10 Most Common Car Problems You Can Fix Yourself
Are you tired of taking your car to the mechanic every time something goes wrong? Well, you might be surprised to know that there are 10 most common car problems that you can fix yourself! Yes, you read that right. With a little bit of know-how and the right tools, you can save yourself a lot of time and money by fixing these issues on your own.
So, what are these 10 most common car problems? From dead batteries to flat tyres and everything in between, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequent car problems that you can tackle yourself without any prior experience. You will also find useful tips and tricks on how to avoid these problems in the first place, making your car maintenance experience a lot smoother.
1. How To Fix Oil Warning Light
If you’re driving your car and suddenly the oil warning light turns on, it can be a serious problem. Don’t panic, but do act quickly to avoid causing permanent damage to your engine. Here’s what you need to know and do when your oil warning light comes on.
Check Your Oil Level
The first step is to check your oil level right there on the side of the road. To do this, grab a rag or tissue, pop the bonnet and remove the dipstick (check your owner’s manual if you don’t know where it is). Wipe the dipstick with the rag and reinsert it into the dipstick tube, making sure it seats all the way (goes all the way in). Pull the dipstick out again to check your oil level. You’ll see marks, notches or holes on the dipstick indicating the “FULL” and “ADD” levels. If the oil appears below the ADD mark, you’re out of oil.
Add Oil If Needed
If you find that your oil level is low, you need to add oil to your engine. Find the oil specs for your car on the oil filler cap or in the owner’s manual. Add just enough oil to bring the oil level up to the full mark on the dipstick. Be careful not to overfill the engine with too much oil, as this can cause other problems. Once you’ve added the oil, start your engine and check the oil level again.
Get Professional Help
If your oil warning light is still on after adding oil, or if the dipstick test shows your oil level is above the ADD mark, the problem is too serious to address on the side of the road. Call a recovery vehicle and have your car brought to a garage for a professional diagnosis. There could be a variety of reasons for the oil warning light to come on, such as a bad oil pressure sensor, a faulty oil pump, or engine wear. An experienced mechanic can diagnose the issue and recommend the necessary repairs.
In summary, if your oil warning light comes on, don’t ignore it. Check your oil level and add oil if necessary. If the light remains on, or if the dipstick test shows your oil level is above the ADD mark, it’s time to seek professional help. Remember, the oil warning light is one of the most important indicators in your car, and ignoring it can lead to costly repairs or even engine failure. By acting quickly, you can avoid more significant problems and keep your car running smoothly.
2. How To Fix Check Engine Light
If you’re driving along and suddenly notice the “Check Engine,” “Service Engine Soon,” or “Reduced Power” light on your dashboard, it can be a bit concerning. These warning messages mean that your car’s computer has detected a problem with the engine or transmission and stored a trouble code in its memory. However, there’s no need to panic. In most cases, the problem is caused by a faulty sensor that you can easily replace yourself.
Get the Trouble Code
Before you start replacing any parts, you need to get the trouble code from the car’s computer. Many auto parts stores offer this service for free, or you can purchase a scan tool/code reader and pull the codes yourself. Once you have the code, you’ll have a better idea of what’s causing the problem.
Research the Code
With the code in hand, it’s time to start researching. A quick internet search for the code, along with your car’s make and model, can provide you with a wealth of information on how to fix the issue. For example, if you have a Ford Focus and the code is P0171, a search for “P0171 Ford Focus” will yield hundreds of results, including step-by-step articles and YouTube videos.
Fix the Problem
Once you’ve identified the problem, it’s time to fix it. In most cases, the solution is relatively simple and requires nothing more than replacing a faulty sensor or cleaning a dirty component. With the help of the internet, you can find detailed instructions on how to perform the repair yourself. However, if you’re not comfortable working on your car or don’t have the necessary tools, it’s best to take it to a professional mechanic.
