What Are the Best Tips for DIY Car Repairs?

Dan Cavallari

When conducting DIY car repairs, it is important to first clear out an area in which the repairs can be conducted. If at all possible, work indoors in a garage to avoid delays or other problems due to the weather. A clear work area will be useful, and the space should be well lit to ensure the person doing the DIY car repairs can see inside the often dark engine compartment. Buying a repair manual from the manufacturer or from a third party company is a good idea, as such manuals often offer step by step instructions for conducting in-depth repairs.

Changing motor oil is an easy DIY car repair.
Changing motor oil is an easy DIY car repair.

Sometimes it is possible to conduct DIY car repairs with little or no guidance; changing motor oil, for example, is usually a fairly easy and straightforward process, as is changing air filters. More in-depth repairs, however, may require guidance in the form of a repair manual or a professional. Some DIY car repairs will also require special tools, which means it may be necessary to buy the tools or borrow them from someone. Make sure all tools necessary for the repair are on hand before beginning the repair process.

Changing the ignition switch is a more complicated DIY repair.
Changing the ignition switch is a more complicated DIY repair.

Whenever a repair is being done underneath a vehicle, it is extremely important to stabilize the vehicle using a lift, blocks, or jack stands. Never conduct DIY car repairs underneath a car that is held up only by the jack included with the vehicle's spare tire system; use solid jack stands instead, or a hydraulic jack that is rated for such repairs. If the front of the vehicle is being lifted, the rear tires should be blocked to prevent the vehicle from rolling, and vice versa if the rear of the vehicle is being lifted. If a commercial hydraulic lift is being used, all users should be trained how to use the lift properly and safely.

Rear tires should always be secured when a car is lifted.
Rear tires should always be secured when a car is lifted.

Remember that while the vehicle is being repaired, it will not be ready for use, and some repairs can take several hours or even days. Be sure to allot the proper amount of time for the repair and make other arrangements for transportation if necessary. In many cases, DIY car repairs can end up taking longer than expected because damage to parts may not be obvious until other parts are removed. This may mean replacement parts may need to be special-ordered from a local parts store, thereby drawing out the repair process even further.

Changing a car's air filter is relatively straightforward.
Changing a car's air filter is relatively straightforward.
Adding air to a tire is generally considered an easy DIY car repair.
Adding air to a tire is generally considered an easy DIY car repair.
A simple car jack might be necessary to make certain DIY car repairs.
A simple car jack might be necessary to make certain DIY car repairs.

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