When you’ve been studying cars and practicing your engineering skills for years you might feel more than capable of taking on your first big repair project. Why pay to send your vehicle to a professional mechanic when you already know so much yourself? However, it may not be as simple as you think so it’s vital to prepare and bear in mind the potential mistakes that so many people make. One apparent problem can quickly lead to another and before you know it you might be wishing you just took your car to the garage in the first place… unless you stick to these five major tips.
1) Initial research is key
Lots of people use aftermarket shop manuals as guides, but they lack the detailed instructions you’ll need to get the job done and mainly just serve as a useful reference for parts and tools you might need. It’s worth checking online for more detailed help from other people in a similar situation to yourself when you have a particularly tricky task to accomplish. As well as specific advice online you should consult a factory service manual from your car manufacturer which will provide background details on most of the essential elements.
2) Work somewhere appropriate
If you start your repair project in a space that’s too small, you might suddenly realise you’ve taken your car to pieces and it’s impossible to move somewhere more suitable. Don’t underestimate the amount of room you might need to disassemble various elements of your vehicle, move them around and access them from all angles with different sized tools.
3) Resist the urge to rush
Even if you assume it’s going to take a while to finish your first major repair job, you’re probably still going to overrun, and that’s not a problem. If it takes weeks or even months to get it right, that’s better than getting it wrong. Expect to get held up by shopping for parts and tools or waiting for someone to get back to you with advice. Just make sure you have another car to use in the meantime while yours is in pieces on the floor.
4) Record everything
You need to stay organised or the whole project is likely to fall apart, both figuratively and literally. Don’t trust yourself to remember how everything works because more often than not you’ll find yourself losing track. Again, this is only a problem if you don’t plan for it. Make sure you label all your parts, take photos of different stages and make detailed notes that you can follow if you need to.
5) Make your final checks
Rather than rushing through the final stages in your haste to get back on the road, take extra care at this point and make sure nothing is forgotten at the last minute. If you miss anything off you probably won’t get around to fixing it again in a hurry, so avoid wasting your time on the project by making plenty of last minute checks and ensuring you didn’t mess it up at the final hurdle.