Simple do-it-yourself car repairs, checks

Thursday August 29 2019

Before you start any journey, it is advisable to chec

Before you start any journey, it is advisable to check the coolant tank or radiator and make sure they have enough coolant to prevent your engine and radiator from overheating and blowing. COURTESY PHOTO 

By Roland D. Nasasira

Recently, Rose Natuhwera noticed her steering wheel was becoming hard to turn as she drove to work. She suspected that her steering wheel fluid could have been gone low but manoeuvred on and was able to reach her work place.
“In the evening before I drove home, I walked to a fuel station along Bombo Road and asked for a litre of steering wheel fluid. I went back to the car, opened the bonnet and topped the fluid tank. By the time I reached home, the steering wheel had become soft and easy to turn,” Natuhwera recalls.
Natuhwera’s experience of topping up her Toyota Premio steering fluid is self- explanatory. It is one of many repairs or maintainance routines you can do yourself without driving to a garage.
Usually even if it is a small issue such as Natuhwera’s, your mechanic will take advantage of your ignorance and charge you exhorbitantly for something you could have done yourself.

Tyre changing Besides topping up your steering wheel fluid, Jimmy Ssebadduka, a mechanic at Shell Jinja Road says one should be able to change a flat tyre. To change a tyre successfully, you need to have a car jerk, wheel spanner and stoppers to position below the tyres so that your car does not move as you unscrew the rim nuts. Car jerks come in two types; there are those that are pumped and the type which need a metal rod for the clockwise turn.

Jump starting your battery
A number of factors normally drain your battery of its power especially when you have parked. If it is not the head or fog lights that you could have forgotten to turn off , it could be one of the car doors that may not have been closed tightly or music that was played for a long time when the car engine is not running to charge the battery.
This calls for you to jumps start the car.To do this, you need a pair of jump starter cables in your car. You also need to know how they are connected at the negative and positive terminals. The cables need to be long enough either to reach the terminals of the jump starting car or terminals of the charged battery. On average, jump starters cost between Shs20,000 to Shs30,000.

Replacing wiper blades Moses Mugisha, a mechanic at Wandegeya says one of the signs of old and worn out wiper blades is that they will start to cause visible cracks on your windscreen when you turn them on.
These cracks, which normally form curves around the windscreen, will start small but when you ignore them, they dig deep on your screen. The outcome will be your windscreen breaking or curving inwards when you hit humps or drive into a pothole. It is advisable to buy the right fitting blades.
Wiper blades cost between Shs30,000 to Shs100,000.

Radiator coolant
Peter Kasoma, also a mechanic at Shell Jinja Road says without coolant in your radiator, you risk subjecting your car engine compartments, let alone the radiator, to wear and tear. As such your radiator will blow up because of the uncooled excess heat it receives from the engine.
“The only way you can prevent your car engine from overheating is when you remember to check your coolant levels before driving off. You can as well use distilled water to top up in the radiator so that your engine does not heat up to lead to more complex and costly repairs,” Kasoma explains.

Headlight bulbs
According to One Cent At A Time, an online portal, check the front of your car for burnt headlight bulbs in need of replacement. Headlight bulb change is possible for cars without sealed beam headlights. Be sure to get the right bulb for your car and save money by changing it yourself.


Fluid to keep track of
Apart from the steering wheel fluid, other liquids or fluids you can top up by yourself include battery distilled water, engine oil top up, transmission fluid and hydraulic oil. You need to check on the fluid caps to make sure the fluid you are topping up is what is meant to go in a given fluid tank.