Which 3 Books are the Best If You Want to Learn Auto Repair and Have Never Done It Before?

So we determined in our last post that you could, in fact, fix up some parts of your car pretty easily.

If you are new to auto repair you need to start somewhere to learn how you can do those easy tasks that you want to do to maintain your car. There are many ways to learn, and a good book is always a great way to start. Here are some recommended books for you if you want to learn auto repair and you have never done it before.

1) Auto Repair for Dummies

The “For Dummies” series is always a good place to start if you are looking for a great book to learn a new skill. This one on auto repair is very highly rated.

For any book about auto repair to be useful it has to have good illustrations and simple instructions..

This book covers a lot of thing at a basic level. It is a good starter book and then if you find that you are really interested in learning more you can move on to slightly more advanced books.

It starts off with how you should get to know your vehicle and understand its automotive systems. You will learn basic skills such as how to change a tire, battery, plugs and fuses. It has instructions on how to tackle simple tasks such as changing the air filter and PCV valve. You will also learn how to add and change the oil and coolant in your car.

You will also find general tips about vehicle maintenance and safety tips including how to check and look after your tires, learn about safety, how to it a car seat, how to keep your cars value and fix minor paint jobs.

There are also tips about how deal with working with a mechanic. Unfortunately, there are a lot of scams out there so these tips are invaluable in helping you to avoid the auto repair shop pitfalls that you may encounter.

Overall it is a great book for the beginner. If you only want to buy one book about car repair this is probably the one that you should choose. It is very comprehensive and covers a great deal of ground in a very easy to understand way.

2) How Cars Work

Although this book was first written as a text book High School primer for teens wanting to start learning about auto repair, it is suitable for anyone wanting to begin to understand how cars work. It is a very basic book which is easy to read. It will give you a basic overview of how a car works.

About half of the book is taken up with the excellent illustrations. Any auto repair book has to have good pictures and this one most definitely does the job well in this regard.

3) Popular Mechanics Complete Car Manual

This is another very good book for someone who has very basic knowledge of car repair. It gives readers a basic understanding of all the basic parts of a car. It shows them how to understand what can go wrong and how to make simple repairs if they need to.

Readers will learn how to tackle basic repairs without having to go to the auto repair shop. Such things as an oil change, air and oil filter changes, how to change a tire, replace the windshield wipers and even how to get rid of bad odors from your car interior. There is a good section on how to pass the emission inspection – that could save you a lot of money.

This book has step by step guides on over 90 different projects for your car. There are even instructions on how to change your cars appearance with projects on tinting windows and adding décor to make your car stand out from the crowd.



The Auto Jobs You Can Do Yourself Even Though You Think You Can’t

You may have always thought that all auto jobs are best left to the experts. Certainly the auto industry wants us to think that and it’s like that in many other industries.  A friend who is a cheap plumber in Trenton, NJ says that it’s like that with many industries where people are just too intimidated to tackle even simple jobs.  Many people are now wondering which auto jobs you can do yourself. Car maintenance is expensive and tackling your own auto jobs is a great way to save yourself some money.

Which auto jobs can you easily learn how to do yourself? Here are some very simple jobs that you can do with no previous experience.

Replace the Air Filter

air filter photo
Photo by eurosporttuning

This is a very easy job that you can do yourself. You need to look in your car manual as to how often this should be done, but generally it is once a year or when you reach 12,000 miles, whichever is the sooner. It is important to change it regularly as the air filter prevents debris and contaminants getting into the car engine.

Oil Change

oil change photo
Photo by ~ezs

This is another auto job which is frequently done at the dealership, but is very easy to do yourself. It is an essential job, which if you do it yourself, is inexpensive. You must do this job regularly as oil is needed to lubricate all the parts of the car engine so that everything keeps working smoothly.

Do not do this if the car engine is still warm. Wait until a couple of hours have passed since driving your car.

Always leave oil filter changes to the experts if you are a beginner. This is a different task which should be left to someone who is confident in what they are doing.

