10 Car Repairs You Should Be Able to Do Yourself
When your car breaks down, taking it to the shop is an expensive proposition. Not only are you paying for the parts, but you’re paying for labor too, which adds up quickly for big jobs. Luckily, there are plenty of simple car repairs that you can easily do yourself. Even if you’re just getting started, here are 10 car repairs you should absolutely be able to do yourself.
- Replace Your Drive Belt
Car repairs are easier than you think, you just need a little bit of knowledge and experience. A broken belt will leave you stranded, so you need to change it out quickly. Instead of paying to have your car towed and repaired, just break out your tools, pick up a new belt and follow the belt map on the sticker under your hood. If you have an older car, you might have to look it up, but all new cars have a belt map that’s easy to find.
- Replace Your Battery
No one likes getting stuck with a dead battery, and no one should find themselves in such a situation — especially when changing it is so simple. All you need is a socket wrench and a couple of sockets — and some upper body strength because those things are heavy! Always make sure you remove the negative terminal first, then the positive. Remove the battery hold-down, take out the dead battery, replace it with a new one and you’re done.
- Stop Coolant Leaks
Leaky coolant can make your car stink and cause your engine to overheat. Most coolant leaks are easy to fix once you find them — a small hole in a hose, a leaky head gasket or a cracked intake manifold can all cause these leaks.
Small leaks may be fixable with anti-freeze stop leak, but larger ones will require a part replacement to stop the leak. Even if you can’t replace the component yourself — head gaskets in particular can be tricky for amateur mechanics — it still gives you information that you can use to keep yourself from getting scammed by a less-than-honest mechanic.
- Oil Changes
Changing your oil is one of the most basic repairs you can make — and if we’re being honest, it should be something that you were taught in high school. It’s one of the simplest and most straightforward car repairs — all you have to do is jack up the car, pull the oil plug, drain the oil, replace the plug, replace the filter and fill her up, then you’re done.
- Filter Changes
Your car has a variety of different filters that need to be changed on a semi-regular basis. The easiest is the air filter — because it’s right on the top of your engine, you usually only need a screwdriver to change this filter.
Other filters to consider are the fuel filter, which requires a special tool, and the transmission filter if your car has an automatic transmission. These parts are simple to change and don’t require a lot of skill but can keep your car running smoothly without needing a trip to the shop.
- Change a Tire
AAA is expensive. Changing a tire can save you the cost of an AAA call or a tow to your nearest tire shop. Keep a good jack and a 4-way lug wrench in your car to make breaking the lug nuts loose a little bit easier. Make sure you break the nuts loose before you lift the car though — otherwise, you’ll just be spinning your wheels — literally!
- Replace Your O2 Sensors
Oxygen sensors are an integral part of your car’s exhaust, but they sometimes fail, just like every other sensor. They’re easy to replace though, so when your check engine light goes off, just pick up a new sensor and break out your open-ended box wrench. You can also pick up an O2 sensor socket — it has a slit in the side to accommodate the sensor’s wiring harness. Unplug the sensor, unscrew it from the exhaust, then reverse the process to install the new one.
- Change Your Headlights
Having blown out headlights can land you a pricy ticket, so it’s important to change these lights as soon as they go out. It’s really not that different from changing a lightbulb in your house. Remove the old bulb and replace it with the new one. The only thing you need to remember is to wear gloves — skin oils on the bulb glass can cause it to burn out faster.
- Replace Faulty Seatbelts
Seatbelts are required by law, so if you’ve got an older car with a faulty belt or one that’s worn to the point that it might fail during an accident, it’s time to replace it. Thankfully, these components are pretty easy to replace — all you need is a replacement part and a screwdriver to remove the old one.
- Replace Your Thermostat
After the radiator hoses, your thermostat is the most common failure point in your car’s cooling system. Thermostats are pretty easy to replace though — remove the bolts on the thermostat housing, clean both surfaces, remove the old thermostat and replace it with the new one. Then, slap on a new gasket and put everything back together. It’s a job that only takes the professionals 15 minutes or so.
Car repairs becomes easier once you get comfortable turning wrenches, the possibilities are endless. If you enjoy working on your car and get good at it, you could save yourself a ton of money in the long run.