Car problems aren’t just inconvenient—they can also rack up a pretty hefty repair bill at the mechanic. To save money the next time you experience car trouble, consider taking matters into your own hands and repairing the issue yourself. While some car problems will require the expertise of a skilled mechanic, many can be easily fixed on your own using a few simple tools and replacement parts. Before racing to the shop to resolve your car troubles, try tackling these common car problems you can easily fix yourself.A clogged or worn out engine air filter
The engine air filter fulfills the important task of preventing dirt and other particles from entering your vehicle’s engine as it sucks in air. A clogged or worn out engine air filter can significantly lower your vehicle’s performance by reducing engine power and gas mileage. Fortunately, a faulty engine air filter is one of the easiest car problems to fix. All you need to do is replace the filter.
To replace a clogged or worn out engine air filter, simply unscrew or unclip the air filter box retainers. This lid will typically be located on the side of your vehicle’s engine. Then, remove the old filter, put the new one in, and secure the lid back on. That’s all there is to it.
If your headlights or taillights are burnt out or are blinking too fast, you can easily replace them yourself. First, consult your owner’s manual to see which type of bulb your vehicle requires. After purchasing the correct bulb, open your hood and remove the rubber boot protecting the headlight from the back of the housing. Your vehicle should be turned off during this time.
Then, unplug the wire harness and remove the clip holding the bulb in place. Before, securing the new bulb, put on a pair of rubber gloves. If oil from your hands gets on the glass of your new bulb, it may burn out more quickly. Lastly, screw in the bulb and follow the above steps in reverse order to complete the repair. Because each vehicle model differs, you may need to check your owner’s manual for more specified instructions.
If your car won’t start, it might have a dead battery. Your car’s battery is the center of its electrical mechanism. If your car’s battery is dead, you should be able to replace it on your own. However, it is important to determine if the battery actually needs to be replaced before doing so. To determine if your vehicle’s battery has the proper charge, use a voltmeter. If the voltmeter reveals that your car’s battery is below 9.7 volts while starting your engine, it should most likely be replaced. If there doesn’t appear to be an issue with the battery, the culprit of your car troubles may be your vehicle’s starter or alternator.
Those that don’t possess a voltmeter can also pay a visit to an establishment that will check your battery for free, such as Autozone.
Replacing the battery of your vehicle shouldn’t take more than 15-30 minutes. To do so, start by undoing the clamp nut and removing the cable from the negative and then the positive terminals. Then, undo the hold-down clamp or bracket on the battery and lift the old battery out. Lastly, install the new battery, fit the hold-down clamps, and re-secure the positive and then the negative cables.
In the case that you simply left your lights on overnight, you may just need to jump your battery. To do so, connect the positive lead to the positive terminal on the dead battery and the negative lead to an engine ground. Then turn on the jump pack and start your car.
Unlike some car issues that can be hard to identify, a broken or worn belt is obvious. If your car squeals when you start it or when using accessories such as power steering, the cooling system, or windshield wipers, there is likely an issue with your drive belt.
The drive belt is a rubber belt typically located at the front of your vehicle’s engine. In newer cars, there is often one serpentine belt that loops through all the systems in your vehicle. If your belt is the source of the squeaking, it will be frayed, cracked, or loose. If the belt is loose, all you need to do is tighten it. However, if the belt is worn or broken, you’ll need to replace it.
To do so, you should first locate or draw a belt diagram for your vehicle. It’s important to know the path that your belt takes so you know how to reroute the new belt after removing the old one. Then, loosen the tension arm. Once the belt is free, remove it. Then, reroute the new belt in accordance with your belt diagram and lock up the tension arm.
Over time, the oils in your car will break down and wear out. When this happens, several internal issues can occur, such as reduced engine efficiency, contamination, and warped or worn out engine components. As such, it is important to change the oil in your vehicle every 3,000-7,000 miles depending on the age and model of your vehicle. Taking your vehicle into the shop to regularly change its oil can be time-consuming and expensive—not to mention unnecessary.
To change your oil on your own, determine the type of oil and oil filter you need, how much oil your engine holds, and where the oil filter is, all of which should be listed in the owner’s and service manuals of your vehicle. Then, simply loosen the oil pan bolt and drain the oil into a safe container. Once you’ve drained the oil, replace the oil filter and retighten the oil pan bolt. Lastly, refill the engine with new oil. After changing your vehicle’s oil, it is important to properly dispose of the old oil—check online to find a disposal center in your area or visit a local auto shop.
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