Even if you find cars intimidating, you can handle these simple fixes and save a tonne of money.
Since cars are essentially tools to transport me from point A to point B and are frequently pricey and plagued by expensive problems, I have never been really interested in them.
Since I knew I wouldn’t be leaving without paying $2,000 and mechanics had a way of making me feel bad for not approving every offered repair, I had long been terrified by the prospect of taking my car to a mechanic. Therefore, I had to pick up a few skills on my own. In the process, I found that many simple auto maintenance tasks and repairs are surprisingly doable by anyone.
Even though I still don’t enjoy vehicles, I’ve grown comfortable working on mine when anything goes wrong. I also feel like a badass, and I’m a better consumer now that I know more. I’m no longer afraid of mechanics.
Prepare yourself to perform your own maintenance
Auto experts concur that everyone should learn how to do some basic maintenance and repair jobs. The majority of this maintenance is preventative, and you can use it to avoid a far more expensive problem.
You’ll need to know your VIN and precise car model to get started. Since this can be difficult when you delve into the details (Did I purchase the LTD? You may seek up any information you’re unsure of using the VIN, such as the number of cylinders your engine has.
When you need a part, enter your vehicle’s make and model on an auto parts retailer website like Auto zone, O’Reilly, or Napa Auto Parts. You will be informed of the part you require for your exact model of vehicle. Using that model, you’ll also hunt for videos that demonstrate how to carry out the required maintenance. (I can’t think of anything that has been more beneficial to Napa Auto Parts than the growth of YouTube.)
Basic tools like a cordless power drill with a basic bit set and socket set, a pair of wrenches, or a set of plastic tools that will help you pop off dashboard panels are likely to be necessary. Since you’ll be going to the store anyhow, it’s better to acquire everything you need at once than to buy tools for a repair you might never need to complete. In my experience, it’s best to wait until a repair is imminent before bothering getting components or tools for it.
The fact that you can frequently do the repair in the parking lot and that the staff may even have tools you can borrow to do so is another advantage of auto parts stores. On that point, did you know the personnel at your local auto parts store will come out and check any check engine light code for you? They are generally very helpful. You may pull up, ask them to come out, and they will plug in a tiny device called an ODB and tell you the fault code so you can look up how to fix it on your own for free. Even though they are unable to perform repairs for you, they are frequently competent and can offer you some advice.
You may take care of the upkeep and repairs yourself.
How to swap out your car’s headlights and taillights. This was my first independent repair. When I realized my backup lights weren’t very bright, my “car friend” (you probably have one too) encouraged me to just buy the brighter LED bulb he recommended and install it myself rather than taking it to the dealership or a repair facility. Later that year, when the mechanic’s shop I used to go to said they wouldn’t have time to “take apart my front end to install a hard to get to headlight,” I made the decision to heed my friend’s advice. I googled it and discovered a YouTube video that demonstrated how to do it exactly: Lay down, reach up, and screw a $4 light bulb in. saved cash? $128.
Talk about a huge reward—this fix is simple, cheap, and almost certain to be successful. Start by searching for “replace headlight” and your car’s model on Google. There should be a tone of videos; view a couple to make sure you know what you need, then utilize an auto parts website to get the proper bulb and equipment (if required).
determining the Tyre pressure. Tyre pressure that is too low or too high could be costing you valuable miles per gallon or, worse yet, endangering your safety while driving in the rain or snow. Make sure you are using the proper Tyre pressure for the type of Tyres on your car in order to prevent this from happening to you. The inside of your driver door panel is usually where you’ll find this information. You’ll be informed of the size of your Tyres as well as the recommended pressure.
You’ll need a tyre pressure gauge to check the pressure in your tyres. They are affordable, especially the nearly foolproof electronic ones available today. (Even though I’m not stupid, I prefer them.) So that you may easily access it while driving, keep the gauge in the pocket of either your driver or passenger door. If your tyre pressure is off, you can let some air out of the tyre or stop at a petrol station to add air till it is.
Get your own portable tyre gauge/inflator and keep it in your car—that’s the actual pro tip. In this manner, you can self-rescue if your car breaks down and you won’t even require a petrol station. To travel to a petrol station, you might be able to inflate far enough.
the best way to change your wiper blades. You might reside in a town where there are fewer than 364 days of rain each year, but I do not. My wiper blades are a crucial functional component of my vehicle, so when the Jiffy Lube mechanics changed my oil, I was dubious of how much they were charging me for them. Wiper blade prices range from about $30 to over $100 on the internet, and both are quite simple to install. Once a year is recommended, but you should replace your blades sooner if you see any wear.
How to check the oil in your car. The majority of us who drive older vehicles probably have an oil leak of some kind. We need a little extra oil in between oil changes because leaks are one of the most expensive remedies for a car, from diagnosis to resealing, and the majority of us cannot afford expensive repairs. The only way to determine whether and when you need additional oil is to learn how to check it yourself. To accomplish this, have some extra quarts of oil in the trunk of your car along with a shop towel or tissues to assist you.
Find the oil gauge in your car’s handbook, then completely remove it. After cleaning it, dip it once again into the oil tank. Now that you’ve removed it once more, you can clearly see the level. Simply top it off with the appropriate oil if it is low.
