When you consider how much it costs to maintain and repair a car over a year, the amounts can be staggering, especially when you include car insurance, road tax and MOTs.
But think of the money you could save by being able to carry out simple repairs on your motor vehicle, such as changing flat tyres or your car battery. Read our simple guide to learn 5 things you can fix on your car yourself.
Change a tyre
There’s no need to call breakdown mechanics out to change a tyre, unless you’re in a dangerous position on the motorway, for example. Changing a tyre is easy if you have a car jack, a spanner tyre pressure gauge and foot pump – and a spare tyre, of course.
- Firstly, pull over where it is safe to do so and put your hazard lights on to warn other traffic that you have broken down.
- Remove the spare wheel from your boot, along with the jack and the spanner.
- You will need to loosen the nuts on the existing wheel using the spanner so that you can jack the car up.
- When the tyre has lifted up off the ground, remove the wheel nuts completely, take the damaged tyre off and place it back in your boot.
- Finally, put the new tyre in its place, then tighten the wheel nuts fully and ensure it is tight.
Check your tyre has the correct air pressure.
Tyre pressure is measured by calculating the amount of air that has been pumped into the inner lining of your tyre in pounds per square inch (PSI) or BAR pressure. This is different for every car and is clearly stated in your car manual. It’s important to make sure your spare tyre is correctly inflated by using a tyre pressure gauge, as they can lose air quite quickly, causing excessive wear on the tread – particularly dangerous in winter weather.
Replace the air filter
The air filter needs to be changed every once in a while, as it gets clogged up with dust and dirt which can get into the engine and increase fuel consumption.
- First locate the air filter by reading your car manual. Some air filters are cylinder-shaped while some are rectangular and flat.
- Remove the air filter cover – this is fairly easy – by removing a few clamps or nuts holding it in place.
- Take the filter out and tap it to remove excess debris and then vacuum it. If it’s really dirty, you can buy a new one.
- You should also clean the cases that holds the filter.
- When it is clean, replace the nuts and watch your fuel consumption improve!
Change the car battery
If you constantly need to jumpstart a car or have dim vehicle lights, these are clear signs that you need a new car battery.
- Park the car in a safe place, put the brakes on and turn off the engine.
- Locate the battery and check its age – a date code is usually marked on it. Most batteries have a 3-5 year life span so you can see if your battery falls within that range.
- Check for corrosion on the battery. A build-up of sulphate (white powder) can indicate a bad connection. Cleaning the terminals could solve this problem.
- You will need a correct-sized socket with extension and a ratchet to remove the holder that secures the battery to the vehicle.
- Remove the negative battery terminal first, then the positive.
- Now pick out the dead battery from the car.
- Put the new battery into the battery bay by reinstalling the holder, making sure the battery is secured to the vehicle.
- Ensure the plastic caps on the terminals are removed and connect the positive battery terminal first by pushing the positive (red) lead onto it and tightening the nut.
- Next, put the negative (black) lead onto the battery’s negative terminal and tighten the clamp.
- Lastly, replace the battery’s plastic cover if it has one.
- Your car should start up straight away. Your dashboard may display a warning light and this is normal. If your battery was completely flat, you will need to drive your car a couple of miles to recalibrate the system.
Changing the windscreen wipers
It is important to have a clear view when driving, so having windscreen wipers that work, is vital, especially in bad weather. When the wipers get cracks, it is cheaper to just change the whole blade. They should be changed roughly every six months to a year.
- Raise the wiper arm horizontally away from the windscreen.
- Squeeze the clip on the wiper arm and slide the rubber blade out.
- Clip on the new blade, ensuring you lower it gently to avoid damaging the windscreen.
- Top up the windscreen washer fluid then test the wipers
Change the oil
This is the most important thing you can do around every 4,000 miles, as not changing it will affect your car’s performance.
- Firstly, place a plastic sheet on the ground (make sure it is flat) and drive onto it.
- Jack up the car and remove the drain plug using a box-end wrench.
- Then remove the oil filter and install the new one.
- Once the oil is trickling, install a new gasket on the plug if it needs one and tighten it up by tapping the wrench with a rubber mallet.
- Wipe up any drips and drive the car away.
- Dispose of the oil carefully.
You should leave more complicated repairs, such as head gaskets, brakes, exhausts, transmission and radiator issues to the experts. Changing an in-car radio/DVD player will also be tricky and should be carried out by a competent electrician.
If you need help to complete more complicated repairs on your vehicle, contact your nearest National Tyres and Autocare branch on 0808 115 9853.