Top 10 Money Saving Auto Repair Tips

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Introduction: Top 10 Money Saving Auto Repair Tips

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Video tutorial on my top 10 repairs or maintenance work that you can do yourself to save money. This list will be from the easier repairs to slightly more complicated repairs, all can be done with minimal tools, limited experience, and with minimal risk of damage. When I worked at a dealership, I would see some of these repairs requested by customers that I’m about to mention.

Step 1: Repair #1

Changing your wiper blades or wiper refills. Simply match up your existing wipers or have a parts store search the correct size, remove and then install the new wipers. Some vehicles may take a specific style of wipe blade which is a dealer item only, while others use a generic style blade. Refills can also be purchase that need to be cut to size and are significantly cheaper than purchasing a full wiper blade assembly. Typically for a wipe blade replacement, no tools are required. If it’s a refill replacement, then pliers and a knife is needed.

Step 2: Repair #2

Changing your vehicle’s cabin filter. Replacement intervals will vary between vehicles, cabin filters can be found under the hood or within your vehicle’s cabin. Most new vehicles are equipped with cabin filters, these are intended to remove any contaminants that is present in the air. Old cabin filters cause foul odours, restrict air flow, reduce heating and cooling performance, and can cause your hvac fan to work harder possibly causing a premature failure. Manufacturers should have a specific mileage rating for replacement, normally I like to replace mine at least once a year or every 12,000 miles or 20,000 km. Tool requirements will vary between vehicles, a socket and screwdriver set is a good basis for what’s needed.

Step 3: Repair #3

While replacing the cabin filter is important, so is the air filter for your engine. Usually quite a simple replacement on most vehicles, dare I say easier than some cabin filter replacements. Minimal tools are required for such a replacement, determine the year, model, and engine of your vehicle, go to your local auto parts supplier and provide them with that information for a new replacement. Again vehicles will have specified maintenance intervals that should be outlined in your owner’s manual, as a generic requirement it should be replaced every 20,000 miles or 30,000km. Beyond replacement, it’s always a good practice to periodically check the air filter and clean the air box if need be as different driving environments can greatly affect how quickly the air filter becomes dirty. Air box disassembly procedures will vary, it’s best to have a screwdriver and socket set on hand for this task.

Step 4: Repair #4

Scanning and clearing those check engine lights. While some auto parts stores or repair facilities may offer this free, unfortunately not everyone does and do you really want to drive somewhere when this can be done in the comforts of your own driveway. Your vehicle’s computer monitors a variety of sensors and values, the check engine light can be triggered from sometimes the simplest of things such as a loose fuel cap. Codes can be scanned, depending on the code reader it will give you a definition of the fault, and then you can take the correct actions to repair the fault. Or if the fault has been repaired, then the code may need to be cleared. Searching online car forums or just a general internet search is a great way to find what common faults would trigger a code specific to your vehicle. Unfortunately anything more complicated and outside of your repair comfort level would need to be taken to a professional and they too would have to scan the codes. But this is certainly an opportunity to save money if it’s a simple repair. For vehicles 1996 and newer, an OBD2 code reader is required, either a hand held device or one that can be operated by your smart phone. If 1995 or older, then scan tool requirements will vary and it’s specific to your make and model.

Step 5: Repair #5

Scanning and clearing those check engine lights. While some auto parts stores or repair facilities may offer this free, unfortunately not everyone does and do you really want to drive somewhere when this can be done in the comforts of your own driveway. Your vehicle’s computer monitors a variety of sensors and values, the check engine light can be triggered from sometimes the simplest of things such as a loose fuel cap. Codes can be scanned, depending on the code reader it will give you a definition of the fault, and then you can take the correct actions to repair the fault. Or if the fault has been repaired, then the code may need to be cleared. Searching online car forums or just a general internet search is a great way to find what common faults would trigger a code specific to your vehicle. Unfortunately anything more complicated and outside of your repair comfort level would need to be taken to a professional and they too would have to scan the codes. But this is certainly an opportunity to save money if it’s a simple repair. For vehicles 1996 and newer, an OBD2 code reader is required, either a hand held device or one that can be operated by your smart phone. If 1995 or older, then scan tool requirements will vary and it’s specific to your make and model.

