How to Repair Your Car at Home and Save Money
How to Repair Your Car at Home and Save Money
So your car has a problem. By doing the work yourself, rather than leaving it to a professional car repair shop, you can save hundreds – or even thousands – of pounds. But there are some things to think about before diving in under the hood. This article outlines what every home car mechanic – amateur or experienced – should know.
Preparation is key
The most important advice is to be well prepared. Preparation consists of first identifying the root cause of the problem. Sadly, many people fail at this and replace fully functional parts. Second, you’ve got to read up about the repair procedure, for example in your car’s official guide. Do also take advantage of the huge amount of online tutorials that exist. There are excellent step-by-step videos with text instructions of almost all repair procedures for all car models.
Third, you need to acquire the required replacement parts. Let’s assume one of your headlights is broken – a very common issue that’s bound to face every car owner sooner or later, and which is easily fixed at home. In online auto part stores, such as this URL, you can find suitable replacement headlights simply by entering the carmaker, car model and engine. The advantage of buying auto parts online is that you can easily and comfortably browse through a huge selection of suitable parts, get personal expert advice if needed, and have the parts quickly delivered to your home, without having to go to a physical store. Also make sure you have all the tools you need at home.
“You don’t have to be an expert”
Last but not least: visualise and think through the entire procedure – step by step. Now you’re all set, and it’s time to get your hands dirty. Gather confidence, and trust what Henry Ford once said: “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs”. Remember that you don’t have to be an expert, and that your most important skill is your ability to carefully follow instructions, rather than being creative and inventive.
Not everything is possible to do at home, though. Some procedures require special tools, or are too risky. Electric engines, for example, can be very dangerous to work with due to high voltage. Beginners are advised to stick with basic mechanics. If you have never worked with car engines before, but would like to get started, lawn mower engines are excellent to begin with. A good exercise is to disassemble the engine and then put it back together – making sure it still starts!
What tools do you need?
Most basic home repairs luckily don’t require a huge set of professional tools. A small, well-organised, tool kit with adjustable wrenches and torque wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, a socket and ratchet set, and a jack and jack stand, will get you a long way. It’s also highly recommended to always bring a small, emergency tool kit in the car. The top 5 causes of car breakdowns in the UK in 2014 were battery, wheel change, fuel, mechanical problems, and puncture (no spare). Note that most of these problems are fairly easy to fix on your own, as long as you are equipped with basic know-how and simple tools. Doing so will also save you the time, cost and hassle of having your car towed.
What should you consider before attempting to repair your car at home?
There are many things to consider before deciding whether to handle your car yourself, or leave it to a professional. First, the complexity of the task in relation to your skills – but don’t underestimate you abilities! Second, the availability of tools, and third, the estimated cost of repairing at home relative the average price charged by repair shops. How much can you save? If you need to purchase many expensive special tools, it may be more economical to leave the car to a professional repair shop.
Are there differences between car models and type of cars?
Road & Track recently listed ten of the best British sports cars ever. How should you approach home-repair if you are the lucky owner of one of those, or perhaps a vintage, or electric car? Generally, the overall trend is pointing towards cars that cannot be repaired at home. While older cars mostly rely on mechanical systems, modern cars rely on highly complex, interconnected, mechanical and electronic systems. Many new cars are actually designed to prevent users from accessing key features, such as control systems, making home-repairs increasingly difficult. But don’t be discouraged – there are still plenty of things you can fix, even on new cars.
Besides saving money and time, there are many good reasons to repair your car at home. Successfully fixing a problem will act as a huge confidence booster, and car repairing together with your teenage children is a great bonding activity, which at the same time teaches them important lessons for life.