Automotive Repairs That Everyone Should Know How to Do Automotive Repairs That Everyone Should Know How to Do

My wife recently purchased a beautiful 2014 Chevrolet Traverse. It's a nice crossover with plenty of room for our family. A couple of weeks ago, she was pulled over by a local policeman because the driver's side headlight was out. If my wife took her Traverse to the dealer or an auto mechanic to replace the headlight bulb, it was going to cost her well over $100 for a simple repair.

We went to the local auto parts store, bought a bulb for less than $20, and were able to replace the bulb in about half an hour. I consulted the owner's manual and researched a few YouTube videos to make sure I did the job correctly, but we saved time and money by doing the repair ourselves.

Replacing a headlight bulb is just one of many minor repairs that you can do yourself on your vehicle. Here are the top eight car repairs everyone should know.

1. Changing Oil

You need to regularly check and change your car’s oil to ensure the vehicle runs smoothly and to prolong the lifespan of its engine. Changing your car’s oil is one of the most fundamental DIY skills you should have for car maintenance or repair. Of course, it’s a different story if the oil filter and oil drain plug of your car are very hard to reach.

Check and change the engine oil regularly. A general rule of thumb is to change it every 3,000 miles, although most new cars these days can go for 5,000 miles before a change.

Basic Steps to Change Oil

  • Drain the oil by removing the oil drain plug
  • Unscrew oil filter, empty, and replace
  • Allow oil to drain into proper container
  • Screw in new oil filter and put drain plug back
  • Remove oil filter cap and fill with fresh oil (4-5 quarts)

2. Changing a Flat Tire

A man changing a flat tire on a car on a road.

Tires are one of the essential parts of your vehicle. Not knowing how to change a flat tire can not only leave you stranded, but can also be life-threatening. But changing a tire doesn't have to be frustrating and is a simple skill to learn. Here's how:

Basic Steps to Change a Flat Tire

  • Use a tire tool and loosen the lug nuts
  • Lift the vehicle off the ground using a jack stand
  • Remove the lug nuts and the flat tire
  • Put new tire or spare on the wheel hub
  • Snug the lug nuts back on
  • Lower the vehicle to the ground and make sure lug nuts are tight

3. Removing Scratches From the Paint

A scratch in your car's paint not only diminishes the appearance of your vehicle, but can also cause rust to the metal if left unattended. A body shop can cost you a fortune for a simple repair you can do yourself. Here's how to do it yourself:

  • Determine the depth of the scratch
  • Sand the scratch lightly
  • Clean the area and apply rubbing compound
  • Polish the area with rubbing compound
  • Wash the area
  • Apply wax to seal the repair

4. Changing Spark Plugs

Someone holding an old and new sparkplug side by side.

Spark plugs are located inside the cylinder and create sparks to ignite the gasoline. They will go bad or wear out about every 10,000 miles. They are very easy to replace. Watching a video online will help to ensure you do it correctly.

Basic Steps to Change Spark Plugs

  • Remove the spark plug wire
  • Remove the faulty plug with a socket or wrench
  • Insert new plug and tighten
  • Re-attach spark plug wire

5. Changing a Car Battery

A dead car battery can be very frustrating and if it happens away from home you may need to call for roadside assistance. But if you are at home and your battery is weak or dies, you can replace the battery quite easy.

Basic Steps to Change the Battery

  • Remove any covers from battery
  • Disconnect the negative cable and then the positive cable
  • Remove old battery and replace with new one
  • Connect negative cable and then positive cable

6. Replacing a Headlight

A man replacing a headlight on a car.

Be sure to watch online tutorials for your specific make and model because replacing some headlights can be a difficult task. But most lights are simple to repair. Here is what the process involves:

  • Remove screws connecting the headlight frame to the bracket
  • Disconnect the electrical connector
  • Remove the faulty bulb
  • Install the new bulb
  • Plug in the electrical connector
  • Replace headlight frame

7. Replacing Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers are vital when it comes to driving in heavy rain or snow. Faulty wipers can cause damage to your windshield and need to be replaced. It's another easy fix. Here's how:

  • Lift wiper arm away from the windshield and depress the small tab which allows the wiper blade to come off
  • Line up the new wiper blade with the arm and push it in tightly

8. Replacing Air Filters

Someone replacing an air filter in a car.

Air filters are one of the most overlooked parts of your car. They keep your engine free of dust and other contaminants. They are inexpensive and quite easy to replace, so keeping your car’s engine clean is another easy DIY. Make sure you change your filter once every 30,000 miles, or approximately once a year.

Basic Steps to Replace the Filters

  • Open the hood and locate the air filter unit
  • Remove air filter cover and remove air filter
  • Insert new filter and replace the cover

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