Thinking of doing your own car repairs? Here’s a few tips from the pros:
Please remember, safety first! There isn’t a car repair job that’s worth an injury or worse. There’s the obvious stuff like never working under a jack (use car stands) or avoiding burns by never working on a hot car. Another good one is to avoid shorts and potential fires by always disconnecting the negative battery terminal. Don’t use compressed air to blow away dust (as it gets into your lungs) and take care when lifting heavy stuff.
Look around, make a plan, and take your time
Before you start your car repair, have a really good look around. Make a bit of a plan as to what you are going to remove and what’s staying on the car. The aim is to remove the minimum parts necessary to carry out the repair but not risk breaking something in the process. Look for fragile things like wiring and small hoses. If there’s a risk of breaking these during the car repair, take them off or move them out of the way.
Grab some containers
As you take things apart, put all your nuts, bolts etc. into a single container. Don’t put them down on the car or some other convenient place. If you’re doing a bigger job, use one container for each step. Label them if you have to. This not only prevents all those little fasteners getting lost, but when your car repair is finished it’s a great way to make sure you’ve refitted everything you took off.
Take some photos
If you have to remove a few components to get your car repair job done, take some photos first. It’s really easy to forget what goes where, especially if there’s more than a day or so between disassembly and assembly. If a component looks like it can fit in multiple positions (like say a distributor) then mark the original position before removal. This will save you having to guess which way it goes back together.
Have a place for your tools
Create a place for your tools. This can be a work bench, a trolley or even a clear bit of floor. As you’re working through your car repair, always return your tools to the same place between each use. This makes them easy to find when you need to use them again. Don’t put them down on the car! Trust me, you’ll forget where they are and spend ages finding them again. Or worse still, lose them forever.
Get yourself a headlight
A great way to make your car repair easier! Cars seem to have lots and lots of dark recesses. And it doesn’t matter how well lit your work area is, there will always be a nook or a cranny you can’t see into. So one of the best car repair accessories you can have is one of those little lamps that strap to your forehead. They shine the light exactly where you are looking (well, mostly) and leave both hands free for working on the car.
Check your parts BEFORE installation
Never, ever assume you have the right part! There’s nothing worse than finishing your car repair and discovering you have to do it all again because you’ve fitted the wrong part. Once you have the old part off, carefully compare it to the replacement. Is it the same size? Are all the gaskets and seals fitted? Are any electrical connectors the same? Are they in the same place? Is the replacement part the correct specification? Are you sure which way it goes back in? If you can’t answer yes to all these questions, put your car repair on hold until you can!