The “Check Engine,” “Service Engine Soon,” or “Reduced Power” light on your dashboard doesn’t have to be a cause for alarm. By following these simple steps, you can diagnose and fix the issue yourself in most cases. Remember, getting the trouble code, researching the problem, and fixing the issue is often as easy as a few clicks of the mouse. If you’re not comfortable working on your car, don’t hesitate to take it to a professional mechanic to get it fixed.
Related Reading: Common Causes of Engine Overheating for Car Owners
3. How To Fix a Dim Headlight
Driving with a dim headlight is not only frustrating, but it can also be dangerous. Many DIYers think that a poor connection on the power side of the circuit is the cause of the problem. However, in most cases, the dim headlight is actually caused by corrosion on the ground connection. The good news is that fixing this problem is relatively easy and can be done at home. Here’s how:
Inspect the Electrical Connector
The first step is to remove the electrical connector that plugs into the headlight. Look for signs of corrosion or melted plastic from excessive heat. If you find any signs of corrosion, it’s likely that the ground connection is the problem.
Clean the Corrosion
To clean the corrosion, use electrical contact cleaner and a small wire brush. Be sure to clean both the connector and the terminal on the headlight.
Replace the Connector (if necessary)
If the connector is melted, it’s best to replace it with a new pigtail headlight connector from any auto parts store or dealer parts department. Simply splice it into the wiring harness.
Clean the Headlight Ground Connection
To locate the headlight ground connection, follow the ground wire to its termination on the frame or fender. Remove the screw or bolt that holds the connection in place. Then, clean off the rust using a wire brush and apply a dab of dielectric grease to the connection before reconnecting it.
Test the Headlights
Turn on the headlights and check if they’re bright. If they are, you’re done. If not, there may be another issue that requires a professional diagnosis.
A dim headlight can be a frustrating problem, but it’s often caused by corrosion on the ground connection. By following these simple steps, you can fix the issue yourself and save money on a professional repair. Remember to inspect the electrical connector, clean the corrosion, replace the connector if necessary, and clean the headlight ground connection. With a little bit of effort, you can have your headlights shining bright once again.
Related Reading: What Happens If You’re Charged With A Driving Offence In The UK
4. How To Fix a Slow-Moving Car Window
Dealing with a slow-moving power window can be a frustrating experience, especially when you’re in a hurry. Not only is it annoying, but it can also lead to bigger problems if left unfixed. A slow-moving window can put stress on the window regulator mechanism, causing it to break and potentially costing you a lot to replace. Fortunately, fixing the problem is often as simple as lubricating the window channels. Here’s how to do it yourself:
Purchase Dry Teflon Spray
The first step is to purchase an aerosol can of dry Teflon spray. This type of spray is specially designed to lubricate and protect moving parts without leaving a sticky residue. It sprays on as a liquid but dries to a white slippery Teflon powder, making it ideal for lubricating window channels.
Shake the Can and Insert the Straw
Before using the spray, shake the can vigorously to mix the Teflon particles with the solvent. Then, insert the straw into the nozzle and aim the spray into the window channels.
Spray the Channels
Press the trigger and soak the front and rear channels until the spray runs down into the door. Be sure to apply the spray evenly and thoroughly.
Wait and Operate the Window
Wait a few minutes for the solvent to evaporate, then operate the window up and down several times to spread the dry Teflon spray through the channels. This will help distribute the lubrication and ensure that the window moves smoothly and easily.
A slow-moving power window can be a hassle, but it’s often an easy problem to fix. By following these simple steps, you can lubricate the window channels and get your window moving smoothly again. Remember to shake the can, insert the straw, spray the channels evenly, and operate the window up and down several times. With a little bit of effort, you can save yourself the cost of a costly window regulator replacement and have your power window working like new once again.
