Which Car Repairs Should You Do Yourself (DIY)?
Posted on May 19, 2022
It's a fact that we cannot function efficiently in today's world without cars. But it's also true that they will inevitably break down and drop in performance. Even worse, some of these problems can come out of the blue and leave you stranded on the road.
That's why you need to familiarize yourself with car maintenance tips or car repair tips, because you may not have access to an auto parts store all the time. Of course, you can do some car service tasks yourself, but there are also many tasks that you should leave to experts.
If you are having trouble separating these two, keep reading.
Car Repairs You Should Not Do Yourself
There are many car repair tasks that you cannot and should not do, including:
1. Repairing or Recharging an AC
Contrary to what most people think, air conditioning systems are highly complicated, and their working mechanism deserves more attention. Since the AC contains chemicals, you should not try to repair or recharge it yourself. There’s a chance that chemicals will be released or the fan will break.
2. Mounting/Balancing Tires
Changing flat tires is a routine task that you can do on your own. But when it comes to mounting or balancing tires, you need to visit an auto service center. Why? Because there’s a good chance that you may not have the tools to do the job as it requires specialized tools to perform tasks such as mounting/balancing tires. Plus, many of them don’t come cheap and it may not be economically wise to incur all of that cost for this expense. If you don’t have the expertise, it may be better to let someone else handle it. You need to rotate tires from time to time so that they wear evenly and you are not forced to replace a tire earlier than the others.
3. Transmission Repairs
The transmission system consists of thousands of complex parts and plays a crucial role. Because of its complexity, you cannot rely on an ordinary mechanic to repair it. Transmission repairs may seem simple, but they are actually a highly specialized procedure.
Important Car Maintenance for Professionals
As a daily driver, you need to understand different car maintenance tips. Here are some important car maintenance jobs to consider:
1. Check Your Battery's Charge
A dead battery can leave you on the road. It can appear out of nowhere with no sign of wear and tear. Although many batteries should last for up to five or six years, it's not uncommon for batteries to last only two years before they need recharging. When changing the oil, keep an eye on the battery voltage and replace the battery if you notice a significant drop.
2. Replace Your Air Filter
The engine air filter is responsible for removing impurities pumped into the engine. The engine air filter becomes clogged with dirt particles during driving and must then be changed.
We recommend switching your air filter every 20,000 Kilometers or once a year, but you should change it sooner if you regularly drive in dusty or polluted areas. When changing the oil, you should also check the air filter.
3. Check Your Brakes
To increase the durability of the brake system and for your own safety, keep a close eye on your brake system (oil, pads, booster, pump). If the vehicle is more than six years old, you should change the rubber brake lines for smoother driving. If the brake system is efficient, your car will look younger and last longer.
Car Repairs You CAN Do Yourself (DIY)
There are regular car maintenance tasks that you can do on your own in simple a,b,c steps. Here are some car repair tips.
1. Change Tires
You can get a flat tire anytime, anywhere. You need to learn how to change tires because it will cost you nothing (except the new tire itself), and you'll probably end up in places where you don't have access to a service center.
2. Check and Refill All Fluid Levels
You can easily check fluids such as oil and coolants on your own. You need to monitor the following fluids and change the low ones:
- Engine oil
- Differential oil
- Power steering and transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Windshield washer fluid
It's better to write down their levels, fill in the low ones and check them after several weeks. If they are still low, you should visit a service center and have your car checked for leakage.
3. Headlight/Tail Light Bulbs
Headlight and taillight bulbs are crucial for driving safely at night and signaling to other drivers on the road. If these lights stop working, you are required to replace them in most provinces and states. Otherwise, you'll get a ticket. If the casing or wiring is not damaged, you can replace them with a wrench or screwdriver.
What Are the Basic Car Care Tips and Maintenance for Beginners?
Even if you're a novice driver, you still can take care of many things. Here are some simple car maintenance tips.
1. Clean the Windshield
Even though car windshield repair is usually a task for experts, there is no reason why a beginner cannot clean the windshield. A dirty windshield can obstruct your vision and pose a safety hazard on the road. Spend 5 minutes at the gas station to clean your windshield with a squeegee or at home you can use a washcloth or paper towels for the interior and exterior. You’ll be surprised at how dirty the interior can get - a good glass cleaner can remove that haze.
2. Check Tire Pressure and Treads
Improperly inflated tires increase the likelihood of a blowout and affect engine efficiency. Check your tire pressure regularly to detect problems early.
Since tires rarely wear evenly on all sides, it is also vital to inspect tires for damage or cracks and rotate them according to the instructions in the owner's manual. The penny test is an effective way to determine if you need new tires.
