We own cars for various reasons including the convenience of being able to go everywhere we want anytime and at the shortest time possible. Others own them simply to improve their social status and personal achievement.
Just like other machines, cars can break down when we really need them the most and the mechanic is not around either. This is where basic car repair skills come in handy to get you off the hook.
Some of these basic car repairs include:
Changing brake pads
Your safety on the road fully depends on the car brakes. You need to ensure your brakes work effectively to avoid potential road accidents.
You will know your brake pads need replacement when the car shakes mostly around the brake pedals and the steering wheel when you apply brakes, release of grinding noise when you hit the brakes, soft brake pedals mainly caused by brake fluid leaks due to heavily worn out pads, and when the car pulls when you apply the brakes.
Here are the steps to follow while changing the pads:
- Loosen the lug nuts of the wheel by engaging parking or emergency brakes and put your 1/2″ breaker bar on the appropriate socket size and turn counter-clockwise with the car on the ground. Put brick behind the front wheels while working on the rear and engage the parking brake to get the best chance of removing the lug nuts then release the parking brake when the wheel is off
- Put the hydraulic jack underneath the car’s frame rail and raise the car to carefully remove the wheels
- Remove bolts on the caliper to loosen it and enable it to slide out safely and rest it on the suspension,
- Use a breaker bar with a mallet to remove bolts on the rear of the hub to remove the caliper carrier
- Use the C-Clamp and one of the old brake pads to compress the caliper piston until the piston is flush with the housing of the caliper
- Fix the new pads in the carrier and apply some grease on the external parts of the pads for smooth operation. Install the caliper bolts and ensure that the caliper moves without binding. Install the wheel back, spin the lug nuts, and test the brakes.
Changing a car battery.
Your car battery can die anywhere even in the middle of a highway and you can imagine how risky this can be.
You need to realize this problem early enough and make appropriate replacements. Slow starting engine, dashboard lighting, and dim or loss of power to electrics are some of the common factors that will show you your battery needs replacement. Here are the steps you can follow while replacing the battery:
- Remove cables from battery terminals by removing the negative cable from the negative terminal and the positive cable from the respective terminal using a wretch but ensure the metal doesn’t contact the terminal because it will spark,
- Remove the screws or fasteners holding the battery in place then safely remove the battery,
- Inspect the tray and if it is rusty, dissolve some baking soda in water and use it to clean the tray. Wear gloves to protect your hands,
- Place the new battery on the tray and replace the screws or fasteners to the new battery to hold perfectly in position,
- Reconnect the battery cables to their respective terminals and test the car. If everything powers up effectively, you are good to go.
Replacing a headlight or backlight
In Kenya, defective car headlights are not only inconvenient during a night drive, but unroadworthy. So you need to change them immediately.
The process is quite simple. Using the Philips screwdriver, remove the power cables from the back of the headlight assembly to remove the faulty bulb and replace it with the new one.
When doing this, wear a rubber glove to prevent fingerprints on the new bulb. Plug the connector and replace the frame.
Changing a flat tire
A flat tire can lead to wheel and vehicle damage if not repaired or replaced. It can also make it hard for the driver to control the car and cause accidents.
The replacement process is easy. Simply loosen the wheel nuts with a wrench and use a jack standard to lift the car off the ground.
Remove the lug nuts and gently pull the tire out and replace it with the new one. Lower the car and tighten the bolts perfectly to avoid any further breakdown.
Mechanics working on a car in a Nairobi city garage.
Replacing air filters
Air filters keep your engine free from dust and increase fuel efficiency. Normally after covering a long distance, the filter is likely to get dirty and hinder sufficient flow of air to the engine.
The engine will therefore use more fuel to keep your car going.
To replace your car filter, open your hood and locate the air filter box, the black plastic box near the front engine compartment. Open it and remove the dirty filter then replace it with the new one.