There was a time when many Americans took pride in maintaining their vehicles themselves. Plenty of people still do. But the maintenance and repairs that the average “driveway mechanic” can handle have changed as vehicles have become much more complex, and computers have taken control of many functions in the car.
So what can the average DIYer still handle at home? Here are a few guidelines:
It takes a high level of knowledge and some specialized tools, but brake work can still be done in the driveway. Be aware that critical safety systems such as anti-lock and stability control tie into the brakes, so if you don’t have the high level of knowledge required, find a friend who does, or take the work to a pro.
Fuel and air filter replacement
Generally doable for many DIYers. Access to the filters often requires some component disassembly, so tools, patience and a little bit of skill may be required.
Batteries are pretty much maintenance-free these days. You can use products to keep the terminals clean and maintain a good electrical connection, but that’s about it.
In the past, fixing coolant leaks, oil leaks, and transmission and power steering fluid leaks often required advanced mechanical skills or a trip to the service station. Now, advances in chemistry have enabled pour-in, permanent solutions for many vehicle leaks.
Leak fix products have been around almost as long as cars themselves, but some solutions were only temporary. Now, advanced chemistry including nano technology has made permanent solutions possible. And, these are solutions that almost any willing DIYer can handle. If you can open the hood to your vehicle, you can probably handle the fix yourself.
The K&W Fix My Leak can help drivers determine what kind of a leak they have and whether there’s a product that can enable them to fix it themselves.
Drive and serpentine belt replacement
This used to be something a good DIYer could handle, sometimes with a single wrench. Today, not so much. Replacing today’s drive and serpentine belts can require specialized tools, major component disassembly, and pro-level knowledge. It’s not even obvious when to replace today’s belts. They don’t show clear signs of wear and they need to be tested with a tension tool to judge their remaining service life. Save this one for the pros.
This one is an “it depends.” The question is one of access. Some modern vehicles have alternators with easy access. Others require major disassembly. The other question is, “Are you sure it’s the alternator?” It used to be that if your battery kept dying, it was either the alternator or the voltage regulator. Nowadays it can be a hundred different issues that cause a battery to drain repeatedly. You need to be able to test alternator output to know whether it’s the cause of your problems.
K&W Stop Leak Solutions provide affordable and effective alternatives to costly mechanical repairs
Spark plug replacement
Again, access is the factor. Some plugs are easy to get to, some are hidden under plastic assemblies that have to be removed. You may need a specialized tool or two because modern plugs are generally buried deep in the engine block. But check the manual before you start. Many of today’s spark plugs are rated for very long service intervals – some are good for 100,000 miles. Don’t replace today’s plugs on yesterday’s schedule.
This is still a job a mid-level DIY mechanic can handle. Just be sure you’re following the required procedure to get a complete flush and a complete air-free fill. Also check the manual of the exact type of antifreeze needed. There are several distinctly different types, and what works for one car may be harmful in another.
Still a classic driveway moment, and with the right tools, a job that most DIYers can handle. Be sure to dispose of the used oil responsibly, and be careful not to strip the threads on the oil filter.
Headlight bulb replacement
Usually an easy, 5 to 10-minute affair, but some vehicles require major component disassembly.
Check the owner’s manual or look for how-to videos online before you start. If you go ahead, be sure not to touch the bulb glass with your bare fingers. The oil from your skin can create a ‘hot spot’ that leads to early failure.
Heading to the shop for repairs and regular vehicle maintenance can become extremely expensive. K&W Stop Leak Solutions provide affordable and effective alternatives to costly mechanical repairs and parts replacements. Whether you’re a ‘weekend mechanic’ or an auto service pro, K&W has a cost-effective solution to help you fix cooling system, automatic transmission, power steering, and engine leaks quickly, affordably, and permanently.