Fixing Your Own Car? Here Are The Top 5 Places To Go For Car Repair Advice
If you like to tinker with things and are a do-it-yourselfer, you might not be interested in taking your car or truck to the shop or dealership for repairs — you might want to fix it yourself. Repairing cars and trucks — particularly as a hobby — is great for the tinkerer, largely because it’s all fairly easy to do. The premise is that there’s a broken part, it needs to be replaced, and so it needs to be taken out and something new needs to go in the same place. Of course, there can be a little bit more to it than that — such as diagnosis, finding out what exact part went bad that’s connected to the symptoms your experiencing.
This can be difficult for someone with no experience or someone who has only started tinkering with their car or truck; in fact, it can be really discouraging, and make you start looking for ways to take your vehicle to a shop for proper diagnosis and prepare. Luckily, you don’t necessarily need to do that if you’re bent on fixing it yourself — there are tons of online resources for car repair advice, diagnosis, people experiencing the same problems, etc.
Follow along below, and we’ll show you some of the best places to get the proper advice for fixing your vehicle!
One of the best places to go for car repair advice are online forums. These are generally places where other tinkerers are trying to diagnose and fix their cars. People of all different skill levels are on these forums as well as enthusiasts of that forum-specific car. It’s a great place to post and look for advice regarding your problem largely because on those forums, there’s usually a few people who are or have gone through a similar symptom or diagnosis problem as you are with your vehicle. Forums make it easy to search for those posts and start interacting with those people.
Often, you can find step-by-step on these forum posts for diagnosing your problem to. Not only are other people giving you advice on how to diagnose and fix your car, but they’re giving you steps so that you can really start learning how to properly tinker with your vehicle. It’s a great opportunity to not only learn about the individual quirks of your car, but also an excellent way to start learning proper diagnosis procedures.
Another note, there’s generally not just “one” forum for all vehicles. It’s usually broken down into different forums for different types of vehicles, and then each forum obviously has its own enthusiasts for car or truck. For example, if you were looking for advice on Dodge Ram diagnosis and repair, www.ramforum.com is your go-to place. However, you might not find good advice there for, say, a Jeep Wrangler — you’d want to go to www.wranglerforum.com for that information. In most cases, a quick Google search with the make and model vehicle followed by the word “forum” is the best way to find that specific resource (i.e. “Chevy Silverado forum”).
Another great resource is www.cars.com. Here, you’re not necessarily going to find personalized repair and diagnosis advice like you would on a forum. However, you will find helpful blogs that’ll tell you all you need to know about general car problems, such as why your ABS light is on, why your battery light is on, when you need new brakes and so on. They do offer some tutorials, such as how to fill your tires properly, but once again, you won’t find nearly the amount of guides that you would find on a forum. It’s more suited for general car advice than anything else, which is still helpful if you’re new to vehicles and want to start understanding more about them overall.
On top of that, they’re a great resource for selling your vehicle, too. They’ll connect you with dealers for trade-in offers, help you get the value of your car, and even let you list it on their marketplace.
RepairPal is another great resource. They have a “Questions” forum where you can ask vehicle-specific questions can get answers from the community. It doesn’t really look like a traditional forum, and can be difficult to find answers and responses to your questions. You can still ask questions and get answers, but it certainly won’t be like the kind of response you’d get on a forum. Not only that, but RepairPal seems to be lacking information in more recent model year vehicles.
What makes RepairPal super unique is its OBD II code database. OBD stands for on-board diagnostics, and are codes that appear when there is something wrong with a part connected to your computer’s brain, the PCM. Usually the Service Engine Light will appear in a situation like this. Once this happens, you hook up a scanner to pull the codes from the vehicle, and it’ll grab something like, say, P0101, which is usually a Mass Air Flow sensor. Besides that, with a scanner, you can pull the code, take it over to RepairPal, type it into their database, and you’ll get information regarding that code — what it is, symptoms, common problems, etc. This is a super helpful tool for someone who might have a cheap scanner that can’t give you the information that, say, a $5000 diagnostic scanner would be able to provide you with.
There’s some other neat features on RepairPal if you’re looking for advice on how much something would cost to replace. For example, if you’re wondering what a front brake pad replacement would cost, you can plug in your make and model, zip code, and RepairPal will give you an estimate of what the repair looks like in your area. You can even modify it with other things that might need replacing, such as brake rotors, calipers, etc.
YouFixCars.com is another excellent resource. There are a few educational articles that’ll help you understand major components in your vehicle. For example, they’ve got an article on how an automatic transmission operates as opposed to a manual transmission. So, it’s not really a resource for advice, but a way to better understand how cars works.
However, one area that makes YouFixCars a great resource is that they are an excellent source for vehicle-specific repair manuals. They do cost a bit of money to download, but they provide the same manuals that have come from the manufacturer and/or the manuals that the technicians at dealership use.
They do occasionally offer some other helpful articles, such as narrowing down coolant leaks and diagnosing heater problems.
1A Auto, right next to forums, is easily one of the best resources on the Internet for car advice. They offer great car repair information over on their blog at www.blog.1aauto.com; however, where they really excel is in their detailed how-to videos.
They provide videos for changing specific parts on a wide range of vehicles. Want to learn how you can change a Fan Speed Resistor in a Chevrolet Venture and similar vans? 1A Auto has a video that will take you step-by-step through the entire process. Want to learn how to replace calipers on, say, an older Tahoe or a 3rd generation Chevy Suburban? 1A Auto has videos on that, too. If you head over to www.1aauto.com, you can search for repairs specific to your vehicle by entering in your make and model information.
Aside from the great advice and tutorials they offer, 1A Auto is also a parts reseller. Generally, you can find higher quality parts here at sometimes half the price that your local auto parts store has. If you have a part you know you’ll need soon that you want to replace, or can wait for the part to get to you, 1A Auto is an excellent place to save cash on replacement parts, too.
As you can see, finding advice on repairing your specific vehicle online is extremely easy. With the sheer amount of expert information available on the Web these days, if you’re willing to put some work into it, you’ll be able to easily fix most of your own car problems from here on out. Sure, there are some things you may just not want to attempt, such as replacing valves in your cylinder heads or replacing piston rings. That’s a sort of deep engine repair that the average person just won’t be able to attempt, largely because of the expertise needed (deep engine parts are often a delicate and careful process), not to even mention the amount of tools and specialty tools one would need to even start the job.
Of course, if you ever start tearing your car apart and get stuck, remember that there’s always a more experienced mechanic out there that can get you out of a sticky situation. Except for severely rare cases, you can never ruin something to where it cannot be repaired. It might cost you a bit of money to get it repaired if you get in a situation like that, but the experience of trying to get yourself out of it is priceless, especially for those that want to become expert hobbyists or even join the field someday.