You can save hundreds of dollars on garage fees every year by carrying out minor servicing and maintenance jobs on your car yourself. Armed with a selection of widely available automotive tools, a garage manual for your car, and enough time and patience to get a job done properly, pretty much anyone can carry out the routine tasks needed to keep your car on the road and running smoothly.
One of the most satisfying aspects of carrying out maintenance tasks on your vehicle – aside from saving money on expensive garage bills – is that you are able to get an understanding of how the car works, and the more you understand about the vehicle, the easier it is to put things right in the event of a breakdown.
Any home garage requires a good selection of automotive tools to carry out work on a car. Some vehicles from certain manufacturers have non standard machining and sizes used throughout their construction, and you will need to get automotive specialty tools designed for the purpose of working on that particular car from a motor store. No home workshop is complete without a trolley jack and axle stands to allow you to get under the car and do things like oil changes and exhaust checks.
For most small jobs, such as changing the oil or replacing filters, changing the spark plugs and brake pads on your vehicle, general tools such as a wrench and a screwdriver are all that is required, and these are widely available in most hardware stores. It is a good idea to keep your automotive tools separate from other tools you may have, because if you begin a job and then discover that the tool you want to use is missing, it can cause major headaches.
Twenty years ago, cars were much simpler to maintain and understand than they are today. Computerised engine management systems and adjustable fuel injectors are now commonplace, and special automotive diagnostic tools are required in order to make adjustments to the engine timing and fuel air mix, whereas in the past, these jobs could be done quite simply.
Areas of the car that almost anyone can handle the regular maintenance of are the interior and exterior panels. Simple scratches and dents to the bodywork are easy to repair using a soft mallet for panel beating and abrasive paper, spray paint and filler for paintwork repairs.
If your car is well used, the interior is likely to start to look tired and dated and in need of a little tender loving care. Thankfully, there are many automotive upholstery tools available to help you to tidy up the interior of the car and bring it back to its sparkling best. You can repair small tears and burns on the seats by darning them or applying a repair patch over the affected area. The trim of the car can be brought back to life with a good buffing using a polisher, while using specialist tools it is possible to repair the carpets or even replace them.
Of course there is much more to owning and maintaining a car than just tightening nuts and sewing up split seams, and you may find that you want to add non-stock parts such as a more efficient air filter or new exhaust to improve performance, and once you understand the basics of automotive maintenance, upgrades and tuning will become more accessible, saving you even more money in the long term.
Doing small jobs yourself can save you plenty of money on garage bills, and having the right automotive tools to get the jobs done is an excellent idea that will save you time and effort in the long run. However, one of the most important things for any mechanic to know is when to pass over a job to an expert, and rather than potentially do more damage than good, to get a qualified mechanic to carry out work on a car.