DIY or Don’t: Car Repairs

Your car requires regular maintenance to optimize its performance and lifespan. What might come as a surprise to some, however, is the fact that there are more than a few such maintenance items you can tackle on your own, without taking your vehicle to the mechanic.

Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common car repairs, discussing which you can try solo and which you should leave to the automotive professionals.

Oil Changes

You’ve probably heard at least one advertisement (if not two or three) reminding you that you should bring your car in for an oil change every 3,000 to 7,000 miles. It’s savvy advice, but you don’t necessarily have to take your car to the mechanic for this one. 

With the right preparations, changing your oil is just a 20-minute process, according to the Family Handyman. Perhaps most important to note while doing a DIY oil change is getting the temperature right. Too hot and you run the risk of burning yourself. Too cold, however, and you’ll have difficulty changing your oil.

Spark Plugs

Spark plugs tend to burn out after 30,000 to 60,000 miles of driving. Once they do, you’ll start experiencing misfires, poor acceleration, abysmal gas mileage, and other issues that will interfere with your vehicle’s performance. Thankfully, as long as you know what kind of spark plugs you’ll need for your vehicle, this is another maintenance task that you can handle on your own.

Again, temperature will be a critical concern here. As Jalopnik puts it, “The spark plugs are amongst the hottest parts of the engine, so it's imperative that you give the engine a few hours to cool down if it's been run up to temperature recently.”

Battery Replacement

“Changing a car battery is something that most people will be able to do themselves,” says Pep Boys. Car batteries are heavy, and it will take some effort for you to remove your old battery and drop a new one in place, but the entire process is still only a few minutes long. You’ll want to try and perform a battery replacement every five years or so, as this vehicle component is crucial for supplying electricity for your car.

Windshield Wiper Replacement

Changing a wiper blade might be one of the easiest bits of maintenance you can tackle on your own. Typically, you’ll need to change your blades every six to twelve months.

You’ll recognize when it’s time to change your blades once you notice that telltale, streaky blade, and the replacement process, according to Family Handyman, is as simple as sliding out the old blades and fitting the new ones into place.

Timing Belt

Your vehicle’s timing belt is a critical engine component that syncs the rotation of your crankshaft and camshaft. If it isn’t working properly, there’s a chance your engine won’t turn over. While there are a few general guides on attempting a belt change by yourself, the complexity, expense, and risks should you fail mean you might be better off leaving this one to a seasoned professional.

Dashboard Error Messages

Your dashboard indicator lights alert you to potential problems with your vehicle. While you can interpret these using your car’s owner manual or an online guide, getting to the root of the problem(s) is something you might want to leave to your mechanic.

Even with a diagnostic car code reader, you won’t be able to sniff out all your vehicle issues, and a professional with greater auto experience will fare much better at interpreting the signals your car is sending.

If you have the time and inclination to tackle a few maintenance tasks solo, by all means, do so. Just make sure you don’t get in over your head, and leave the more challenging auto tasks to a veteran mechanic.

Categories: Parts, Body Shop, Service