Related Reading: Scratched Windscreen? Find Out If Your Car Insurance Has You Covered
5. How To Fix a Squealing Belt
If you’ve ever experienced a squealing belt on your car, you know how annoying it can be. The high-pitched noise can make driving unbearable, and it’s a sign that something is not quite right under the bonnet. In most cases, a squealing belt is caused by a worn or loose belt or contamination from oil or coolant. Fortunately, fixing the problem is often a straightforward process that you can do yourself. Here’s how:
Check the Belt for Wear
The first step is to check the belt for wear using a belt wear gauge. This tool measures the thickness of the belt and can help you determine if it needs to be replaced. If the belt is worn, it’s best to replace it before it causes further problems.
Recreate the Squealing Conditions
Next, try to recreate the conditions when the belt squeals. This could be when the engine is cold, when you accelerate, or when you turn on the air conditioning. By identifying when the squealing occurs, you can better diagnose the problem.
Spray Water on the Belt
Start the engine and spray a stream of water on the ribbed side of the belt before it wraps around each pulley. If the noise disappears but comes back in a few minutes, the belt or the components it drives are misaligned, and you should take it to a garage for professional repair.
Adjust the Belt Tension
If the noise gets louder after the water spray, the belt has too little tension. If your vehicle has an automatic belt tensioner, replace the tensioner. If it has manual tension adjusters, tighten the belt slightly and re-test.
A squealing belt can be a frustrating and annoying problem, but it’s often a simple fix. By checking the belt for wear, recreating the squealing conditions, and spraying water on the belt, you can diagnose the problem and adjust the belt tension yourself. Remember, if the belt is worn or misaligned, it’s best to take it to a professional mechanic for repair. With a little bit of effort, you can have your car running smoothly and quietly once again.
Related Reading: Why Is My Car Making A Noise?
6. How To Fix Your Car if it Won’t Start
There’s nothing more frustrating than getting into your car, turning the key, and hearing nothing but silence. If your car won’t start, there are a few common causes, and fortunately, many of them are easy to fix. Here’s a guide to diagnosing and fixing the problem, so you can get back on the road as soon as possible.
Possible Causes of a Car Not Starting
When you turn the key in the ignition and hear a single click or rapid clicking but the engine doesn’t turn, there are a few possible causes. The most common is a weak or dead battery, or corroded battery terminals. Other possible causes include a faulty starter, alternator, or ignition switch.
How to Warm Up a Battery
Car batteries make power through a chemical reaction, and that reaction slows down in cold weather. If you can warm up the battery, you can increase battery output. Here’s a simple way to warm up your battery:
1. Turn the Key to Start
Turn the key to the START position and hold it in that position for about 5 seconds. This will engage the starter and start the battery charging.
2: Turn the Key Off
Turn the key to off and wait 5 minutes. This will allow the battery to rest and recover some of its energy.
3: Repeat 1 and 2
Repeat this process up to six more times. Each time you turn the key, the battery will charge a little more, which can increase your chances of starting the car.
Try Using Your Shoe!
If your car still won’t start after warming up the battery, you can try the shoe trick. This is a simple trick that can help you get a little more power to the starter, and it goes like this:
1: Remove Your Shoe
Remove your shoe and tap each battery terminal with the heel. This can help dislodge any corrosion or buildup on the terminals.
2: Try Starting the Engine
Try starting the engine. If it starts, clean the battery terminals as soon as you get home. If it still won’t start, there may be another problem with the car that needs to be addressed.
How to Clean Battery Posts and Terminals
If your car won’t start due to corroded battery terminals, cleaning them is a simple fix. Here’s how to do it:
1. Disconnect the Battery
First, disconnect the negative cable from the battery. This will prevent any electrical current from flowing while you clean the terminals.
2. Remove Any Corrosion
Use a wire brush or battery terminal cleaner to remove any corrosion or buildup from the posts and terminals. Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection while you do this.
3. Reconnect the Battery
Once you’ve cleaned the terminals, reconnect the negative cable to the battery. Tighten the cable securely to ensure a good connection.
A car that won’t start can be a frustrating and stressful experience, but there are many common causes that are easy to diagnose and fix. If your car won’t start, try warming up the battery or using the shoe trick to get a little more power to the starter. If the problem is due to corroded battery terminals, cleaning them is a simple fix.