Replacing the Washer Tank

These are usually pretty easy to remove and replace. Always remove the wiring to the pump first. Then remove the actual washer tank – they are usually only held on with a couple of blots so this should be a simple job.

Change Your Wiper Blades

wiper blades photo
Photo by davedehetre

Windshield wipers are one of the most important safety features of your car. If they are not functioning properly you will not be able to safely drive your car in rain or snow. Windshield wiper blades are made of rubber and these can wear out surprisingly quickly. It is likely that this is a job which will need doing at least once every twelve months. This is true no matter what kind of climate you live in.

This is one of the easiest auto repair jobs that you can do.

Blown Fuses and Bulbs

It is very common for the fuse to blow on headlights and brake lights. Don’t ever rush to the car repair shop to get this job done. If a car light isn’t working the most likely cause is that the fuse is blown or the bulb needs replacing.

Check the bulb first and if this is not the cause then look at the fuse box. Check your car’s manual to find the fuse box. This will also tell you which type of fuse you need to change.

10 Auto Repair Jobs You Should Always Leave to the Experts: Part 2

In Part 1 we checked out a few of the jobs a shadetree mechanic probably shouldn’t handle alone.  Here are 5 more jobs you may want to leave to the pros.


6) Rebuilding the Differential

differential photo
Photo by XOques

You may be able to tackle this one yourself, but only if you have serious skills and the tools to match. If you get this one wrong your car is going to draw a lot of attention – for the hideous noise it makes. It’s not easy getting the alignment patch between the gears in exactly the right place.

It’s a really tough job and the skill really only comes with lots of practice. You are not likely to do this more than once, so practice is not going to be something that you have. Leave this one to the experts and accept that this is not a task to take on yourself.

7) Repairing an Air Conditioner

You probably want to avoid this auto repair job. Unless you are an expert, anything which involves Freon, high pressures and a whole lot of tubing is really best left alone. We know you may be tempted, but don’t give in to temptation. If you start this job you most probably will wish that you had left this one well alone.

8) Repairing Bodywork

car accident photo
Photo by cygnus921

This depends upon what the problem is. If we are talking about a minor scratch which doesn’t cut into or dent the metal feel free to go ahead and tackle this one without expert help. However, if your new car just suffered some serious body work issues you are going to want to take it into the shop to let the professionals deal with it.

Your 20-year-old car is another matter – if you want to have a try then you haven’t got as much to lose if you get it wrong, so go ahead if you really want to.

Body work is hard physical work combined with artistry. You have to be able to literally hammer out the problem. Then you need to make sure that the finished work looks seamless. It really is a specific skill which takes a lot of practice, so it is best to leave this one to your local body shop.

9) Balancing Tires

This is a job that needs doing regularly, but it is one which you really need to leave up to the professionals. It isn’t particularly difficult, but you do need the right equipment. If you don’t have the right equipment you may be able to get a tire onto a rim, but you probably won’t want to do it twice! The best advice is to just say no and admit defeat. Take the car to the shop to get your tires balanced.

10) Straightening a Frame

balance tires photo
Photo by thomas autumn photography

A damaged frame can often mean that a car is beyond repair. It could well be an insurance write off if the damage is extensive enough. You will need serious equipment for this which costs a lot of money. It is unlikely that you will ever do this job again so investing in the equipment is never going to be worth it. This is one of those easy questions – don’t even attempt this unless you are a professional. It is unrealistic.





Top 3 Auto Scams Revealed and How You Can Avoid Them

Did you know that auto repair shop scams top the list of consumer complaints? There are many reputable car repair places out there, but unfortunately there are many which are notorious for overcharging and even scamming the customer. These days we seem to know less and less about what is actually happening with our cars. As technology advances we become even more reluctant to take on even the simplest repair jobs ourselves.

If you dread taking your car to the repair shop here are the top 3 auto scams which are practiced in the industry. If you know how you are likely to be scammed, you will stand a much better chance of being ripped off.

