A DIY guide to checking and repairing your car

Using a jack, locking wheel nut, wrench and a spare, you can change a tyre in minutes

Keeping a car can be expensive. But there are steps you can take which could save you some cash. Here are five simple car repairs and checks you can do yourself…

Windscreen wipers

Being able to see when you’re driving is not to be underestimated. Make sure your windscreen is clear in the rain, and can be cleaned when it’s warm and dry, by checking and replacing your windscreen wipers.

Buy some new wipers and get a screwdriver, and you’re all set. Here’s a helpful video from motoring organisation RAC on how to check and change them…

Air filter replacement

Having clogged air filters will lower your vehicle’s performance and cut the amount of miles it gets to the litre. The good news is that changing an air filter is one of the simplest DIY car repairs you can do.

Once you’ve bought a new filter (they can be picked up pretty cheaply), lift the bonnet, locate the black plastic box sitting on top of or to the side of your engine and locate the air filter. Lift out the dirty air filter and put in the new one. Make sure you clip it in, et voilla…

Headlight bulbs

Having lights that don’t work is a dangerous issue. Other road users can’t see you coming or stopping, and the chances of you having an accident are increased. Although the police are unlikely to fine you for having defective lights, they could still pull you over. And you will undoubtedly fail your MOT test if your lights are broken or the bulbs need changing.

Get someone to check your lights as you flick them on and off from the driver’s seat. Check your indicators, lights, full beams, break lights and fog lights.

Bulbs may only cost a few pounds, but paying a mechanic to replace them could see you landed with a hefty bill. Your vehicle’s manual will have information on how to change them yourself, and it’s pretty easy.

  • Open the bonnet to find the back of the headlight housing
  • Remove any cover
  • Remove the blown bulb – you may need to release spring levers or twist out the connector to disconnect the electrical connectors
  • Using gloves, put the new bulb in place of the one you’ve just taken out
  • Fasten any cover back in place
  • Check the replacement bulb is working

Check your coolant levels

Modern cars are mostly fitted with a sealed cooling system so they shouldn’t need their coolant topping up unless they’ve sprung a leak. However, some cars will still require coolant adding if it gets low, and it’s important to know how to check and top up. Here’s a video from the AA on how to do it yourself…

Wheel replacement

Getting a dreaded flat tyre is inconvenient and often time-consuming when you have to wait for a breakdown engineer. Although knowing how to change a tyre is part of the new show me, tell me section of the driving test, not everyone knows how.

Here’s how…

  • Use the jack to lift your car from underneath
  • Locate your locking wheel nut and use it to unscrew the tyre nuts
  • Take off the wheel and replace with your spare or space saver
  • Secure using locking wheel nuts
  • Lower the jack and off you go (albeit at less than 50mph if you’re on a space saver)

Has your car been damaged by deteriorating road surfaces? Check out our guide on how to handle potholes.


  1. All very useful, well presented avoiding condescension, helpful and informative. Updates on the new MoT and Smart Motorway were particularly interesting. Thank you, I’m a new client, and I like your style, 1st Central!

  2. Sean Caddick says:

    Wheel replacement
    Here’s how…
    Use the jack to lift your car from underneath
    Locate your locking wheel nut and use it to unscrew the tyre nuts
    Take off the wheel and replace with your spare or space saver
    Secure using locking wheel nuts
    Lower the jack and off you go (albeit at less than 50mph if you’re on a space saver).
    As a professional I find this information very dangerous to the public. wheels should be torqued to a specific setting advised by the vehicles manufacturer. If the wheels are put on even slightly loose or tight they risk coming off the vehicle at any speed. As you can imagine this is very dangerous.

  3. Stephen C.Wilde says:

    one thing on removing wheel tho, you need to loosen the wheel nuts a bit before raising the car, after you put the replacement wheel on ,do up the nuts, lower the car , THEN tighten the nuts, can’t undo or do up the nuts tight with the car raised

  4. Russell Davies says:

    Before you change a wheel, always a good idea to loosen all wheel nuts slightly before the car is jacked up!!

  5. Ian Holliday says:

    very useful info, I can vouch for the air filter, I bought a car from a so called reputable dealer that said the car had a service last month, so all ok, When I went to service the car a year on the foreman at the garage was smiling at me, he said take a look at your air filter, it was in a bad way black as coal and rock hard and looked like it had been ran over, he said someone has written on it, I looked and it said 2009 on it, bearing in mind this was in 2016, why would anyone write that on there if it wasn’t when they changed it ? the car ran like a dream after lol

  6. John Travis says:

    Had a puncture this week, can’t change the wheel and put the spare on because the wheels had been put on at a garage, with a gun, and are far too tight. I have an extending wheel bar as well, to get more leverage. A friend was with me, he tried and failed also. Waste of time having a spare wheel at all. As it was a slowish puncture, I used a tin of Holts puncture stuff (silver tin), did the job and got me home. Still waiting on the mobile fitter to come though.

  7. Christine Riley says:

    Thanks for advise on wind screen wipers it’s been a while since I’ve changed them will now look

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