If none of these solutions work, there may be a more serious problem that requires professional attention. By following these simple steps, you can diagnose and fix many common problems and get your car back on the road.
Related Reading: When & How To Replace Your Car Battery
7. How To Fix A Car With Poor Acceleration
If your car is struggling to accelerate, it can be frustrating and even dangerous. Poor acceleration can be caused by a number of issues, but one common culprit is a dirty Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF). Here’s how to fix the problem and get your car back up to speed.
Understanding the Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF)
Your car’s computer relies on the MAF to accurately detect the volume, mass, and temperature of the air entering your engine. It then uses this information to calculate the correct amount of fuel to add for optimal performance. However, if the sensing elements inside the MAF become dirty, they can skew the readings, causing the computer to miscalculate and leading to poor acceleration.
How to Clean Your MAF Sensor
Fortunately, cleaning your MAF sensor is a simple and inexpensive fix that can restore your car’s performance. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1: Buy MAF Sensor Cleaner
Buy a can of MAF Sensor Cleaner from any auto parts store. It’s important to use the right cleaner, as other solvents may damage the sensor.
2: Remove the Sensor
Remove the sensor from the air duct by loosening the worm drive clamps with a screwdriver or socket. Be sure to consult your car’s owner manual to locate the sensor.
3: Clean the Sensor
Aim the spray cleaner directly at the sensing elements inside the MAF housing. Soak the sensing elements but don’t touch them with your fingers, rag or brush—they’ll break. Let the solvent dry, then reinstall the MAF.
4: Test Your Acceleration
Start your engine and test your acceleration. If a dirty sensor was causing your problem, the cleaning should restore your car’s performance. If not, there may be another issue that requires professional attention.
When to Seek Professional Help
If cleaning the MAF sensor doesn’t solve the acceleration problem, there may be other issues at play. For example, it could be a problem with the fuel system, spark plugs, or engine timing. In this case, it’s best to take your car to a professional mechanic who can diagnose and fix the problem.
Preventing Future Problems
To prevent future MAF sensor issues, it’s important to change your air filter regularly. A dirty air filter can cause debris to build up on the sensor, leading to poor performance. You can also use MAF cleaner as part of your routine maintenance to keep the sensor clean and functioning properly.
Poor acceleration can be a frustrating and even dangerous problem. However, in many cases, it can be easily fixed by cleaning the MAF sensor. By following the simple steps outlined above, you can diagnose and fix the problem quickly and easily. If the problem persists, be sure to seek professional help. By taking good care of your car and addressing issues promptly, you can keep it running smoothly for years to come.
Related Reading: How Often Should You Service Your Car For Optimal Performance?
8. How to Fix a Tyre Pressure Sensor Warning Light
If you see a warning light on your dashboard indicating low tyre pressure, it’s important to address the issue promptly. Low tyre pressure can cause a host of problems, including reduced fuel efficiency, decreased handling, and increased risk of a blowout. However, even if you’ve filled your tyres to the correct pressure, you may still see the warning light. Here’s how to fix the problem and keep your car running smoothly.
Understanding Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS)
All newer vehicles come equipped with a TPMS, which is designed to alert drivers when tyre pressure drops below a safe level. TPMS sensors are located inside each tyre and send data to the car’s computer. If the pressure drops below a certain threshold, the system triggers the warning light on your dashboard.
How to Fix a Tyre Pressure Sensor Warning Light
If you’ve filled your tyres to the correct pressure but the warning light remains lit, there are several steps you can take to fix the problem.
1: Drive Your Car
First, drive your car at varying speeds for up to 10 miles. This will allow the TPMS sensor to recalibrate and can often turn off the warning light.
2: Check the Spare Tyre
If the light is still lit, double-check the pressure of your spare tyre. Many drivers overlook the spare tyre, but it’s just as important to maintain the correct pressure. In fact, spare tyres often require a much higher inflation pressure than your regular tyres. If your spare tyre is low on pressure, your TPMS light will never turn off.
