How to Repair a Car with No Prior Experience

Credit: Dakota Edwards

Would you love to be able to manage most basic car maintenance and repair work on your own and save a few dollars?

Even if you’re not a professional mechanic, it can be relatively easy to replace as worn out distributor cap or repair your car’s electrical power.

In fact, with just a few basic tools, you can repair the air filter and fuel filter or even replace them.

All you need is a simple toolkit and a workshop manual to maintain the good health of your car.

1. Buy an appropriate toolkit

You’ll simply become frustrated by your own ignorance if you find yourself deep under the car with grease all over only to realise that there is a tool that you need to use but don’t have in your hand.

Although you cannot wholly avoid going back and forth when repairing a car, getting basic tools will reduce this movement.

Your kit can include tools such as;

  • jacks
  • pliers
  • wrenches
  • screwdrivers
  • socket wrenches
  • penetrating oil
  • and a rubber mallet among others.

The tools you use will be determined by the type of repair you want to do.

For example, you are changing a fuse; you will need to purchase a fuse kit. On the other hand, if you are changing oil, you will need an oil pan.

If your budget doesn’t allow you to purchase a new toolkit; check with your local auto parts to see if they have a rental program for you to borrow the expensive tools so that you don’t have to buy them.

2. Buy an automobile manual

Repairing a car is a technical process. You will need correct vehicle manuals to accomplish this.

Among the most popular and beginner-friendly manuals include Haynes and Chilton.

Ensure that you buy a manual that helps explicitly repair your car model. These manuals are available online or in most automotive parts stores.

Visit the manufacturer of your car website and type the model and make of your car followed by the words “repair manual”.

3. Watch repair videos and join car enthusiast forums

The Internet has made car repair resources easily accessible. You will need to watch a few videos made by professionals to be able to repair your car.

Although many videos are produced by amateurs who are car enthusiasts, you can still find reference videos on the websites of your car’s manufacturer.

4. Keep a good maintenance record of your car repairs

As with any other profession, being your own mechanic requires excellent record keeping skills. You’ll need to list the details of the work done, description of the work, and whether you are successful or not.

You will also need to keep a record of the receipts of the spare parts you buy.

Most dealers and warranty providers will require you to provide the maintenance records to track what you’ve been doing on the car.

To make your work easier, buy a printed maintenance card from your local auto parts store. Alternatively, you can write your repair works in your notebook.

Always have your maintenance card in your glove compartment for easy reference.

Your mechanic will need to understand what has been happening to your car if he’s going to be able to troubleshoot it when you are unable to fix the problems.

5. Take pictures of how the parts are fixed in your car

This is very important advice for amateurs. The instructions in your manual will be useless if you can’t figure out how to replace the part as it was before you started working on it.

Taking notes and pictures of the parts before you remove them is vital as you will be able to refer to them in future.

Use marker pens on the parts to indicate their alignment.

Make sure you store the parts in plastic bags so that you don’t lose them as you work.

Credit: Max Pixel

6. Do routine maintenance every 3,000 miles

Most manufacturers recommend that maintenance is done on a vehicle after driving it for 3,000 miles.

Have your car inspected and replace any dirty or damaged components to ensure that your car is always in good working condition.

The owner’s manual will usually have a recommended repair schedule, and it will list how long parts typically last. You’ll be able to estimate when you need to replace them again.

The more frequent the car inspections are, the easier it will be to determine when it needs repair.

Among the things to check include;

  • batteries
  • hoses
  • fluids
  • oil
  • oil filters

You should, for example, replace the oil and oil filter after about 3,000 miles of driving.

You should also replace the oil filter after driving the car for 12,000 miles.

Your steering fluid should be replaced after driving the car for 12,000 miles.

Other similar components that need to be checked include brake pads and suspension.

Most batteries, fuses, tires, and spark plugs need to be replaced after driving the car for 35,000 miles.

7. Perform immediate maintenance if you notice leaks or other problems

The moment you notice that something is wrong with your car, perform an immediate maintenance check rather than letting the problem lead to more extensive damage.

When driving your car, listen for rattling noises and other issues which might be an indication that there is a loose bolt or nut.

Hear some grinding noise? It’s an indication that there’s a problem with the brake pads.

Never take the engine light lightly. If it turns on, you should schedule your car for inspection and maintenance immediately.

Your car’s symptoms will help you diagnose the problem that it has.

For example, if your car doesn’t have power, it is either an electrical system problem or a blown out fuse or a dead battery.

The best way to diagnose the car is to use a diagnostic reader. If you do not have one, you can rent it from your local auto parts store.

8. Try Smart Technology

Use a smart technology such as GOFAR to find your car engine’s sweet spot. Learn how driving efficiently and save fuel.

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