Car and Truck Repairs You Can Do Yourself
Auto repairs getting you down? Don’t worry – many of the things that go wrong with cars are actually simple fixes. If you can hold a wrench, you can become a DIY auto mechanic, regardless of your technical skill.
So how can you tackle car trouble yourself? Here’s seven common fixes:
- Repair the Panels When Rusted
photo: travel with kevin and ruth
What to watch for: Rust is a coating of iron oxide that forms when metal corrodes. The coating is easy to spot, especially if it has worn a hole in your car’s metal. A car’s panels and frame can be weakened by the presence of rust, but you can easily purchase and replace new ones.
Tools you’ll need: Sander, grinder, sandpaper, primer, paint, face protection
See also: How to remove rust from a car
- Replacing the Battery and Alternator
What to watch for: When your car won’t start and the accessories won’t turn on, you can blame it on your battery or alternator. Before replacing them, though, make sure they’re fully dead by testing them with a multimeter. If the multimeter doesn’t show enough power for either one, they will need to be replaced. You can locate each by consulting your car’s manual. Be sure to read through the instructions carefully — messing with batteries and electricity can be dangerous.
Tools you’ll need: Socket wrench set, wrenches, screwdriver, multimeter
See also: How to replace a battery and How to replace an alternator
What to watch for: Changing a light bulb has become a bit more challenging, thanks to the modern shapes of sealed-beam headlights. Luckily, on most cars, it’s pretty easy to access the bulbs. If your headlights won’t turn on, it’s probably the bulb. Replacing one is as simple as lifting up the hood and looking at the back of the headlight to find out what bulb you need. While older vehicles may require more steps, the process is virtually the same.
Tools you’ll need: new bulb, screwdriver
See also: How to replace a headlight bulb
What to watch for: Brake pads must always be kept in top condition to prevent accidents. The brake pads stop the car by applying friction. Brake pads have a built-in warning system that makes a squealing noise when the pad wears down. If your breaks are making a squealing noise, they need to be replaced. If they’re grinding, however, that means the rotor needs replacing and you should take it to a shop.
Tools you’ll need: lug and Allen wrenches, c-clamp, lug wrench, car jack, hammer
See also: How to replace brake pads
What to watch for: You’ll know when something has punctured your tire when you’re driving – your steering may feel heavier, the wheel may shudder or your car might swerve violently to the left or the right. A tire plug is a simple short-term solution that will buy you some time, should the tire need to be replaced.
Tools you’ll need: A tire plug repair kit from an auto parts store
See also: How to plug a tire
What to watch for: If your windshield wiper blades seem like they’re scraping across your windshield rather than wiping, the rubber on the blades has worn down. It is unsafe to drive with ineffective wiper blades. Changing the blades is quick and easy – it just involves sliding the old blade out and sliding the new one in.
Tools you’ll need: New windshield wiper blade
See also: How to change a windshield wiper blade
What to watch for: Spark plugs are located inside the engine. They ignite the gas and air mixture that starts the engine. Signs of a dead spark plug include trouble starting the car, a rough idle, reduced gas mileage or failing an emissions test.
Tools you’ll need: three-eighths inch socket wrenches, ratchet extensions, new spark plug
See also: How to change a spark plug
With a little know-how, it’s possible to make these car repairs on your own and save yourself – and your wallet – from making a trip to the mechanic.