Top 7 Do-It-Yourself Auto Repair Tips ~ Chick Auto Tips | Car Tips for Women

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Top 7 Do-It-Yourself Auto Repair Tips

As a single woman I know the importance of being able to check my car I keep up with the Maintenance, Wiper Blades, Tires and Brakes etc. I'm starting this blog to share tips that I've learned and what others have taught me. I hope you enjoy! 

1. Keep it simple
Start with the easiest types of repairs first.
Here are some relatively easy repairs for budding mechanics to try at home:

  • Replace the wiper blades
  • Change the air filter
  • Change a headlight
  • Change a battery
  • Replace the spark plugs
  • Change the oil
  • Change serpentine belt

2. Avoid high risk repairs
Novice DIYers should avoid repairs and maintenance items where the consequences of making a mistake are dire.  If you mess up a brake job, you could end up crashing your car!  If you don’t install a timing belt correctly (or reassemble the engine correctly), you could destroy your engine.  Save these types of services for when you have more experience.
3. Get the right tools
 Before you start ripping apart your car, make sure you have the right tools.  A hammer and a screwdriver just won’t cut it.  Run out to Sears or your local automotive store and a starter set of automotive tools.  A good basic set will include a complete set of socket wrenches with extensions, open-end and box wrenches, screw drivers, and pliers.  If your car requires any special tools for removing the oil filter, pulling spark plugs, and whatnot, then you may want to invest in those as well.  If you plan to remove the wheels from your car, a high quality torque wrench is a MUST.
4. Do your homework
Always do your homework before plunging into a repair.  A little research time invested up front will save you a lot of time (not to mention the headache) later.  Buy the manufacturer’s shop manual for your vehicle (or the online subscription from AllData), and read up on the repair.  Make sure you understand each step and what is involved BEFORE you undertake the project.  (If step one says “remove the engine”, then you might want to reconsider.)   Beware of “how to” information on the internet.  Enthusiast forums and YouTube are full of step-by-step guides on how to change the thingamajigger on your 2002 Humbug GT.  Make sure the advice comes from a trusted, professional source and not just Bubba in his backyard.
5. Ask for help
If you’re undertaking a repair you’ve never even seen done before, it’s reasonably likely that you’ll screw it up.  At best, you’ll do it the hard way and possibly pick up a bad habit or two.  Besides, there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel.  Find someone who knows what he or she is doing, preferably a professional (ASE Certified) mechanic, and ask for a lesson.  Not only will you learn the right way to do the repair, you may even learn the quickest and easiest method.  If you get into the repair and you make a mistake, don’t be ashamed to ask for help.  Better to eat a helping of humble pie than risk ruining your car.
6. Safety first
Working on your car can be dangerous, especially if you have to get underneath it.  If you have to jack up your car, don’t use flimsy jack that came with it.  Invest in a hydraulic floor jack and ALWAYS use approved jack stands to support the vehicle.  Try to avoid repairs that involve contorting yourself into an uncomfortable position, which can make a repair more difficult and more dangerous.  Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from dirt, flying parts and spewing fluids.  Consider wearing latex or polyurethane gloves to protect your skin from dirt and grease – your significant other will thank you for keeping clean.
7. Dispose of waste materials properly
Nearly all automotive jobs result in waste projects, such as used coolant, motor oil, brake pads or other hazardous materials, which will need to be disposed of properly.  Pouring used fluids down the storm drain or casually tossing used oil filters into the trash bin is environmentally unsafe and, therefore, illegal.  Google your county government website to find the hazardous waste facility near you.  Many automotive parts stores accept used motor oil, coolant and other fluids, as long as you bought the products from them in the first place.

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