(Did you know that reputable franchises like Jiffy Lube will top you off without charging you in between visits? You can roll through and have them check you out as long as your vehicle is under the suggested mileage on your reminder sticker.)
a dead battery jump-started. When I first invested some jumper cables in my 40s, right before embarking on a lengthy road trip, it felt like an oddly significant investment. I had no idea how to operate them and could only pray that the other party—whether it was the car parked next to me in the parking lot or the automobile full of axe murderers I’d flag down on the freeway—would be familiar with how to handle things should I ever find myself with a dead battery.
However, getting the two automobiles close enough together for the cables to reach is actually the hardest aspect in jumpstarting a car. The longest cables I could afford would be purchased (if I could go back in time).
The following steps are straightforward. You should type them out on paper, laminate it, and then place it inside your car—possibly in the glovebox. Keep it close at hand in case you ever find yourself without wifi and with a dead battery.
Connect the red cord for a dead car.
• Lively Car: Attach the red cable. • Connect the black cable in the alive car. • Find a large enough unpainted metal area of the hood to clamp to. attach the black cable to the dead car, but do not attach it to the battery. • the Alive Car on. • Allow two minutes. atop the dead car. The vehicle should fire up immediately away. (If it doesn't, you can hold off a little longer, but your issues are definitely more serious.) • if your car is dead, cut the black cable. • Lively Car: Cut the black cord. • Disconnect the red cable, alive car. • Cut the red connection if your car is dead. • To recharge the battery, drive the formerly dead car for at least 15 minutes and leave it running for five minutes.
That’s it, but if you have the correct tools, you don’t even need a second automobile. Spend $100 on a portable jump starter if you enjoy going on solo adventures (camping, driving through the Catskills). That way, you’ll have the tools you need to get yourself out of trouble.
refueling your windscreen washer fluid. This is as simple as purchasing the fluid from your neighborhood auto parts store and consulting your manual* to identify the proper port under the hood. Pour it in with a funnel, replace the top, and that’s all there is to it.
How to inspect the air filter in your engine. It’s crucial to understand that you have a variety of air filters. Cars typically include a cabin air filter in addition to an engine air filter. At oil changes, they try to offer you these really expensive items.
The fact that the cabin air filter is typically found inside the automobile makes it less scary. Use your handbook to find it once more. You may buy filters in large quantities online or in your neighbourhood auto parts store. You should put it on your calendar and swap them out every six months. Don’t pay the markup for something you can easily address at your next oil change.
Contrary to everything else we’ve done so far, you might really need to remove some pieces to access your engine air filter, which is located under your hood. Usually, a cover or several clips are used to secure it to the engine. Don’t be scared; simply search for a YouTube video featuring your model on Google. This is possible outside of an auto parts store. Bring the old filter inside, locate the right one, and replace it. You could even go with a reusable filter that you would only need to clean occasionally.
Extending the Fundamentals
Both computers and mechanical components are present in modern autos. That implies that there will be more things to break, and many of those will cost money to fix. I looked into how difficult it would be to manage myself because the cost of fixing the seat heater/cooler in my ‘new’ used truck prompted me to do so. I then discovered that you can fix practically anything with a new part and a YouTube video.
I, a woman who for years had answered the question “what kind of car do you have” with “green,” have taken out the entire passenger seat, disconnected the old controller and harness, married each wire to its mate under the glovebox, sealed everything up, and driven home with an enormous grin on my face and an ice-cold butt. My do-it-yourself fix came to $83 in price. $1,800 was the lowest quote I received.
The A/C blower was another $500 job that I managed to complete last year for $38. Behind the glovebox was the A/C blower. Did you realize that the glovebox is removable?) I had to disassemble the dashboard last week to replace an A/C blend door actuator (again, Google is your buddy). The repair company demanded $400, but I fixed it myself for $40 and two hours.
The fact that my car has helped me save so much money is the real reason I’ve learnt so much about it. Even though I am confident I could do it myself, I still take it in for oil changes because I haven’t learned how and don’t really want to. And I don’t claim to be any kind of mechanic; my car just came back from the shop where they fixed a part that was too difficult for me to quickly Google and needed too many specialized tools that I don’t have. Not that becoming a full-time grease monkey is necessary to become a genuine driver; I just like to know that I can try to fix things myself and save money when I can.
Because of this, whenever the mechanic suggests a fix, I now Google it to see if it’s something I can do myself or to check the cost of the parts to determine whether I’m receiving a fair price. Simply by becoming a more savvy shopper, I have saved thousands of dollars.
A word regarding your car’s owner manual
Your vehicle is manual. That large object in the glovebox is it. If you purchased your vehicle used, it may have been misplaced before it reached you, but you can still purchase a replacement. I had never read the instructions until last year. like always.
I had to look in the handbook for the schematics since I needed to replace the backup light, and I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t just a dry book of charts. There was a tone of very helpful information in it. I was completely ignorant of the distinction between 4L and 4H, let alone how to switch my automobile to four-wheel drive.
I can discover, test, and replace a fuse if something goes wrong because the handbook tells me where every single fuse in my car is located (you’d be shocked how many problems can be fixed with a new fuse). The instruction manual provides detailed instructions for many tasks, thus I’m going to make a strong suggestion: Consult your handbook. Sit down and read the damn thing, please. You will learn a lot from it.