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CAR DIY Part One – Save Your Money

Author: Jason Snyman
Date: 2019-06-05
In Part One of CAR DIY: Why spend money on a mechanic when you can do it yourself? Here’s everything you need to know about DIY car repairs.

Repairing and maintaining your own car isn’t the lifestyle most people buy into. Take into account, though, that with your own two hands and a couple of tools, you could keep your car in good condition, on the road and save yourself a bunch of money. 

You don’t need a mechanic to work on your car, unless you’ve done something drastically wrong to it. If your car is making some kind of awful screaming noise, chances are good that it’s just Nickelback on the radio – or you’ve run somebody over whilst staring at your phone. No need for a mechanic. 

There are several things you can fix all by yourself, but first, a few things to remember:

The Ten Commandments Of Auto-Repair

With credit to the folks at Thought Co – because 'humour has always been a great teacher.'

  1. Thou shalt not place any essential portion of thy anatomy beneath a car that is not properly supported with jack stands or blocks;
  2. Thou shalt not work on any part of the starting or charging system without first disconnecting the battery;
  3. Thou shalt suffer no flame or spark near the battery or the fuel system;
  4. Thou shalt forsake the open end of the wrench, and whenever possible, to use always the box end upon thy nuts and thy bolts;
  5. Thou shalt always securely block the wheels of the car before starting work, lest thee run thyself over with thine own car;
  6. Thou shalt never lose thy temper or thy patience. Remember: Act in haste and you will repent at your leisure;
  7. Thou shalt always exercise extreme care when opening thy radiator, lest thee parboil thyself or some innocent bystander;
  8. Thou shalt clean up any and all of the fluids that thy auto may emit, lest they ignite or poison thy groundwater, thy pet, thy children, or thy driveway;
  9. Thou shalt always place thy car's transmission in Park or Neutral before commencing work;
  10. Thou shalt never forget the laws of ASSUME, K.I.S.S, and Murphy, and never blame another person for thine own errors.

Repairing Your Own Car – The Essential Tools

Tools are expensive, but if you invest in the good stuff they could last a lifetime and serve you well. It’s important to use the right tool for the right job, so the initial layout may be a little expensive, but it's an investment worth making. 

You could just get the basics to start off with and acquire the rest over time. But, who doesn’t love new toys? All the gear and polished chrome, all that potential, the ability to carry out any job the universe throws at you. Do you need any more reason than that? Here’s a list of pretty much everything you would need to do most basic repairs on your car:

  • Adjustable Wrench & Torque Wrench;
  • Socket and Ratchet Set;
  • Star & Flat Screwdrivers;
  • Pliers;
  • A dependable Car Jack;
  • Wheel Spanner;
  • A digital multi-meter;
  • A couple of C-Clamps;
  • Sparkplug Gap Gauge Tool;
  • A Sparkplug Wrench or Socket;
  • An Oil Filter Wrench;
  • Rags;
  • A Hammer;
  • An Oil Pan;
  • A Wire Brush;
  • Funnel;
  • A Vacuum Cleaner;
  • A Fire Extinguisher – because I used to own a ’77 VW Beetle. Trust me.

For all DIY repairs, the internet is your best friend. There are a great number of excellent resources, how-to guides, general purpose videos and diagnostic assistance online for every common car problem. AutoMD is excellent. Read through the job directions or watch the walk-through several times beforehand. This will ensure you know what you’re doing before you dive in. 

Also, make sure you have all the correct parts before you take your car apart. You don’t want to be that person.  

Reasons To DIY

Knowledge is power. That old saying may be worn to the bone, but it’s true in every way. 

The car is something most people use every day. We rely on it to get us from one point to another, to protect us and our families and for some people it’s the very source of their income. Knowing about the inner workings of your car will only empower you. Know how it works, how to drive it and how to fix it. 

People are often hesitant when it comes to opening the hood and getting their hands dirty. Something to remember is that parts of a car can only come apart and go back together the same way. It’s a matter of nuts and bolts and keeping track of what goes where. Take pictures, draw diagrams, use colour-coded systems and take it slow. Do it right the first time, and maybe your wheel won’t come off while you’re doing 120km/h down the highway. 

Garages and mechanics have labour rates and overheads. Hey, it’s a business and they’ve got a profit to make. While it may be true that some jobs are simply too difficult or annoying or expensive – and have to be taken in to a professional – most of the small things you can simply take care of yourself and save a lot of money. 

Doing a job well will give you satisfaction and confidence. The more you do, the more you’ll learn. This means you could fix friends cars, or even advise them on how to do it themselves. A shady mechanic won’t be able to pull the wool over your eyes, either. 

Knowledge truly is power.

In Part Two – we look at when to service your car and what needs to be checked.  

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