25 Car Repairs You can do Yourself to Save Money

“I hooked up my accelerator pedal in my car to my brake lights. I hit the gas, people behind me stop, and I’m gone.” – Stephen Write.

DIY Car repairs

Modern cards require expensive equipment and electronic diagnostics system to repair problems. You can’t do every type of fixes/maintenance alone. You need to go either to an authorized dealership or a certified technician for complex problems.

Still, there are various fixes that you can do yourself with simple tools and little experience. Save money and time by doing basic troubleshooting and repairs on many car issues. Gain experience to fix complex issues by doing simple DIY repairs first.

(Related - Save money on car rental)

Keep your car in top condition by following these 25 DIY car repairs.

1. Air filter replacement. Clogged air filters lower car performances on many levels. Change your car’s air filter to increase power and gas mileage. An air filter replacement is one of the easiest DIY car repairs to do for worn out filters.

2. Oil change. Oil change is relatively easy to do yourself with certain precautions. Avoid changing oil after driving your car recently since it can be very hot. You should wait at least a couple of hours after driving your car to change the oil. Tools for a DIY oil change are ratchet, oil filter, wrench, funnel, new oil, oil container, and oil filter.

3. Spark plugs. This simple DIY procedure can make automobiles have better fuel consumption ratings and drive smoother. Spark plugs for most cars are cheap. Check the plug wires while replacing spark plugs too.

4. Windshield wipers. Replace the worn out strips of rubber found on old wipers with new ones. Change windshield wipers for optimal driving conditions during rain. Basic tools are needed like a screwdriver and new wipers to change them.

5. Headlight bulbs. Check the front of your car for burnt headlight bulbs in need of replacement. DIY headlight bulb change is possible for cars without sealed beam headlights. Be sure to get the right bulb for your car and save money by changing it yourself.

6. Dangling exhaust pipes. If you hear extra car noises from the back of your car, it could be damaged pipe holders or structure. Most cars use rubber loops to hold exhaust pipes that can be damaged over time. Look under your vehicle for any broken hangers in the exhaust pipe and change accordingly.

7. Brake pads.  Always keep brake pads in optimal conditions to avoid car accidents and injury. Brake pads are a key component of the brake system that should be properly maintained. Usual tools to change brake pads are a c-clamp, lug wrench, Allen wrenches, hammer, and jack, amongst other.

8. Fuel filters. Fuel filters have an average price of $15 depending on the car, but can save hundreds of dollars from engine damage if changed regularly. Fuel filters are important to keep fuel injection and carburetor systems clean and working properly. Please, do note that it is imperative to release the fuel system pressure before replacing the fuel filter to avoid damage or injury.

9. Car radiator flush. Automobiles’ cooling systems and radiators should be cleaned to keep engines cool. Radiators can build deposits what can clog the cooling system. Perform regular radiator flushes to keep the cooling system in optimal condition. Before removing the radiator cap, to flush the radiator, check that the engine is cool.

10. ABS sensors. ABS sensors can cause the ABS light to show on cars’ dashboards if dirty. Clean ABS sensors while replacing brake pads to save on time, if possible.

11. Plug tires. Car experts differ on whether is better to patch or plug a tire. However, only use these options for short-term solutions for tire damage if not done by a professional. Tire plugs can be bought for as little as $5 to repair most tires according to the damage.

12. Fuel gauge sender. If you are running low on fuel on a constant basis, the fuel tank gauge might need replacing. Many cars have these units located under seats based on the manufacturer. Review the owner’s manual to verify the location of the fuel sender unit, and if accessible, change accordingly.

13. Brake discs. Combine changing warped brake discs with brake pad replacement to save time if needed. Warped brake discs can damage entire car axles if not corrected in time.

14. Removing stripped screws.  If you have damaged a screw’s head, steps must be taken to remove it correctly. Drills are suggested to remove stripped screws with diameters to drill a hole in the screw’s head center. Once the screw’s head separates from the body, it should be easy to remove.

15. Blown fuses. If your headlights are out, it could be from a blown fuse. Check the car’s fuse box to determine which fuse needs replacing. There are three main types of car fuses, which are glass tube, blade, or ceramic. Review your car owner’s manual to find the location of fuse boxes and type of fuse required.

16. Car signal Relays. Turn signals are easy to troubleshoot, if signal relays are at fault. Bad turn signal relays can make turn signals stop blinking. Check the signal relay setup of your car for turn signal issues.

17. Car batteries.  Batteries are the center of a car’s electrical mechanism. Use approved gloves and eye protection to avoid acid damage from the battery. Check the old battery with a voltmeter to see if it has the proper charge. Batteries with lower than 9.7 volts while starting an engine, should be replaced for most vehicles.

