- There is a time and place for a professional mechanic, but they may not always be required.
- Routine repairs and maintenance like spark plugs, changing wiper blades, and oil changes can be done by just about anyone with a basic understanding.
- A simple Internet search can often help you find videos and articles with helpful tips and instructions.
- Remember, of course, to be careful about purchasing genuine OEM or manufacturer-suggested parts when doing your car repairs and maintenance.
Basic repairs and routine maintenance are often tasks that don’t necessarily require a mechanic. While you should always choose the most qualified person for the job, you could very well be qualified to do more work on your vehicle than you might think. Before you start scheduling service appointments and spending a fortune on labour and other fees, take the time to consider what kind of work you can handle on your own.
Thanks to the Internet, you can find all kinds of information about fixing cars and taking care of routine maintenance, including instructional articles and even videos. Plenty of people upload their videos of auto maintenance and repairs to sites like YouTube, and you can find nearly every make and model on the list of available how-to videos. Take a few minutes to check out how various work is done and you might realise that some of it is easier than you think.
Changing Wiper Blades
Although many auto parts stores will also do this for you as a complimentary service, installing new wipers is a relatively simple task for you to do on your own. Most vehicles have wiper blades that slide into place, with some that include clips to lock them securely into position. Since you can usually buy these blades for a relatively low cost, it doesn’t make sense to pay someone to put them in.
The instructions for changing wiper blades are usually on the packaging, and you can buy wiper blades at every store from auto parts dealers to big-box chain stores. These two factors should tell you that anyone with basic skills can change wiper blades and that there’s no reason to pay a professional. Usually, you’ll pull up the wiper arms, slide the old blade off, and install the new blade by sliding it into place until you hear a “click” or until it is secure. It takes less than 10 minutes and is one of the easiest maintenance tasks to take on.
Changing Spark Plugs
The skill level is stepping up a bit when it comes to spark plug replacements, but this is still a relatively simple repair job for someone with basic mechanical skills. Most vehicles have the spark plugs on the front or top of the engine block, making them accessible for just about anyone. Some may be on the backside or more challenging to get to, so you may only be left to hire a mechanic.
*Tip: If your spark plugs or other parts are difficult to find or access, check out online videos to find hacks and tricks for easier DIY repairs.
Most socket sets include a “spark plug” socket that is designed specifically to fit spark plugs so that you can replace them with ease. Some auto parts stores will even loan you the tools that you need, but owning a socket for the job is always a good investment because you’ll need to change spark plugs more than once in your lifetime. You “unscrew” the existing plugs, screw in the new ones, and then put the wires back on the plugs, and you’re done. Usually, this job takes less than an hour.
Replacing Your Air Filter
The air filter is another quick and easy replacement that just about anyone can handle. Most vehicles have two air filters: one in the engine compartment under the hood and one in the cabin, somewhere on the main dash panel. Some vehicles may only have one or may only be able to have one replaced. They may also be in different locations in each vehicle. However, they are generally easy to find and replace in a matter of minutes, usually not even requiring tools.
Your air filter should be cleaned or replaced at least once a year. By shopping online for genuine OEM replacements, you can guarantee that you’ll get the best air quality for your passengers and your engine alike. Plus, you’ll spend a minimal amount on the replacement filters and save a ton in professional labour costs.
Quick-change oil services are making a fortune from people who enjoy the convenience of driving through and getting an oil change. It may be convenient and efficient for you to utilise these services, but it can be cheaper to do your oil changes at home. It can also save you a lot of hassle because you won’t have to make an extra trip. The average shop these days charges as much as two to three times what you would spend on the supplies to perform your oil changes.
For this job, all you need is a replacement oil filter and fresh motor oil. Make sure that you know the weight that your car requires, and purchase about five gallons to be safe. You’ll have to make the initial investment in a drip pan to catch the oil and a filter replacement tool, but that’s a one-time cost. Plus, some auto parts stores may let you rent the filter tool if you don’t want to purchase one. An oil change will take you about half an hour, or less, and performing them regularly can save you thousands on replacement parts and unnecessary repairs.
