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If something goes wrong in our car, such as components stopping working, odd noises plaguing our commutes or the vehicle simply refusing to start, then it’s easy to run like a damsel in distress to our nearest mechanic, drive the car to the garage and ask them to magically fix the problem for us.

We do it because it saves time of diagnosing the issue as well as fixing it ourselves – but it does often cost us a packet, and all too often we thrust our cars into the skilled hands of a mechanic when our less-experienced hands will do just fine. This post runs down ten common and easy car fixes that anyone with a bit of patience and their car’s manual can easily do at home.

1. Change Your Headlights (Bulbs & Units)

One particular aspect of car maintenance that can seem daunting is changing your headlight bulbs or the whole units themselves – perhaps we’re put off by potentially fiddling with electronics and making our car worse. The simple fact is that both of these replacement tasks are just plug-and-go type repairs – there’s no complicated fiddling or fine tuning, you just plug it in and it works. Replacement bulbs are incredibly inexpensive, so you can save yourself a decent amount of cash by not paying for labour fees that your garage would charge.

Replacing headlight units is slightly trickier, as it often involves having to remove the front or rear bumper, but this is just a case of getting your car jacked up and undoing some nuts and bolts, fixing in the new unit & bulbs, and repeating the process in reverse.

2. Replace Your Battery/Alternator

You’re sat on your driveway, ready to head out to work, and your car’s not starting. Not turning over. Not one bit. Damn. The first step to identifying if your battery is indeed dead and in need of replacement, and not just in need of charging via a mains unit or jump starting from another vehicle, is to use a multimeter to measure the power.

Whichever is not measuring enough power (check your car’s manual for information on battery capacity and voltage) will need replacing, be it your alternator or the battery itself. Replacing your battery can take time and does require patience – however, it’s not a complicated task and can be completed easily with the help of the right manual.

3. Change Your Oil

Almost half of UK drivers don’t know how to change or top up the oil in their car – a worryingly high percentage for such a straightforward fix. Knowing how to change your oil and where to find the right parts under your bonnet is something you should have covered in the ‘show me/tell me’ part of your practical driving test, but you can consult your car’s manual if you’ve forgotten.

Some points to remember are to not attempt the change/top up too soon after driving, as the oil can still be very hot. Wait a few hours before popping the bonnet, jack up your car and remove the oil drain plug using a wrench. Once drained fully, you can reinsert the plug and wipe your oil filter’s mounting surface. Coat the new filter with engine oil and finally fill your engine up with the recommended oil type in line with the instructions in your car’s manual.

4. Replace Spark Plugs & Blown Fuses

Dead spark plugs and blown fuses can cause an untold amount of trouble to your vehicle – including devices not being powered by cigarette lighter chargers, indicators not working and the car not even starting at all. When any of these things happen you think the worst; “I’m going to need new electronics/new headlights/a new engine!” you cry as you sit stranded on your driveway.

But fear not, as replacing fuses and spark plugs is incredibly simple – if you have fingers and eyes, you can do it. Just follow your car’s manual to see which fuses relate to which aspects of your car, check the type of fuse required and pop down to your local motoring or electrical shop and pick some up. They’re cheap as chips (but not as delicious), so it’s wise to pick up some spares while you’re there.

5. Fitting Your Vehicle’s New Tyres

Changing your tyres is something that often stumps many motorists – it’s not something that happens too often, and it frequently gets spotted in services and MOT tests so when it is necessary, it frequently gets done by the professionals.

But being able to change your car’s tyres are a fairly straightforward and absolutely essential skill to have. It doesn’t take massively in-depth knowledge of cars and mechanics – all you need is your car’s manual, a bit of time, the right spare tyre (whether the spare in your boot or a complete replacement from a parts supplier), a jack and tyre replacement tools.

This is just a short list of the kinds of repairs that it’s possible to do yourself – the only limits are your confidence, your understanding of your car’s manual (a Haynes manual for your car’s model is a must-have book for all car owners) and the availability of parts! The rest is up to you so if you feel like you could tackle a windscreen replacement, brake pad change or repairs to a faulty electric window then go ahead!

Just be sure to take note of any warnings in your manual, exercise caution, take your time and, if you are unsure, just consult a mechanic for advice.

This article was written by Tom McShane – an office-based blogger who loves to get his hands dirty after a long day sat at his desk. Constantly tinkering with his car to keep it running smoothly, Tom recommends Taroni’s Motor Salvage for car spares or used car parts you might need for your next DIY car fix.