Repairs and Maintenance: What to DIY and What to Leave to the Experts
Your cars can be an expensive investment that you want to make sure you keep in tip top condition for as long as possible. Booking a repair or service for a minor hiccup can lead to unnecessary expenses for you – some problems can be quite simple and inexpensive fixes, as we’ll demonstrate. Don’t waste your money going to see a mechanic to get these simple checks and repairs when you can DIY. You don’t need to be a qualified mechanic to perform these simple tasks, you just need a car and a little guidance. Next time your car is acting up, troubleshoot your problems by checking on the following areas before calling in for a service. However, it’s important to also keep in mind that if you DIY something that requires a little more expertise, this could also mean you’re spending more trying to fix a dodgy repair when you could’ve got it right with a mechanic the first time round. So, what should you DIY and what should you leave to the experts? Read on to find out more.
DIY Repairs and Maintenance
There are plenty of quick home repairs you can take on if you’ve got the time, equipment, technique, and confidence. Oh, and the internet (thanks YouTube and WikiHow!). However, some of them are more straightforward than others. Here we breakdown some of the basic repairs you can do all by yourself!
A flat tyre may seem like a major inconvenience – and yes, while it’s incredibly frustrating to encounter one – it’s quite a simple and relatively quick fix. And you already have all the tools you’ll ever need to get it done!
Here’s what you do.
The first thing you’ll want to do is locate your spare tyre and tool kit. Most cars will have this under the mat covering the floor of their boot – for others, it will be located under the hood. Your toolkit should consist of a car jack (which may come in two parts, the jack and swivel arm) and a wheel nut wrench.
Next you need to remove the hubcap covering the bolts on the wheels – just pull it right off. Loosen these bolts first with the nut wrench before elevating your car. This might take some force so try to put your body weight onto that wrench.
Then it’s a matter of lifting your car. Position the jack in the ridge under the side of your car, near the flat tyre. Add the swivel arm and rotate until your tyre is lifted sufficiently – make sure there is enough room to get the spare on. Continue to remove the bolts, remove the flat wheel, add the spare tyre and tighten the bolts. Then lower your car slowly by turning the swivel on the jack in the opposite direction.
When your car is firmly on the ground, ensure your bolts are tightened sturdily by again putting some body weight on them. Then, put the hubcap back on and put your flat tyre in the boot along with the tools.
This is important – get your tyre repaired ASAP. If you by any chance encounter another flat tyre, you will not be able to replace it, meaning you’ll be in a bit of a sticky situation. While some forms of tyre repairs can be done at home, it’s recommended that you see a professional for this as tyres are an essential car part.
If your tyre isn’t flat but is looking a bit low or deflated, it might just need a repump. This can be done quite easily and for FREE. You will, however, need to take a little trip down to your local petrol station.
When you arrive at your petrol station, look for the air pressure gauge – this area should contain a display and a long thin hose. Before you start pumping, make sure the psi on the display is set to the correct psi standard for your tyre – this is indicated on a sticker located on the driver’s side doorway. Adjust the psi on the display if you need to by using the arrow buttons.
Next, you just need to tend to each tyre by unscrewing the small cap covering each tyre’s valve and clipping the hose over it. If you’ve attached the hose correctly, air should start flowing and the display should read the air pressure (in psi) contained in the tyre. Pump the tyre until the required psi is reached, then unclip the hose nozzle. Screw on the cap, and repeat until you’ve finished all your tyres.
If you’re ever in a position where you can’t read the display, don’t stress. Just listen out for a loud beep indicating you’ve reached the desired psi.
Check Engine Oil
If your car isn’t running as smoothly as it used to – perhaps there’s some clunking sounds, or a burning smell, or it’s overheating, or just general underperformance – it’s worthwhile checking your engine oil, as it could be the cause of all these problems. Another sign is that your oil pressure warning light is being displayed. If you encounter any of these, here’s what you do.
Firstly, have a paper towel or clean cloth handy. Also, make sure you’ve parked on a flat surface and your car has had time to cool completely before you undertake this task. When this has happened, secure the hood of your car open. Next, look for the oil lid – this is attached to a dipstick that sticks into the oil container. Remove the entirety of the dipstick and wipe it clean. Note the line that indicates the oil is too low.
Next, fully dip the dipstick into the oil. Remove it and check how submerged it has become. If you’re low, you can top up with the correct type of oil if you have it – you can buy this from places like Supercheap Auto. Find the correct oil type by checking your car manual.