The Dirty Air Filter Scam

This is one of the more common scams which you may find yourself faced with. You may be taking your car in for regular maintenance and the mechanic tells you that you have an air filter which must be replaced. If you don’t do this there is nothing to stop debris getting into your car engine and this can result in extensive damage to your car engine. It really needs to be replaced or you could risk a very costly repair in the near future.

The auto shop may also show you the air filter. It will be very dirty. There are two problems with this. The first one is pretty fundamental. This may not be your air filter. It could be one that the auto repair shop keeps on the shelf to show unsuspecting customers every day. It’s a recognized scam and employees are sometimes told that they have to do it or they will be shown the door.

The second problem is that even if your air filter is dirty it may not need replacing. There are two different types of air filter on your car and the scam could relate to either. There is an engine air filter which is supposed to filter debris and keep it away from your car engine. There is also a cabin air filter which cleans the air coming in from the outside to ventilate the inside of your car.

Make sure that the filter that they are showing you is actually yours. Ask them to show you where in your car it was removed from. Check your own manual as to how often the filter should be replaced. Usually cabin air filters will last for 20,000 miles or so.

The Oil Change Scam

You may encounter this one when you take your car in for an oil change. This should be a simple job and it is one which you could do at home. However, most people don’t know this so they take their car into the auto repair shop.

You happily leave your car for a simple oil change. Then you get the call. It is way more complicated than you think. They explain that if you don’t do what they recommend the consequences are so bad that your will end up with a very expensive repair in the near future.

You are told to believe that if you do not upgrade your oil your car will not function properly and the engine could sustain serious damage.

You may be told that the start of these problems was only seen when the car was put up on the hoist. These problems are impossible to see unless you are looking under the car and know what you are looking for.

This scam uses fear very well. They know that car owners are concerned about car safety and avoiding problems in the future. They can play to both of these fears with this scam.

To add an extra layer to the fear and to convince you that they are only looking after your own wellbeing they may even say that you have to sign a document to say that you have been warned of the danger of not getting the work done.

If this happens to you and they are refusing to release your car politely set out that they are not entitled to do that. If they still refuse say that you will call the police. You are within your rights to do so as they cannot retain your car in this way. If they know that you are on to them they will probably just let your car go and move on to their next scam victim.

The We Won’t Let You Have Your Car Back Scam

This can be a very stressful and frightening scam to deal with. You take your car in for a simple repair and ask them to look at it. You may authorize a small amount of work.

A few hours after you leave the auto repair shop and then you get the dreaded call. They have looked at the car and found lots of problems. Again, these only became clear when they got the car up on the hoist.

Things are serious and your car is dangerous if you continue to run it. Or if you keep driving it without having these repairs done you will soon be paying serious money to have the repairs done when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere in the dark. Again, they are playing on your fears. You know you need a safe and reliable car and you just can’t take the risk.

Whatever you do, don’t fall for this one. If you are being told that your car needs extensive repairs and you have any feelings at all that you may be being scammed, get your car out of there.

This is where the second part of the scam may come into play. The auto repair shop may say that they have already done the repairs and you owe them money. They say that if you don’t settle their bill in full they will not be releasing the car to you.

They can’t do this. If you did not authorize repairs you do not have to pay for them. You may have signed something to say that you would pay for the investigation so you do need to pay for that.

However, don’t pay for things you did not authorize. If they still won’t give you the car back, you can say that you will call the police. They are not entitled to hold onto your car until you pay the bill.


Photo by Nick Vidal-Hall

How to Get Comfortable Under the Hood and Tackle Those Easy Auto Repairs

Do you want to get started on learning how to do easy auto repairs yourself? If you want to save a lot of money by avoiding the auto repair shop as much as possible it makes a whole lot of sense to do some of the easy auto repairs yourself. Once you realize how easy some of those auto repairs really are, and how much money that you can save, you will soon get the confidence to complete a whole variety of repair tasks on your own.

