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Crash Course for Cars: Vehicle Repair Tips for Novices

Working on cars is a lot of fun, and it can be a right of passage for many young men and women. You don’t have to devote your life to it to reap some benefits, though. You can just be a weekend grease monkey without quitting your day job and still save a ton of money on car repairs by getting your hands dirty and doing it yourself. Here are four beginner tips to get you going.

Get Some Cheap Starter Tools

If you already have some tools of your own that you bought or inherited from your parents, then that’s a great start. You’ll need several flathead and Phillips screwdrivers of various lengths—preferably with magnetic tips. You’ll also need a full set of socket wrenches and hand wrenches. These will by your primary go-to tools. You’ll also need some other tools for random jobs, such as a mallet, a hacksaw, an oil filter wrench and more.

You can buy used tools at yard sales and online to get you started. Cheap new tools can be bought at Sears, and their Craftsman line of tools all come with a lifetime warranty, which can make them a good deal—assuming they don’t go out of business anything soon.

On second thought, maybe you should skip Sears and head to Home Depot instead! The main thing is that you don’t need to spend a ton of money for specialized tools that you don’t need yet. Get the basics and then fill in the gaps as needed.

Learn Everything You Can about Auto Repair

If you have friends or cousins who work on cars a lot, start hanging out with them a lot more often, especially when they are working on cars. If you know the right people, then a case of beer is all you need to pay for a decent education in auto repair basics. YouTube videos can also help you, as can car blogs like the one at Popular Mechanics to pick up additional tips.

Start with Easy Maintenance and Repair Jobs

Use your own vehicle as your Guinea pig and begin learning the ropes by performing your own scheduled maintenance such as doing oil changes, changing out the air filter and oil filter, cleaning the battery terminals and changing out belts and hoses that are frayed, bulging or cracked.

For actual repairs, you can buy what you need at your local parts dealer or save a few bucks by purchasing auto parts or streeter basic stationary kart stands online. You should also purchase a vehicle repair guide for your year, make and model and watch several videos about the job at hand before removing a single screw or nut. But don’t be intimidated. Just get started.

Know When to Call in the Pros

If you do your research on reputable repair blogs and YouTube accounts, then those sources will let you know which repair jobs are out of your league. Obviously, older cars are easier to work on because they don’t rely so heavily on delicate electronics and complicated systems. If in doubt, ask an experienced mechanic or auto parts salesman at the local NAPA for some advice.

Working on your own car can be a lot of fun, and it can save you thousands of dollars as the years roll by. To get off on the right track as a DIY mechanic, follow these four tips, roll up your sleeves and just get to work. You can only learn so much from others. Ultimately, you learn to fix cars by doing it.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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