10 Basic Repair Tips That Will Help You Save Tons of Money - Unhaggle

Posted by | November 26, 2014 | Maintenance, Ownership | No Comments

10 Basic Repair Tips That Will Help You Save Tons of Money

Every car owner can use some repair tips for their vehicle, even if they aren’t experts. While some repairs and maintenance jobs will require a professional, many can be done at home, in the garage or out on the driveway. Knowing which task can be accomplished quick and easy will not only save you money, but also teach you more about your vehicle.

Automotive mechanics can charge from $80 to $100 for an hour of work – complex or not – and that doesn’t include the expense for new parts. So, the next time you decide to take your car to a mechanic, see if you are capable of doing the job yourself. It might be easier than you think.

The fear of messing up is what stops many people from fixing their own car, but the truth is – a car is a resilient machine that cannot be broken with some light tinkering. While professional mechanics will gladly hold your hand and your wallet through the whole repair process, understand that you are fully capable of doing what they do. All you need are a few tips:

1. Spark Plug Replacement

Spark Plug Replacement

What You Need: Ratchet or socket wrench, 12” socket extension, spark plug socket, spark plugs

Estimated Time: 25 minutes

Spark plugs need to be replaced every 30,000 miles, and changing them is easy – all you need is a bit of patience.

Locate your spark plugs under the hood. You can refer to your manual or identify the four to eight plugs (depending on the number of cylinders in your car) attached to rubber wires. Remove one spark plug from the wire. Don’t remove them all at once. Use a ratchet or socket wrench and spark plug socket to remove the first old spark plug by turning the wrench counter-clockwise. Clean the spark plug hole. Install the new spark plug by hand first and then tighten with wrench. Reconnect the spark plug to the wire. Repeat the steps until all spark plugs are replaced.

2. Brake Pad Replacement

Brake Pad Replacement

What You Need: Jack, lug wrench, C-clamp, open-end or adjustable wrench, hammer, new brake pads, brake fluid

Estimated Time: 30-60 minutes

Brake pads need to be replaced every 20,000 miles. While the task is fairly simple, it can also be a tad dangerous, so take precautions.

Securely jack up your car, remove the lugs from your tire and then remove the wheel. Take off the brake caliper; it should be located above the lug bolts. Remove the slider bolts located on the back of the caliper. Pull the caliper upwards without disturbing the brake line. Set it down safely. Slide the brake pads off and replace them with new ones. Older vehicles may need more force, but be gentle. Use a C-clamp to compress the brake piston. Tighten the clamp until you can place the caliper over the new brake pad. Attach the caliper and reinstall the wheel.

3. Windshield Fix

Windshield Fix

What You Need: Alcohol pad, pin, windshield repair kit (Permatex)

Estimated Time: Over an hour

Tiny chips in your windshield can be a big nuisance. Driving around with a damaged windshield is strongly discouraged, yet taking it to a professional may cost plenty of money. There are numerous products out on the market that are designed to fix small cracks on the windshield. They come with an adhesive, plunger and syringe system that injects resin into the broken glass. Avoid using these windshield fixing products while the car is sitting in the sun.

4. Headlight Bulb Replacement

Headlight Bulb Replacement

What You Need: Automotive bulbs, screwdrivers, rubber gloves, electric contact cleaner

Estimated Time: 15 minutes

Bulbs die over time and for your safety it’s important to replace them. Refer to your user manual to see which bulbs (sealed beam or composite) your vehicle uses. Remove the protective cover with your screwdriver. Unscrew the headlamp carefully. If the screw is sticky, you may require some penetrating solvent. After that, remove the light from the prongs connecting it. Clean the socket with an electric contact cleaner. Push the prong into your new headlamp and return it to its original position. Screw the cover back in.

