If you've always wanted to save money on your car maintenance bills by tackling some small, do it yourself car repairs, we're here to help.
We've put together a list of four D.I.Y. jobs that almost anyone can complete successfully with just a few tools and a bit of elbow-grease:
1.) Restore Hazy Headlight Lenses
If you've noticed your headlights aren't performing as well as you'd like, chances are good that the headlamp assembly - that plastic part that covers the outer-most portion of your headlights - has clouded over from UV damage, chemical build-up, or grime.
While replacing your hazy headlamp assemblies can cost hundreds of dollars, for around $10-$25 you can purchase a headlight restoration kit, complete with sanding papers, polishing compound, and a long-lasting protective clear coat. In less than an hour, you can transform your dingy, frosted headlamp assemblies back to nearly-new condition, resulting in a significant improvement in your nighttime driving visibility.
2.) Change the Engine Air Filter
Your engine's air filter works to keep dust and debris out of your engine; when it becomes clogged, you might notice your fuel mileage isn't what it used to be, or your vehicle lacks power when passing or going up hills. Depending on where you live and how much you drive, the air filter should be changed every 3-12 months.
On most modern vehicles, the air filter is located at the top of the engine, inside a black plastic case. To change the filter, you'll likely need a socket or screwdriver set and a new filter - that's it! New air filters cost around $10-$20; just ensure you buy the the right one based on the make and model of your car, since air filter sizes vary by vehicle.
3.) Fix Minor Scratches
Paint scratches don't just look bad - they can lead to premature rusting of your vehicle. While deep scratches require specialized repair techniques, light surface scratches can easily be fixed in your driveway. As a rule of thumb, if you run the back of your fingernail over the scratch and it doesn't catch, you can probably repair it yourself.
Depending on the location and size of the scratch, you'll need to mask off the area with auto body tape, then carefully complete the job following the step-by-step directions outlined here. You can either purchase a complete scratch repair kit, or buy everything you need separately at your local auto parts retailer for about $20-$50.
4.) Install a Fresh Cabin Filter
Have you noticed a musty, moldy smell in your vehicle when you turn on the heater or air conditioner? If so, chances are good it's time to replace your cabin air filter - one of the most simple, D.I.Y. car repairs you'll ever tackle.
In most modern vehicles, the cabin air filter (or filters - sometimes there are two) is located either behind the glove box, or under the dash - check your owner's manual or search online to find the exact location on your car, van, or truck. Simply pop off the retaining clips using a flat-head screwdriver, pull out the old filter, and slide the new one in. Replacement filters run around $8-$18.
Other Do It Your Self Car Repairs
Depending on your skills, access to tools and the age of your vehicle, other do it yourself car repairs can include oil changes, replacing your battery, installing new wipers, flushing your transmission fluid, and upgrading your headlight system.