Car and vehicle ownership is a much smoother and cheaper experience if you’re prepared to get your hands dirty and handle some straightforward maintenance tasks yourself.

Of course it’s also important to recognize that unless you’re a professional mechanic, certain auto repair jobs are impractical and even dangerous to carry out as an amateur.

To help you understand the difference, here’s a run through of common tasks you’ll need to tackle, and who’s best equipped to handle them.

Touching up unsightly paintwork blemishes

Whether through wear and tear, weather conditions or parking lot collisions, it’s not uncommon for the paintwork of your car to exhibit a few battle scars over time.

Only the worst examples will need professional attention, as in most cases you can carry out touch up work yourself.

All you need is a touch up paint kit that precisely matches the color of your car’s exterior, a few spare minutes and a steady hand.

How much does it cost to fix minor paintwork issues?

If you’re starting from scratch, then the paint and the other tools you require for basic touching up of the paint will set you back between $20 and $30.

Replacing windshield wiper blades

Planning your finances is important as a parent, and if money is tight then it’s far more cost effective to replace worn out car parts yourself, rather than paying a professional.

Windshield wiper blades are the perfect example of this, as they usually unclip with ease, and will instantly make a major difference to how well your windshield is cleared of water with every swipe.

How much do replacement wiper blades cost?

If you’ve got a mainstream family car, you can find generic wiper blades which will be compatible with it for under $5 in many cases. Premium brands will be costlier to replace, and in terms of performance you are usually better off paying a little more rather than selecting the very cheapest option.

Dealing with minor windshield damage

Stone chips and impact-related cracks are common on windshields, and they’re both unsightly as well as hazardous, because if left unchecked they can weaken the structure and spread further with every jolt.

There are home repair kits available, usually consisting of waterproof resin that you can apply to the affected area, leave to set and then rely on to prevent the issue getting worse.

How much does it cost to replace a cracked windshield?

Bear in mind that you’ll need professional collision repair services if your windshield is cracked, because home repair kits are only a temporary fix.

Costs of replacing a seriously damaged screen can range from as little as $250 to over $4,000. Again, the brand of your car matters here. Also remember that many insurance deals come with windscreen cover included, which helps to minimize the cost of replacement.

In terms of quick fix repair kit costs, you won’t need to spend more than $10 for this short term solution to your windscreen damage dilemmas.

Keeping tabs on engine fluids

Gas isn’t the only thing your car needs to keep ticking over mile after mile, and you don’t need to be intimidated by the various mechanical elements lurking beneath the hood, even if you’re a total novice.

There are a few things you can look into and keep topped up without consulting a pro, including the engine oil, the coolant, the power steering fluid, the brake fluid and the windshield washer fluid.

Be sure to refer to your car’s original handbook to get the manufacturer’s advice on which types of fluids to use for interim servicing jobs like this.

How much does it cost to replace engine fluids?

Outside of the colder months of the year, you can use plain water to top up the windshield washer reservoir.

For things like coolant and engine oil, entry level items can cost under $10, while manufacturer-sanctioned and specialist solutions will be over $30. There’s no one size fits all answer here, so do your research and ask an expert if in doubt.

Resolving engine issues

If your engine is misbehaving and warning lights on the dash are illuminated, it’s rarely a good idea to try and fix this yourself.

Taking your car to a reputable mechanic, or a dealership you trust, is the best way to get the problem diagnosed. Remember that if you get a quote for any repair work that your engine requires, you can still shop around and get it sorted out elsewhere so that road trips can go without a hitch.

How much does it cost to fix engine-related faults?

This really is an impossible question to answer, because there are just so many variables at play. If you’re lucky, a basic issue will be a quick fix, and could even be a software mishap that doesn’t even require mechanical intervention.

At the other end of the scale, major engine concerns can cost thousands of dollars to address, and might even make your vehicle an insurance write-off.

The best way to avoid the worst calamities is to always maintain your car at the recommended intervals and to stay on top of the minor repairs we covered earlier, so that major problems are less likely to arise.

Final thoughts

As with any DIY task, it’s best to know your limits and call in the pros if you want to keep your car in a good condition for as long as possible.

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Written by Claire Jane Ward

Claire Jane Ward is an experienced lifestyle and marketing writer with a passion for creating insightful and engaging content that's easy to digest. Occasionally she spends her time playing with her cat while listening to her favorite podcasts.

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