DIY Car Maintenance

Everyone who has owned a car knows that a trip to the garage can end in you shelling out hundreds of pounds on things that seemed quite innocuous. There are a lot of cases when a trip to the garage isn’t really necessary and you can save a lot of hassle by doing the repairs yourself. If it goes wrong, however, you’ll be left with no car.

Knowledge is key here, there are jobs you can do with little technical know-how and we’re going to look at them here.

Things you can do yourself

  • Air filter – This stops particles getting into your engine. Over time it gets clogged up and needs replacing fairly regularly.
  • Windscreen Wipers – When your wipers start leaving marks and streaks on your windscreen this is when they can become dangerous and it’s time to replace them.
  • Spark Plugs – Spark plugs (in petrol cars) ignite your fuel in the engine but over time they can wear out causing misfires that make your car run roughly. When you have misfires, your fuel efficiency drops dramatically and can damage your catalytic converter.
  • Engine Oil – Oil protects all the moving parts of your engine from wear and tear. You should change your oil every 5000 miles and the oil filter as soon as you get a leak.
  • Coolant – Coolant stops your engine overheating and is normally mixed with anti-freeze to stop your engine freezing in the winter. It’s easy to top up, but remember to let your engine cool down before you open the reservoir.
  • Flat Tyres – Getting a flat tyre is something that can happen at any time and replacing a tyre is a skill every driver should have. Once you’ve changed to the spare wheel remember to get your tyre changed as quickly as possible because your spare’s tyre is only designed for temporary use
  • Wheel Balance – Check that the weight of the wheel and tyre is even when it turns. Out of balance wheels can cause your car to lose balance and lose control at higher speeds. This can cause damage to your tyres and suspension, causing them to wear out quicker.
  • Tyre Pressure – Check the pressure of your tyres regularly. If your tyres are underinflated you will be getting poor fuel efficiency. If they are overinflated your tyres will wear out unevenly. Check the tyre pressure and tread every fortnight. You’ll find the correct pressure in your car’s manual and remember if you are carrying a load you’ll have to inflate your tyres accordingly.

General Tips

Before you start, read your car manual.

Buy a Hayes manual for the make and model of your car.

Use the correct tools – this will include:

  • An adjustable wrench
  • A torque wrench
  • Socket and ratchet set
  • Pliers
  • Philips and flat head screwdrivers
  • A car jack

If you are unsure about anything consult a professional. You might also find YouTube tutorial videos of how to repair user serviceable parts.

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