When a headlight or tail light burns out, you need to replace the bulb as quickly as possible. Fortunately, this is another task that’s a relatively simple one to do on your own. Interior bulbs are also simple to change, in most cases, and bulbs only cost a few dollars each. If you are buying high-quality or performance headlights or other running lights, you may spend a little more, but it’s still worth the investment.
Plus, by changing your bulbs, you’re not paying a mechanic a small fortune to do a simple job. Some mechanics have a minimum charge or an hourly rate to factor in when a simple bulb replacement is usually a five-minute job. It’s one of the services offered complimentary from many retail auto parts stores, so that should tell you that it’s not worth paying a mechanic to do.
Fuses are another item that are fairly simple to address. The interior fuse box is usually located on the dash panel near the driver’s seat. There is also the main fuse box located near the battery in the engine compartment. When you open them, you will see an assortment of fuses that are responsible for powering various parts of your vehicle. They all plug into a specific port, so replacing them is as simple as unplugging the damaged or burned out fuse and plugging in the new one in its place.
If you are experiencing issues with shorts or wiring troubles related to your fuses, you may want to consult a mechanic. However, for general replacements, you can probably handle the job with ease.
Replacing Your Battery
A battery replacement is a really simple job. It requires removing two cables from the old battery and then reattaching them to the new battery. You have to be careful when attaching the hot cable as the connection can create sparks, but it really should only take 20-30 minutes to uninstall and reinstall the battery in your vehicle. Some engines may have covers or other components that need to be moved to perform the replacement, but this is generally minimal and worth the extra few minutes.
A professional mechanic could charge a high fee for a battery replacement that is unnecessary. Especially for those who have inaccessible batteries that require a little more work, it can be tempting to spend the money so that someone else has to deal with the hassle. However, it usually isn’t worth the labour charge to pay a professional for something as basic as a battery replacement. Plus, you can then buy a battery online to save even more money on the job.
Changing Brake Pads
For those who are a little beyond basic skills, a small fortune can be saved by doing your brake pad replacements. If you can change a tire, you can probably handle a basic brake pad replacement. The biggest issue here is bleeding the brakes, but there are tricks to avoid bleeding or ways that you can bleed your brakes to ensure that the new pads wear evenly and offer the best lifespan. As long as you have a lug wrench and some basic wrenches and pliers, you will be able to get the job done.
Brake pads only cost a fraction of what the average repair shop charges to do a brake job, and the labour involved isn’t exactly that difficult. It does take some time, but it is relatively simple:
- Remove the wheel and set it aside
- Remove the hardware holding the pads in place and remove the old pads
- Push the caliper piston all the way in and install the new pads, which will clip into place
- Reinstall the hardware and replace the wheel
Again, if you need assistance or want visual guides, check out online videos and tutorials that can walk you through the process. All told, it should take about an hour or less to do brakes, depending on whether you’re doing all four wheels or just two.
With any DIY auto repairs that require lifting your vehicle or getting underneath it, you will want to ensure that you are using a sturdy set of jack stands to hold the vehicle at all times. Even a professional-grade jack isn’t safe enough, and you should never use the emergency tire jack to perform routine maintenance and repairs. These jacks are not designed for long-term or heavy-duty use.
If you choose any of these repairs for your DIY projects, however, you can be sure that you’ll save a lot of time and money, and maybe even enjoy learning about auto repair in the process. Just remember to always work with genuine OEM replacement parts to give your car the smoothest operation and get the most life out of your maintenance and repair work.
Autofixa has all of the genuine OEM replacement parts and accessories for your routine maintenance and repair needs. Check out our inventory today and get all the parts you need from a reliable parts dealer that you can trust, with the convenience of everything shipped right to your home.