Sometimes we all give ourselves a little too much credit when it comes to our abilities. Often, we undertake projects out of our league and end up leaving them half finished or half started (depending on your point of view). Auto repairs are no exception. Here we’ll talk about a few repairs that, with the right know-how and the right parts, you can accomplish on your own. This DIY car repair list features simple fixes to common problems, many of which are simply out with the old, in with the new solutions. Remember, we stock all kinds of quality DIY car repair parts.
Lets start by looking at some basic tools every DIY’er should have in their inventory:
Pliers, Screw Drivers, Hammers: Basic tools that will be needed for any DIY project, from cars to bars!
Adjustable and Torque Wrenches: Adjustable wrenches allow you to quickly have the right size, and torque wrenches ensure bolts are attached safely.
Ratchet Set: Sockets and Ratchet will be how many fasteners are loosened on your vehicle, so having a proper set to remove these are key.
Jack: Your car likely has a crank jack somewhere near its spare tire. Buying a proper hydraulic jack is optional, but we strongly recommend jack stands for added safety. A reliable jack is a must for DIY car repair jobs both on and off this list.
Cleaning Supplies: Something industrial, such as Lava soap, gets you dinner ready after an afternoon under the hood.
With reliable tools you can take on any DIY car repair project. It’s likely as a savvy gearhead you already had the tools required for the job, so lets dive right in.
DIY Car Repair 1: Replacing your brake pads
Brake pads wear out over time. Unlike everything else on your car, this is a good thing. This means they are working and you aren’t flying off the road. This is a fairly simple DIY car repair that should only take an hour or two. To change your brake pads:
- Make sure you’ve allowed your vehicle to cool. If you’ve recently done excessive driving the brake pads, rotors, and other vehicle components may be extremely hot.
- Start by loosening the lug nuts but not removing them. This makes removing the wheel easier when the vehicle is lifted.
- Raise the wheel of the vehicle you wish to work on, using either your crank jack or hydraulic lift. Once the proper section is lifted, remove the wheel.
- Typically, there are two bolts holding the brake caliper in place. They are often found on the back side of the caliper. Most calipers can be loosened by simply removing the bottom bolt. Once the caliper has been removed, you should have easy access to the brake pads.
- You can now check the thickness of the brake pads. Any less than an eighth of an inch and it is time to change your pads. Pads are held in place by small “retaining clips” that let the pad move back and forth. Replace the old clips with new ones and snap the new brake pads into place.
- You may need to push the caliper pistons back in order to slide the caliper back over the pads. Do this slowly to make sure there is no damage done to the brake lines. Be careful of brake fluid overflow if your brake fluid levels are high.
- With the caliper back over the pads, reassemble the brake and wheel assembly following these instructions in reverse and lower your vehicle.
- Always test new brakes in a safe area before driving on a public road.
It’s really as simple as changing a light bulb, where you take out the old and put in the new. Of course, there are a few more bolts here and there, and we don’t recommend you drive on light bulbs.
DIY Car Repair 2: Replace a drive belt
Is there a family of mice living in your car when it starts? More squealing than testifiers at a mob trial? You look under your hood and see a winding belt that seems to cover everything. This is likely whats causing the noise, but it seems nearly impossible to replace. Well, its not. Here’s how to replace a squealing or loose belt:
- Take a look at how the belt is routed. This flow will need to be replicated in order for all your cars systems to work. There may be a diagram on the cars hood, if not, there should be on in the owners manual.
- Locate the belt tensioner. this is where the job becomes easy. Loosen the tensioner with a ratchet. After losing the belt tensioner, simply remove the old belt.
- With the old belt removed, route the new one through the correct pulleys and re-tighten the tensioner.
- Turn on your engine and allow it to idle, making sure the belt is moving properly.
The order of the belt seems like a Rube Goldberg machine, but a few moments and the right tools will have your car turning on (quietly).
DIY Car Repair 3: Replace a battery
Car wont start? It could be you forgot to put gas in it again. More likely, it could be the battery. Knowing how to replace yours is a simple fix that could save you at the garage.
- Try cleaning your battery first. A simple solution of water + baking soda on the terminals may be all your car needs to get the juice flowing. We don’t have to tell you to have your car off while you do this of course.
- If your battery is still dead, then get ready for a change. start by removing the terminal cables from the battery, normally held in place by screws or nuts.
- Locate any bolts or plates holding the battery in place, and remove them. Once these have been removed, your (heavy) battery should easily (or with some effort if you’ve been skipping the gym) come out of its spot in your engine.
- Like changing the batteries in a remote, place the new battery in place and tighten up and bolts or covers.
- Re-attach the terminal ends and make sure they are clean. Re-attach the terminal cables via the nuts or screws that held them in place.
- Start up your car and make sure power is flowing to the right locations, such as lights and windows.
DIY Car Repair 4: Get experience under the hood
The biggest factor that comes to DIY car repair (well, after knowledge and parts) is confidence. Feeling comfortable getting your hands dirty could be the difference between a good repair and a trip to the garage. We encourage all our AutoShack.com customers to go ahead and get their hands dirty with our parts!
We have tons of helpful tips on our blog, be sure to give them a read!