The cost of maintaining and repairing your car can be very expensive, particularly if you’re unlucky enough to suffer a series of problems at the same time. There are options, however, if you are prepared to try to repair your own car. Many people are put off from doing so because of a fear of permanently damaging a vehicle. However, and while all maintenance should be completed as carefully as possible, there are ways to learn and make fixes without having to go to the garage. At the same time, it’s important to remember to be cautious, and to realize when you can’t fix a problem. Some of the important areas you need to think about when repairing your car include:

BMW Z4 sDrive 23i, HDR
Marc via Compfight

1 – Understand Your Car

Never start work on a car without understanding it in detail. As well as the basic manual that should still be with the car, you should consult a Haynes manual. Haynes manuals break down the specs for the car, and provide instructions about what parts to source for repairs, and how you can make minor and major changes to it. Online videos and smartphone apps are also useful for step by step instructions.

2 – Keep Records

Maintain records of any changes that you do make, as well as an inventory of parts. Any damage that is caused as the result of your own repairs may invalidate your warranty, and can lead problems when you do take a car in for its MOT. It’s also worth taking photographs of your car before and after you make changes to it.

3 – Tools and Parts

Useful tools to have to hand when making repairs include adjustable wrenches and torque wrenches, as well as socket and ratchet sets, pliers, screwdrivers, jacks and handles. Most cars come with their own jacks for replacing tires. The parts for your car can be identified via a manual or online, and can also be bought from auto repair garages and Internet sellers.

4 – Understand Safety

Safety is paramount to any repairs that you make to a vehicle. Be particularly careful when dealing with electrical connections and battery acid, and use jacks to support a car when making any changes where you have to go beneath it. Seek help if you feel that you need someone to make sure that a car doesn’t tip.

5 – Build Up Skills

Before putting the time into making large-scale changes to engines or brake pads, ensure that you are comfortable with tasks like replacing windscreen wipers, fluids, and wheels. Building up your skills and familiarity with a car will make it easier to move on to more significant repair work, and will allow you to quickly fix any recurring problems. You should also be able to replace any blown bulbs and broken air filters, as well as being able to rewire fuses and top off fluids.

6 – Serious Repairs

More serious repairs will take time and patience to get right. One common repair is to replace an engine drive belt. While detailed information should be checked, this involves unloading the tension on a belt, and unthreading it from the engine before winding a new belt. Similarly, brake pads can be replaced by removing a wheel base and slider belts, before adjusting caliper bolts and pistons to remove and replace brake pads that show wear and tear.

7 – Seek Help If In Doubt

Again, seek as much detailed help as possible before beginning any kind of repairs. If you’re in doubt, or you feel that you may have damaged something, always go to the nearest garage, rather than trying to fix your mistake.

Serena works with Lexus to promote used Lexus cars within the United Kingdom. She is also a copywriter and a regular blogger within the motor industry, in addition to other subjects.

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