truck repair

What Car and Truck Repair You Should and Shouldn’t DIY

Have you ever paid a fortune to have a mechanic fix an issue that you probably could have handled on your own? Or, have you ever tried to fix your car or truck by yourself and ended up making things worse?

When it comes to problems with your car or truck, there are some things that can easily be taken care of at home. There are also some issues that only a professional should address.

Not sure how to tell the difference? That’s where we come in!

Read on to learn which car and truck repair projects you can handle on your own and which ones you should let an expert handle.

Repairs You Can Do Yourself

Listed below are some common car and truck repair issues that most owners can fix on their own.

Flat Tire

If you notice your car is tilting or hear a loud thumping noise while driving, that’s usually a sign that you’ve got a flat tire.

It can be intimidating the first time you try to replace a flat tire. But, it’s actually a pretty straightforward process.

  • Once you’ve located your spare tire, loosen the lug nuts and put the jack underneath your car
  • Raise your flat about six inches above the ground
  • Remove your lug nuts and take the flat away from the hub
  • Push the spare into place
  • Replace the lug nuts and use your hands to tighten them
  • Lower the jack and remove it when the spare reaches the ground
  • Use a wrench to tighten the lug nuts all the way

That’s it! Just give the spare a quick pressure test before you head back out on the road and you’ll be good to go.

Dead Battery

Whether you drive a Toyota Prius or a Jeep Cherokee, you should be able to change your battery on your own.

When your car won’t start, the battery is often to blame. Use a battery tester or charger to double check.

If your battery is indeed the problem, start by cleaning corrosion off the battery with a metal brush. Then, unbolt the negative terminal, followed by the positive one.

After that, you just have to put the new battery in place. Reconnect the positive terminal first, then the negative one.

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Faulty Spark Plugs

If you’re experiencing difficult starts or rough idles, you spark plugs may be the problem.

To replace your spark plugs, simply remove the covers, unscrew them, and then screw in new, clean ones.

Some people need to have a professional replace their spark plugs because their engine is too far back and they can’t reach it easily. But, most drivers can take care of this issue on their own.

Dead Alternator

If your car won’t turn over or the lights inside don’t come on, you may have a dead alternator.

To replace your car’s alternator, start by disconnecting the battery and the wires at the back of the alternator. Then, remove the serpentine belt from the pully, followed by the bolts that hold the alternator in place.

After this, simply reverse the process to replace the old alternator with the new one.

Repairs You Should Leave to the Pros

As you can see, there are plenty of simple repairs that you can handle on your own.

However, there are also some issues that should be dealt with by a professional.

Don’t try to take on issues outside of your wheelhouse just to save some cash. If you’re really in a bind money-wise, you may be able to find used truck parts or car parts to help offset some of the costs.

Remember, too, that you’ll probably end up spending more money if you try to handle a car or truck repair you’re not ready for.

Transmission Repair

Your car’s transmission contains thousands of small parts, and it’s easy to screw things up if you try to tackle it on your own.

Common signs that you’re experiencing transmission issues include:

  • Car refusing to go into gear
  • A burning smell
  • Gears slipping
  • Leaking fluid
  • Your check engine light comes on

If you need anything repaired, replaced, or cleaned, it’s also best to seek out a highly skilled mechanic.

Don’t just trust your transmission to anyone. An improper cleaning could cause serious damage that will require an expensive, time-consuming repair job.

Brake Issues

Your car or truck’s brake system is also very complicated, with a ton of wearable parts.

Related Reading:  Recommended Maintenance

If you notice screeching, grinding, or vibrations when you use your breaks, it’s time to take your car to a mechanic.

Brake issues are some of the most common repairs mechanics have to deal with.

Luckily, though, brake repair is usually quite affordable. It also, generally speaking, doesn’t take a ton of time.

Because of this, it’s recommended that you simply let a professional handle any replacements or repairs, rather than trying to take them on yourself.

Suspension System Problems

Working with the suspension system is another aspect of car or truck repair that can easily go wrong when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.

The suspension system contains a variety of small, working parts that are hard to keep straight. You need access to special equipment for these kinds of repairs.

Unless you’re highly skilled and want to pay for expensive equipment like a hoise and wheel-alignment rack, it’s best to leave suspension issues to the pros.

You’ll most likely end up saving money this way, too, since suspension repairs usually don’t come with very high labor costs.


When your engine overheats, you need a qualified mechanic to take a look and figure out what the cause is.

Your vehicle’s cooling-system is complicated, to say the least. Not only are there a lot of parts involved, but many of these parts are hard to access without dismantling a variety of pieces under the hood.

You can cause a lot of expensive damage if you try to take the cooling system on by yourself. Unless you’ve got thousands of dollars to spare and are feeling particularly adventurous, you should just take your overheated car to a mechanic.

Want More Car and Truck Repair Information?

What’s the verdict for your car or truck repair situation? Do you need to see a mechanic, or is it an issue you can handle on your own?

If you’re going to go the DIY route but could use a little extra help, check out our library of free service repair manuals today. We have all the information you need to fix any type of car!