18.  Seat belts and seatbelt retractors. Seat belts, by law, must be used to protect against injury in a car accident. Seat belts and belt retractors can be replaced with proper screwdrivers by simply removing the covers and placing new ones. You should test the new seat belt for optimal working conditions.

19. Window belt strips. Inspect visually window belt strips for missing parts, cracking, or other damages for replacement. Worn out window belt strips can cause water damage, if not kept in top shape.

20. Tire valve stems. Tires and wheel assemblies must be removed to change tire valve stems. Deflate tires by removing the inside valve stem. Install the new tire valve and inflate tire accordingly.

21. Serpentine belts.  Check under your car’s hood or the engine compartment for the serpentine belt routing layout. The belt tensioner must be located and loosened up to remove the serpentine belt. Make sure to install the new serpentine in the same manner that the old one was routed. After installing the new belt, check the belt’s tension and adjust if necessary.

22. Tire replacement. Tire change is one of the most common DIY procedures performed by drivers. Damage wheels should be replaced with the spare tire by using the jack and tire changing tools available from most car manufacturers. A professional should balance new tires later.

23. Thermostats. Radiator thermostats provide car engines’ working temperature that should be within recommended levels. The radiator must be checked for leaks and locate the thermostat. Coolant should be drained to release pressure and to replace the thermostat housing structure faster.

24. Radiator hoses. Radiator hoses are key to maintain coolant system pressures and engines’ temperatures. Worn out radiator hoses can have leaks that drain coolant levels and heat up car engines. Check for the upper and lower radiator hoses for damage and replace as necessary. Radiator hoses are usually just held by clamps and screws depending on the type of car.

25. Washer tanks. Washer tanks are necessary to clean dirty windshields while on the road. Open your car’s hood and locate the washer tank. Remove the washer pump’s wiring to the washer tank before removing. Washer tanks are usually just held by a couple of bolts based on manufacturer. After replacement, fill the washer tank with washer fluid and test for proper function.

Regular car maintenance and repairs are top priorities to keep cars away from mechanic shops. This DIY car repair list will assist you to maintain your vehicle in optimal road conditions without spending a lot of money. Get professional assistance if you find unable to fix some parts. It is important for you to follow safety procedures at all times while doing DIY car repairs.

This article is provided courtesy of Cheap Car Insurance Experts, a consumer website that helps people find affordable auto insurance companies and provides news and tips on general car topics.

is a husband and working as a software professional for a Fortune 100 corporation in Florida. Thanks for visiting the blog.

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Comments

  1. says

    While I will agree I think it’s always best to have someone else change your oil. They have shops all around that do it for really cheap and use great oil. Plus they dispose of it properly.

       0 likes

    • says

      Basically it all depends on time vs money calculation. If you think you can better utilize the time, then go for the shops.

         0 likes

  2. says

    I think learning to change your own oil, air filters, etc. are the most important items on this list. They not only extend the life of your vehicle significantly–regular oil changes can make a car last 300k+ miles–but also saves you $50 or $60 bucks per pop. And if you commute a long distance (like I do) you need oil changes every month or two.

    Great post.

       0 likes

    • says

      Very good statistical analysis. Add to tat the equipment replacements like wipers, tires, battery and you can save a lot on the lifetime of a car.

         0 likes

    • says

      All along I have been paying for oil change but, some day with nothing else to do I can venture in to DIY route.

         0 likes

    • says

      I won’t prefer fixing belts on my own either. Changing small equipment are doable. The rule of thumb should be that whenever you have doubt, refer to technicians.

         0 likes

  3. says

    I had changed my own oil for years. Lately with a lot on my plate, I decided to pay for it since it would save me some time. I hated paying the $35 it cost me for some other guy to do it. I’m going to keep doing it myself, regardless of how pressed for time I am.

       0 likes

  4. says

    Nice list! I try to avoid DIY projects or repairs with cars, as I have zero interest and I’d rather spend my time on other things. For example, I don’t change my oil, and would much rather pay somebody to do it.

       0 likes

  5. says

    I enjoy doing basic work on my car. Nice list of areas to check. I’ve got an exhaust pipe rattling right now, in fact. Well, not “right now” while I’m typing this, but maybe “currently when I drive the car…” Better.

       0 likes

  6. says

    This is a good topic and I liked the post. Washing the car with care is something that you can also do your self better than the car wash. Washing the front cover and the fan belt area, radiator etc will increase the car performance as well

    Regards

    Aania @ professional car carriers

       0 likes

  7. HalleyComet says

    Check your tire pressure!!!! It’s simple and the only “investment” is a few dollar air pressure gauge from auto or general store. Keep them inflated properly and learn how to see if they are wearing UNevenly and how to rotate them.

