How to Do Your Own Car Repair Work - A Beginner's Guide

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If you don't know anything about car repair work, now is the time to learn. One of the best ways to survive a recession is to learn some do-it-yourself (DIY) skills. Working on your own car can save you hundreds of dollars.

Things You'll Need

  • Tools
  • Car repair manual
  • Time
  • Patience
  • Never performed car repair work and don't own any tools? it's time to head to out and get some. Not sure what to buy? Bring along a friend who has some car repair experience or do some online research to see what you need. Then go out and buy your own tool set. It doesn't have to be top-of-the-line, but invest in a good set and you'll have it for a lifetime.

  • Go to the library and look for the Chilton or Haynes repair manual for your vehicle. Take both books and compare some job descriptions and pictures. Which one makes the most sense? Which one has the best pictures? Hopefully, you'll like one book over the other. Now go and buy the book you like.

  • Search the Internet for a forum about the car that you own. I own a 1997 Saturn SL2 and based upon tips and tricks from the senior forum members at SaturnFans.com, I've been able to save hundreds of dollars in car repair work. Many of the forum members are very friendly and helpful, especially to newbies.

  • Create a list of DIY jobs that you can do by either reading the repair manual or having a friend coach you through or both. Consider things such as changing the oil, oil filter, air filter, spark plugs, spark plug wires, PCV valve, wipers, and checking and topping fluids. If you've never done work on your car, this list may sound daunting, but it really isn't.

  • Be prepared mentally and physically for the job. Some jobs will require a lot of time so provide enough time so you aren't rushing the job. If you rush, you are bound to mess up. Also, some jobs require body positions best suited for someone who has practiced yoga. Make sure you can handle the physical aspects of the job.

  • Now you are ready to work. Having your friend nearby or your book open to the appropriate spot, start working. Begin with a project that is relatively simple and builds self-confidence, e.g., checking and filling fluids. Half the battle is in your head and if you have the confidence you can do the job, you will be able to do it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Safety always comes first.
  • Be patient as you learn these new skills. Some are easy and some are really difficult.
  • Have good lighting so you can see what you are doing.
  • Depending on the job, you may need some shop towels to keep things clean.
  • Always wipe down your tools after you are done with your project.
  • A magnetic pan from a car supply store comes in handy for bolts, washers and screws.
  • Never get under your car unless it is well supported with either jack stands or ramps.
  • Make sure the car is in gear and the emergency brake is on to prevent the car from moving
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