Despite most likely using our cars on a regular and daily basis, many of us are nevertheless actually somewhat afraid of them. Sure, petrol heads and car lovers won't be and neither will people who work as mechanics be. But the same can't always be said for the rest of us.
Of course we know our cars won't bite us, but the fear that we tend to have comes from the thought of having to do any kind of repair or maintenance ourselves. We know that our cars are potentially incredibly dangerous. After all, they are incredibly heavy chunks of metal that hurtle us down the highway at over a hundred miles an hour; it won't only take something very minor going wrong in order for us to be in serious trouble and to put everyone else on the road in danger too.
And obviously it's a good thing that people are respectful of their cars and that they treat them seriously. But does that mean that you can't ever try solving your own car problems or popping the hood open yourself? Not at all.
Why You Should Learn a Bit About Your Car
If you're afraid to open the bonnet of your car to see what's inside, then you are probably actually putting yourself in more danger than if you do. While you might normally rely on the neighbor's son to check your oil, they aren't always going to be there and if you don't know how to check it yourself then it just isn't going to be done as often as it should be. Moreover, when something does go wrong and you're stranded in the middle of nowhere because your car won't start, you're not going to have the faintest clue where to start. Believe it or not, some people don't even know how to open their own bonnet!
If you take it upon yourself to change your own oil next time or to learn where the wiper fluid goes, then you will actually be much safer and much better able to keep your car in working order.
Why You Should Attempt Your Own Repairs
And sometimes, you might even want to try and make your own repairs when something goes wrong. That's not saying that you necessarily need to replace the brake pads yourself, because you might rightly be worried that doing so could result in your wheel falling off when you're driving down the road.
But if your car is misbehaving or won't start, then often the problem might be a much simpler one. For instance, you might find that it's merely your ignition that isn't working and that you could solve the problem by cleaning the key. Likewise, you should know how to get a jumpstart or how to recharge your battery if you need to.
Why? Here are just a few compelling reasons:
As you attempt smaller repairs on your car, you will learn to become more confident and you will start being able to make bigger changes
This is highly rewarding. You'll be learning a new skill and you'll impress whoever you're with when you pop open the hood and fix that leaking oil yourself.
You'll actually be able to help other people too!
You'll be able to address issues immediately and get your car working right away, rather than having to wait for a mechanic to arrive or leaving your car at the garage for ages
It will save you a lot of money because you won't be paying for someone to come out
Even if you can't fix the problem on your won, you'll have a better idea of what needs doing and this can prevent you from getting ripped off by someone who perhaps senses your naivety
You might even be able to save money by buying the parts you need online so that you're actually only paying for the time and the labor
If you understand why car issues happen, then you can actually prevent them from happening rather than dealing with them after the fact. Which of course is always preferable…
For all these reasons, it's more than worth looking into making repairs yourself before you instantly call someone to help. And as we'll see, it's actually relatively safe and easy to make those changes on your own too…
How to Fix Your Own Car Problems
So your car is making a strange noise. Maybe it's refusing to start. Or maybe it just doesn't respond the way you think it should/the way you're used to. So what do you do?
Well, thanks to the internet, all the information that you need is out there. All you have to do is to get the symptoms of your car in order to make a diagnosis.
Sure, the car isn't starting, but are the lights coming on? And maybe the brakes feel soft but is there anything else? Perhaps a noise or a vibration?
By checking these things, you'll have a good list of 'symptoms' that you can use to do a search in Google and you should be able to match them to a potential problem. That in turn will allow you to find a website that diagnoses the problem and that provides steps you can take to fix it.
Now you should read through these quickly to get an idea as to whether or not it's within your capabilities. Look at what tools you'll need and at how many steps or stages there are. You might also find that you need help from another person or even another car.
If it sounds like something you can't do, then read through it in detail anyway and then call someone to help. At least you're now armed with knowledge.
If you do think you can solve the problem yourself, then take a read around the web to get some second opinions. Remember that anyone can write for the web and that means that the advice isn't always going to be 100% reliable. You need to check a few different sources and to decide whether you think they can be trusted or not. Once you're confident that you're getting the right advice, then you can go ahead and attempt to make the repair.
If you do decide to make changes to your car then here are a couple of tips that can help increase your chances of success and keep you safer:
Always check YouTube. While a written article is a good starting point, YouTube can provide you with the visual element that will take you through the motions step-by-step
Don't just read the steps to make the repair on your own. Make sure you also swat up on how that part of the car works. Understanding what something does makes it much easier to repair.
Always test the repairs you've made somewhere quiet and safe first. Don't swap all your tires and then head out onto the motorway – take a few quite spins around the block first so you can be confident that you made the repair safely.
Finally, make sure you are always reading and learning about cars. Don't wait for something to go wrong, just keep learning and you'll be ready! Better yet: actually read your car manual. Few people do but they're actually very useful!