How To Do Basic Car Repair

A working knowledge of basic car repair is a must have for every car owner. Not even those who have the money to buy a new car every now and then or those who have the cash to pay for a mechanic for every time the car hiccups can say that they don't need to know basic car repair. What would they do if they found themselves with a malfunctioning car in a deserted place with no one to help them fix their car troubles?

Basic car repair knowledge is great for those who want to save on expensive repairs. First of all, it can help you perform maintenance that could avoid future problems. Also, if you know how your car works, you can describe to a mechanic the car troubles you are experiencing, which could lead to faster fixes by the mechanic, and additional savings on your part.

There's a trick to understanding car repair. To learn how, follow these simple steps:

Start by finding out what part of the car needs repair:

  • Noise: an easy way to find out where and what is causing the trouble is to look for the part causing unfamiliar noise. There's a high probability that the source of that noise is the car part needing repair.
  • Electrical: if a component that relies on electricity, such as the window, light or audio, suddenly stops to function, chances are an electrical circuit or the wiring needs some fixing.
  • Light on Dashboard: check whether the lights for engine, break or battery are still displayed, if you see otherwise, you have a problem in that specific car part.
  • Start: does your car refuse to start and emits only some cranks and repeated clicks?
  • Power: the car refuses to move despite your pressing the gas?
  • Brakes: this is probably the worst thing you can encounter when driving. The car does not stop even after you step on the brakes. This situation obviously means there is a problem with your brakes.
  • Air conditioning: if the air conditioning blows hot air rather than cold, or it does not blow air at all, or when it spews air on one side only, then you have a problem with the air conditioning.
  • Flat Tire: when you suddenly experience difficulty in driving and start feeling the road bumps, then check your tire, because it could be causing this problem. The tire may be flat or it was worn uneven, you may also notice the air leaking from one of the tires.
  • Smell: if you noticed a burning smell, see where it was emitted, this could be the culprit in your car trouble.

After you have located the part that needs some repair, what you have to do next is to simplify that problem. Take "noise" as an example for basic car repair tips. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What kind of noise is being emitted? Roaring
  • When does this noise occur? During driving
  • What were you performing while driving? Just driving straight and some turning
  • Were there any changes in the noise? Yes, it keeps getting louder when I turn but quieter when I go steady
  • Do you observe any changes when stepping on the brakes? No changes
  • What side of the car does the noise come from? Left side of the car
  • Where? Front

You have just learned that your car emits a roaring sound while you are driving, which keeps intensifying when you are turning, and this occurs at the left side front part of your can. The next thing you do is:

  • Check by jacking up the front portion of the car and investigate the rotating parts.
  • Does the CV shaft display any indication of damage?
  • When you wiggle the tire, does it have free movement? Yes
  • When you rotate the wheel, do you hear a sound? Yes, some metallic rubbing sound

Well done! You have just pinpointed that the Bearing Assembly of the Hub located in the front left portion of the car needs some repairs. Next time you encounter a problem with your car, follow the above describe basic car repair procedure.


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There are a couple of related books that could help you if you have a Volkswagen. One is: "How to keep your Volkswagen alive: A step by step procedure for the compleat idiot." The others are related ones, having to do with specific models that came out after the basic Bug and Microbus. Look for them, they can help.

By Donald Pelton