Things On Your Car You Can Fix Yourself
Owning a motor vehicle demands proper maintenances. To achieve this as the owner, you need to ensure it gets automotive services. These are services given by automotive service technicians involving the inspection, repairing, and automobiles’ maintenances. It also entails light trucks that use gasoline or fuels such as ethanol.
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Car maintenance and repair is a monthly expense that can really add up and go unnoticed. Regularly filling up your tank and getting an oil change are expenses that you likely keep track of in your monthly budget, but you probably overlook the price of ongoing maintenance costs. A vehicle requires regular maintenance over the course of its life and these costs can add up. The simplest solution to cutting down drastically on the price of car maintenance and auto repairs is to fix your own car. According to a recent survey, an estimated 77 percent of automobiles were in need of repairs and maintenance. With this guide and some simple tools and car parts you can purchase online, you can fix your own car without ever having to visit a mechanic.
This guide will include minor repairs and ways you can fix your own car at home. For all other major repairs, including replacing the suspension, transmission, or engine and cylinders, visit an auto repair shop that is equipped to handle these major repairs.
Buying Tools and Car Parts
Every make or model vehicle is different, but almost all cars have basic nuts and bolts, even vehicles made in foreign countries. You can make the most common repairs with just a few simple tools. You will need a torque wrench, adjustable wrench, pliers, ratchet and socket set, a flat head and Phillips head screwdriver, and a jack, which is generally included with your vehicle. When buying tools, opt for durable tools with hefty handles and a good grip. If you can make simple repairs around the home, such as a garage door, you probably have all the tools and skills you need to start making simple repairs to your car.
If you are replacing a part in your vehicle, you will need to buy it from an auto parts shop online. Simply enter your vehicle’s make, model, and year into a form on the site and then search for the specific part you need. If you do not know the name of the part, you should be able to find a number on the part itself. If you cannot find a number, head to a local parts shop and ask for some expert advice. Depending on the year, make, and model, every vehicle’s parts will be slightly different. Make sure you have all this information correct to ensure that you get the correct part that matches your vehicle. Once you receive your part, keep your receipt in case it does not fit your vehicle or something goes wrong.
Changing Brake Pads
Changing brake pads is a fairly inexpensive and simple procedure that specialty brake and auto repair shops will charge a few hundred dollars for. These shops will have you believe changing brake pads is difficult so they can make a lot of money off the simple procedure. In reality, replacing brake pads is a task you can do yourself, one that is also a lot easier than changing those old fashioned drum brake shoes. For this task, you will need a few basic wrenches, including a wheel lug wrench, pliers, a jack, and a set of jack stands. Never attempt to change brake pads or go under your car for any reason unless you have reliable jack stands. A jack on its own is not sufficient since it can fail.
A new set of brake pads cost approximately 20 to 40 dollars, depending on the material of the pad and your vehicle’s make, model, and year. The industry average for an auto repair or specialty brake shop to replace brake pads is 250 dollars per axle. The difference is about how much you can save if you fix your own car. To begin this procedure, remove the wheel and the hardware to gain access to the brake pads. Remove the worn pads by pulling them out. To install the new set, push in the caliper piston, insert the new brake pads, and reinstall the hardware.
Even if this is your first time installing new brake pads on all four wheels, the job should take no more than one hour. The newly installed brake pads should last anywhere between 30,000 to 50,000 miles. However, you should check your brake pads every 10,000 miles. When the thickness of the brake pad wears down to below 2 to 3 millimeters, that means it is time for another replacement. If your vehicle has old fashioned drum shoes, brake services will be able to replace them for you.
Changing the Battery
People will often head to their mechanic or auto repair shop when they need their car battery replaced. However, it may surprise you to know that replacing your car battery is one of the easiest ways you can fix your own car. Since car batteries generally last anywhere from four to six years, you should have a general idea of when your current battery will need to be replaced. If you are unsure how old your car battery is, the date is usually stamped on it. It is not recommended to wait until your car battery starts to cause issues to replace it. Since you could end up stranded on the side of the road with a dead battery, it is best to get out ahead and replace the battery before this happens.
The price of a new car battery costs an average of 80 dollars, although prices vary drastically based on your vehicle’s year, make, and model. Regardless of the price of the battery, many auto dealers charge customers over 200 dollars for a battery replacement, even though the task requires minimal labor and tools. For a car battery replacement, all you will need is a basic set of wrenches. The only safety precaution you need to take is to pay careful attention to the order in which you remove and replace the cables. The negative or black cable always needs to be removed first and once the new battery has been installed, the negative cable should be replaced last. If you fail to remove and replace the cables in this order, there is a good chance you will short circuit the red or positive terminal to a grounded part of your vehicle.
