When something breaks or wears out in your car or truck, there is a certain sequence that I follow to help me get the vehicle back in working order in the most efficient way possible. Having said that, I do not always follow this sequence, even though I know it works. Confused? Well, allow me to explain.
Step 1: Fix it Yourself, or Pay Someone Else
The very first thing you should consider when something breaks or wears out, is this, “Should I try to fix this myself, or should I have someone else do it (likely for money)?” If you want (need) to pay someone to fix it, that is perfectly fine. Some people base their worth on whether or not they can fix everything. This simply makes your life hard. Cut yourself some slack. Sometimes a professional is the best person for the job.
Step 2: Try the Easiest Fixes First
One thing I learned in mechanic’s school was, “Always try the easiest answer first.” This makes great sense and has saved me many, many times. For example, let’s say the horn in your car suddenly stops working. Perhaps the easiest fix is to check the fuses. If it blew a fuse, you could replace the fuse for the horn in a matter of minutes, with very little effort. You could have started your diagnostics with taking the horn apart, but that (likely) would have been a huge waste of time. Again, always try the easy fixes first, especially when it comes to electrical problems.
Step 3: Check the Documentation
Nowadays, you can find how to fix nearly anything online. You can also find nearly any instruction manual or repair guide online too. It is easy to open a web browser and search for your topic. You will be amazed at the helpful information you can find. If someone else has done the same repair, it is likely a video is out there that will show you how to do it.
Besides that, there are forums for just about every make and model of vehicle you can think of. Granted, sometimes it takes a while to wade through the junk. Also, some people are not great writers or communicators, so you must figure some of it out for yourself. But hey, it’s free.
Step 4: Try Removing and Replacing the Part
Check the part or parts for corrosion and wear. Sometimes removing the corrosion can even fix the problem. This is especially true with electrical connections. Sometimes all you need to do is remove the part, do some simple cleaning, and replace the same part. This has worked for me many times.
Step 5: New Parts
If possible, and if you have the money, purchase a new part, rather than trying to fix the old one. A big time-waster is to try to fix or rebuild a part that you could easily purchase at the store or online. I once spent two weeks trying to fix a part of my 1931 Model A Ford, only to realize that a new part is available online for only $40. Remember, your time is worth money!
Step 6: Fix the Part
If you cannot buy a part online and you are certain it is the problem, you may want to try fixing or repairing the part. This can be dangerous and time-consuming, though. It’s better to replace whatever is broken with a new, solid piece.
If you follow this sequence for most automotive or truck repairs, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money, and frustration. Happy motoring!