Watch CBSN Live

Simple DIY Car Repairs - and Some to Never Try

The summer heat can take a toll on your car.

And, for a layman, fixing anything in your car, no matter how small, can be intimidating.

But, there are some car repairs you can do yourself - saving lots of money in process.

On "The Early Show" Monday, expert mechanic Bobby Baldassari showed which DIY repairs you should try, then pointed to the ones to always leave to the experts.

As described on

Changing the engine oil and filter

These days, engines are designed with service in mind. Oil filters and oil fill locations have been improved for easy removal and less chance of spills. The recommended engine oil type and capacity are in the vehicle owner's manual.

The used oil can be poured into the original container and dropped off at the local auto parts store.

What You Will Need:
Latex gloves, oil filter wrench, drain pan, engine oil as called for by your vehicle manual, combination wrench, new gasket and a funnel.

30 minutes

1. Start your vehicle and warm-up the engine. Oil contaminants will drain more easily from a warm engine.
2. Park your vehicle on a solid level surface, turn off the engine and set the parking brake. Driving the vehicle on ramps or lifting the front of the vehicle may be necessary, to change the engine oil, if the vehicle ground clearance is too low.
3. Open the hood and locate the engine oil fill cap.
4. Remove the engine oil fill cap. This will allow the dirty oil to drain quicker.
5. Place a drain pan under the oil drain plug located below the engine. Remove the oil drain plug.
6. Completely drain the dirty oil into the drain pan.
7. Install the oil drain plug with a new gasket. Tighten the drain plug to the manufacturer's specifications.
8. Place a drain pan under the oil filter and remove the filter using an oil filter wrench. Make sure the gasket comes off with the filter. Wipe off the mounting surface with a clean towel.
9. Apply a light film of oil on the new oil filter gasket. Install the new oil filter by hand. Tighten the filter 3/4 to 1 turn after the gasket makes contact.
10. Add the proper amount and type of engine oil. Refer to your vehicle owner's manual for the engine oil capacity and recommended type.
11. Check the oil level with the engine oil dipstick. The oil level should be above the full mark. This is normal because the oil has not entered the filter yet.
12. Install the engine oil fill cap and start the engine.
13. Turn off the engine and recheck the engine oil level.
14. Dispose of old engine oil properly. Do not dump it on the ground or in a sewer drain.

Replacing a fuse

The fuse box cover is labeled to identify the circuit just like on your home fuse box -- and replacing the fuse is just as easy. Some vehicles include a plastic fuse removal tool and a spare fuse.

Location of fuses is in the vehicle owner's manual.

What You'll Need:
Many vehicles include a fuse puller. Flashlight (optional), Latex Gloves (optional)
10 minutes

1. Identify which electrical part is not working.
2. Using the owner's manual, locate the fuse box. Then, locate the fuse for the part that is not working.
3. Inspect the installed fuse with a test light by touching each side of the fuse. If it lights on one side but not the other, the fuse is blown.
4. Remove the blown fuse with the plastic fuse removal tool. The tool is usually located in the fuse box.
5. Install a new fuse with the same amperage rating.
6. Test the electrical for proper operation to verify repair.

Replacing a Headlight Bulb

If you can replace a light bulb in your house, you can do this! To remove and install a bulb, just push in and twist.

You may have to remove a lens with a screwdriver.

What You'll Need:

Less than 10 minutes

1. Open the hood and locate the headlight assembly.
2. Gain access to headlight bulb. Most likely this will be a case of pulling on the casing until the light bulb come through the assembly into your hands.
3. Disconnect the wiring harness and replace the old headlight bulb with a new one.
4. Turn on the headlights and check high and low beams to verify repairs.

Replacing a Wiper Blade

Wipers blades usually just snap in by hand. They are light, highly visible and easily accessible.

Tilt the wiper arms upward for easy removal of the blade.

What You'll Need:
No tools required

Less than 5 minutes

1. Locate the wiper blades resting against the windshield. Make sure the new wiper blades are the same length.
2. Pull the spring loaded wiper arm up away from the windshield. Continue pulling up until the arm is perpendicular to the windshield. At this point, the arm will stay up without your support. Tip: On some vehicles, it may be easier to run the wipers to a more convenient location, then turn the ignition switch off.
3. Push the release pin and remove the blade assembly from the wiper arm.
4. Slide the new wiper blade over the arm and insert the clip into the hook until it locks. Lower the arm back onto the windshield. Repeat the process for the other side.
5. Check and fill the windshield washer reservoir. Test the new wiper blade for proper operation.



Replacing an engine

Lots of components to remove; requires specialty equipment; today's engines have more and more electronic controls, and it's easy to lose track of all the parts. Takes a lot of "know-how." You would need a cherry picker, or a large engine hoister, to get the engine out, and the procedure could take days. Don't do it yourself.

Replacing a Transmission

Transmissions are heavy and difficult to remove. Also, a Transmission jack and could require big equipment such as cherry picker (engine hoist) and vehicle lift. It takes 6 to 7 hours to complete the project properly. Don't do it yourself.

Replacing a Clutch

The transmission must be removed to replace the clutch. Lining up the clutch disc can be tricky. This is a replacement that will also require specialty equipment such as transmission jack, cherry picker, and clutch alignment tool, and again, can take over 6 to 7 hours to do properly.

Replacing A/C Components

Refrigerants are harmful gases and laws prohibit the release of these gases into the atmosphere; clean working conditions are important to prevent contamination; need many safety precautions; not following correct procedures can damage the a/c system. Technician has to be certified to work with refrigerant. Also, A/C recovery equipment is very expensive. Even though it takes a smaller amount of time, 4 hours, it can be very dangerous. Do not do it yourself.

Performing a Wheel Alignment

Requires specialty equipment to perform the job. It is not practical for a DIYer to have this equipment (some repair shops don't even have the equipment). Wheel alignment rack, caster/camber gauge, specialty adjustment tools. If you need a specialty repair shop to do it, you shouldn't be doing it yourself.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue