Given that the average car repair now costs around $500, you need to think before you bring your car to the repair shop. Since more of the small issues could be fixed by doing some car repair at home, save yourself the cost of your monthly car payment or rent by going DIY.
Here are four repairs you should handle on your own rather than going into the shop for.
1. Change Your Battery
While many people feel like they’re not qualified to fix their vehicles, most of that feeling is self-imposed. Cars and vehicles of all kinds are designed with many simple repairs left easy to accomplish. The way that things are colored, labeled, and clip on and off means that auto companies want you to feel empowered to fix your own vehicle.
Taking your car into the shop to fix your battery is usually an unnecessary expense. Like a slightly more high stakes version of swapping the batteries in your TV remote, this is manageable by most car owners.
Car batteries last for around 5 years or more, so if you haven’t changed your battery on your 5-year-old used car, it’s about time to do it. Most batteries have a date stamped on them, so take a look if you’re not sure. If your battery is covered with corrosion covering the date, that’s a pretty surefire sign that it’s time to replace it.
Most batteries run around $75, so when a dealer or a shop charges you $200 to replace it, you’re paying a lot for labor.
Basic wrenches help you to do this job on your own. The only major thing to remember is the order you change the terminals with. Remove your black cable, the negative or ground, first and then when you’ve installed your new battery, put that negative cable on last.
The wrong order often results in a short that causes sparks to fly and destroys your battery or the electronics in your car.
2. Swap Your Own Spark Plugs
Changing your spark plugs is another of those easy repairs that most car owners should be able to do. However, with changes in the way that spark plugs are made now, it’s rarer that you need to perform this repair.
While in the past, spark plugs needed to be repaired every 30,000 miles or so, they’re now made to last more than 100,000 miles. However, you should still check them every 30,000 miles or so.
If you’re looking to do this kind of repair on your own, you’ll need a special spark plug wrench. This $10 purchase is for a tool that should last you the rest of your life, meaning you’ll be able to make this repair for yourself and friends, saving everyone money.
Start by removing the covering panel, and cleaning up the area. Then twist and remove your ignition coil and unscrew your plug. With the tool you have, you’ll be able to slide your socket over your plug and get it off.
Get yourself a gap gauge to ensure that you have a good gap in your spark plug. If the gap is too small, use your tool to open the gap. Then install your new plug and you’re ready to drive.
Given that you’ll often pay $300 to replace $30 spark plugs, this DIY repair means big savings.
3. Replace Your Own Lights
If you want to avoid annoying pull-overs and stay safe on the road, you’ll replace your own headlights and taillights when they burn out. Rather than waiting for them to burn out, you can also replace them every year or two. However, since their usage varies based on how much you drive at night, there’s no standard for how often to change them.
Headlight tickets are annoying and easy to avoid. Since replacement bulbs only cost a few dollars at most auto part shops, you’ll save money and stay safe. In fact, if you fail to replace a blinker and end up in an accident, you may also be at fault for the accident.
If you go to a garage, you’re going to have to pay a minimum hourly rate for this replacement that may take just a few minutes. If you pay for an hour, you’ll pay up to $150 for $10 in bulbs.
Bring your old bulb to a store so that you know which one to replace. When you replace your bulbs, use a glove, so that you don’t get any grease from your fingers on them. They’ll cause your bulbs to burn out early and mean that you need to replace them sooner.
4. Replace Your Own Windshield Wipers
While windshield wipers are some of the most easily accessible components of your vehicle, some people still go to a shop to have them replaced. While even the most advanced set of wipers costs a maximum of $40, going to a shop is going to cost you for an entire hour of labor. This is a repair that takes less than 10 minutes, including a cigarette break.
When you buy a set of wipers, turn the package around. You’ll find that all the instructions you need for replacing them are on the package for the wipers. If you’re good at following instructions, you should be fine.
Most department stores and auto shops have a reference manual to help you replace your wipers. They’ll tell you exactly what wipers you need to correctly fit your vehicle.
Old wipers would easily slide out after you grip a small clip or move a short lever. Align your new wipers into the socket where your old wipers were and move the lever or the clip back. Don’t force the fit and you should easily have a new set of wipers in place, ready to start doing their work.
Car Repair At Home is Easy
When you choose to do some car repair at home instead of going to a shop, you save time and money. You won’t have to bring your car in, leave it with mechanics, and find alternate transportation. You also won’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to have someone do something you could easily handle.
Check out our other posts for more tips on how to fix your car on your own.