Taking your car to the garage for repairs can be an expensive journey, but many people don’t realise that there’s a wide range of repairs that are easy to learn at home. Back when I first got interested in car repair, there were a lot more people who relied on their trusty Haynes manual and a bit of hard graft. It’s died down a bit nowadays, one reason why I think it’s died down is because there’s a myth that it’s too hard to repair a modern car yourself. But the reality is that the mechanics of a car haven’t changed that much. Below are some of my recommendations for trying out some jobs at home. Just make sure to purchase your cars official guide and read through any instructions several times before you work on something.
1. Changing your Car Battery
Changing your car battery is one of the simple DIY repairs. Batteries are fairly inexpensive to buy and last about 5 years. If you think it’s coming to an end then it’s worth replacing it, rather than finding yourself breaking down because it fails. Sometimes, if you leave your lights on overnight you might just need to jump start your battery rather than replace it.
To change the battery you simply need a basic toolkit which includes wrenches (usually around 8mm). The key thing when removing a battery is to ensure that the first cable you remove is the negative cable, and attach this same cable last when you connect the new battery. This will stop the car short-circuiting.
You also need to make sure that you follow full safety procedures from the vehicle and battery manufacturers handbooks when changing a battery. Most important is that you make sure nothing touches the negative and positive terminals on a battery at the same time.
2. Changing your Spark Plugs
Changing your spark plugs is quite a rare task there days, but it’s worth preparing for it in case they fail, especially if you’re a driver that covered a lot of miles. Spark plugs are only about £20, and a wrench should be available for a few pounds and could save you hundreds in the long run. Wikihow has a great in depth article on how to change spark plugs.
3. Autobody Repair
Autobody repair is something you can try out at home. You might be best picking up an old cheap car and having a play around with and learning what you can do. The more advanced you get, you can look at restoring old cars, which is a really rewarding hobby.
For anyone who’s not delved into the world of welding, it might seem a highly skilled task. But MIG welding is actually one of the most accessible hobbies for working in your home workshop. You can also TIG weld, which is slightly more skillful but produces better results, so is often a better choice for welds that will be visible. There’s some great tips for autobody repair online and also free guides to learn welding from scratch . Also make sure you avoid any beginner mistakes.
4. Replacing Brake Pads
Many people are scared to touch their brake pads, but it’s actually a replacement that can be done at home, especially if you already have some experience in car repair.
If your car starts squealing when you put the brakes on, this means that the pads are worn down and unsafe, so you’re going to need them replacing. This usually happens after around 20,000 miles, but will vary from car to car.
To replace your brake pads you must follow these steps
- Jack up the car and remove the wheel
- Remove the slider bolt
- Remove the brake caliper but holding it in the 12 o’clock position, holding it from the top and pulling upwards.
- Slide out the brake pads
- Replace them with the new brake pads, ensuring they are clipped into place exactly the same as the old ones.
- Retract the brake piston
- Reapply the caliper over the pads
- Reattach the slider bolt
- Reattach the wheel.
Brake pads are recognized as DIY eligible, but you must make sure you’re completely sure with what you’re doing, Safety is paramount with these, so if you’re unsure then go to a professional.
Learning your own car repair is a fun hobby and can also save you money. Just don’t be afraid to get started, and remember, there’s plenty more resources and great videos on the internet where you can learn lots of useful information.
About the author:
John has over 30 years experience in welding from his workshop on both repairs and metal art. Nowadays he’s taken a bit of time off to write articles on his website (www.kingsofwelding.com) but still loves to work on new projects whenever possible.