To a novice, the anatomy of a car can seem as mysterious and complicated as a human body. Although many car problems do require you to take your car into the doctor (a.k.a. the mechanic), some are so simple that anyone can do them. We’ve got a short list for you to start with: six car repairs you can do yourself. Before you start though, a word of warning—be sure to carefully follow all the instructions in your car’s manual and if anything goes wrong, call your mechanic or take the car in to be checked out.
Car Repairs You Can Do Yourself
- Oil Change. Your owner’s manual will tell you the recommended mileage for oil changes and the type and amount of oil needed. Check your oil level frequently (using the dip stick in the engine compartment) and watch for any oil leaks. While you’re changing your oil, it’s a good idea to also replace the filter. You’ll need some basic tools like an adjustable wrench and a (sealable) container in which to catch the used oil.
- Changing the Battery. Changing your own battery is very simple, but you should always follow your car’s manual’s instruction and wear eye protection, just in case. Once you learn how, it’s an easy skill to remember. Most drivers also keep jumper cables and/or a jump box in their car’s trunk in case of an emergency.
- Replace Windshield Wipers. If your windshield wipers are no longer effectively doing their job (i.e., wiping), you can easily replace them. For many cars, you will only need to replace the rubber blade, reusing the mechanism that holds the wiper in place.
- Replace Headlight Bulbs. It’s a bit more complicated than changing a household lightbulb, but anyone can replace their car’s headlight bulbs. Use your owner’s manual for instructions; it should have a diagram of the bulb’s holder and clip. It’s important not to touch the bulb with your fingers (the oil on your skin could cause a premature burnout or break the bulb); use surgical-like gloves or only hold the plug end of the bulb. If you have halogen headlights, the task might be a little more complicated, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.
- Clogged Air Filter. The easiest of our car repairs you can do yourself, installing a new air filter takes just a minute. All you have to do is unsnap the clamps that secure the air filter housing, clean the compartment, and snap in the new filter. You should replace your air filter about every 15,000 miles.
- Dangling Exhaust Pipe. If you hear a noisy rattling coming from the back of your car, you might have a dangling exhaust pipe. Luckily, this is one of our car repairs you can do yourself. The rubber loops that hold up the exhaust pipe have probably degraded, leaving the exhaust pipe unsupported. Simply remove the old exhaust hanger (which might be in two pieces) and install a new one. To install, hang it over the top exhaust mount (which is attached to the car), have someone hold the muffler in place for you, and attach the muffler to the exhaust hanger. Done!