Thinking of repairing your own car? It's time to do more than think about it.
For a good chunk of car owners, the idea of popping the hood and seeing what's wrong is more intimidating than driving through a small-town speed trap. The biggest concern is a fear of messing up and ruining your car.
Most cars, though, are pretty sturdy. You might tinker with something and need a professional to fix it, but your vehicle isn't going to explode because you made a minor mistake while changing the oil.
Pay special attention if you're working near your car's gas line, since that could cause an explosion in certain circumstances. Otherwise, do your best and try to have a little fun with DIY car repair.
Read on for 10 car repairs you can do at home.
This is one of the most basic repairs imaginable. It's something every teenager should master when they first learn about cars. If that wasn't part of your driver's ed curriculum, it's not too late to figure it out.
You'll need a jack, lug wrench, and an inflated spare tire. Keep all those things in your car, since flat tires have poor manners and often strike when you're out on the road. A flashlight is also a good idea unless you're OK changing a tire at night with nothing more than your smartphone's built-in flashlight.
You can find detailed instructors in one of two places: your car's manual, or the Internet. Whichever source you use, make sure to apply the parking brake before you start. That will keep your car from rolling away mid-tire change.
Don't pay $50 (or more) at the quick change down the street. It might be convenient, but three or four of those changes a year can add up fast even if the employees there don't try to upsell you on other services.
It's a messy job, so be ready to hit the showers once you're done. Grab an oil pan, funnel, ratchet, and oil filter wrench. Make sure you can capably use a car jack, too, since you'll need to jack up your car and slide underneath it to change the oil.
Before you start, make sure there's a place nearby to recycle your car's old oil. Used motor oil has to be handled and disposed of a certain way, so you can't just throw it in the garbage.
This is a useful skill because every auto parts store will sell you a new battery to replace your dead one, but not every store will also agree to install it for you.
While you're at it, consider cleaning your car battery terminals, since the sulfate that build-ups is capable of corroding the battery.
A simple baking soda and water solution will work to clean the terminals, but make sure you buy a cheap battery terminal brush from a local auto parts store with a reliable supply chain.
If a rainstorm is coming and your windshield wipers aren't up to snuff, you can do it yourself in 15 or 20 minutes. The only tools you need are your hands.
The key is to look for a tab when you're removing the old wipers. You can press the tab to free the wipers, and if you get lost at any point in the process, there should be instructions on the package that came with your new wipers.
Bring your burnt out tail light to the auto parts store so an employee can help you find a replacement. Once that's done, all you need to do is go home and grab a screwdriver, plus maybe a pair of gloves.
Some car brands are known for tail lights that seem to burn out quickly, but luckily, you don't have to know much about how to fix a car to take care of it.
Use a screwdriver to unscrew the tail light housing, you'll need to either gently pull out the tail light housing or take off the outer cover. After that, remove the bulb holder, take out the old bulb, and replace it with a fresh one.
The guys down at your local oil change facility have likely offered to flush your radiator for you ... for $100 or so. Tell them "Thanks, but no thanks" and do it yourself for one-fourth the price.
Some car models require an annual flush, while others can get by with a flush every other year. Check your car's manual if you aren't sure what your car needs.
When you're done, make sure you take the old coolant to an approved facility for disposal. A little coolant can easily kill your dog or cat, and they'll drink it because it tastes sweet.
Rearview mirrors last a while, but older ones are more prone to loosening and even falling off if you hit a big bump or pull too hard on the work ID that you hang on your mirror.
This DIY auto repair is especially simple: Go to the auto parts store and buy a rearview mirror that comes with an installation kit. Then follow the directions.
An air filter seems more complicated than it really is. Once you pop the car's hood, all you need to do is find the filter, and you can look up your owner's manual if it's hiding.
Once you've located it, pop open the filter casing, make a note of how the old one fit, and then replace old with new.
Brake pads should be replaced every 60,000 kilometres or so, although you'll need to do it sooner if you live in an area with lots of traffic jams.
For this, you'll have to do things like jack up your car, break the wheel lugs, and remove brake calipers. If any of that sounds like too much, get a friend who knows about cars to assist you.
Failing spark plugs drag down your gas mileage and may even make it hard for you to start your car. If you buy a spark plug wrench, you can tackle the spark plugs yourself.
It's not one of those repairs you'll have to do every month or two, though. In fact, spark plugs can last as long as 160,000 kilometres.
Car repairs are a great way to stretch your comfort zone, but don't stretch it too far. If you feel unsafe or even just really confused, stop what you're doing and call a professional.
Speaking of professionals: Auto Chain has what it takes to help both buyers and suppliers find quality auto parts.
We believe locating DIY car repair parts should be a smooth, efficient process, so contact us today to find out what we can do for you.