3: Check the Sensor
If your spare tyre pressure is correct but the warning light is still on, there may be an issue with the sensor itself. TPMS sensors can fail due to battery issues or other problems. In this case, it’s best to take your car to a professional mechanic who can diagnose and fix the issue.
Preventing Future TPMS Issues
To prevent TPMS issues in the future, it’s important to regularly check your tyre pressure using a reliable tyre pressure gauge. You should also check your spare tyre pressure at least once a year. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for the correct tyre pressure for your vehicle, as it can vary depending on the make and model.
A tyre pressure sensor warning light can be a frustrating issue to deal with, but it’s important to address it promptly to keep your car running smoothly and safely. By following the simple steps outlined above, you can quickly diagnose and fix the problem. If the issue persists, be sure to seek professional help. With proper maintenance and care, you can keep your car’s TPMS running smoothly for years to come.
Related Reading: How To Keep Your Brand New Cars Tyres In The Best Condition
9. How to Fix Smearing Wiper Blades
Having a clean windshield is important for safe driving. If your windshield wipers leave streaks behind, it can make it difficult to see the road ahead clearly. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to fix this problem and restore your wipers’ effectiveness.
Clean Your Wiper Blades
The first thing you should try when your wipers are streaking is to clean the wiper blades. Dirty wiper blades are a common cause of streaking. Here’s how you can clean them:
- Lift the wiper blades away from the windshield.
- Wipe the rubber blade with a clean cloth soaked in windshield washer fluid or rubbing alcohol.
- If the blades are still streaking after cleaning, try using a magic eraser sponge to remove any stuck-on debris.
If the streaking persists, it’s time to replace your wiper blades.
Replace Your Wiper Blades Over time, the rubber on your wiper blades can wear down, causing them to lose their effectiveness. When this happens, it’s time to replace them. Here’s how you can do it:
- Buy new wiper blades from any auto parts store.
- Lift the wiper arm away from the windshield.
- Press the tab or button on the underside of the wiper blade and slide it off the wiper arm.
- Align the new wiper blade with the arm and slide it on until it clicks into place.
- Gently lower the wiper arm back onto the windshield.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your windshield wipers are functioning properly, giving you clear visibility while driving. Remember to replace your wiper blades at least once a year or whenever you notice streaking, to maintain your car’s safety and visibility.
Related Reading: Key Safety Tips When Driving In Poor Weather Conditions
10. How to Unclog a Windscreen Washer Jet
Are you having trouble with your windshield washer system? If you activate your windshield washers and washer fluid comes out of one jet but not the other, you might have a clogged windshield washer jet. This can be frustrating, as it can make it hard to see while driving in bad weather. Most DIYers attempt to unclog the jet by inserting a pin or needle, but this rarely works.
1. Pop the bonnet and locate the rubber tube
To get started, pop the bonnet of your car and locate the rubber tube that goes up to the problem jet. This tube is usually located on the underside of the bonnet.
2: Disconnect the tube and shoot compressed air
Once you’ve located the rubber tube, disconnect it by twisting it off. Next, shoot compressed air backwards through the jet. This will dislodge any debris that may be blocking the jet and shoot it out.
Note: You can purchase a can of compressed air at any auto parts store or online.
3: Reconnect the tube and test the washer system
Once you’ve successfully dislodged the clog, reconnect the rubber tube to the jet. Test the washer system to ensure that fluid is coming out of both jets properly. If the problem persists, you may need to repeat the process or try other troubleshooting techniques.
What if fluid doesn’t come out of either jet?
If fluid doesn’t come out of either jet, there may be a problem with the windshield washer pump. In this case, you can follow this simple troubleshooting technique to diagnose and fix the problem:
- Check the washer fluid reservoir to make sure it’s full.
- Turn on the washer system and listen for the sound of the washer pump. If you don’t hear anything, the pump may be seized.
- Locate the washer pump (usually near the bottom of the washer fluid reservoir) and disconnect the electrical connector.