On top of checking your oil, there are a bunch of other fluids you can check for under the hood and top up yourself. Your brake fluid, coolant, and water container should all contain indicators for minimum and maximum levels. The great thing is, there are plenty of places that stock these fluids for cheap!
Your air filter has the important task of keeping your engine well-ventilated and keeping contaminants out of your air. So, it’s important to get it replaced every now and then. Thankfully, it’s super easy and cheap – a new filter will set you back about $10 upwards.
Once you’ve purchased your new filter, all you need to do to replace it is pop your bonnet and locate the air filter (it should be near the front of your engine). Again, wait for your engine to cool down before proceeding with any tasks as it can get super hot from just a short trip. Open up the cold air collector box and remove the old filter – give the box a wipe down too. Then, replace the old air filter with the new one. Close the box and the bonnet, and you’re good to go!
This one may surprise people, but replacing a battery can be quite easy, although not all that cheap (still cheaper than calling up a mechanic!). You do, however, need some tools. You’ll most likely need a socket wrench and an adjustable wrench to remove the nuts and bolts holding your battery secure. Also grab some safety gloves as you can never be too careful working with batteries.
Hot tip – always double check your owner’s manual for specific instructions regarding your car’s battery replacement. There may be extra steps depending on the make and model of your car.
You’ll also need to purchase the correct replacement battery for your car. Check the code on your existing battery to match it up with a new one – this should be displayed on the front of your battery, towards the bottom right corner.
With your car off and safety gloves on, unscrew the battery cables from your old battery. Remove the old battery and replace it with the new one. Before adding your new battery, always check that the area is clean and free from chemical corrosion – if it requires cleaning, try to use a baking soda solution to remove the rust (definitely wear your gloves for this). Then, refasted the cables onto the new battery with the existing nuts and bolts.
We should mention, although battery replacement can be done yourself, it can be a dangerous task if you don’t know what you’re doing. Batteries are heavy, corrosive, and highly flammable – only take this task on if you have some skill with electrical work and machines.
Leave To The Experts
Though painful it may be (to your wallet especially), sometimes it’s best to just go to a professional to get your car repaired, for risk of causing more damage. Here are the tasks you should under no circumstance attempt yourself.
Your windscreen is yet another essential car part – it needs to be crystal clear for you to drive safely. Although repairs may seem like a simple enough process, if performed incorrectly (or using a cheap, unreliable resin) you may be leaving a bigger task for yourself later (like a complete replacement). Get your windscreen repaired by a trusted expert instead – at Novus, we provide a stress-free repair with a lifetime guarantee, ensuring that the resin will hold up until the end of your windscreen’s lifetime.
If your damage is a little more significant, then you may require a windscreen replacement. Again, trust a professional to carry out this task with the latest technology, the right tools, and the highest quality autoglass for your car. Much like with our repairs, Novus also provides a lifetime guarantee on replacements, giving customers peace of mind knowing the job will last.
Your timing belt is just one of those things that wears out over time. It works to keep the engine running smoothly, allowing the valves to open and close seamlessly and the tensioner of the belt makes sure it doesn’t slip or pull in any weird direction The main reason you want to leave this to the pros is because there’s just a lot of components to replace and it’s too risky to do it yourself without proper knowledge. So, if you know your time belt is playing up, go ahead and book in with your mechanic.
Considering these are life-saving components to your car, you want to make sure they are 100% in good condition. If you’ve had a crash or your SRS light is flashing, you might need to fix an airbag fault.
Also, if your car containsTakata airbags, you must replace your airbags as they have been proven faulty and extremely dangerous. If you aren’t sure if your car contains this airbag make, check the Takata airbag recall list.
Coolant works to keep the motor of your car cool. Most of the time it can be topped up pretty easily. However, if you’re still noticing overheating and if your coolant is leaking (there might be blue or pink fluid dripping from your car) then you’re most likely going to need to take your car to the experts. Your car engine can quickly overheat without sufficient coolant which can bring a plethora of other more serious problems.
That brings us to the end of our list. Hopefully you learnt some affordable and easy ways to give your car a DIY service and what to leave to the professionals!
Novus Autoglass has 50 years industry experience to back its knowledge in windscreen repairs and replacements. On top of providing quality service, Novus has a range of great products to keep your car in top shape. Browse through our range of products and services today.