“It’s only nuts and bolts. It can only go back together one way.” Someone once said that to us, and while it’s not factually correct (we will wedge a bolt in the wrong hole if you give us the chance) the sentiment of it shouldn’t be ignored. And that sentiment is that you shouldn’t be scared of tackling some jobs on your car. We only learn through exploration and discovery, so if the inner workings of your car remain off limits to you, you’ll never get to know or understand them. That’s a bit rubbish.
There will always be the big jobs, the ones that only a trained professional should get involved with. Before those jobs, though, there is a list as long as your exhaust system full of stuff you can, and should, tackle yourself. Five of which, handily, we’ve jotted down for you.
Change a panel…
This one is worth doing just for the sheer sense of achievement. You’re removing one huge bit of metal and replacing it with another huge bit of metal. You’re like a machine, how cool is that? And for the most part, panels are held on by nothing more than some bolts that any basic socket set would make light work of. Yet people think it’s such a hassle to do.
So if you have a ding and you need to change a door or a wing, or the bonnet even, start by having a look at how it’s affixed. Have a look at a Haynes manual, or on the internet, then take your time. Time is your enemy her,e but only only if you use too little of it. So relax, learn, and save yourself a few quid in the process.
Okay, if your car is a minter, don’t go wading into it with the big sparkler. That’ll end in tears. In fact, if you’ve never welded, don’t go anywhere near your car. You’ll probably set it, and yourself, on fire.
Do get a cheap welder though, do wave a fiver at the local scrappy and get some bent metal off him, and then do have a go. If we can weld (and really, we can) then so can you. It’s not hard. People get the fear for because of the sparks, the noise and the heat. Embrace them, though, and you’ll find it deeply satisfying. And soon, you’ll laugh in the face of your car needing some welding for MOT repairs. One thing though, don’t cheap out on the welding mask, ‘arc eye’ is not a fun thing.
Change your brakes…
This one is so simple, yet folk so often go to their local garage and have them do it. And do yo know what your local garage does? It bills you for an hour or two, when you could have don it yourself in probably half the time. Changing brakes is not hard.
You jack it up, you put the car on axle stands, you remove the wheel, you undo the bolt(s) holding the caliper on, you slide the pads out, you put the new ones in (with some copper grease on the back) and then you bolt it all back together. Need to change the discs? Well, somewhere in the middle of that, you take the caliper carrier off, too. Then you undo the retaining screw on the disc, you take the old one off, put the new one on, job jobbed.
Service your car…
Look, you’re hear, which to quote Will Darnell, means “you ain’t exactly got money wallin’ out your as**ole.” Colourful. But probably true. So why spend money you don’t have on getting the garage to service your car? You can do it yourself, it’s a doddle.
You’ll need to pop down to your local motor factors to get the oil, the filter, the plugs and so on, but that’ll be your only expense. The oil is held in your engine by one bolt on the bottom of the sump (though do dispose of your old oil responsibly), the plugs come out with a socket, the filter just unscrews, though you can get a tool if it’s being stubborn. Then there you go, car serviced. Admittedly that is the lightest of services, but it’s still something your car will be thankful for. And you’ll feel like Edd China when you’re done. But shorter.
Do the MOT prep…
MOT time is always daunting. But you can take some of the sting out of it by doing a load of prep. That means going over the car, from bumper to bumper, and checking for things that it may fail on. Has a bulb gone? Fit new ones. Are your tyres a little on the bare side? Get down to the local tyre place before being failed on them. Are the brakes a bit rubbish? Change them, as above. Concerned about emissions? Give it a service, as above. Check all your belts, get Autoglass out to sort that chip in your windscreen. The list goes on.
If you’re not sure what to check, worry not, here’s a handy PDF for you to print off and work through. Do this, and you’re giving your car the best possible chance of passing. Do it a month or two before your MOT runs out, then you have time to get it all sorted. Plus, you’re avoiding the sting of a sudden fail. Seriously, why wouldn’t you do this?
Go on, off to the garage/driveway with you. You can do it!