- Test the pump by connecting it directly to the battery using jumper wires. If the pump doesn’t work, it’s time to replace it.
Clogged windshield washer jets can be frustrating, but with these easy steps, you can easily unclog them and have a clear view while driving in bad weather. If the problem persists, there may be an issue with the windshield washer pump, but this simple troubleshooting technique can help you diagnose and fix the problem quickly and easily.
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11. (& 1 more) How to Fix a Paint Chip and Avoid Rust Problems
If you’re a car owner, you know how frustrating it is to see paint chips on your vehicle. These chips are not just unsightly, but they can lead to bigger problems like rust and corrosion. If you ignore them, you could end up with costly repairs. Fortunately, fixing a paint chip is not difficult, and you can do it yourself without having to spend a lot of money.
Here, we’ll go over the steps on how to fix a paint chip and avoid rust problems. We’ll also discuss why it’s important to address paint chips as soon as possible.
Why Fix a Paint Chip?
When you see a paint chip on your car, your first instinct may be to ignore it. After all, it’s just a small spot, right? Unfortunately, ignoring paint chips can lead to bigger problems.
Paint chips expose the bare metal underneath the paint. When moisture, dirt, and other debris get into the chip, they can cause rust to form. If the rust spreads, it can lead to bigger areas of rust and corrosion. This can weaken the metal and cause structural problems.
If you wait too long to address a paint chip, you may end up having to spend a lot of money to fix the problem. In some cases, the damage may be so extensive that you’ll need to replace entire panels or even the entire car.
Fixing a Paint Chip
Fixing a paint chip is relatively easy and inexpensive, especially if you catch it early. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Clean the chipped area with wax and grease remover
Start by cleaning the chipped area with wax and grease remover. This will remove any dirt, debris, or wax that may be on the surface of the paint. You can find wax and grease remover at any auto parts store.
2. Apply touch-up paint
Next, dab on a small dot of touch-up paint. You can find touch-up paint at your dealership or any auto parts store. The paint won’t match your car’s exact color, but it will be close enough to cover up the chip. Make sure to apply the paint in thin layers to avoid drips.
3. Wait the recommended time before applying a second coat
Wait the recommended time before applying a second coat. This will vary depending on the type of touch-up paint you’re using, so check the label for specific instructions.
4. Wait 30 days for the paint to cure, then wax the area
After the paint has fully cured, which can take up to 30 days, you can wax the area to protect the new paint. This will also help the touch-up paint blend in with the rest of the paint on your car.
If you have multiple chips, you may want to consider using a touch-up paint pen or brush instead of a bottle of touch-up paint. This will make it easier to apply the paint to small chips.
Preventing Paint Chips
Preventing paint chips is not always possible, but there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of getting them. Here are a few tips:
- Avoid following too closely behind other vehicles
- Avoid driving on gravel roads or construction sites
- Apply a protective film or coating to the front of your vehicle
- Park in a garage or covered area when possible
If you do get a paint chip, it’s important to address it as soon as possible. By following the steps above, you can fix the chip and prevent rust from forming. This will help keep your car looking great and running well for years to come.
Related Reading: What Modifications Affect Car Insurance?
Need Gap Insurance?
There are a few different types of policy you can choose from when taking out your Gap Insurance cover with Click4Gap. These depend largely on how you intend to fund the purchase of your vehicle. So what car Gap Insurance is right for you?
If you paid cash for your vehicle, or paid a sizeable deposit, or if you financed it, Combined RTI Gap cover will pay out the shortfall between the cost of your vehicle and the market value at the point of claim, which is the amount your motor insurer will cover. This is cover that will protect you no matter if you use your vehicle for private use or for business.
If you leased your vehicle or it is under a contract hire agreement, Lease/Contract Hire Gap Insurance will cover you for the shortfall on your lease agreement, after your motor insurer settlement. If, for any reason, you change your vehicle within the first 90 days from the start date, we will also arrange to transfer your cover to your new vehicle without hassle or charge.