Five things you can fix on your car yourself

  • Do you often wonder how many precious pounds you could save by doing your own simple car repairs, rather than spending a fortune at the garage?

    Bills to maintain and repair your car can easily mount up and one grim discovery under the bonnet can lead to another equally needy repair elsewhere. Read our guide to discover five things you can fix on your car yourself.

    Changing a tyre

    Unless you’re in a precarious position on the motorway, there’s no reason why you can’t change your own tyre – no need to call for breakdown guys! All you need is a car jack, a spanner, tyre pressure gauge, foot pump, spare tyre and you’re good to go.

    • Pull over safely and flick on your hazard lights to show you have stopped.
    • Remove the spare wheel from the boot. There should also be a carefully-stowed-away jack and spanner in there too.
    • Using the spanner, loosen up the nuts on the existing wheel and then jack that car up.
    • When the tyre is clear of the ground, it’s time to remove those wheel nuts altogether, so that you can take that flat tyre off. Don’t forget to take the flat tyre home with you to dispose of correctly!
    • Finally, put the new tyre in its place, tighten the wheel nuts fully and double check it is tight.

    You will need to make sure your spare tyre is at the correct air pressure by using a tyre pressure gauge, which calculates the amount of air that has been pumped into the lining of your tyre in pounds per square inch (PSI).

    Every car requires a different amount of pressure and this can be found in the manual. You should inflate your tyre to the correct PSI using a tyre pressure gauge. If you don’t do this, it is likely that you will damage your tyres and will have to change them sooner. It’s very dangerous to drive a car with worn tread, especially in bad weather.

    Replacing the air filter

    When dirt and dust gets into your air filter, it can affect your engine’s performance, so it’s vital that you change it every 15,000 miles.

    • You will find your air filter’s location in your car manual. An air filter is usually off-white in colour and cylinder or rectangular-shaped.
    • Begin by removing the air filter by simply unscrewing the nuts holding it in place.
    • The filter can easily be lifted out and can be vacuumed to remove the dirt. Also, clean the case that holds the filter.
    • When it’s clean, replace the nuts.

    You should notice a decrease in your fuel consumption as a result!

    Changing the car battery

    The need to jumpstart a car is a sure sign that your battery is dying or on its way out but don’t worry, it’s easy to replace.

    • Park the car in a safe place, put the brakes on and make sure the engine has been turned off.
    • Most batteries have a 3-5-year life span and you can check the age by looking at the date code marked on it.
    • Any corrosion or build-up of white powder (sulphate) often indicates a bad connection. Cleaning the terminals helps this problem.
    • Remove the holder that secures the battery inside the vehicle using a ratchet.
    • Unclip the negative battery terminal first, then the positive, to remove the dead battery.
    • Place the new battery into its holder and make sure it is secure.
    • Remove plastic caps on the battery terminals, then 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.
    • If the car battery has a plastic cover, replace it now.

    After following these simple steps, your car should start immediately. If a warning light displays in the dashboard this is fine, as the car’s system will need to recalibrate if the car battery was totally flat.

    Changing the windscreen wipers

    A clear windscreen is essential to drive in bad weather. As soon as your windscreen wipers show signs of wear and tear, it is best to replace them. The lifespan is around six to 12 months.

    • Raise the wiper arm horizontally away from the windscreen.
    • Gently push the clip on the wiper arm and slide the damaged rubber blade off.
    • Clip on the new blade and lower it down carefully to avoid any damage to the windscreen.
    • Top up the windscreen washer fluid then test the wipers

    Changing the oil

    You should change your oil approximately every 4,000 miles driven. If you don’t, your engine will become overheated and your car will not run as efficiently.

    • By placing a plastic sheet under your car, you can catch any spills of oil easily.
    • Firstly, jack up the car and take away the drain plug using a spanner.
    • Next, remove the oil filter and install the new one.
    • When the oil starts to trickle, install a new gasket on the plug if it needs one and tighten it up by tapping the spanner with a rubber mallet.

    Drips can now be wiped up and you are free to drive away!

    More complex repairs

    More complicated repairs, such as brakes, exhausts, transmission and radiator issues, should be dealt with by experts. Any jobs involving electrical wiring, such as changing an in-car radio/DVD player should be carried out by a competent electrician.

    For more advice on repairing your vehicle or need an MOT, contact your nearest National Tyres and Autocare branch on 0808 115 9853.