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Five DIY car repair cost-saving ideas

How to do it yourself car maintenance under the hood of vehicle
Maintaining your vehicle can be expensive. One way to minimize repair costs is to learn basic vehicle-maintenance procedures you can perform on your own. Some of these are easy, such as changing your oil and air filter, keeping your fluids topped off, replacing wiper blades and changing your car's battery.

To save even more money on auto repairs, consider learning the skills to tackle more complicated repair jobs yourself. While many expensive repairs are best left to the pros, who have the tools and the know-how to handle the tough jobs, these five vehicle repairs which typically cost big bucks at the repair shop are well within most DIYers' capabilities.

Five vehicle repairs you can do yourself
Ready to step up your garage game? With a bit of mechanical aptitude, a basic set of tools and perseverance, you can save big with these car repair and maintenance cost-saving ideas:

DIY replacing brake pads that are worn in hand with glove on

1. Replacing brake pads. When you press your brake pedal, brake pads squeeze against the rotor (a disc attached to the spinning wheel), which slow the wheels, stopping your car. Over time, brake pads wear from all that rubbing and grinding against the rotor. When brake pads wear, they squeak when you apply the brake. That’s the time to change them.

Professional brake pad replacement jobs can cost $250 and up, and you can save significantly by doing the work yourself. The job will involve removing the wheel, opening the caliper that houses the brake pads, removing the worn pads and replacing them with new ones.

Skill Level: Difficult.

Timeframe: Approximately 4 hours.

Replacing rotors DIY attached to wheel of vehicle

2. Replacing rotors. Remember those rotors from above? When your brake pads are badly worn they can score and scratch the rotor, and when this happens, you might need to replace the rotor.

Rotor replacement involves removing the wheel, calipers, pads and rotor, and then reassembling with the new rotor in place. A competent home mechanic can handle the job, and you could save a couple hundred dollars per axle or more by doing it yourself.

Skill Level: Relatively easy.

Timeframe: Approximately 3 hours.

DIY replacing CV joint axle attached to wheel of vehicle

3. Replacing a CV joint axle. Modern axles, particularly on front-wheel- and all-wheel-drive vehicles, are mechanically complex assemblies that transfer power to the appropriate wheels as you encounter uneven road surfaces. The Constant-Velocity (CV) joint is the mechanism responsible for performing these feats, but as complex as its operation is, replacing a CV joint, depending on the vehicle, isn't nearly as complicated as you might think.

We're not going to lie: Replacing joint axles isn't as easy as some of the other repairs on this list, but don’t let that scare you away.

Skill Level: Difficult.

Timeframe: Approximately 2 hours.

Find out how to replace CV joint axles.

DIY replacing motor mounts secure under vehicle engine

4. Replacing motor mounts. Motor mounts, also called “engine mounts,” are brackets that secure your vehicle's engine to its frame or subframe. To keep the engine's vibrations from traveling through the frame and really shaking things up inside, the motor mounts include a rubber insulator that softens the vibration and keeps things relatively smooth throughout the rest of the vehicle.

A motor mount needs replacing when its rubber insulator breaks down, hardens and cracks, or otherwise stops functioning. Replacing motor mounts, depending on your vehicle, can cost $1,000 or more. Not every vehicle is a candidate for at-home motor mount replacement, but if your vehicle makes the cut, you can save a bundle. The work itself isn't too complex it's a matter of removing the old mounts and bolting in the new ones but you might need to lift the engine slightly with a floor jack to reach the mounts.

Skill Level: Moderately difficult.

Timeframe: Approximately 3 hours.

Find out more information and instructions on how to replace motor mounts.

Replacing a timing chain DIY connected to engine crankshaft

5. Replacing a timing chain. A vehicle’s timing chain (or belt) connects the engine's crankshaft to, and drives, the camshaft, which then opens and closes the engine's valves. The timing chain’s job is to synchronize the valve operation with the turning of the crankshaft. When all is going smoothly the crankshaft, camshaft, pistons and valves operate in unison and your engine purrs.

But timing chains can break or lose teeth; belts can also break or become stripped, causing problems ranging from poor performance (that's bad) to catastrophic engine failure (that’s worse). Replacing a timing chain yourself can be a complicated job, because you have to remove other engine components in order to reach the chain, but if you’re good with a wrench and your vehicle is relatively simple, you could save hundreds of dollars.

Skill Level: Difficult.

Timeframe: Approximately 5 hours.

Find out more about replacing a timing chain.

Learning to maintain and repair your own vehicle can be a satisfying, enjoyable pursuit. And there's no question that over time, as your knowledge and experience grow, you can save hundreds even thousands of dollars in repair costs.

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