Why Should You Think About Doing Your Own Auto Repairs?

There are a number of reasons why you really should get familiar with your car and stop thinking all the repair jobs are for the experts:

  • You will save money. Auto expenses are one of the biggest drains on a household budget. You can save much needed cash if you are preparing to tackle some jobs yourself.
  • It really isn’t that difficult. We may believe that everything is complicated, but it really isn’t. There are definitely some jobs which you should not take on yourself, but there are many that you can easily do with just some simple instructions and a basic set of tools.
  • The auto repair industry is plagued with scams. Many of the auto repair shops out there are highly reputable, but it can be difficult to find the good guys sometimes. Even the big chain auto shops have been involved in systematically ripping off customers. Having even a basic knowledge of how a car works will help you avoid being taken in by these scammers.

How Do You Get Started?

Always begin with a simple job to get some confidence first. You could start with replacing your windshield wipers. This job needs to be done about every 12 months, regardless of where you live. It is really simple and can be done in minutes. A real confidence builder is realizing how easy it is to change the oil in your car. This is a great one to start with.

There is a lot of information in books and online about how to tackle simple repair jobs on your car. If you learn best from watching demonstrations it is a good idea to search the internet for videos of how to complete simple auto repairs. You could also buy auto repair books which have good, illustrated, step by step instructions. Just pick the route that you find best for you.

What Should You Avoid?

There are certain jobs that should always be done by the professionals. You will soon become proficient in doing the easy jobs, but there are some things which are definitely best left to the experts to deal with. You should never try and repair a differential, carry out extensive body work repairs, replace a windshield, fix electrics or get anywhere near an airbag.

Once you start to see that you can do some basic auto repairs you will have the confidence to take on more and more.

10 Auto Repair Jobs You Should Always Leave to the Experts: Part 1

There are many auto repair jobs which you can do for yourself. These days we tend to rely on the auto shop to do things which we really could do at home and save ourselves a lot of money. However, there are some jobs which most people really should leave to the experts. Here are some auto repair jobs that you probably do not want to tackle yourself.

1) Changing a Clutch

clutch photo
Photo by dave_7

The reason why you might not want to do this is that it is a job which often requires removing the whole engine. The actual changing of the clutch itself is not the difficult part – it is the removing and putting back the engine. This needs some serious lifting equipment which most people simply do not have. You have to have this equipment or this job is a definite no go.

Leave this one to the experts unless you have access to everything you need and are have the relevant experience. This is definitely an advanced repair that you will probably want to leave to the experts.

2) Dealing with Air Bags

If you are thinking about working with or even close to the site of the air bags you should definitely think again.

You really don’t want to mess with this unless you are a professional. Air bags have a fairly serious explosive charge and you do not want to risk setting one off by accident. It’s not a mistake you would make twice. Leave this one up to the experts.

3) Replacing The Windshield

windshield photo
Photo by xuhulk

Think about this one for a moment. Do you really want to deal with a huge piece of glass? Not only do you have to deal with that scary prospect, but how are your caulking skills? You are going to have to deal with doing a great precision job with the adhesive to fix the windshield back in again. How confident are you that you have a steady hand or is it going to look like your five-year-old did it?

There are probably many windshield repair experts in your area just waiting to do the job for you. It’s a good idea to give them a call.

4) Fixing an Automatic Transmission

Technology brings many benefits. The advance in car technology has been momentous in recent years. Translated this means that automatic transmissions are complicated. Very complicated. The best advice is not to even think about repairing an automatic transmission.

5) Fixing the Electrics

This is another area where things are now so complex on modern cars that tackling any repairs on the electrics is pretty near impossible. You need to take your car into the shop if there are any issues with this as they will have the tools to deal with it.

If the car is older and you feel comfortable dealing with electrics that is another matter. If you are dealing with a car which is old school, then you may be able to deal with this one yourself.

Stay tuned for Part 2!