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7 Simple Car DIY Mistakes to Avoid | The Allstate Blog

7 Simple Car DIY Mistakes to Avoid

August 22, 2019 Working on your car or truck can be a worthwhile activity or hobby for many car enthusiasts. There's often a certain amount of personal satisfaction that can come with doing your own work instead of paying someone else to do it — not to mention the money you can save.… Allstate
DIY Car Mistakes

Working on your car or truck can be a worthwhile activity or hobby for many car enthusiasts. There’s often a certain amount of personal satisfaction that can come with doing your own work instead of paying someone else to do it — not to mention the money you can save. That said, those who “wrench” on a vehicle during the weekends can make some simple mistakes. Auto maintenance and repair specialist The Humble Mechanic provides his tips for avoiding these common mistakes so you can maximize your maintenance efforts.

Watch more videos by The Humble Mechanic. Follow him on his blog, Twitter and Facebook.

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Hey everybody, its Charles from Today I am going to give you guys some tips on avoiding some really common DIY mistakes when working on your car.

So, today cars are more complicated than they’ve ever been and it’s not getting any easier to do our own maintenance and own repairs on our cars. At times even us professionals struggle with how much goes into making what could be a very simple repair. So today I’m going to give you guys some really common mistakes that DIYers make and, more importantly, how to avoid them.

Number One: Being Careless.

At my shop safety is priority number one. We want to make sure that when we’re doing our own work on our cars, we’re lifting our vehicle properly, using the proper lift points on the vehicle, working with a jack stand instead of working under a jack. Also making sure that the wheels are chocked properly and the parking brake is on. We also to make sure that we’re keeping ourselves safe by using personal protection equipment. That can be in the form of really cool safety glasses or the more traditional kind, as well as gloves or nitrile gloves if we’re working with chemicals. We also want to make sure that if we’re working with anything that has asbestos in it like brakes and clutches, we want to make sure we wear a face mask as well keep ourselves from breathing in any of those harmful particles.

Before we start the job we want to look at the parts and chemicals that we might be using during the job. Safety glasses are probably one of the most important, yet one of the most overlooked pieces of equipment. So, we want to make sure we have our glasses on and if we need to, we want to make sure we use gloves to protect our hands. Not only just from getting dirty but from getting any chemicals on them. So, be sure before you start to plan accordingly as far as safety goes.

Number Two: It’s Really Easy to Get in Over Our Head.

Like I mentioned before, cars are getting so hard to work on. It’s not like the old days, when you could take apart a Volkswagen Beetle, and put it all back together again just with the tools that came in the tool kit. A job that looks really simple may turn out to be quite a bit more complicated. There may be extra parts that have to come off, things that are hidden, or one bracket in the way that prevents us from taking off the part.

There are some really easy ways to help prevent us from getting in over our head. I like to take my smartphone, and if it’s a job that I am doing for the first time, and take pictures as I go along. That way if I can’t remember how a bracket was routed, or where a certain bolt went, I have photographic evidence of what I need to do.

In addition to using our smartphone, there are tons of online guides and tutorials on doing just about any job out there. One thing that I always recommend in my DIY videos is make sure you watch the video before you start. That way you can get a grasp of how the job is going to go. And maybe whether or not it’s something you want to tackle altogether. Also it’s always recommended on any DIY job, have the factory service manual if you can. That will give you all the things like torque specs and fluid capacities to make sure we are doing the job properly.

Number Three: Not Having Proper Tools to do the Job.

This is something that I have ran into both personally and professionally. There’s plenty of jobs that look plenty simple enough, but will require a special tool in order to complete the job. European car manufacturers seem to be the best at requiring a special tool, something like a Torx or a triple square. If that’s not a tool that you have, it can bring a DIY project to a halt.

So, before we start a job, we want to take a look at all the pieces that we probably need to remove. We want to make sure that we have the proper tools for that, whether it’s a 13 millimeter socket, which is a really common household tool, or a specialty triple square, or something like that. We want to make sure we have all the tools before starting. Again, this is where factory service manuals do really come in handy, as well as online tutorials.

After a good visual inspection, if we’re still not sure, we can even call our local dealership asking if there is any special tools required to replace this part. Here’s a couple of different fasteners that the average person may not have in their household kit. We have a triple square, we have a Torx bit, these are pretty common with a standard in a Phillips head screwdriver

Number Four: Not Following the Owner’s Manual.

