December 2nd, 2014
A modern car is as much a computer as a mode of transportation, and the increasingly technical nature of our vehicles has made it difficult for the average person to work on his or her own ride. Despite the march of progress, it's still possible to get your hands dirty under the hood and fix minor vehicle issues. This can be a money-saving tactic that provides more free cash for your car insurance and a good opportunity to learn about how your auto operates. Here are some of the car repairs you can often still do yourself:
Light up your life
Headlight repairs are generally still pretty easy and can greatly improve the appearance of an older vehicle. As a car ages, the plastic lenses for head and taillights can become yellowed and hazy. This is aesthetically unappealing and can diminish the headlights' intensity, which is a serious safety issue. Luckily, there are a variety of polishes available that can clear the lenses and have your vehicle looking like it did the day it rolled out of the factory.
It's also pretty easy to replace burned-out bulbs in your car's lights. Instructions to remove the headlight assembly can be found in most owners manuals, and once the light is removed, the process is almost as simple as installing a bulb at your home. The only thing to be wary of is touching the glass of the automotive bulb with your bare hands. That can leave behind oily residue that will damage the bulb when it heats up.
Don't blow a fuse
You'll know when a fuse blows on your car because one or several electrical systems will suddenly stop working. Luckily, this is a simple repair. The location of the fuse box will be printed in your car's manual, so all that's required is a quick trip to the auto parts store for the proper fuse. Make sure you bring the burned-out example so that you get an identical part to install.
Wipe down your windshield wipers
Maintaining your windshield wipers is just as important as replacing them when they wear out. Like headlights, wipers inevitably deteriorate over time and can cause safety issues when they no longer function at their full potential. To be sure that you can always see out of your windshield in bad weather, keep the wipers clean and replace them well before they start to fail.
Give your car some fresh air
A car's air filter is generally trivial to replace, but doing so can yield big gas-mileage benefits. The air filter cleans the air that comes into your engine and mixes with the gasoline before combustion. Over time, the filter can become dirty and make it difficult for enough air to get into the engine. This can cause your car to run poorly and turn on your check engine light. Sometimes, a full filter replacement isn't necessary, and it's possible to clear up any problems just by cleaning the existing filter. At a certain point, however, any filter becomes too ingrained with grime to let your car breathe properly.