It’s rapidly becoming nearly impossible for the DIYer to do much of anything when it comes to their repairing their own car. In each and every operation, it will vary from car to car and engine to engine, so it becomes about finding out what special tools and procedures are needed before attempting even basic operations. An affordable way to do that is with a subscription to ALLDATA, where you can look up the procedure before attempting anything. If the instructions seem too complicated or require special and expensive tools, it is best to walk away.
That said, there are still some car repairs that are fairly simple for the DIY-er to do at home.
Changing a Tire
Changing a tire is relatively simple and most cars come with the equipment as part of a basic vehicle-maintenance package. The car’s owner’s manual should also have instructions on where your tire changing equipment is located and the proper procedures.
Changing Windshield Wiper Blades
Usually, no tools are required to change your windshield wiper blades. Under normal conditions, you should swap them out twice a year and it’s easy enough to do yourself.
Checking and Filling Fluids
This includes engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, engine coolant, and antifreeze. The owner’s manual will tell you where these spots are located under your hood.
Changing Air Filter
On most cars, changing the air filter is an easy job and doesn’t require any tools. Air filters should be changed once or twice per year.
Changing Your Oil
On some cars, changing your own oil can still be done, but to do it properly requires a way to keep the car completely level so all the old oil drains out. Some engines require vehicle-specific oil filter wrenches to remove the oil filter cap. Since manufacturers have changed to cartridge filters, the caps are all different and each one requires a special tool that can be $50.00 or more.
Many bulbs are easily changed, but today a lot of them require removal of the lamp assembly, grille or bumper. The person doing the job has to be aware of special handling for headlamp bulbs, or they will fail very quickly. The glass can not be touched and must be cleaned with alcohol before being turned on.
While the repairs listed above can be handled at home for the most part, there are certain repairs you should probably leave to the mechanics.
When changing brakes, there’s the risk of not tightening lug nuts or putting the wrong fluid in the reservoirs. Considering brakes are one of the most important safety features of a vehicle, it’s best to leave their maintenance to a trained and trusted technician.
Timing belts are extremely difficult to successfully change unless you have experience in the area. The timing on the engine must be set exactly, or you might bend the valves which can nearly destroy an engine and result in thousands of dollars in damage.
Today’s modern transmission systems make heavy use of computer chips and systems that make the transmissions difficult to understand. Even with quality transmission repair manuals, a difficult transmission repair usually requires a lot of training and practice.
Make the wrong move, and you could be hit with 300 to 400 pounds of air pressure. The potential for injury is too great for at-home repairs, so leave this one to the pros.