5. Fuel Filter Replacement

Fuel Filter Replacement

What You Need: Jack, open-end wrenches, replacement fuel filter, container, rag, safety glasses

Estimated Time: 30-60 minutes

A dirty fuel system will ultimately damage your engine and your entire vehicle, so it’s important to perform regular maintenance by cleaning your fuel filter. The recommended time frame for a fuel filter replacement is once a year. Begin by placing a container under the filter.

Remove bolts attached to the old fuel filter in the vehicle. Place a rag near the fuel inlet to soak spillage. Put on a pair of safety glasses and carefully remove the pressurized inlet and outlet hoses. Be careful: there may be spurts. Remove the old filter and replace it with the new one. Reattach the inlet and outlet hoses. Screw the fuel filter back into the bracket. Check for leaks by starting the engine.

6. Oil and Oil Filter Replacement

Oil and Oil Filter Replacement

What You Need: Jack, ratchet, wrench, oil pan, funnel

Estimated Time: 45 minutes

Every 3,000 miles requires an oil change, but bringing it to a professional every four months or so takes time and money. Changing oil and oil filter is a dirty job, but you can save plenty by tackling it yourself. Never change your car’s oil when the engine is hot. Jack up the car and locate the oil pan.

Unscrew the plug and drain the old oil. Afterwards, replace the plug and old oil filter. Get the new oil filter and lubricate the rubber gasket. Fill the filter up with oil to the two-third mark and hand-tighten the oil filter. Use the funnel to fill in the new oil. Then check the oil level with a dip stick. Make sure you have enough.

7. Windshield Wipers

Windshield Wipers

What You Need: New windshield wipers

Estimated Time: 15 minutes

It’s encouraged to replace windshield wipers every six months to a year to avoid visually-impairing streaks. Many auto-part stores offer free windshield wipers installations, but if they don’t, no worries – you can easily install them yourself. Although the installation process differs from car to car, they all operate on the same principle and shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.

8. Battery Maintenance

Battery Maintenance

What You Need: Wrenches, corrosion-removal fluid, wire brush

Estimated Time: 20 minutes

A healthy battery equals smooth driving. Just popping the hood and having a thorough inspection will help you determine the condition of your car battery. Remove the battery from the terminals; if it’s stuck, use a screwdriver to loosen it. Clean the posts (Coca-cola or water with baking soda can be cost-saving cleaners), rinse and then dry with a cloth. Return the battery to the terminals in the car.

9. Radiator Flush

Radiator Flush

What You Need: Screwdriver or wrench, radiator flush solution, coolant funnel, receptacle

Estimated Time: 30 minutes

Your car’s radiator should not be overlooked when it comes to maintenance. A disrupted cooling system will damage your car and lead to more expensive repairs. It is recommended that your radiator and cooling system be flushed every year or two.

Locate the radiator’s drain plug and unscrew it. Let the old coolant drain into a receptacle and then screw the plug back in. Take out the radiator cap, pour in the radiator flush cleaning solution and fill in the rest with water. Put the cap back on and start the car. Allow it to run for a while at a normal temperature for 10 minutes. Turn the car off until it’s completely cool. Drain the radiator and refill it with fresh coolant.

10. Washer Tanks Leak Fix

Washer Tanks Leak Fix

What You Need: Plastic tank repair kit, soap, rubbing alcohol

Estimated Time: 45 minutes

If you find a puddle under your parked car, it might be because your windshield-washer-fluid reservoir has a leak. It may be a nuisance, but it can be a DIY fix. At most auto-part stores, you can find a plastic tank repair kit. All you have to do is remove the washer tank from the vehicle, empty it out and clean it very well with rubbing alcohol. Then follow the instructions from the kit. It will require you to squeeze some epoxy substance onto the tank, thus mending the ruptured area.

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About Elliot Chan

Elliot is a content writer at Unhaggle. Writing blog posts, reviews and anything else car related, he explores interesting and engaging automotive topics. If Elliot had a choice, he would be cruising down the street in a Cadillac CTS. But if you really want him to dream big, he would say that there is nothing better than living large in a Bentley Continental GT Convertible. He’s classy like that.

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