Mark Barclay is from car parts supplier GSF Car Parts. Here, he shares his top three tips for saving money on your car repairs by doing them at home yourself.
Car repairs can be expensive, especially when you take every issue to a garage to be repaired. Recent research by Green Flag has found that Brits are spending a collective £3.4 billion on unnecessary work by mechanics, showing many people don’t realise many problems can be sorted right on your own driveway. While it’s understandable that many of us want to leave these repairs in the hands of a professional, having some knowledge of minor maintenance can save you quite a bit in garage fees.
Here, I’ll be sharing three car maintenance repairs that you can save some money on by doing them yourself.
Change your car battery
A flat battery won’t only leave you behind schedule, but it can also set you back a pretty penny. Luckily for you, this is a repair you can do at home, and all you’ll need are a few basic tools and a new battery.
In the past car batteries were almost universal, but with plenty of newer and updated models available, many cars will require a specific battery so be sure to check this in your handbook. Generally, the battery will be kept in the engine bay, but for some models these will be in the boot so, again, check your car’s manual if you can’t find it.
To change your car battery, you’ll need to remove the old battery first:
- Remove the plastic cover of the battery if it has one.
- Remove the nuts that are holding the battery into the bracket.
- Inspect the old battery for any leaks or cracks — and inform a mechanic if you notice anything untoward about it.
- Find the battery terminals. The positive one will have a red lead and be marked with a ‘+’, while the negative one will have a black lead and be marked with a ‘-‘.
- Disconnect the negative lead first by gently using the spanner to unscrew the nut on the black lead’s clamp (this doesn’t have to be completely undone to remove the lead).
- Wrap the end of the lead in duct tape.
- Repeat for the red terminal and keep both leads far apart.
- Lift the battery out of the engine bay.
Once you’ve done this, you should be able to easily fit your new car battery:
- Place the new battery into the bay, being sure to replace any plastic that’s on top of the terminals.
- Connect the positive terminal by pushing the red lead into the positive terminal and secure it with the nut.
- Repeat for the black lead.
- Replace the bracket that fits around the battery and plastic cover if necessary and secure these in place using the nuts.
When it comes to throwing away the old battery, be sure the terminals are covered with duct tape to reduce the risk of a short circuit, then find your local council’s car battery recycling point for a safe disposal.
Replace your air filter
Your air filter keeps your engine clean and healthy, rejecting any harmful debris or dirt from entering. When the air filter becomes blocked, it can decrease the amount of airflow and stops clean oxygen mixing with the fuel, which can then lower your mileage and eventually cause your car to run less smoothly.
Changing the air filter in your car may sound like something best left to professionals, but it can take 20 minutes at most for even the most inexperienced person to fit a new one. All you’ll need to do is:
- Open the car bonnet and locate where the air filter is (it’s usually in a black box, but if you’re unsure you should check your handbook).
- Identify how the filter is fitted — it could be helpful to take a photo so you know exactly what it should look like when you fit the new battery.
- Remove the old filter and replace it with the new one.
- Make sure you add the fixing clips to secure the filter.
Repair your spark plugs
The spark plugs in a car are key to the ignition process, and if there is any damage or faults your car may find it difficult to not only start, but also accelerate, too. This process can take 30 minutes minimum, but will be sure to save you money along the way. Plus, you’ll learn some valuable car maintenance skills too!
To do this, you’ll need to:
- Open the car bonnet and find the plugs. They’re usually attached to thick rubber wires and there will either by 4, 6 or 8 spark plugs to replace depending on the model and make.
- Remove the wire attached to the first spark plug.
- Use a spark plug socket and ratchet extension to remove the first plug.
- Replace the old plug with a new spark by screwing it in by hand and then tightening it with a wrench — be careful not to over tighten these.
- Attach the corresponding wire to the spark plug.
- Repeat the process for each plug being sure to do it one at a time.
We all know car repairs can be a pain, especially when you’ve got other things to be thinking about. But, with these three DIY car repairs and some perseverance, you’ll be saving yourself plenty of money and limiting the time spent without your car.