Six maintenance operations you could do without visiting the mechanic

We know that the easy thing is always to take the car to a workshop and forget about everything, except paying. Especially in those quick workshops that are so fashionable now, you leave the car by appointment one weekend and you go to see some stores, they receive a message on the phone and you go to pick it up.

But there are many occasions in which we resort to workshops to make cash with operations that we could do ourselves. Sometimes it is not a matter of not knowing or not having the ability, because in most cases it is enough to look at where each thing and each screw goes to put everything the same when mounting it after identifying the problem.

The harsh reality is that for some basic and simple operations you don’t usually need a special tool, you don’t need a lift, you aren’t going to fill up with crap (or not necessarily), nor are you going to break anything … Even if you haven’t heard of Of that which fails, there are always sources to consult, and as long as we do not play the donkey in the worst case, we can set things up as they were.

So now that we have reassured you, if you still want to get down to work, you have the minimum tool (I’ve been with a 90-piece briefcase for years and most have never been used) and you have already located your original spare parts, you can continue reading to see if you dare.

Have you pricked? Don’t wait for the crane!

To start with the basics, it should be remembered that changing a wheel is something that should have been taught to all of us in driving school but that seems to be forgotten over time. Just last week, while standing in the center of Madrid, I saw that in one of the main avenues of the capital a driver punctured, noticed and pulled his vehicle to the side.

He got out of the car and went to the trunk and I saw him take out the jack and the tool, all in their holster. Without putting on his vest or placing the signaling triangle, he left the tool and the jack on the ground and without removing it from its sheath, he stood for a few seconds looking at the wheel. He picked up the tool and the jack again (still in its neat cover), put them back in the trunk, closed it, got into the car and, now, put the warnings and called the tow truck.

If you feel like it, the steps to follow are really few:

  • 1. Set the parking brake, and if possible check the wheels so that it cannot move.
  • 2. Loosen the four (or five) bolts with the wheel on the ground. It will be necessary to do force especially if the wheel has been changed with an impact pistol, so if you do not have a wrench with an extendable handle we will have to use your legs. But be careful, we can take home a good mark on the calf (I say this from experience).
  • 3. Use the jack to raise the wheel up into the air. There is usually a small recess where the upper part of the jack fits, so in case it moves it cannot escape.
  • 4. Remove the bolts, remove the wheel, and lay it flat next to the jack. In case the jack fails, the car will rest on the wheel and not against the ground, so we don’t break anything and, even with space, we can put the jack back.
  • 5. Take the spare wheel and bring it into place by matching the holes in the rim with the threads where the bolts grip.
  • 6. Aim the bolts loosely, make sure the wheel is securely in place, and then lower the jack. With the wheel already resting on the ground so that it does not rotate, we will tighten the screws tightly.
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And ready! There was no waiting for the crane.

Replacing the air filter

The air filter is a very inexpensive replacement, usually a folded paper or foam surface on a flexible rubber or plastic backing. Its replacement in many occasions does not require the use of a tool , because they are usually placed in boxes whose lids are closed with “buckles” that are released by hand. If that’s the case with your car, open it up, take out the old filter, put the new one in, and we’re done.

The most complicated case that I have come across to change an air filter turned out to be one that I did not expect. Although the box could be seen from the top of the engine compartment, it turned out that the cover was below, closed with four star screws and removing the filter in a tubular way from under the car. Nor is it a big headache.

The cost of a standard air filter is between 8 and 30 euros. If you want a high-performance filter that is already a matter of seeing how much you want to spend.

Oil change and its corresponding filter

Here with fluids we get into tricky issues. But more so for how dirty we can get if we don’t have a minimum of care. The first of all is to get some good cardboard, first to lie on the ground if we are modest and second so that in case of oil spills we do not get lost. We will also have to get a good five-liter jug ​​and a funnel to collect the used oil, or cut one of the sides of the bottle as a liquid-collecting tray.

The drain plugs are usually located in the lower rear area of ​​the crankcase and are generally indicated in user books, but I give you a hint: it is usually the thickest screw with a hexagonal head. When loosening and tightening it, you have to be careful, they are usually a bit flimsy and should be treated with care so that they do not deform. When removing them, do not lose sight of the copper washer, although it costs very little money and it is better to change it to avoid leaks.

We let all the oil drain well, we store it in a well-closed container and clean it .

