Many car repairs are complicated and expensive. When something goes wrong with your car, it can be a helpless feeling. Most of us understand very little about how cars work or how to take care of them beyond checking the tire pressure.
Believe it or not, there are certain car maintenance tasks that are simple to perform. Learning to do these tasks yourself save you money while also providing you with a great sense of accomplishment. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Simple Car Maintenance Tasks You Should Be Doing Yourself
There are some car maintenance tasks that you can do yourself instead of going to the mechanic. Here’s a list of the most basic tasks that anyone can do, thus saving you a lot of money in the long run.
1. Learn How to Replace a Worn or Broken Belt
Your car engine has several belts that keep it running. These include the serpentine belt, fan belt, and the alternator belt. The timing belt loops through a series of pulleys and keeps everything synced up.
The fan belt operates the fan to cool the engine, and the alternator belt keeps the battery charged.
When any of these belts wears down or breaks, your car won’t run. The serpentine belt is the most complicated of the belts to learn to replace, but learning to do the job yourself could save you thousands of dollars.
2. Learn To Replace An Alternator
As your car runs, the alternator keeps your battery charged. When the alternator belt breaks or the alternator goes out, your battery will no longer hold a charge and goes bad.
Believe it or not, replacing the alternator is a simple task in most cars. This repair requires only a couple of wrenches, or a socket set, and takes under an hour.
3. Learn to Replace Brake Pads
Brake pads are one of the most important safety features of your car. The quality and condition of your brake pads determine how quickly and smoothly your car can stop when you need it to.
Worn brake pads are a safety hazard. They will make a grinding sound and won’t respond when you apply the brakes. Replacing them isn’t the simplest car repair, but with a few tools, a little patience, and basic mechanical skills, changing your own brakes can save you several hundred dollars.
4. Learn to Fix Coolant Leaks
Have you ever noticed pools of green or yellow liquid on the ground beneath your car? This is a coolant leak. Coolant is the liquid that circulates from your radiator through your engine to keep your engine cool while running.
When coolant leaks occur, the engine will overheat and can cause even bigger problems. Typically these leaks occur due to a cracked or busted hose, or from a crack in the radiator. Replacing a hose is another repair that is easy to do yourself. Costs are usually limited to a few inexpensive hoses and the cost of refilling your radiator with new coolant.
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5. Learn to Replace Filters
Your car has three major filters.
The fuel filter does as the name implies, filtering dust and other small debris out of the fuel line so it doesn’t damage the engine. The air filter keeps dirt and dust out of the engine as the engine sucks in air. Like the other two, the oil filter keeps the engine clean by filtering the oil.
Depending on the make and model of your car, replacing the various filters can sometimes be challenging. There are special tools available for removing and installing these filters to make the job easier.
6. Learn to Replace Spark Plugs
One of the keys factors for keeping your engining running smoothly is the condition of your spark plugs and wires.
Spark plugs can get dirty or break, and when this happens you will feel a noticeable loss of power. Cleaning your plugs or replacing them is a simple chore. It requires a special attachment for your ratchet, and replacing spark plugs shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes for each.
7. Learn to Change Your Oil
Changing your oil is a simple enough task. The only expenses involved are the price of a few quarts of oil and a new oil filter.
You’ll need to place a bucket or empty milk jog beneath the oil plug under your car to catch the old oil as it drains out. Then replace the plug and refill the engine with new oil. This isn’t complicated, and shouldn’t take more than half an hour to complete, beginning to end.
8. Learn to Replace Your Distributor Cap and Rotor
The distributor cap is the engine part that distributes voltage from a coil to the correct engine cylinder. This process enables your car to start. The repair is a simple process, and we recommend that you go ahead and replace your spark plugs while you’re at it.
Getting Comfortable Under the Hood
For many people, car repairs are a mystery. The minute something doesn’t run correctly, we freak out and run to a garage for an expensive repair. Most basic car maintenance tasks are simpler than you might expect. These simple car fixes will give you a feeling of empowerment.
Not everyone gets excited about doing car repairs themselves, but the more DIY car repairs you become familiar with, the less likely you are to panic when something goes wrong.
Remember, mechanics generally get paid by the hour. Keep this in mind the next time you are considering dropping your car off for a simple repair that you could do quickly, for the price of a few cheap parts.
Check out our selection of car repair manuals to learn more about your vehicle and save money on repairs.