The 5 Easiest Do-It-Yourself Auto Repairs

With some simple tools, the right knowledge, and the right parts, anybody can perform basic repairs and save hundreds of dollars per year. Follow these simple instructions to get started

1. Light Bulb Replacement

Replacing a light bulb in your vehicle is usually a quick procedure that typically doesn’t require any tools at all. First, refer to your owner’s manual or inquire at a local auto parts store about the appropriate replacement bulb. Once you have the bulb, open up your hood or trunk and examine the back side of the light fixture. Usually, you can remove the cover from the light fixture to expose the light bulb socket and the burned out bulb. Simply pluck out the bulb (which will usually be discolored) and insert the new bulb. Then, place the cover back on the light and you’re done. In some cases, tail lights will have exterior Phillips-Head screws which must be removed the expose the bulb socket.




2. Windshield Wiper Replacement

Windshield Wipers are one of the most important safety devices on your car, and one of the easiest to take care of. They are inexpensive, readily available, and they can be replaced in a few minutes without a single tool. You can tell your windshield wipers need replacement when they no longer remove all the water from your windshield when it’s raining, leaving streaks and puddles. On closer examination, you will notice that the rubber that touches the glass is dry and cracked. To remedy this common problem, consult your local auto parts store about the proper replacement wipers. Often times, the store will also have a book that indicates (in inches) which wipers are right for your vehicle. Your old wiper blades can be removed by pushing the plastic release button in the place where they mount on the wiper arms. You can install the new wiper blades by referring to the installation instructions in the packaging, or by observing how your old wiper blades were mounted.

3. Battery Replacement

The typical car battery lasts for about 5 years, and varies depending on your driving habits and the climate where you live. Replacing your own battery is very simple, and can save you hundreds of dollars compared to the dealer. Usually you will only need an adjustable wrench and a philips screwdriver. The symptoms of a dying battery are easy to spot: if your battery is over 4 years old and you hear the engine crank for a couple of seconds before the car starts, your battery may be on its way out. To find a matching replacement, you can visit a Costco or a local auto parts store. If you tell them the make and model of your car, they will provide you with the battery you need, as well as some installation tips. Once you replace your old battery, you can bring it to the same store for recycling.



4. Oil Change

If your car uses non-synthetic motor oil, it’s generally recommended that you change your oil and oil filter every 3000 miles, or about 4 times a year for the average driver. Synthetic oil can last about 10,000 miles between changes. To do the job right and keep your garage clean, you will need the following items: oil extraction pump (available online for under $100), funnel, several empty 1-gallon plastic milk jugs, new oil, new filter, and proper wrench for changing the filter. The oil extraction pump sucks your old oil out of the same hole that is used by your engine dipstick. Using this pump prevents you from having to lift the car up on jacks and crawl around beneath the hot, dirty engine. Once you’ve sucked out the old oil, you can use a funnel to transfer the oil to the empty milk containers, which can be dropped off at an auto parts store for recycling. You can find the correct type of filter and the appropriate quantity and type of oil by consulting your owner’s manual or just asking the local auto parts store. Once you drain the oil, simply replace the filter, add the new oil, and you’re ready to go. Some filters require special wrenches to replace, so make sure to check out your owner’s manual or so some online research to make sure you’re prepared.

5. Alloy Wheel Replacement

Over time, alloy wheels can get chewed up by potholes, curbs, and uneven road surfaces. Usually the damage is cosmetic, but a cracked or bent alloy wheel can be a real safety hazard. Sometimes structural defects can be detected through a visual inspection, but if you suspect that something is wrong you can also get the wheel checked out by any tire shop. If you discover that the wheel is damaged beyond repair and you don’t want to buy a brand new one from the dealer, you can find a replacement from a vehicle that’s being recycled for parts. You can search online using sites like PartMyRide or open your local phone book to find a dismantler that specializes in your particular brand of car. Once you locate a used wheel that matches your vehicle, you can often purchase it with a tire, or take it to a local tire shop to have your original tire mounted (it the original tire is still good).


2004 Porsche Cayenne Salvage
Porsche Cayenne at the Dismantler

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