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If you're an adult with a license, chances are you own a vehicle.
As drivers, we know that new or used, cars and their components wear down over time and require repair. Below we'll focus on the five most common and reoccurring car problems and how to fix them yourself.
Flat tires can be annoying, and happen to us all eventually. If you've never changed a flat tire yourself, the process is pretty simple and straightforward. Depending on the type of vehicle you own, find your spare tire and tire kit. In most sedans and coupes, the tire and kit can be located in the trunk or underneath the carpeted base (This base should have a handle attached to it for easy lift). Some trucks and SUVs have the spare tire located on the back of the vehicle, or underneath the rear of the vehicle.
The spare tire kit will include a jack and lug-nut wrench. Take the jack and position it underneath the frame or metal joint closest to the flat tire. Lift the jack upward until the vehicle has risen to the point of being able to remove the flat tire and apply the spare. A personal injury lawyer in Colorado at Bachus & Shanker Law reminds to be cautious of your surroundings if you're on the side of the road. Grab the lug wrench and remove each lug nut in a counter-clockwise manner. Remove the flat tire and replace it with the spare. Reapply the lug nuts tight, and lower the jack.
Car batteries wear out over time, slowly lose their ability to hold a charge, and die. If you leave your headlights or interior lights on and forget about them, this can also lead to a dead battery. Most of the time, you can purchase a set of jumper cables (and find a polite stranger or friend) to "jump" your battery, transferring power from one vehicle to another.
The process is simple. Just attach one side of the jumper cables (positive and negative) to the corresponding bolts on the battery. Do this for both vehicles. Then, have your friend start their vehicle and let it run for up to a minute. Attempt to start your car. If it starts, you're off and running! If it does not, double check the connections and try again. If all else fails, you may have to remove your battery and get a replacement at an auto parts store (in most vehicles, it is a simple process of removing a couple of bolts from the battery mount).
If your front or tail lights are burned out, they can be replaced with relative ease. The process can vary from car to car, but for the most part, the process is straight forward. For the front headlight, lift the hood of your vehicle and look for the area behind where your headlight is located. There will either be a set of plastic tabs to pull on, or a set of bolts with nuts to be removed. Apply this step and expose the inside of the light housing. Remove the light, and replace.
The same steps can be applied for the tail light, except you'll want to look in your trunk to find the appropriate tabs/nuts. Most auto parts stores will have replacement lights readily available over the counter.
When your vehicle is "starting hard" or sluggish while running idle, there is a chance that your spark plugs need to be replaced. These plugs, which are located on your engine, create the combustion necessary for your engine to run. Depending on the location of the spark plugs, the fix is simple. Remove the caps for the spark plugs, remove the plugs (they will twist in and out), and replace them with a new set.
If your brakes are squeaking or take more foot engagement to apply, chances are, you're in need of new brake pads. Most people pay good money to have these replaced, but with a jack, household tools, and replacement pads, it can be done at home cheaply. Simply apply the jack upward, underneath the frame of the vehicle (nearest metal or catch point closest to the appropriate tire). Remove the wheel by removing the lug nuts with a lug wrench. You'll see your rotor and brake caliper exposed. Disassemble the brake caliper by removing the slide pins, which hold it in place. Once removed, your brake pads will be exposed. Remove the old brake pads.
Get a c-clamp tool and compress the piston back into the caliper. Be careful to compress it back evenly. Slide the new pads into place and reinstall your caliper. Install your tire/wheel assembly, and remove the jack. Repeat this process until all your pads have been replaced. Make sure and check the brake fluid underneath your hood, and top it off if necessary.
With very little research (and a copy of your owner's manual), anyone should be able to apply these fixes to their vehicle. By doing some of the work yourself on your car, you'll be able to save a ton of money while learning about car repair and maintenance. The next time your vehicle seems to be giving you one of these issues, remember that it is relatively easy and cheap to do yourself.