It’s one thing to get into a car accident and have to file an insurance claim. It’s quite another to see a headlight go out or see lights flashing on your dashboard. For a lot of people, that’s frightening.
First, no one wants to crash. Second, no one wants to be ripped off by an unsavory mechanic.
Most auto body shops are quite reputable and many will do even small maintenance for you. That doesn’t mean that a lot of repairs can’t be done with 20-30 minutes and some cheap parts.
I Think You Can, I Think You Can
Wipers, Headlights and Other Exterior Parts
Imagine running into a fencepost. Your headlight is busted, wood fragments are all over your wipers and your paint is scratched up.
Those might seem like they’re a huge headache, but a simple search online or trip to an auto parts store will send you on your way.
Wipers take no more than two snaps to install. Headlights are easily accessed from underneath the hood (in some cars the housing unscrews).
And if you can’t see metal, then scratch remover should fix small imperfections.
Fluids and Filters
Windshield washer fluid. Antifreeze. Oil. These are all fluids you can check using dipsticks or by checking levels against markings on tanks.
If you need to add to any of the reservoirs, just make sure to check your owner’s manual to make sure you get the right kinds.
Fuel and air filters are much the same way.
Your air filter can easily get clogged. In most cars, the filter is easily accessed by unhooking a section of the plastic intake and pulling it away from the rest of the engine.
Fuel filters can be slightly more complicated. In either case, you should be able to find step-by-step instructions
Batteries and Spark Plugs
No one likes getting zapped; it’s why a lot of homeowners would call an electrician rather than face getting shocked. The biggest concern is unplugging the negative terminal from the battery.
This is usually marked with a “-” sign, a black cap (as opposed to red) or something similar.
Once that’s done, you can clean up the terminals or replace the battery or do any other electrical work. Don’t worry about getting shocked.
Make sure you use leather gloves when you remove or replace the cable for extra protection.
Where Can I Find Car Parts?
Unless you have a 2017 supercar, other people have tried to do the same things you have. Start with your owner’s manual if you can find it, especially for information about the types of fluids you need, headlight size and things of that nature.
It gets even easier with things like wiper blades, scratch repairs and even batteries. There are instructions included or you can see all of the parts that you’re working with from the start.
For the more complex repairs, you have the whole world wide web.
Take ten or fifteen minutes browsing around forums of car owners like yourself. Many have already come up with the best ways to re-do spark plugs or other types of repairs.
Don’t try to over-think it if you can find a tutorial online instead.
Some Fixes Will Require A Pro
It doesn’t a lot of people get so worried about costs or fears of getting ripped off. Your time is worth money, too.
There are many estimating services; some will even let you input symptoms like grinding under braking. Use these as a general guideline for what you’ll likely pay. Then, take a good long think about how much your time and finding the right tools will truly cost.
You can save time AND you can save money. But both are worth a lot and relying too much on preserving one will only cost you in the long run.