It might be a daunting prospect, but much of what makes us all interested in cars is the ability to gain a greater understanding of how they work and how to keep them working. It’s a balance, but there are so many little things that aren’t tricky to tackle yourself, and not only provides an enjoyable process but often a very satisfactory outcome.
DIY car servicing is far easier than you would imagine it to be, but you have to have the right tools and exercise a degree of caution, not to mention safety, when you’re working on your own car. Luckily, there are tons of help guides out there, both printed and digital, and they’ll all point you in the right direction.
YouTube videos are your friend
If you own a car outright, you’re not in a finance plan and you have the time, space and wherewithal to work on your own car, it’s worth experimenting and ‘tinkering’ a little. You will probably do less damage than you think, and there are thousands of simple walkthrough guides and tutorials that will help you along in the process. No matter what car have, you’re likely to be able to find an example of something online that’s completely fixable yourself – from pieces of interior trim to power steering pumps.
The DIY car servicing standard – everyone with an interest in making sure cars work well will have done this in the past, and it isn’t too difficult. Couple of bits of advice – make sure you have flat ground (you need to make sure the car is stable and you don’t want to run the risk of not getting all the oil out the sump) and double, double check axle stands and chocks. If you’re underneath the car, a broken bumper is better than a broken face. The oil filters are often on far too tight (they only really need to be hand done), so you might need a decent filter wrench, but they are cheap. With online deals, an oil change won’t cost more than about £50 and you’ll have a far happier, and longer living, engine because of it.
Smooth running / misfires
Although a rough running engine can be symptomatic of bigger problems with your car, and may suggest you’ve run out of oil at some point in the past, DIY car servicing wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t change the plugs and coils every so often, and this normally fixes a misfire. They’re always pretty easy to change, just make sure you’ve got a long extender to your socket set to get the plugs out before you get going. Often, new plugs and one of the coil packs will have given up the ghost, meaning you can buy them pretty easily online. They’re at the top of the engine, accessible and you can’t go too far wrong.
Another easy one, and even better that changing an air filter when you’re DIY servicing your car generally doesn’t mean getting your hands too dirty or delving into places that are too much of a faff. Normally it’s just a case of removing a few plastic bits of piping and engine covering. Bad air filters tend to be a contributing factor to rough running, poor mpg and general, overall poor maintenance. They’re super inexpensive, and generally prolong the overall quality of the engine running and performance.
Most people will tell you to never go near an electrical fault, but if you’ve invested some time in the right equipment and know where things go, you can conquer most simple tasks yourself. Resistors and of course fuses commonly go, so before you shell out lots of money on diagnostics and taking it to the repair man, rule these out as a simple fiddle behind the dashboard might do the trick. It is also easier than you think to remove most of the facias on even modern cars – what’s behind is just a bunch of modules and it is often clear which bit does what. If you’re struggling with this sort of stuff, the people who fit car radios in shops such as Halfords will give you a bit of free advice if you go in non-plussed.
In general, it’s nice to have a car that feels nice to sit in, especially if you use it everyday. Those annoying little niggles or trim defects that have been bugging you for months are worth putting the time in yourself to get rid of. As mentioned before, interior facias are normally easy to get off and fit back together again in a fairly logical fashion. Plenty of spare parts at knock-down prices available online too, from new gear levers to cup holders. It’s worth making your car a nice place to be again.
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