While it may be getting more difficult to work on the average car these days, there are still some tasks that you can do yourself. Just be careful; today’s vehicles are extremely complicated and considered “computers on wheels.” Many simple tasks may end up a very costly mistake, if not done properly.
For those who enjoy performing basic repairs and services on their car, below is a list of tasks I feel can be done by most do-it-yourselfers:
- Wiper blades and Washer fluid– Check your washer fluid at least once a month, more often in the winter months. Always use high-quality wiper blades.
- Replace Air Filter – Some air filters will require special tools to access and replace. Also, thoroughly clean the air filter housing before installing a new filter. Replace about once a year.
- Replace Cabin Filter – Be careful! We have found that mice sometimes build a nest in this filter. The mice enter into the filter area through the vents. If there is any evidence of mice, it may be necessary to disinfect the entire heater and air conditioner system and inspect other components. Replace the cabin filter about once a year, more often if clogged with leaves and debris.
- Exterior and Interior Car Washing and Detailing – This is a task that most people can do themselves.
- Checking Underhood Fluids – Check every other month, at a minimum.
- Checking Tire Pressure – While most newer cars have a tire pressure warning system that will alert you with a dash warning light if the tire pressure is not correct, it’s always a good idea to check your tires with a tire pressure gauge about once a month.
- Exterior Bulbs – Many bulbs are very easy to replace. However, many are not and will require special tools and removing body panels.
As someone with more than 45 years of experience in automotive repair and service, here’s a little advice for do-it-yourselfers:
- Hybrid and Electric cars – UNLESS you are properly trained, do not attempt to work on these vehicles. There are systems that carry high voltage, which may be a potential health hazard.
- Oil changes – Caution: On many vehicles these days, you will need a special oil filter wrench and you may need technical help to reset the dashboard oil change reminder light. Plus, many cars have a plastic shield covering the oil drain plug and oil filter. These shields are held in place with special retaining clips. The clips are easily damaged when being removed.
- Make sure you understand the system you are working on. Don’t attempt any repair or service that you are not familiar with. Speak with a professional mechanic before you start any task if you are not sure about the procedure.
- For many repairs, you may need special tools and the right information. For your safety and to prevent damage to your vehicle, never attempt any repair without the proper tools and technical information.
- If available, take basic automotive classes. Many are held at local colleges, local high schools
and trade schools. There are also many do-it-yourself videos online and on YouTube.
- If you are planning on removing wheels and tires, PLEASE BE CAREFUL! Your car must be properly secured with jack stands and the wheels chocked. Removing wheels and performing repairs on your brakes, steering and suspension components may be better left to a professional auto repair facility.
- If you plan on changing your oil, antifreeze, or any other fluids, please dispose of the fluids properly.
- Check engine lights and other dash warning lights – You can buy an inexpensive computer scanner that will hook up to your car’s computer to access the error information. HOWEVER, I strongly advise that you DO NOT take the error code as a diagnosis. Testing and diagnosing a Check Engine Light or any other dash warning light is best left to a trained automotive professional. Replacing the wrong part or sensor can end up being very costly.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands from oil and other chemicals.
I hope these tips helped you. Remember, modern automobiles are extremely complicated machines, with many systems and components. Please consult your automotive professional if you have any questions about how to take care of your car, properly and safely.
Joe Marconi, owner Osceola Garage