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Easy car repairs that you can do yourself

Owning a car is a big responsibility because you need to maintain your vehicle regularly to reduce the risk of any road mishaps that can be prevented if your car is in its good running condition. You may need to shell out a hefty sum for car maintenance and repairs, something that’s particularly true when you own an exotic or luxury car, but if you maintain your vehicle as much as you can yourself, expensive visits to the mechanic should be few and far between.

For exotic cars, you may be best to engage an auto mechanic who will be able to deal with your car efficiently. The reason behind this is that their years of experience in handling luxury cars has already equipped them with the knowledge and skills that they need to perform the repairs successfully. But with more run-of-the-mill cars there are certain repairs that you can effortlessly perform on your own by referring to online car repair manuals which can enable you to maintain your vehicle to a high standard. The electronic format of these manuals is more convenient, particularly as you can simply print out the particular pages you need from the copy you have downloaded. If you are already equipped with a repair manual, below are some of the repairs that you can do on your own.

Air filter replacement

As a general rule, you need to replace your air filters once every three years or when your mileage reaches between 30,000-50,000km. You can find your air filter under the bonnet of your car, sitting in a black rectangular box that is fastened with metal clips on the side. Just remove the old air filter and replace it with a new one, placing the new one in the same position as the old one you have removed. Usually, you would need to leave your car for an entire day with a mechanic for this process that you can accomplish in under ten minutes. Of course, if your vehicle’s manual specifies a particular service interval or a specific type of filter, follow its advice.

This V8 Mercedes AMG engine has the air filter in the top right of the image

Windscreen wiper replacement

Like with the air filters, you need to replace your wiper blades periodically. To replace the wiper blades on your own though, you need to refer to your car’s manual because the blade set up tends to differ from one model to another. Referring to your manual, just lift the blades and take out the old one, but pay close attention to how the old blades connect to the metal arms. Once you have removed the old blades, just replace it with the new blades, but be careful not to bend the wiper arms or scratch your windshield.

Spark plugs

More often than not, the spark plugs of your car need to be replaced when it reaches around 50,000km. Depending on the number of cylinders of your vehicle, you may find three, four, six, eight, ten or twelve plugs attached to thick rubbery wires. Make sure not to remove all of the wires at once, rather remove the wire to the first spark plug initially. Replace this old spark plug with a new one, but make sure not to over-tighten when you fasten the new spark plug to the wire. You just have to repeat the process for each of the spark plugs present in your vehicle, but since the spark plugs are arranged in a certain order, make sure to do this process one spark plug at a time.

With modern engines, the plugs are often hidden under a plastic cowl which will need to be removed first. If you own a vehicle with a boxer engine (e.g. Subaru or Porsche), this process might be more difficult as the spark plugs are on the side of the engine.

Change oil

More often than not, car owners leave the change oil process to the experts, but you can effortlessly do this on your own. For a safety precaution though, do not attempt to change your oil while your engine is hot. If you are a hundred percent sure that your engine is already cool, jack up your car and get under your vehicle to locate its drain plug. Just unscrew the drain plug and let out all the old oil in a pan. Replace the plug. Using a funnel, fill in your engine with new oil and check the level of oil you have added with a dipstick. You should change your oil filters too when you change your oil.

Remember to dispose of your old oil responsibly.

Oil will drain from the plug. Make sure you have a big enough pan to collect it!

Being a car owner entails the need for you to learn how to maintain your car efficiently to keep it in good running condition for the road. But you don’t have to come rushing to the mechanic immediately, particularly if the only thing that you need to attend to is your air filter or windscreen wipers. This is also the case if you need to address concerns with your spark plugs or oil and oil filters. Being able to perform these simple repairs by yourself will save you with a decent sum in the long run.

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Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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