Car repair is increasingly an arcane process, especially with modern cars. Advances in technology have made cars safer, more fuel efficient, and more comfortable, but this has come at a cost. Cars made after 2000 are increasingly reliant on specialized tools, computer diagnostics, and dealer-only parts that make self repair difficult.
Even with all these drawbacks, however, simple car repairs are still easy enough to handle on your own. Before we go into how one should repair their own vehicle, though, it's worth looking over the reasons why to do so.
Why repair your automobile yourself?
- So you don't have to pay a mechanic for labor. Mechanics often charge high base rates for even simple repair tasks, such as changing motor oil and filters, replacing brakes, or fitting new spark plug wires and radiator hoses. There is no reason why anyone should pay $30 dollars to do what would take you 10 minutes to handle yourself.
- You can often get the job done before a mechanic could,yet devote your whole attention to the job at hand. Mechanics, especially in high traffic shops, are in a hurry to get things done on several cars. Yet at the same time, the simpler the task, the longer they end up taking to do it. When you consider the time spent driving to find a mechanic, waiting for them to get to your car, and the time spent paying them and going on your way, you will end up saving both money and time if you simply handle it yourself.
- If you're paranoid about someone else doing a poor job, you can do it right yourself. Many mechanics, stressed and under pressure, can make mistakes -- leaving a lug nut off the tire they changed, or not putting the bolt back in the oil pan, or crossing your wires on your battery and shorting your computer out. If your vehicle is your only mode of transportation, a mechanic's mess up could be costly indeed. Fixing it yourself ensures no simply "absentminded" mistakes will be made.
- It's an excellent chance to learn more about your automobile. In a day and age where mechanics can often charge you for things that didn't need repairing in the first place, knowing how to do simple repair tasks can be useful. And if you are stuck on the road somewhere with a broken fan belt, it's a lot easier to fix it yourself than get towed.
- You could damage your auto, especially if you don't know what you're doing
- You could injure or kill yourself if you don't take the proper safety precautions
- You could void your manufacturer's warranty
- If your vehicle has Airbags do NOT work on electrical faults unless you definitely know what you are doing. They are extremely powerful devices that can cause fatal injury and extensive damage to your cars interior.
- If your vehicles air bags have deployed then consult your vehicle testing authority, As ECUs, Airbags, Collapsible steering column and impact sensors may have to all be replaced to safely restore the reliability or the airbag system
- Always transport airbags with front face facing away from personal and objects. Lay the airbag facing up so if accidental deployment occurred risk will be minimized.
Safety tips (for you)
- When using a jack, only use it to lift. Use a jack stand or wooden blocks to hold the auto for any extended period of time.
- When working under the auto, especially if you're working on the drive train or a manual transmission vehicle, put blocks behind the tires so the auto doesn't roll over you.
- If you're working with something heavy like a transmission, use a jack or motorcycle tie downs or something similar to prevent dropping it on yourself.
- If you're doing anything with the electrical system, especially if you aren't sure, disconnect the battery.
- Wear safety glasses or goggles!
- Be aware of any potential dangers and do whatever you can to eliminate them
- Dispose of any fluids that come out in a suitable manner. Antifreeze is the big hazard here, but oils can make quite a mess and get into the groundwater supply if you aren't careful.
Safety tips (for your auto)
- Don't start a job unless you're confident that you can finish it properly or at least put everything back together properly to get the auto to someone who can
- Don't be afraid to improvise; some jobs require very strange tools that you may not have access to, but don't cut corners and don't do anything that could damage an otherwise intact part or your auto, because if it can, it probably will
- Don't over-tighten anything. Most jobs don't REQUIRE a torque wrench, but if you're concerned, use one.
- If you come across an especially tight bolt or nut, lubricate it rather than breaking the thing off and smashing your knuckles on something hard
- Always check for leaks and any other sign of a problem after finishing a job
- Again, if you're not sure what you're doing, read up on it, talk to someone who knows what they're doing, or have someone else do it.
- In the UK and some other countries there is a Haynes or other workshop manual for the car: if you intend to do a lot of maintenance it will pay for itself in saved bills.