Do you ever feel like mechanics are speaking a different language? Sometimes you can’t decide if its worse if they talk to you like you’re an idiot who knows nothing about cars or when they rapidly fly through a complicated diagnostic report, expecting you to understand and keep up. Your car is YOURS. You love it and drive it every day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you understand everything under the hood. Many folks resist taking their car into the shop when they suspect a problem simply because it will make them feel scared, dumb, or financially strapped for cash.
Luckily there are a few maneuvers to maintain your vehicle that are easy to learn and can save you big money in the long term. Repairing your own car may seem completely impossible, but it’s actually within your ability to fix many common issues you may find with your car.
- Replacing the battery. It’s pretty easy to know when you need to replace your battery – your car is having trouble starting! You can buy the appropriate car battery nearly anywhere and install it yourself by following the directions. Many auto supply stores offer installation and disposal of used batteries free with purchase.
- New Brake Pads. Did you know your brake pads are actually supposed to squeal when they get too low? It’s a warning system for you. Buy the right brake pads for your car and you can easily change them in your driveway for a fraction of the cost.
- Broken, Loose, or Old Belts. If your car is squealing at times other than while breaking – it’s likely your drive/serpentine belt. Pop your hood and take a look at the belt that winds around the engine. Does it look loose? Cracked? Broken? Worn down? It’s actually very easy to replace – just carefully put the new belt through the route of the old one.
- Small Coolant Leaks. Is your car leaving puddles everywhere you park? It could be a coolant leak. As soon as you park, pop the hood and look for hoses spraying or dripping coolant. Don’t touch – it could be hot. You can cheaply buy and replace the bit of hose that has damage. If you can’t see the source of the leak it could be your radiator – and that’s one you want to take to a professional.
- Lights Out. Bulbs burning out is common and simple. The hardest part is getting to the bulb! Carefully remove the exterior glass or cover, and be mindful of how to reattach it. Replacing the bulb is fast and easy – just test it out to be sure.
- Fuel Filter. This is one you might skip at your oil change, thinking it’s extra expense. But a fuel filter keeps your fuel clean and efficient. It’s very easy to buy and replace yourself.
- Air Filter. See above. Air filters decrease toxins, impurities, and friction. Don’t hesitate to buy and replace yourself regularly!
- Oil Change. Don’t be intimidated! It isn’t too tricky. Buy the appropriate oil for your car. You check and drain existing oil safely, then fill it up with new oil to keep your engine running safe and friction free. Make sure to note when you need to perform your next oil change.
Pick up a few of these habits yourself and see how much the repairs save you in the long term – not to mention how much smarter you’ll feel about your car!