3. Check the Service Date
Generally, a car service is recommended every 6,000 to 10,000 Kilometers or every six months to once a year, whichever comes first, depending on a number of parameters such as engine oil type, mileage, weather conditions, etc. Since every vehicle is different, check the owner's manual.
4. Check the Horn
Who doesn't enjoy blowing their horn? It is essential to check that your car horn is working and can be heard clearly if you need to warn other drivers or people on the sidewalk of certain dangers.
5. Check the Exhaust
Turn the key in a well-ventilated area to look for leakage and listen for strange noises or smoke.
DIY Car Repair Tips
Besides maintenance, there are many car repair tasks a driver can do independently. Here are some car repair tips to help you.
Replacing a Dead Car Battery
Check the owner's manual that came with your car to ensure that you follow any safety precautions that the manufacturer advises. If you're leery of taking on a task involving an electric charge, then it might be a good idea to leave this one to the professionals. There's no question that it could be dangerous if not done properly. If there are any cracks, or bad corrosion there could be battery acid leakage which can burn you. Plus, the battery can also still produce a charge even if the car is off, so it's extremely important that you do not allow anything metal touch both battery posts at the same time, or touch the positive terminal and the body or fender at the same time. This can produce an electric charge. And remember, always disconnect the negative first, then the positive, and when reconnecting always do it in the reverse order - connect the positive and then the negative.
To replace a dead battery you'll need wrenches, corrosion removal fluid or baking soda, anti-corrosion grease and rags. Before working on the battery, put on hand gloves, safety glasses, and proper clothing. With the engine off, unscrew the negative terminal marked (-) and coloured either black or green. Twist it tightly to loosen the corrosive hold on the post and use the terminal puller to disconnect the terminal. Then do the same with the positive terminal, labeled (+) and coloured red.
The battery will be secured in place so you'll need to find the clamp that is holding it there and remove them. Be sure to keep them in a safe place so they don't get misplaced. Lift out the battery carefully and check the terminals to see if there is corrosion. If there is some there, clean the connections and terminals with a stout wire brush or if you don't have one, a toothbrush. Keep in mind that the cleaner your posts and clamps are, the better connection your battery will have. Some do-it-yourselfers suggest using a baking soda cleaning solution (a very small amount of water added to baking soda) for a little extra scrubbing power.
When that's done, place your new battery in position and secure it in place being sure to line it up with the positive and negative terminals. You may want to get some anti-corrosion grease available at car shops which can help with the connection This is applied to the positive post first. Tighten the connector and then repeat the process with the negative post, but do follow the instructions on the product.
If you have some sort of electrical issue, like headlights that won't go on, a turn signal that doesn't work anymore or not being able to turn on the radio, it could be due to a blown fuse. Check the manual to see where the fuse box is located and find out which one is blown. It will have a broken filament or look black inside. Using your manual to determine the proper amperage for a replacement, purchase and replace the blown fuse. Fuses can be made of ceramic, glass tubes, or blades. If it blows again, there is likely a more serious issue that needs to be addressed at your service centre.
How Much of Your Own Car Maintenance Do You Do?
It's not impossible to perform car maintenance by yourself, but car maintenance experts certainly achieve better results in terms of safety and quality. Changing brake fluid, pads and discs require complete care and precision, especially in modern cars with high fuel pressure. If you don't have total confidence in your ability, it's better to hire an expert.
Is Car Maintenance the Same as Repair?
No, they are quite different. Maintenance is an ongoing approach to prevent your car from needing repair. Unlike repair, which is done only when required, maintenance is something you should do all the time.
For example, you need to check and change the engine oil regularly because you don't want the engine to become vulnerable. That's maintenance. If you forget to do that, the engine will probably break down.
Why Is Maintenance Better Than Repair?
You've undoubtedly heard that prevention is better than the cure. That is what happens with maintenance (prevention) and repair (cure).
One of the main benefits of regular maintenance is that you can continuously monitor the condition of your car and keep everything under control. When you identify and fix problems regularly, you reduce the likelihood of performance degradation.
And because maintenance allows you to detect issues early, they won't go unnoticed and turn into a significant, costly problem that can only be solved by experts, for example car glass repair, car rust repair, or car paint scratch repair.
While doing some car maintenance tasks is beneficial and even necessary, there are certain things that you don't have the expertise or equipment for. That's why you need access to a reliable auto service center to keep your running at peak performance.
Owen Pham has nine years of experience writing content related to technology, finance, and marketing. He is based in London and holds a Master’s degree in strategic marketing as well as certifications in content writing.