There’s so much information in the owner’s book that a lot of people tend to overlook. With maintenance intervals getting longer and longer on modern cars, the fluids that are required are even more critical. For the most part, the fluids used in your vehicle do need to meet a certain criteria. Whether it’s engine oil, brake fluid or coolant, we want to make sure that we’re using the proper fluid for our vehicle.

Not using the proper fluids can result in faster engine wear or even engine breakdown. If we get the wrong oil, it may not have the proper lubricating or detergent packages built into it. and again that can lead to engine damage. So, we want to follow what the manufacturer recommends as far as fluids go for our vehicle. If you’re not sure what your vehicle does require when it comes to engine oil or coolant, first refer to your owner’s manual. If you can’t find the information in there, it’s really a good idea to call your local dealership and ask them what they use in your car.

Number Five: Buying the Cheapest Part We Can Find.

You know, there are two really great things about doing our own car repairs. One, we save a ton of money by not having to pay someone else. Two, we get an awesome sense of satisfaction that, hey, we fixed something all on our own. We have to be a little bit careful when it comes to buying parts. Often times, the least expensive part may not be the best part for our vehicle. And often times, it can be kind of tricky to tell whether a part of a good quality part or just a really cheap knockoff part. If there’s a huge price discrepancy from what you would maybe get from the dealership versus what you would get from the parts house, we want to take a look at those two parts and see what the difference is.

With certain maintenance components, it’s really important to make sure that we’re not just buying the cheapest one that we can find, especially when it comes to safety related items. Now, if it’s something like an engine air filter and you can save a few bucks, I say go for it. But, when it comes to safety components like brakes, be really careful and make sure that you were using genuine quality parts. Because certain parts may not fit properly and the brakes, for example, may not perform the way that we would expect them to. So, while there’s a ton of aftermarket parts that are absolutely great to use, we just want to be a little bit careful in what we are buying.

Another really big mistake I see made is not having a backup plan.

Having a backup plan in case something goes wrong is really important. Even in the professional world jobs go sideways. Think about what might happen if, let’s say, you didn’t get all the parts that you need, or the part you got was wrong, or maybe you don’t have the right tools to do the job. These kind of things can easily result in another trip back to the store. If the car’s down, that trip back to the store is going to be a whole lot more challenging. It is always good to have another means of transportation just in case you need to go back to the parts store or we need to wait a couple of days on getting another part.

I would hate for you to have to call in to work on Monday morning because a job went sideways on you and you didn’t have all the parts or all the tools needed to get your car put back together. So, whether it’s relying on a friend to give you a ride or just having a second car, having a plan just in case something goes wrong is really, really important.

And finally, disposing of old parts properly.

You know, some parts are just easily thrown away. Things like air filters and pollen filters can easily be thrown in the trash and taken out just like a normal household garbage. However, other parts of you really can’t do that with. Things that are saturating chemicals are the number one thing that we don’t want to just throw in the normal trash. Oil filters, fuel filters and anything that’s been contaminated with a fluid doesn’t really need to be thrown in the trash. We want to take extra measures to make sure that we recycle these parts.

There’s also parts that may have a core charge. That means we have to bring them back to the parts store. Things like starters, alternators and vehicle batteries, all typically have a core charge on them. That means we need to take them back to the parts store. The good thing is generally we get a little bit of money back.

If we’re not sure how to dispose of a part we replacing, one of the easiest things to do is ask the parts store when you’re buying it. Does this part need to be recycled? Can I just throw it in my normal household trash? Is there a core charge on it?

Generally, they’ll guide you in the right direction for proper disposal of the old part. When it comes to things like engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid—any of the fluids that we use in our vehicle—we want to make sure we’re taking extra care to dispose of these properly.

Generally, any automotive repair facility can recycle these fluids for you. We want to make sure that we transfer them in safe containers and properly label them as old fluids. If we’re not sure our local repair facility will take them, just pick up the phone and give them a call—let them know that you have some fluid that needs to be recycled. Almost anybody is going to be able to help you out with that. For me, I’d much rather take your old oil and recycle it for you, then worry about whether it was dumped down the drain or just thrown in the trash.

Alright guys, I am going to wrap it up there. If you have any questions, comments, or DIY tips of your own, throw them down in the comments section. If you would like to see more of my videos, head over to You can check them all out there. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Remember to think safety first when you are working on your own car or own truck. Alright guys, thanks for watching and I will see you next time. 

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