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10 Basic Car Repairs Everyone Should Know

10 Basic Car Repairs Everyone Should Know
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Most of us have been driving cars since we were in our teens. For many, it’s almost impossible to imagine living without a car. In a way, they epitomize a part of our lives. But like many things, cars can fail us every once in a while.

You know the frustration of your car breaking down when you need it the most. Well, what if I told you that some of the most common reasons for car problems have easy fixes you could learn to do yourself? Here are 10 basic car repairs you should know.

1. Changing oil.

You need to regularly check and change your car’s oil to ensure smooth running of the vehicle and to prolong the lifespan of its engine. Changing your car’s oil is one of the most fundamental DIY skills you should have for car maintenance or repair. Of course, it’s a different story if the oil filter and oil drain plug of your car are very hard to reach.

Basic steps involve draining the oil by removing the oil drain plug, unscrewing the oil filter and emptying it, putting the oil filter and drain plug back, removing the oil filler hole cap, and pouring fresh oil. Nothing you can’t learn from the tons of tutorials available online!

2. Changing a flat tire.

There’s a reason “wheels” is slang for car. It’s because the tires are one of the most important parts of your vehicle. And they can go flat on you every once in a while. But changing a flat tire doesn’t have to be a big deal and could actually be a lifesaving skill to learn.

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Basic steps involve loosening the lug nuts (with a wrench), using a jack stand to lift the car off the ground, removing the lug nuts (and subsequently the tire), placing the spare tire on, wrenching the lug nuts back on, lowering the car, and finally making sure the lug nuts are tight. Simple.

3. Changing spark plugs.

Most of us know what spark plugs are and what they do. They are the tiny devices inside the cylinder that create sparks to ignite the gasoline, ultimately powering your vehicle. But they do wear out every 10,000 miles or so. The fix is actually quite easy.

The steps include: locating your spark plugs, removing the spark plug wire, removing the faulty spark plug, inserting the new spark plug in its place, and putting the wire back. You’re done! Make sure to watch a tutorial before you do it yourself.

4. Removing scratches from paint.

Scratches are the absolute worst. Even the tiniest scratches are visible from a distance and can kill the overall appearance of your metal monster. Unfortunately, it may cost you thousands to get them removed in a body shop. But you can save the money and the frustration with a simple DIY job.

The steps include: determining the depth of the scratch, lightly sanding the scratch, cleaning the area, applying rubbing compound, polishing the area with the rubbing compound, washing the area, and finally waxing the area to seal the repair. That’s it. You’ve just saved yourself a lot of money.

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5. Changing a car battery.

Car batteries tend to die on us at the most inconvenient times. If you’re in the middle of nowhere, your best bet would be to find roadside assistance and/or call a tow truck. But if you’re home and your battery shows signs that it might need replacement, the DIY replacement method is quite easy.

The steps include: removing any covers from the battery, disconnecting the negative cables, moving the clamp away from the battery post, doing the same for the positive cable clamp, removing all screws, replacing the old battery with the new one, and finally reconnecting the cable clamps. Make sure you label the cables before you remove them.

6. Replacing a headlight or taillight.

Having a broken headlight or taillight is not only inconvenient, but is actually illegal. Consequently, you need to change them as soon as they begin to fade. But why waste money on a mechanic when the DIY replacement is so easy?

The process involves: removing the screws connecting the headlight frame to the bracket, disconnecting the electrical connector, removing the faulty bulb and replacing it with a new one, plugging the connector back on, and finally replacing the frame.

Sometimes only your frame might be broken, which can be just as hazardous. You can change it following the same procedure.

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7. Replacing wipers.

Windshield wipers are one of the least-appreciated parts of your car’s safety system. Imagine what would happen if they failed on you during a heavy rain or snowfall, perhaps resulting in damage to your brand new vehicle. Faulty wiper blades need to replaced, and you need to be sure that your windshield wipers are always in perfect shape. This DIY is an easy fix.

The steps involve: lifting the wiper arm away from the windshield, depressing the small tab that allows the wiper blade to be pulled off, lining up the new wiper blade with the arm, and pushing it in tightly. Done! Make sure to follow tutorials while doing it.

8. Replacing air filters.

Air filters are one of the most overlooked parts of your car. They keep your engine free of dust and other contaminants. They are inexpensive and quite easy to replace, so keeping your car’s engine clean is another easy DIY.

The steps include: opening the hood, locating the air filter unit, removing the air filter cover, taking the air filter out and cleaning the air filter housing, inserting a new filter, and finally replacing the cover. You’re done! Make sure you change your filter once every 30,000 miles, or approximately once every year.

9. Changing brake pads.

The brakes are one of the most important elements of your vehicle for ensuring your safety while driving. Many car accidents result from brake failures, so your car’s brakes always need to be in perfect condition. Thankfully, changing the brake pads can be as easy as changing a flat tire.

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Basic steps involve loosening the lug nuts of the wheels, jacking the car up, removing the wheels, removing the slider bolts, removing the older brake pads and replacing them with new ones, and putting the slider bolts and the wheels back on securely. You should be particularly careful if you’re using replica wheels. This is another simple DIY that can save you some money!

10. Jumpstarting a car.

This is not so much a repair as it is a fundamental skill. Everyone should know how to jumpstart their own car. You wouldn’t want to have to call roadside assistance every time your car won’t start, and it’s really the easiest thing ever.

Just take your jumper cables out, put both vehicles in neutral and shut the ignition off. Now, attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery and the other to the positive terminal of the battery in the other car (the one that will start). Attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal of the battery in the other car. Attach the other end to an unpainted metal surface. Now try to start your vehicle. You’re done!

Featured photo credit: Flickr via c2.staticflickr.com

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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