Everyone knows that mechanics charge you an arm and a leg for auto repairs, but you take your car in anyway because you may not know how to perform repairs. For bigger repairs, a mechanic’s specialized skills are necessary, but there are some simple repairs that anyone can accomplish at home for a fraction of the cost. As an added bonus, when you perform you own simple repairs, you are completely in control of the quality and eco-friendly rating of the parts and fluids you use. Here are three simple DIY auto repairs that anyone can complete.
1. Repair a windshield chip: This may sound big and scary, but anyone can buy a windshield repair kit and complete this task. Keep in mind, this process works best for star chips with minimal cracks. Start by cleaning the area around the damage with a household glass cleaner. Use a razor blade to smooth the surface and edges of the chip, picking out any loose bits of glass from inside the chip. Your windshield repair kit, found at most auto part shops, will have a device designed to inject the adhesive into the chip. Follow the included instructions to smooth the surface once the adhesive has been injected. Note that working under the hot sun may dry the adhesive too quickly to leave a clear finish. This project is best done in an opened garage or under some other form of shade.
2. Flush the power steering fluid: Buy a bottle of power steering fluid from your local auto parts shop and stop by your kitchen on your way to the garage to grab a turkey baster. Well, maybe buy a new turkey baster to avoid contaminating your food. Pop your hood and use the turkey baster to siphon out as much of the old power steering fluid as you can from the fill canister inside the engine compartment. Dump this fluid into a plastic container for safe disposal at an oil recycling facility. The goal of this process is to replace as much of the fluid as possible, which should be about 90 percent. Pour in the new fluid. Start the engine and turn the steering wheel from side to side. Turn the engine off and let it cool for a few minutes. Start the engine back up and repeat the steering wheel process three or four times, or until the new power steering fluid appears clear.
3. Changing a tail light bulb: A dead tail light can result in a ticket, but it’s a cheap, simple repair for anyone to complete. Tail lights generally last a few years, but you may want to keep a few fresh bulbs handy in case one spontaneously dies. Start by unscrewing the lens housing, either from the outside or from inside your trunk. Pull out the bulb assembly (be careful not the rip the wiring). From there, you can remove the dead bulb and pop in new bulb. Some bulbs pull straight out and others require a quarter turn twist of the bulb holder underneath it. Return the assembly and screw the lens housing back on. If the lens itself is cracked or broken, water can leak in and blow a fuse, so you’ll want to repair that as soon as possible. Similar to step 1, you can purchase a lens repair kit that comes with tape and resin for quick repairs of minor damage. Simply follow the instructions on the packaging. If damages are extensive, you’ll need to buy a new lens to protect the components within.
Just because you don’t know much about the inner-workings of cars doesn’t mean you can’t perform small repairs and maintenance. Enjoy the savings and satisfaction that comes from DIY projects, right in your very own garage!