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Top 5 do it yourself car repair tips

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused more drivers to watch their budgets and look for ways to save on car repairs. 

Investing in a low-cost vehicle service contract (also known as an extended warranty) that covers big repairs and becoming more proactive about checking if your car actually needs repairs or replacements are two simple ways to do it.

Here are some of the top do-it-yourself repair tips for your car.

1. Do-it-yourself tire check

Since many people continue to work from home, it means that many cars are remaining in the garage idle, causing a loss in tire pressure. Driving when your tires are lacking proper pressure can result in deterioration of your tires, costly tire repairs or worse, a blowout. It’s recommended that you:

Checking your tire pressure

  • Buy a tire pressure gauge (they only cost a couple of dollars).
  • Insert the tire pressure gauge into the valve system.
  • Compare the number you get from the tire pressure gauge to the recommended tire pressure that can be found in the vehicle placard (the sticker near the driver’s door jamb).
  • Add air at your nearest gas station so that it matches your recommended tire pressure.
  • If your tires keep losing air (over 1-3 psi a month), they may need replacement.

Read our blog on the different types of wheels available for your car.

2. Do-it-yourself headlight cleaning

Having clean headlights is one of the most important things on your car. Headlights let you see the road better and make it easy for other drivers to see you at night. If your headlights have started to become yellowish or cloudy, you don’t have to replace them. You can clear them up instead:

Clearing up cloudy headlights

  • Buy a headlight restoration kit (it includes abrasive pads and liquid compound).
  • Tape off the headlights to protect the surrounding paint and trim.
  • Sand the lens in straight, horizontal strokes for about five to 10 minutes.

3. Do-it-yourself engine fluid check

Making sure your car has the right amount of fluids can help prolong the life of your car and avoid major repairs. Cars have gauges or dipsticks that pull out so that you can check the level and color of the oil. Your owner’s manual includes instructions on how to check your fluid levels. Here are some general guidelines:

Checking your engine oil

  • Make sure your car engine is OFF and has cooled off completely before checking your engine oil.
  • Find the dipstick near your engine.
  • Pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a towel or rag.
  • Reinsert and pull it out again. The oil on the dipstick should be near the maximum.
  • Add more oil if necessary.

Checking your coolant (also known as antifreeze)

  • Only check this fluid every 50,000 miles.
  • Make sure your car engine is OFF and has cooled off completely before checking the coolant.
  • Find the radiator cap to see if the coolant is filled up to the “at minimum” line.
  • Add more coolant if necessary.

Checking your transmission fluid

  • Make sure your car has a transmission dipstick (some cars do not).
  • Turn ON your car engine and keep your car on “Park” or “Neutral”.
  • Check the fluid level, the color and consistency. It should be amber or red and feel smooth.
  • Add more transmission fluid and move the gear selector through the gears while you foot is on the brake to allow the fluid to flow throughout the transmission.

Checking your brake fluid

  • Find the brake fluid reservoir in the engine bay.
  • Check the fluid level and color. It should be translucent, not cloudy or dark.
  • If it simply falls below the minimum, add more brake fluid. If it’s cloudy or dark, get it replaced.

4. Do-it-yourself engine filter replacement

Your engine air filter makes sure your engine is getting clean air. Without a clean air filter, the engine can get damaged over time: your check engine light may even come on because of it. Checking your air filter and replacing it is something you can easily do yourself that will save you a lot of money:

Checking your air filter

  • Under your hood, find the engine air filter housing (it’s a black plastic box either on top or to the side of the engine).
  • Reach for the air filter carefully as there may be wiring and electrical components attached.
  • Open the air filter (it may have screws, clips, clamps or wing nuts that you have to unfasten).
  • Check to see if the filter is dirty. You should tap the filter to see if lots of dirt falls out.
  • Remove the old air filter and insert a new one if necessary. The rubber rim should be facing up.
  • Carefully close the air filter housing, put the fasteners back on and put it back on the engine.

5. Do-it-yourself paint chip touch up

Not covering paint chips with touch up paint can lead to rust and can create bigger problems in the long run. Fixing small problems on your car’s exterior takes patience and time, but it can be easily done:

Touching up chipped auto paint

  • Buy touch up paint, fine tip paint applicators and wax and grease remover.
  • Clean the area of the chipped pain with the wax and grease remover.
  • Dip the applicator in the paint and dab a little bit on the chip.
  • Let it dry and apply wax 30 days later.

A new kind of extended warranty can help you save on big car repairs

Vehicle Repair Protection is the best extended car warranty available. Big repairs that you can’t do yourself and must be done professionally are covered on a low monthly price, and you won’t have to worry about negotiating repairs with the mechanic. You simply take the car to any repair shop of choice and begin the claim process through the app. has created vehicle breakdown coverage that is simple, trustworthy and affordable. Transforming the extended car warranty marketplace through technology and transparency, offers a full suite of worry-free, no haggle car care plans through low-cost, 100% online, monthly subscriptions that drivers can sign up for in less than five minutes. Get an instant quote today!