Cars guzzle two things: gas and your money. If you’re unlucky, there will always be something wrong with your vehicle that requires a trip to the mechanic and a hit on your wallet.
It’s bad enough when there’s something seriously wrong with your car, but it’s far worse when you’re being overcharged by a mechanic to fix a simple problem that you could easily take care of by yourself.
There are actually more car problems that anyone can fix than you’d think. The issue ultimately stems from confidence – you might think the problem is minor but may be scared to fix it yourself. If you can roll up your sleeves and summon the courage to tackle your own car maintenance and repair tasks, however, you can save time and, more importantly, money.
Here are 6 common car problems anyone can tackle.
Replacing The Air Filter
There are few maintenance tasks within a car that are as easy as replacing the air filter, which is the piece that prevents dirt and other particles from the outside getting into the engine system and damaging it. Air filters should be checked at the same time as the oil (i.e. on a regular basis, every few thousand miles).
If the air filter does need to be changed, it’s usually just a case of opening the lid that keeps it in place (sometimes using a screwdriver), lifting it out and putting the new one in.
Fixing Coolant Leaks
Coolant leaks in the vehicle’s engine can be extremely problematic if they are left untended-to, sometimes meaning that the entire engine needs to be replaced – this can often be more expensive than it’s worth, leading to the scrapping of the car.
Sealing solutions are often the easiest way to fix a coolant leak as they simply require the solution to be poured into the coolant system to do its work. As long as you pour the solution into the right part of the engine, there should be no need to call in the professionals.
Changing The Headlight Bulbs
One of the legal requirements of driving at night or in murky conditions is that you have working headlights on the front and back of the car. Not only is it a safety issue but you’ll be pulled over by the police constantly and may be ticketed.
In practice, changing the headlight bulbs when they fail is no more difficult than changing a normal lightbulb – the tricky bit is detaching and reattaching the headlight assembly.
A lot of the time, you may not even need tools for this job, though it depends which bulbs are being replaced. Most bulbs are screwed into place or attached by clamps and wires and the front headlights can be accessed under the vehicle’s bonnet. Make sure you buy the right sort of bulb – they’re not all the same.
Replacing The Battery
You wake up one morning before going to work and your car is dead. You turn the ignition and… nothing. The most common culprit is a dead battery. But don’t go scheduling an appointment with the mechanic just yet. You can do this one on your own.
Head over to O’Reilly’s, Walmart or any nearby place that sells car batteries. You’re looking at spending anywhere from $50-$100 for a new one.
The main challenge here is to remove and replace the positive and negative cables in the right order. If your vehicle has negative ground (check your manual), the negative battery cable must be removed first and replaced last. If it has positive ground, the positive cable must be removed first and replaced last.
Make sure you wear safety gloves and goggles, as you may come into contact with battery acid which is extremely corrosive.
Remember to dispose of the old battery responsibly. Some places will give you a discount on your new battery if you give them your old one. Otherwise, you can take it to a recycling center to be properly disposed of.
If you can successfully replace a car battery on your own, you should be able to move on to more complicated repairs.
Fixing A Leaky Sunroof
When a sunroof begins to leak, the issue is usually a drain tube that has become clogged with debris, meaning that water has nowhere to go and makes its escape into the interior of the vehicle. The tubes need to be cleared and this should fix the problem.
You can get to the insides of the drain tubes via the holes in the front corner of the sunroof – if you can, try and vacuum the blockage out rather than poking wire up the tubes or using compressed air, as you could create a hole or disconnect the tubes from the sunroof and have to replace the whole draining system. If you do have to use a wire, do so carefully.
Replacing The Thermostat
A faulty thermostat, which regulates the temperature of the engine, can lead to issues with the car’s performance – for instance, if it sticks in an open position, the car won’t be able to warm up properly, and if it sticks in a closed position then the engine will overheat. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to replace when needed.
You’ll need to locate the thermostat to begin with. In most cars it’s where either the top or bottom radiator hose connects to the engine. From there, the most difficult bits of the job involves loosening a clamp and replacing the coolant that you’ll lose during the process.
Remember to follow your vehicle service manual and thoroughly research the issue so you know what you have to do every step of the way.
Have you ever fixed anything car-related on your own to save money?