The oil filter with a little brute force unscrews, but a filter wrench you have in any store and it will get you out of trouble. To put the new one we wet our finger a little in used oil and impregnate the rubber of the new filter. Finally, I remind you that it is convenient to change the oil with the engine a little warm so that it flows better and without forgetting to add the oil indicated by the manufacturer.

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In oil changes, there is usually quite a controversy in the workshops because you pay for whole carafes and keep what is leftover, but if you do, you keep it for when it needs to be refilled. A normal car usually takes less than 5 liters so with a single bottle there will be plenty. A good top brand oil is usually between 25 and 35 euros looking for a little, and the filter 5 or 10 euros at most.

And red bunting this maintenance has ended.

Replacement of burnt out bulbs

Okay, with this point I have occasionally lost my nerve. And yes, every day cars are made with more plastics and more things that prevent our hands from accessing the headlights to replace the bulbs . But even if it may not seem like it, in the end there is always a way to get to the lamps.

To avoid unnecessary frustrations, the best thing to do if a light bulb has burned out is to buy the replacement before going to work. The type of bulb is usually indicated in the books of the car itself. Then we just have to start making contortions with our fingers and once we remove the melt, without releasing its support, change it for the new one and put everything in its place again.

It is usually much easier to change the bulbs of the taillights than those of the front, so if you want to get practice you already know where to start. Ah! And one last thing: we must not touch the glass of new bulbs (we don’t care about the old ones) because we leave our greasy mark and then, with the heat generated, it is more likely that it will melt again.

The cost of a normal bulb is almost negligible (H4, H1, H7 … we do not go into issues of led, xenon and others) so I recommend taking a case with one or two spare parts for each one.

Fuses, those mysterious colored jelly beans

Have you ever had a general electrical failure? Have the windows stopped working, or all the lights on one side, or the radio and electrical outlets? That is, we have had a small surge in current and these little colored devices have come into action to avoid greater evils. The small problem is that now you have to replace the fuse so that everything returns to normal.

The “scary” fuse box may seem like indecipherable gibberish, but a little attention is enough. Each fuse is mounted in its fuse holder and has a specific function that either on the cover of the box, in the book, or in some other place there is a diagram that explains what each one is for .

Armed with a small fuse clamp or with pliers and a steady hand, we will have to locate the fuse in question by looking at the chop. We take it out, check that it is melted (the small filament in its middle part will be broken), we take another equal one of the same amperage (color) and put it in its place.

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The different colors of the types of fuses indicate the maximum amperage that they support before breaking, and it is convenient that we do not put one of greater or lesser amperage or we will have problems. Each electrical circuit has certain consumption needs and if we let more (or less) current than indicated we can damage a device or blow another fuse.

The fuses are almost bought by weight, so get a few and put them in the box with the spare bulbs.

Updating the brakes

Although now cars almost do it by themselves they need a mechanical part. We are going to finish with something more laborious than complicated: the replacement of the brake equipment. To know if we have to change the brake pads, we only have to remove the wheel and look at the condition of the brake, if we still have a few good millimeters we can leave it, but with the idea in mind of going to buy the replacement.

When we start to change them, the operation is usually as simple as disassembling the brake caliper, removing it from its place, prying the pistons open (so that when we put the new pads there is room to spare), loosening the fasteners and removing the pads. Then we put the new ones, put everything in its place and run. For the rear wheels, a specific tool is usually required to remove the system.

If when we do this we see that the brake disc has a flange at its end, we can change it as we are. It will not take us too long because it is usually enough to loosen the two screws that prevent the disc from turning on the axis on which it is mounted and with a hammer and a little bit of touch, hit it out. Sometimes it costs a bit but it ends up coming out. Then we put the new parts, we take the opportunity to also put new the two security screws and that’s it.

complete set of brake pads and discs is around 300 euros depending on the type of car and the brand of spare parts. There are things below that price but I do not recommend saving four dollars on something as important as the brakes.

In the end, it is a matter of will and getting to it. If you still want to know more things that you can do yourself, the list is quite extensive, almost infinite depending on the patience you have. We could continue with the replacement of an exhaust pipe in bad condition, change the ventilation motor, replace the electric window kit if we get some spring retainers we can change the shock absorbers … and, although there are ways to do it And it would be fine, to change the wheels you need machinery.

Photos | Pixabay

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