The age-old tradition of getting under the hood and doing one’s own auto maintenance is increasingly endangered. However, a growing number of people are finding out there are auto repairs that anyone can do.
Tell a grease monkey passerby that here under the car we lie
According to MSN, a survey conducted several years ago by Kelton Research on behalf of Honeywell, which owns several auto parts companies, revealed that 51 percent of respondents were doing basic car repairs and maintenance themselves because of economic conditions. A further 21 percent were avoiding repairs for that reason.
Putting off repairs is the worst thing one can do to a vehicle, and there are some repairs that anyone can do with some basic tools. A basic mechanic’s toolkit is not expensive and enables one to do more DIY auto repair.
According to AutoMD, five easy repairs anyone is capable of doing include replacing light bulbs, wiper blades, air filter, fuses and changing the oil and filter. None of these jobs require little more than a single socket wrench and a screwdriver; replacing wiper blades or fuses requires no tools in most cases.
Changing a dead battery is also a cinch. One needs only loosen the connections and any clamps on the battery pad to remove it, which usually requires little more than an adjustable crescent wrench.
Changing the oil
To change the oil and filter, one needs to be able to raise the car for sufficient clearance, unless the oil drain plug can be reached without raising the car. It only takes a few turns of the wrench (remember: “lefty-loosey, righty-tighty”) to take out the oil plug and drain the oil. The same for the filter. Though some recommend a filter wrench, a cylinder filter can also be removed using a pair of channel-lock pliers or punching a screwdriver through the filter and using it to turn the filter.
Smear a little new, clean oil on the rim of the filter before installing the new one and make sure to replace the drain plug before adding the recommended amount of oil.
The next step up
Other auto repair and maintenance that is do-able for amateurs includes replacing brake pads, spark plugs and serpentine belts. These require tools that come with a basic mechanic’s kit, which can cost $30 or less, like some kits through Sears.com.
Nothing beats the pride of accomplishment, but as CBS and AutoMD point out, some jobs should be left to professionals unless one has the proper experience or access to enough information and the correct tools. Botched home repairs lead to consequences up to and including total engine or brake failure. Buying a repair manual is always a good idea, as is following the service schedule included with the vehicle owner’s manual.