There are so many costs that drive up your car expenses. And when it comes to our cars, most of these costs we can’t control. Yes, you can find coupons for lower-priced oil changes. There are even apps to help us find the best prices on gasoline, but, ultimately, many of us are subject to variable oil prices, mechanic costs, car payments and the insurance bill.
However, while it’s true that you need mechanics for major repairs, difficult mechanical issues and safety concerns, there are some repairs that you can do by yourself. These easy fixes can save you a decent amount of money each month!
If you are hands-on and feel confident, get ready to DIY! Here are 10+ repairs, fixes and improvements that don’t require a mechanic:
So you just blew out a tire. That thudding sound that a busted tire makes against the street is one that sends instant dread through our bodies. It’s the sound of money being thrown across the road…because we immediately think, “new tire!” If the tire is shredded, there is no saving that rubber. If the hole or damage is to the wall of the tire (that’s the side), then you must replace it…because walls can’t be repaired.
However, if you drove over a nail and punctured the tread, then you might be in luck. The tread of the tire is the part that can be repaired—if the damage isn’t too major. And for small holes and basic tread puncture wounds, you may even be able to tackle this issue on your own.
So what do you need? And how much is it going to cost? Auto repair stores usually sell a tire repair kit for around $7. These kits typically include tools, glue and plugs that fill the hole. Before you take on this repair, read all the directions on the kit first. After the repair, check to make sure that the leak is resolved. Use your tire gauge to measure the tire pressure
Total Savings: Each shop may have a different price, but Angie’s List notes that this repair will typically cost around $20. So that total savings comes to around $13 give or take. Not too bad!
Replacing a Headlight or Tail Light
Did you just get pulled over for a burned out tail light, headlight or blinker? This is going to happen on every car eventually, but you can fix this light issue on your own. Head to the auto parts store and buy a replacement bulb. Not sure which one to buy? Tell an employee the make/model of your car, and they’ll direct you to the right choice. This is a simple fix that is quick and only involves a few steps. Thoughtco gives the exact step-by-step process for an easy installation. Just remember to check your lights after you replace the bulb!
Total Savings: According to Repair Pal, the cost associated with labor for this fix is around $39 to $51. So that DIY fix can save you the price of a tank or two of gas!
Yes, your car may be able to go 3,000 miles between oil changes, but it also may be burning oil between those appointments. Some cars burn oil faster than others, and your engine needs oil for lubrication and proper performance. It’s a good policy to check your oil to make sure the level is normal. To do this, TURN OFF YOUR ENGINE! Never, ever check your oil while the car is running. After you turn off your car, wait a few minutes for the engine to cool off. Then, unscrew the cap to the oil reservoir and pull out the dipstick. Wipe the stick to remove any excess oil and then place the stick back in the reservoir. Remove the stick again to see where on the stick the oil level hits. This will let you know if you need to add a quart or two of oil to the increase the level. But always be sure your adding the right type of oil; some cars require conventional, others synthetic. Also, if you’re burning through oil, there could be other problems…or you may even have a leak! So proceed with caution.
Total Savings: The price of oil varies, and, if you need a top off, you will probably only save a few dollars doing it yourself. However, some oil change stores may actually top off your oil for free if you had your last oil change at that establishment.
A New Air Filter
Many oil change places will check your air filter when you request an oil change. A dirty air filter circulates dirty air…this isn’t good. So you’ll need to change that filter periodically. Air filters are fairly cheap, though, if you purchase them at an auto parts store. And they’re easy to install. So if that filter is dirty, head up to your local automotive store and request a new filter. When you’re ready to install it, use The Art of Manliness’ easy guide for this quick fix.
Total Savings: At auto parts stores, air filters can range from $10 and up (depending on your make/model). And there may be many different price points and brands that fit your vehicle. How much you save depends on what brands you choose. But if you go to a mechanic, Repair Pal states that the added labor might add around $29 to $38 to your bill.
Repairing Chipped Paint or Scratches
Did someone ding your car door’s paint job in the parking lot? We’ve all had an incident where the paint on our car was scratched by a careless person opening their door into our car. It’s annoying, and that paint chip seems to glare at you. This is an easy, easy fix though. Automotive stores sell touch up paint to easily cover these little imperfections. Before you fix that chip, you’ll need to wash your car! Then follow Advanced Auto Parts’ step-by-step instructions to this easy DIY repair!
Total Savings: According to Insurance.com, “a single stage enamel paint” can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $1,000 to fix properly. But serious scratch repair will cost thousands! So if you can do this yourself, you could save a LOT of money.
