Apps help consumers estimate car repairs and locate trustworthy mechanics, but let’s face it—car repairs are still expensive and intimidating. Turn on YouTube though, and you’ll find videos by cost-conscious DIY pros providing detailed tutorials on how to perform complicated and expensive repairs at home. You’ll be amazed by how simple these repairs seem after you watch a tutorial and how much you can save.
CarMD estimates that car repair costs increased by 10 percent last year, returning to pre-recession levels. That means everything costs more, even a simple fix like replacing a bumper.
Replace a bumper by removing it and unscrewing the connecting screws underneath. Sand and coat the cracked area with fiberglass resin or Bondo. After it dries overnight, sand, prime and paint your restored bumper.
Total cost is around $60. That price beats buying a new bumper and having it replaced by a repair garage, which would run you anywhere from $300 to $1,000, depending on the make and model of your car.
Since alternators last around 10 years, any older car will eventually need a new one. Exposure to extreme temperatures, damage, overloads and short circuits can wear on your alternator.
To replace the alternator, remove the belt by loosening the tension and sliding it off. Then remove the bolts on the alternator, remove the alternator and reverse your steps. This type of replacement may vary based on your particular car, so search YouTube for videos featuring your specific make and model.
The replacement takes an hour or two and costs between $150 and $175, depending on your vehicle. A garage charges anywhere from $308 to $488 for the same job on a Chevy pickup.
Replacing a catalytic converter costs big bucks, between $788 and $1,527 on average depending on your car. But, catalytic converters only cost around $140. With the magic of the Web you can do this repair yourself and only pay for parts. Your savings — more than $1,400.
You will need an O2 sensor wrench, and a lift would help. This repair isn’t extremely difficult if you have experience working under a vehicle and can safely jack up your car. First remove the O2 sensor and then unscrew the bolts connecting the converter. Reverse your steps to complete the repair.
If you just bought a new set of tires and then proceeded to drive over a nail, bummer—but don’t worry.
The repair requires a tire plug kit, which costs around $5 compared to $35 or more to have this done at a tire shop. Remove the tire, pull out the nail with pliers, ream the hole and push the plug into the tire with the needle-like plug tool. Remove the tool and trim the repair.