DIY Automotive Repairs

by William Zane

Do-it-yourself auto repair is an increasingly common undertaking by car owners who are interested in saving a little (or a lot) of money by doing some of the things that a mechanic would normally do. Performing your own car maintenance is a satisfying endeavor that is both challenging and educational.

Gather Resources

If you are serious about working on your own vehicle, a good first step is to purchase a detailed workshop manual for the car that you own. Several publishing companies, including Bentley, Haynes, Chilton and others, produce detailed workshop manuals for most makes of cars. Spend an evening looking over the manual to get a feel for how your vehicle is put together, what jobs are easy and what might be more challenging.

Educate Yourself

Most large metropolitan areas have community colleges that offer classes on a variety of subjects, including car repair and maintenance. Join the local club for the type of vehicle that you own so you can interact with other owners who share an interest in car maintenance work. Many of these clubs sponsor tech sessions led by experienced mechanics who talk about a variety of technical subjects. The Internet is a gold mine of information on automobiles. Become active on the forums that have been created for your specific make and model of car. For example, the Pelican Parts Porsche 911 Technical BBS is a huge resource for owners of Porsche 911s who want to learn more about the car.

Obtain Tools and Supplies

If you have ever been in your mechanic's work area, you know how many tools and specialized devices can be used to work on cars. But while it's great to have a huge selection of tools to choose from, most basic automotive repairs can be performed with a socket set, some wrenches and miscellaneous other tools like screwdrivers. Buy a good set of metric sockets if you own a European or Japanese car or a set of standard sockets if you have an American car or truck. Another important tool to have on hand is a torque wrench, which allows to check how tight your bolts are installed. Gather specialized tools as repairs come up on your vehicle.

Start Small

Start working on your car with a smaller job like changing the oil and filter or changing the spark plugs. As you become more comfortable with your skills, move on to jobs like performing suspension and brake work. Before long, you'll be tackling larger jobs like an engine rebuild or tracking down electrical problems with a voltage meter.

About the Author

William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.