Replacing Your Battery
Your car won’t start.You jumped your car and drove it home, but the car still won’t start on it’s own.. It just might be time to replace the car battery. But this is an easy fix! An automotive department in Walmart may be your cheapest bet for a replacement battery, but you don’t have to pay someone to install it! Buy your battery, turn in your old one and then follow this guide from Dummies to install that new battery and get back on the road! Be careful while installing your battery, and follow all safety procedures because there is the risk of getting shocked!
Total Savings: According to Car Service Costs, labor may run you between $30 to $50. But the store may also install it for free. Check into free install before you DIY.
Your car windows are insulated with a material to keep out wind and rain. But over time, your window strips may deteriorate. Replacing them is easy, though. Most car part stores or automotive departments sell replacement stripping and swapping out the old with the new is pretty basic. Follow this step-by-step guide to DIY window strip replacement.
Total Savings: Depending on the price of the mechanic, you’ll at least save money on the hourly labor costs. This varies per shop, but it definitely adds up. Weatherstripping at the auto parts stores vary in price from around $25 and up. You also may need extra tools, too.
Fixing a Chipped Windshield
Rocks sometimes fly up from the road when we’re driving, and our windshield takes the abuse in the form of little chips. While larger cracks recall for a windshield replacement, those tiny dings may be fixed before they lead to major damage. Popular Mechanics notes that you can buy windshield repair kits that mend small dings and the site also gives one of the best explanations for how to handle this fix on your own.
Total Savings: Angie’s List looked at prices from three Chicago businesses, and the prices for windshield repair “ranged from $70 to $115 to $238 to repair the same nickel-sized windshield chip.” But a repair kit can be found for less than $10. Although you may prefer a higher priced kit.
Mending Seat Damage
While not a major car issue, holes and rips in interior can affect the look of your car and its value. So repair that damage! Amazon sells vinyl and leather repair kits to help you fix up that interior. Readers Digest has all the tips on how to tackle this repair without hiring someone.
Total Savings: Mobil notes that this DIY repair will cost you between $150 to $200 (for leather repair), but a full reupholstery will cost much much more. Reupholstering a leather seat will cost about $350.
Replacing a Mirror
Side mirrors are vital to safe driving. They help you see what’s going on in either lane, and without them you’re blindsided. Cracked or broken mirrors can impair your vision and can be dangerous. But it’s a simple procedure to replace them. Parts can be found at your local auto store, and Family Handyman has all the directions for tackling this DIY project; the site estimates you’ll spend between $20 to $100.
Total Savings: Auto Service Costs estimates that you may spend between $139 to more than $300 for this fix (that includes parts and labor). Some jobs may be more intense, and the site notes that mechanics may have to disassemble certain areas of the door in order to complete the fix (this might not be true for all vehicles, though). But, regardless, your savings for DIY is still significant if the replacement isn’t too difficult.
Your car needs antifreeze to keep the engine cool and running effectively. If the level drops, your car is in danger of overheating. If you notice that your engine’s temperature is starting to head upward (but not in the danger zone), you may need to top off the coolant (a hotter engine also could be indicative of other issues). According to How a Car Works, you need the right type of antifreeze for your car, so check with an auto expert for the right product. The site also gives you all the information on how to top off your coolant. Remember, antifreeze is poison…it needs to be disposed of the right way!
Total Savings: Antifreeze can cost $10 and up (depending on the type you need). So this isn’t an expensive DIY fix. But if your car is leaking antifreeze, take it in ASAP! You may need more significant repairs. Don’t just rely on a top-off!
Winter—and cold weather—is here for many parts of the country. During the cold season, you may want to use a gas treatment to help evaporate condensation from the fuel lines and clean the engine. To do this, you can purchase this product at local auto stores—and there are several brands that you could use. Be sure to read the instructions so you know exactly when to add it and how much to use. According to Advanced Auto Parts, “using too much of any particular fuel additive can damage sensors and other features.”
Total Savings: Fuel additives vary from a few dollars and up. But talk to an auto pro to decide which one to use for your vehicle.
Your car is expensive to own. Monthly payments, fuel costs, repairs and, of course, the cost of insurance all hit the budget hard. While many car repairs and adjustments require the skill of a trained mechanic, there are many repairs you can do yourself. Repairing punctured tire treads, adding oil, fixing scratches, adding more coolant and even putting new weather stripping in the doors are all easy updates that can save you money and time at the repair shop. When you do your own repairs, you automatically save on pricey labor costs. And the money you save can be stashed away to pay for more expensive repairs in the future, because, unfortunately, every car needs an expensive fix sooner or later.