Changing the Oil
Your average auto maintenance shop will charge about 30 to 70 dollars to change the oil in your car, while others may charge at much as 90 to 100 dollars, especially if you have a high-end foreign vehicle. Some express oil change shops will advertise oil changes for 15 dollars or under, which is less than you would pay for the oil and filter. However, many hidden fees come with these express oil changes. That price usually guarantees only a set amount of oil, which may not be enough for an engine in a pickup truck or SUV. The oil also may be low grade as opposed to high-grade oils like full synthetic or even a synthetic blend.
Oftentimes, cheap oil changes offered by auto maintenance shops are sold at a loss to attract customers. Once they look under the hood to change the oil, they will try to find additional problems that they can fix, but do not necessarily need immediate attention. All of a sudden, a $15 oil change bill can become thousands in major auto repairs. If you find yourself in this situation, it is highly recommended that you seek a second or third opinion from auto mechanics that you trust.
The best way to avoid inflated or unnecessary oil change fees is to fix your own car. You can buy high-grade synthetic oil and a high-quality filter from a local retail or auto specialist store. You will also need a drain pan, an oil filter wrench, jack, and jack stands. These tools and equipment can be purchased once and last for decades. Changing the oil is slightly different for every car, so do your research before you attempt this task. There are a variety of videos and other resources online that will walk you through the oil changing process step by step in great detail.
While many older vehicles require an oil change every 3000 miles, cars today are designed to go about 10,000 miles in between oil changes. To be sure about how often you should be changing your vehicle’s oil, check the owner’s manual.
Changing Spark Plugs
Replacing your vehicles’ spark plugs is another one of the easiest ways you can fix your own car at home. However, since many cars today are manufactured with extended-life spark plugs that will last for about 100,000 miles, you will rarely have to perform this task, if ever. Although, you should err on the side of caution and check your spark plugs every 30,000 to 40,000 miles.
To change your car’s spark plugs, you will need a spark plug wrench in addition to your basic set of tools. A spark plug wrench usually costs under 10 dollars and will last a lifetime. There are many instructional videos and resources online that will explain how to change your car’s spark plugs. Auto maintenance shops can charge over 300 dollars for a spark plug replacement. Since spark plugs are often about 30 dollars a set, you can save massive amounts of money if you fix your own car at home.
Replacing a Tail Light or Headlight
Responsible car owners should regularly perform a quick inspection of their vehicle’s exterior. This involves walking around the vehicle and checking that all the lights are functioning properly. This simple task is crucial for safety since lights are necessary for providing clear vision and alerting other drivers. If you get caught with your lights not working, you can also incur a traffic ticket, or even worse, cause an accident. Therefore, you should do a walk around inspection about once a month. If you are in an accident because a headlight or tail light was not functioning properly, contact an auto accident attorney.
Any time you find that one or more of your vehicle’s lights are not working, you can easily purchase a replacement and fix your own car. Many repair shops will charge a minimum of 25 to 50 dollars per bulb they replace. When purchasing a replacement, use your old bulb as a reference to make sure you are getting the same model. Another important tip is to never touch the glass bulb with your bare skin. The natural oils on your skin can get on the glass and shorten the lifespan of the bulb. If you are in an auto accident because one of your vehicle’s lights was not working, contact insurance claim lawyers to help you with filing a claim.
Fixing a Chipped Windshield or Paint
Oftentimes, windshields are chipped by rocks and their owners think it is not that big of a deal and ignore it. However, a small chip on your windshield can spread and then cause you to have to replace the entire windshield. A chip or dent in the paint is not as big of a deal, but still an issue you may want to get fixed. Through a process known as paintless dent removal, dents can be removed from the body of your car without the use of paint. If your windshield is chipped, you can fix your own car by purchasing a windshield repair kit online for under 15 dollars. These kits come with a small pin for digging out any loose glass, a part that forms a seal around the chip, and a small device that applies resin into the chip. This simple process will take less than an hour.
If your paint has been chipped, you can fix your own car by doing the auto painting yourself. Begin by cleaning out the chip with water and soap, and then drying it with a soft cloth. Apply some auto polishing compound on the chip and gently rub it in. Next, clean the area with some denatured alcohol and a soft cloth. Finally, you can apply the primer. The best way to apply primer is with the butt end of a paper match. The last step is to apply the paint over the primer.
There is no need to visit a mechanic for every little repair your car needs. You can save hundreds to potentially thousands of dollars a year if you simply fix your own car. With this guide and a few tools you can buy online, you are well on your way to saving big money by doing your own auto repairs.
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