Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Car repair for the overly confident

I took auto shop in high school. I mostly learned that swearing is un-ladylike (which is perhaps why I talk like a sailor now, in retribution); I am scared of the machine used to put tires on wheels; and almost nothing can be done to fix a drooping headliner on your car’s ceiling. Yet, I still consider myself totally qualified to save money on car repair by spending obscene amounts of time doing it myself. Here are some handy tips I’ve learned along the way.

1. When you take something apart, keep the bits organized so that you can easily put it back together. Tossing everything into a heap is a great way to become totally flummoxed later on and waste huge amounts of time looking up repair manuals with incomprehensible exploded diagrams (yes, that’s the technical term) of various components.

2. Some things, like brake pads, have right and left sides. These should be installed in the orientation the manufacturers had in mind.

3. Save the old parts you are replacing. If the new part you purchased from the auto store looks different from the old one, they probably sold you the wrong item. You will proceed to partially or totally destroy your car, leading to a massive bill from a proper mechanic having to fix what you made more broken when you fail to do this.
Be sure to wear the right outfit for the job
4. When your car starts making weird noises, it’s Ok to ignore it if you like the idea of being stranded in the middle of nowhere for hours on end.

5. When you suddenly start seeing lots of exceedingly friendly people driving past you and waving energetically, it’s quite possible your engine is on fire. Instead of vigorously waving back and carrying on, consider pulling over to assess the situation.
Not exactly a repair job, but getting stuck in shin-deep mud brings its own set of possibilities for creativity
6. It’s probably a good idea to have a look at your engine compartment before something breaks, so you have at least a vague idea of what it looks like intact.

7. If you can’t find the right tool for the job, get creative; but consider that this might lead to personal or automotive injury. For example, there are tools designed solely to remove and replace brake pad springs
--> but a creatively cantilevered screwdriver will do the job in twice the time with the additional fun of injuries to boot! 

Maybe a bigger tool will do the trick
8. You might consider driving around with spare oil and water, and some emergency rations, in case the first two items fail and you find yourself stomping around in the snow trying to find a cell signal to call for help.

9. Build a relationship with your local mechanic so that you can sheepishly bring rusted-together parts over for him to help break apart with his pneumatic tools. Also, he can fix whatever new problems you create with your inventive repair job, possibly without overcharging.

10. Always make sure you have cold beverages in the fridge to celebrate completing the job; to soothe burns if you get too ambitious and don’t let the engine cool down before getting started; or to bribe someone to help you complete a difficult job.

How awesome have your car-repair experiences been?


  1. Love reading your useful tips. The pictures are also amazingly shot.

    brampton car repair service

  2. Tip number three is my favorite. Spending money on car parts is something you definitely want to minimize, and the best way to do that is to save old parts. I also like tip number seven, but I think that’s more applicable to experienced mechanics.

    Michelina Douglass

  3. Those handy tips are easy and simple enough that even a child can do it! Not that it’s endorsed of course. Always with supervision when it comes to children. The most important thing here is that you know and are determined enough to learn how to do the repairs. If you love your car, you’ll get know its parts, how to repair it, and what kind of maintenance it needs. Knowing even the basic stuff should help you out in a big way.

    -Andre Brennan

  4. Hello, Jessica! You really looked cool holding that big wrench, huh! :D It’s as if you’re so ready to do some car repairs. Haha! Well, if you really don’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere, you should know some of the basic car repairs so at least you know something to get your car fixed should it ever happen.

    Dewey Setlak

    1. Thank you for the mansplanation.

    2. Though, you probably meant that in a genuine fashion, so thank you. I do agree, which is why I took auto shop in high school. Invaluable skills.

  5. Thanks a lot for sharing this post! Maintaining a vehicle can not only be strenuous but costly - especially for those of us without the knowledge or experience! It's really important that drivers are aware of all common wear and tear problems that vehicles will encounter. It also boils down to knowing where to take your car to get fixed, or who to fix it. I used to just take my car anywhere to get it fixed and had to learn the expensive way that isn't the best idea! Always shop around or find someone who can work under the table and fix your car. I was fortunate in that I found a nearby Dodge service center that charges a lot less and offers better deals than the place I used to go to.

  6. Great tips and I like your sense of humor lol. Hopefully people have the wit to find it as funny as I did. Keep posting!