Auto Repairs Everyone Should Know How to Do

Changing the oil in a car.

Performing your own vehicle maintenance or minor repairs can save you time and money. Labor rates for mechanics can be quite expensive and making a trip to your local dealership can consume most of a day. Many of these procedures are easy and can be completed with a basic mechanic's tool set. Even a DIY enthusiast with a modest skill set should have little difficulty completing them.

Changing Oil

Changing your car’s motor oil is one of the most important maintenance procedures you can do yourself. Maintaining clean motor oil in your vehicle reduces engine wear which helps to avoid costly repairs and prolongs the engine’s life. You can change oil in six easy steps.

  • Place a shallow pan underneath the oil drain plug.
  • Unscrew the oil drain plug using an applicable-sized wrench to drain.
  • Unscrew the oil filter using an oil filter wrench to remove.
  • Drain used oil from oil filter and discard.
  • Re-install drain plug and the new oil filter.
  • Refer to your car's owner's manual for recommended vehicle maintenance.

Replacing a Flat or Damaged Tire

A man works on the inside of a car.

Many folks today rely on an auto club for emergency roadside repairs such as changing a flat tire. However, knowing how to install the spare tire yourself can get you back on the road much faster than waiting for a tow truck driver. A flat tire is a common occurrence so most vehicles are even equipped with the necessary tools to change a tire. Refer to your vehicle's owner's manual for proper tire-changing procedures.

  • When applicable, remove the hubcap that covers the lug nuts.
  • Use a lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts.
  • Lift the vehicle off the ground using a jack.
  • Finish removing the lug nuts and remove the flat tire.
  • Place the spare on the wheel hub and align with the lug bolts affixed to the wheel hub.
  • Thread the lug nuts onto each lug bolt until snug using the lug wrench.
  • Lower the vehicle to the ground and retighten the lug nuts.

Replacing Your Spark Plugs

A failing spark plug can cause your engine to run rough and reduce gas mileage efficiency. Most spark plugs can be changed with a socket and socket wrench.

  • Pull gently on the spark plug wire until it releases from the spark plug.
  • Use an applicable sized socket and socket wrench to unscrew the spark plug from the cylinder head counterclockwise.
  • Carefully thread a new spark plug into the cylinder head and tighten it until snug using the socket and socket wrench.
  • Place the spark plug wire onto the spark plug and press down until it snaps firmly in place.

Replacing a Car Battery

A man works on the inside of a car.

A good, strong automobile battery is a necessary component to ensure that your car starts when you need it to. If your battery starts to exhibit the signs — slower starts, dragging — of a failing battery, you can bet it won’t be long before you are left stranded in the parking lot. Fortunately, replacing a car battery is an easy fix.

  • Remove any mounting brackets from the battery using an applicable-sized wrench or socket.
  • Use a wrench or pair of pliers to loosen and disconnect the negative battery cable.
  • Repeat the previous step to remove the positive battery cable.
  • Carefully remove the old battery by lifting it out and away from the car.
  • Clean the battery box area before installing a new battery.
  • Place the new battery in the battery box.
  • Reconnect the positive battery cable first, followed by the negative cable using an applicable-sized wrench or pliers.
  • Re-install any mounting brackets to complete the repair.

Installing New Windshield Wiper Blade Assemblies

Windshield wiper blades are a necessary component when it comes to operating your vehicle safely in inclement weather conditions. As they wear, their ability to maintain proper visibility decreases. In addition, a worn wiper blade can cause extensive and costly damage to your automobile windshield.

  • Release and remove the windshield wiper blade assembly by pushing the release tab located on the windshield wiper arm.
  • Snap a new windshield wiper blade assembly onto the windshield wiper arm.

Windshield wiper blade assembly installation will vary between manufacturers. When in doubt, visit your local auto parts retailer. Many retailers will install the wiper blades free of charge as a courtesy for their customers.

Air Filter Replacement

A man works on the inside of a car.

Replacing your engine’s air filter on a regular basis — about every three months — is recommended by most automobile manufacturers. A dirty air filter causes your engine to work harder, which in turn causes additional wear and tear on the engine and can significantly reduce your gas mileage efficiency.

  • Locate the air filter housing assembly underneath the hood.
  • Remove the housing cover. Most are affixed using snap brackets or simple screws.
  • Remove the old air filter.
  • Clean the air filter box using a wet/dry vacuum.
  • Install a new air filter and replace the housing cover.

Performing the above procedures yourself is a budget-friendly alternative to going to a mechanic. In addition, most DIY enthusiasts will enjoy the satisfaction that comes with completing a project on their own terms and in their own backyard.