Step 6: Repair #6

Testing the condition of your vehicle’s fluids such as brake fluid or engine coolant. Not all fluids have specific tools for testing, but the ones that do, the tools are quite affordable. For brake fluid, you will need to know the type of fluid, dip the tool in the fluid and take a reading. To test coolant, a hydrometer is required which will determine it’s boiling and freezing points. Knowing the condition of your vehicle’s coolant is a step for preventative maintenance, maintains reliability, and keeps you safe.

Step 7: Repair #7

I’ll bundle these two to topics together as they relate to your wheels. Rotating your tires or alternating between summer and winter wheels. Rotation requirements will vary between tire manufacturers, but as a general value this should be done every 8000 miles or 12,000km. Rotation requirements will vary between vehicles and types of tires too. For directional tires, these are designed to rotation in only one direction, so they can only be alternated on one side unless you have the tires unmounted. If tires are different sizes between the rear and front, they are only interchangeable on the same axle and my also be required to be unmounted if they are directional. Front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and four wheel drive vehicles will have some variations in rotation patterns as well. Directional tires will have a direction of rotation arrow on the sidewall of the tire. When changing over to winter or summer tires, again rotational tires need to be taken into consideration and this should be done at certain temperatures in order to maintain your safety. Typically the temperature to change over to winter tires is when the days become below 44F or 7C and if temperature remain above that, then your summer wheels are required. For tools, while your vehicle does have a jack, I would recommend hydraulic jack, the vehicle’s wheel wrench is fine, a wire brush, and a torque wrench with socket.

Step 8: Repair #8

Changing your vehicle’s battery. Typically a battery lasts about four years but this can vary between climates, how much it’s used, type, and quality of battery. A faulty battery will lose a charge quickly or not start the vehicle at all depending on the fault. Weak batteries usually show up when the colder weather rolls around. When replacing the battery, be sure to have your radio’s security code if equipped or plug in an external power source to your ODB2 port. Battery locations can be under the hood, in the trunk, or under the rear seat. Minimal tools tend to be required such as a socket set. With some of the newer vehicles, some do have an intelligent battery so replacement procedures will be more complicated requiring some reset or programming procedures.

Step 9: Repair #9

As we’re moving into slightly more complicated repairs, yet easy enough to complete in your driveway with minimal tools, replacing your engine’s oil. Your owner’s manual will list what type of oil and how much is required for your engine. Year, model, and engine will also need to be determined in order to purchase a replacement filter. The vehicle may need to be jacked up, I prefer driving it onto ramps, or if you have a 4wd, then there might be enough room under the vehicle without elevating it. Locate the drain plug, empty the old oil into a pan, and remove the old filter. Install the new filter, reinstall the drain plug, and then replenish the engine oil to correct amount and check the dipstick. Tools required for such a procedure is a socket set, possibly a filter wrench, oil drain pan, and drive on ramps or jack and jack stands.

Step 10: Repair #10

Replacing small faulty or broken items such as a tail light, headlight, trim, mirror or grill. Some of these items maybe functional, others can be a safety concern, or they can be purely aesthetic. For the tail light on this Ford Ranger, four screws are really all that holds it in. A door mirror on the other hand can be more complicated as the door panel needs to be removal or maybe just the mirror glass needs to be replaced which can be done without removing the mirror. For purchasing parts, you have a couple different options, new or used. New would obviously be the most costly, while used can be from a private seller from the classifieds or an automotive wrecking yard. It’s really your choice. Tool requirements range from screwdriver sets, to sockets sets, or pliers. It really does depend on the type of repair required.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, please don't forget to vote for it. Do you have any money saving repair tips that can be done in the comforts of your own home without having to pay a professional, please share it in the comments below. Stay up to date with my latest tutorials, don't forget to FOLLOW my profile and be sure to check out my YOUTUBE page as well for all your DIY needs.

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    2 Comments

    What about replacing the spark plugs? it is so easy :)

    1 reply

    That is a great one too! Although not all vehicles are the same, some spark plugs can only be accessed by putting the vehicle on a hoist. The one 4cyl Ford Ranger I did, it was quite a nightmare trying to access the other 4 plugs on the intake side (8 spark plugs in total, 2 per cylinder).