DIY Car Repairs: Save Money and Time (All Abilities)


Most car owners know that they must keep their vehicles tuned up and ready to go. You don’t want to be in a rush only to find that your vehicle doesn’t start. While most people prefer to take their car to a trusted mechanic, there are car repairs that you can handle yourself, even if you’re not mechanically inclined. You can save a lot of time and money and don’t require a lot of tools or equipment.

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Regardless of how much you know about cars, you’re likely to require a little help from the Internet. You can find a variety of resources online, such as how-to guides, general-purpose videos, and even diagnostic assistance. You can also utilize the free testing sites, usually found at auto part shops nearby, such as battery testing.

Appropriate Tools

While you don’t need much to handle simple car repairs, you do need some tools, including:

  • Jack
  • Screwdrivers (Phillips and Flat-head)
  • Pliers
  • Torque Wrench
  • Socket and Ratchet Set
  • Adjustable Wrench

Of course, you also need the new parts for the vehicle, which can include belts, batteries, and much more. You can look at your owner’s manual for help in deciding which products are right for your vehicle. Along with such, most auto part stores can help you determine the right product.

Broken/Worn Drive Belt

If your vehicle makes squealing noises when you use the accessories or when it initially starts up, you may need a new drive belt. A quick visual inspection can help you check your belts for any looseness, cracks, or wear. If you do inspect the belts and notice cracks or wear without noise, you should still replace them. However, too much looseness doesn’t require a full replacement; just tighten the belt appropriately.

You are going to need sockets, a ratchet, screwdriver, the belt, and wrenches for this job.

The best way to start this repair is to study the current belt’s routing, which is easiest to do when the belt is in place. If you already removed the belt, you can find a belt-routing placard under your hood or in the owner’s manual.

The first step is to use a 3/8-inch ratchet with extension to unload the tensioner. Once you’ve done that, you can unthread the belt from the pulleys. It’s a good idea to ensure that all the pulleys are square and coplanar because otherwise, the belt isn’t likely to last long.

You should also inspect the old belt, as well as the accessory-mounting bracket and the tensioner.

You should hold the tensioner with a little slack in one hand while threading the pulleys. Once your belt is in place, you should start the engine and let it idle while checking the tension of the belt by looking to the tensioner arm.

Battery Replacement

If your vehicle doesn’t start or tries to without success, your battery may be bad. Pop the hood and look at the battery, which should be a black box near the front-end of the vehicle. Check the date and possibly check the battery life. If you don’t have the machine to test it, you can remove the battery from the vehicle and take it to an auto parts store. If the battery is bad, you can always purchase a new one there, as well.

You may need to clean the terminals, so create a baking-soda-and-water solution to help clean them. Tools required include vise pliers or a socket wrench, adjustable wrench, crescent wrench, and a hammer. Consider wearing personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles and sturdy gloves.

Make sure the ignition is off, and the keys aren’t inserted. Brush the baking soda/water solution on the terminals, cleaning them thoroughly. Unscrew the nuts and bolts from the cable ends and the posts. Use the hammer to gently knock on the posts to remove more of the sulfate deposits and brush the baking soda/water solution on them. Use a clean rag to wipe the solution away.

Inspect the battery for any cracks so that you don’t put your hands near them in case of escaping acid. Lay out your tools and remove the battery from its position.

To remove the battery, you should loosen the nuts from the bolts, starting with the negative post and corresponding terminal cable. You may need to use pliers or a wrench to turn the nut counterclockwise while holding the bolt in place with another wrench or pair of pliers. Slide the clamp from the post, ensuring that no metal is touching the area in which you’re working.

Once this cable is removed safely, you can perform the same steps to remove the positive terminal cable bolt.

When both terminals are loosened, you should unfasten the plate or casing holding the battery in place. You may have another nut-and-bolt to remove. However, it could be held in place by a wing nut, which can be unscrewed by hand.

Once loosened, you can remove your battery. Make sure you lift with your knees and lift straight up into the air, using the handle that’s attached. Set it to the side and away from the vehicle.

Clean inside the terminal, and anywhere else you notice sulfate deposits, wiping them clean.

Lift your new battery and put it into the same spot as the old one. Remove the colored caps on the posts, remembering that positive is red and negative is black.

Reverse the steps to attach the terminals to the posts, starting with the positive post/terminal and moving clockwise.

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DIY Car Repairs: Save Money and Time (All Abilities)

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