the mechanic.
And once again, when in doubt, never forget to refer to your car’s repair manual for the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines—you’ll thank me later!