Do It Yourself Auto Repairs

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It is true that major problems with your car are definitely best left to professionals. However, “DIY” do it yourself auto repairs are surprisingly feasible for most jobs.  With some mechanical knowledge and basic hand tools, you can save a lot of money by working on your own vehicle.

Here are some simple do it yourself auto repairs with a few step by step instructions to get you started. Mind you, this isn’t the “deep end” of automotive knowledge, just a handy guide for quick fixes in between those trips to the shop:

Car Battery Replacement

An auto mechanic uses a multimeter voltmeter to check the voltage level in a car battery.

This one is easy… Can’t I just remove the old battery and replace with a new one? Yes, but hang on… Changing a battery is indeed a simple do it yourself auto repair but you must first make sure that your battery is the real culprit and exercise caution to avoid erasing the computer’s memory.

Alternator Problems

Isn’t this the easiest repair job ever?! Most cars have computer controlled alternators. This sometimes makes for a tough diagnosis. Click on the link above for do it yourself instructions on reparing alternators.

Spark Plug Replacement

Auto service. Set of new car spark plugs as spare part of auto transportation on brown.

Spark plug replacement has always been easy for anyone with basic DIY auto repair knowledge and experience. In the past, keeping track of all the spark plug wires and not getting them crossed was the hardest part. These days, spark plugs can be sometimes harder to replace because ignition components no longer have to be changed as often.

Tire Rotation

Just switch one tire with another, right? DIY mechanics need to know about rotating tires. Since so many cars are all wheel drive it is even more important that tires wear evenly. If they don’t then you can be doing damage to various parts of your drivetrain.

Brake Repair

Man repairing a brakes

This is a very common do-it-yourself auto repair that most car owners can perform. To help you carry out this DIY auto repair, I have written many indepth articles (complete with picture) on how to diagnose and fix brake problems.

Headlight Replacement

It amazes me how engineers can make this basic do-it-yourself auto repair job so hard. It used to be that anyone could replace headlights in a matter of minutes. Things are much different now. Many times you actually will need to refer to an auto repair manual to replace a headlight bulb.

Now remember, before attempting any do-it-yourself auto repairs, make sure you have a full set of hand tools, diagnostic equipment and a dependable auto repair manual (you can find these online or at your dealership. To troubleshoot, repair and maintain your vehicle, you’ll need diagnostic and repair information that is specific to your car or truck. ALLDATAdiy.com is a website  with full manuals for over 30,000 vehicles online, you will find an exact match for your vehicle’s year, make and model.

Besides being cheaper than a factory manual, they also offer step by step repair instructions and detailed diagrams beyond what is found in most printed manuals. Click here for a sample of their diagnostic and repair information.  Set aside time to read up, study and familiarize yourself with the steps for your DIY auto repair. The last thing you want to do is break something or replace a part that isn’t bad because you didn’t diagnose the problem correctly. Make sure that the repair that you’re attempting is within your skill level and experience. If it isn’t, turn to a friend with technical skills or a trusted auto repair shop.

Other simple repairs you can do include:

  • Oil change
  • Fluid check
  • Air filter replacement
  • Fuel filter replacement
  • Coolant flush
  • Windshield wiper replacement
  • Tire change
  • Interior detailing

Major Repairs – For Experienced Mechanics/Gearheads

Some drivers LOVE cars. Those that do will already be ahead of the curb when it comes to maintaining their car. In that case they may be ready for some more advanced methods of fixing up their car before taking it to the shop. Here are some of those:

Radiator Repair

If you think that do if yourself auto repairs for radiators merely involves simple soldering, then you need to stop and read this first. DIY radiator repair is not what it used to be! This would have been an easy job back when automotive manufacturers used all metal radiators , but times have changed. Most modern car radiators are made differently so you will have to update your repair methods as well.

Blown Head Gasket

While it can be done, repairing head gaskets is a very tough job and head gasket repair costs often add up to sizable figures. Whether you are going to repair it yourself (DIY auto repair) or take it to a mechanic, you want to be sure it is done right. This article will reveal what are the things to watch out for.

Airbag Repair

Airbag explodes on steering wheel

If you are good at DIY auto repairs, you might be able to repair your airbags… but I almost always recommend leaving this job to the experts. It is just not a good idea for most home mechanics because there are so many things that can go wrong. That said, I have put together a few safety tips for those attempting to do it themselves.

Air Conditioning Repair

Can’t I just get one of those refill kits from Walmart? That’s what my friend did! Often mislabelled as a do it yourself auto repair, most air conditioning problems have to be fixed by a professional. Unless you have an A/C machine, this job should be done by a mechanic or auto shop trained in A/C repair. Find out why in this article.

Other Major Auto Repairs:

  • Major engine repair
  • Alignments
  • Axle replacement
  • Wheel bearing replacement

Now there’s that old adage about no one knowing everything. In that case, while you won’t always have to resort to going to a shop and paying, if you still have any unresolved vehicle problems or questions you can ask an auto mechanic online. For expert answers specific to your vehicle’s make and model, I recommend a website like JustAnswerCar.com. This site has a large pool of certified mechanics to answer your questions for a small fee and you can also browse their answers to other users for free.

Sometimes it is actually cheaper to send your vehicle to an auto repair shop. For some jobs such replacing wheel bearings in certain vehicles, you will need specialized equipment to get the job done. It would take an auto technician just a few minutes to do, it would be impossible for you because you lack the required equipment (namely a shop press) to perform this auto repair yourself.

If you have a problem that you can’t figure out, it might be worthwhile to take your vehicle to a reputable auto repair shop. A skilled technician with years of experience will be able to diagnose any faults accurately, saving you time and money that might be otherwise wasted on incorrect self diagnosis and do it yourself auto repairs that do not address the problem.

Sue Rogers has been working and writing for automotive industry for seven plus years and is excited to share her knowledge and experience with you.