    Learn how to check ALL of the levels in your car/motorcycle/ ATV etc—

    Oil / Antifreeze/coolant/ windshield wiper liquid/ brake fluid/ transmission fluid/ power steering fluid / AC coolant

    None of these takes more than a few seconds and keeps you on top of the state of your engine and it’s support systems. This can alert you to problems when they are minor and fixable instead of stranding you.

    Also learn how to check HOSES and BELTS–if that serpentine belt snaps you COULD lose: Water pump–Power Steering Pump–Alternator—AC compressor

    New belt: about $50 or less. Time to fix–less than an hour–and it’s NOT rocket science! If you can put YOUR belt on you can CHANGE this belt.

    Any of the above parts could cost thousands depending on your car and it’s complicated mechanisms. Designed to NOT allow YOU to fix much anymore.

    Also make sure your TIMING BELT–an internal part–gets CHANGED according to the recommended time or mileage–could cost you the ENTIRE ENGINE in a split second.

    I regularly have cars that have between 100000 and 200000 miles on them in the drive way–the only car I ever bought NEW I drove until it had 269000 miles on it and IF the timing belt had NOT snapped I would love to be driving my beloved 1984 Honda Civic right now! My current car has 181000 (2004) on it and I will be driving it twice that as long as I keep maintaining it.

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  8. says

    I have benn doing my own car repairs since I was a teenager. I learned from my uncle and it seems like over time I started venturing into the more complicated car repairs. Over time I did save a lot of money and also developed thee skills that eventually became my profession. I now own a car repair shop. It all started with the do-it-yourself spirit.

       1 likes

    • says

      Thats a great example Roberto, thanks for sharing with us. In our world, many hobby bloggers quit their job and now full time blogging from home.

         0 likes

  9. says

    This is honestly one area where I need desperate improvement. Way too much time playing video games and studying when I could have been acquiring practical skills. I pay for it about twice a year when a mechanic quotes me a price and I have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.

       0 likes

    • Halleycomet says

      Most car makes and models have a website or web area devoted to their care and maintanence. This should give you the chance to see if the repair your mechanic claims you need is “Legit”, if the cost is in line with others payments, if there are other things you SHOULD be doing during that repair (ie when you change timing belts change the water pump as well–saves you tearing that entire section of the car APART if the pump goes later. Adds to cost but saves in the end–a LOT)

      This can also be useful in helping you decide if you CAN do the job yourself. Recently I needed to change the O2 sensors in my 2004 Honda CRV. Having met several stubborn O2 sensors before on other cars I wanted to KNOW if these were likely to need a more experienced mech than us. Discovered several things:
      You should change TWO of these if one goes bad–the other will go bad soon as they presumably have about the same mileage and conditions.
      They are easy to get to–phew!!!!
      Buying a small wrench made just for this would make this easier
      That the DEALER might charge $100 JUST to test the “codes” on this–vs FREE at local car parts places and FREE at my house as I already have an OBD tester
      That the prices for the parts themselves are INSANE if purchased from dealers or some car places BUT on Amazon they were 1/4 the going retail.

      So—purchased a “package” on Amazon for LESS than half the price the local places wanted for ONE of these sensors–got the two O2 sensors AND that wrench for $130. Sprayed the old ones with WD40 and let sit for awhile–and off they came and on they went. Took 20 MINUTES.

      The dealers? They get anywhere from $400 to $600 for ONE of these jobs. And they might NOT tell you that you should change both the “upstream” and “downstream” O2′s–so they get to grab this amount AGAIN when your Check Engine Light comes on or the cart fails inspection.

      Always check around on line FIRST before you buy or start wrenching away!

         0 likes

  10. says

    It’s not a huge secret, but simply asking for help at the auto parts store saves LOADS of time and money. They are often happy to help, and they know what they are doing. They can also help you find the most affordable part (there is usually an economy-grade, mid-grade, and high-performance grade of any part). Wipers, headlights, fuses, air filters, batteries. All of the simple stuff they can do for you.

    Unless you are a car junkie with time on your hands, leave the oil change to the professionals. Oil changes can be quite affordable, and by the time you’ve spent your money, gotten down and dirty, and disposed of the used oil (properly), someone else could have done it for you. Look for coupons online, in the mail, on your phone (searching the name of the oil change place + “coupon/deal/specials/etc.”

    Thanks,
    Blake

       1 likes

  11. karen chase says

    This is a great list, I need to learn how to do some more of these on my own. I’ve changed my oil and windshield wipers before and it was pretty simple but I usually rely on the Volkswagen Service Center for everything else!

       0 likes

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