Although your local auto technician is always there to fix your vehicle for you if you ever have an issue with the engine breaking down, some people prefer to get their hands dirty and dive in to see what they can do first. Now, cars are actually not extremely complicated machines (perhaps until you get into the computers and electronics on newer models), but it is important to know a bit about your vehicle and how the engine operates before you start disconnecting and unscrewing things. So, find a good repair manual or guide for your vehicle, do some searching and read up on the basics of how an internal combustion engine works if you don’t know.
For those who are of the DIY mindset, we won’t try to stop you from tinkering with your own vehicle. But, we will give you some pointers to make sure that you are at least being safe while you are working on your vehicle. In most cases, your car won’t explode if you mess something up, but if you really are unsure what you are doing you should probably get some repair advice from a qualified auto technician in your area. You should know that the car repair experts are always available at your local auto shop if you get in over your head (which is likely in the beginning). With that, here are some tips to keep you safe while you work on your own vehicle:
- Never work on your vehicle unless you have engaged the parking break and the vehicle is in ‘park’ (if an automatic) or ‘neutral’ (if a manual transmission. And NEVER work on your vehicle while the engine is running. This is really dangerous.
- Avoid an injury by taking off any loose fitting clothing, especially scarves, long necklaces, hats etc. Make sure you tie back your hair as well, if it is longer.
- While attempting a car repair that involves working on electrical components, always use insulated tools (they typically have a rubber or other insulating material on the handle).
- If you are going to be using a ratchet to loosen something during your car repair attempt, make sure that if it suddenly comes loose it won’t fall and break or injure you. Also, make sure that your hand won’t get hurt by slamming into something when you suddenly need to apply much less torque as the part comes loose.
- As any auto technician knows, some of the most basic repair advice is to make sure that you have given your vehicle ample time to cool down to avoid burning and seriously injuring yourself. Some parts of the engine take longer to cool than others.
- Be safe around gasoline. Gasoline is extremely flammable, even the vapors in an empty can explode with a fairly large blast radius and cause serious injury or death. Always store gasoline in a ventilated container designed for that purpose and do not transport it, unless you absolutely have to.
- Another important piece of repair advice is to always work in a well-ventilated area. This is especially if you are using chemicals and other items that may give off toxic fumes.
- As they say, hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. To be prepared, always have a fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit on hand when working on your vehicle, just in case something really nasty happens (which is unlikely, but it pays to be prepared).