Whether you are completing your first oil change, rotating the tires, or tackling your first brake job, you will need more than a few wrenches and a jack to get it done right. A well-stocked toolbox is only the first step toward taking care of your car without heading off to your neighborhood garage. But you shouldn’t be intimidated by tackling a basic car repair if you take the time to plot out your project before you start pulling parts off your ride.

Research the Procedure

First off, find your vehicle’s repair manual–whether it is a download or a printed version. You will need to pay for the volume, but it will pay you back over the years. The manual provides diagrams, procedural information, and lists of all OEM parts. Next, check out some YouTubes of the repair done on your specific make and model car. This will show you the little tricks that can turn hours of frustration into a quick fix. You never know if your car has a hidden clip that prevents the filter from just pulling out.

Make a Parts List

Create a list of needed tools for the job, collect them, and put them in a small project bucket. This way you will have the next tool needed right at hand and you won’t waste the afternoon hunting down your set of metric sockets when the first bolt was standard.

Review all needed parts. If a gasket is mentioned, it is probably a good idea to purchase a new one as well as the main part. If you are going to be removing some serious bolts, inspect them before the job. If they are heavily rusted, anticipate replacing them after stripping them out during removal. When working with spark plugs, you will need a gapping tool. Watch your video again. Do they end up using an extra tool not mentioned in your project list?

Locate the Right Replacement Auto Parts

Should you just head down to the local dealer and purchase those expensive brand name parts? It isn’t necessary. Many aftermarket parts provide the durability and function found on the OEM part at a lower price. Read a variety of replacement auto parts reviews. Other DIY wrenchers will be honest about their impression of all the parts and provide a wealth of information that can save you money on the purchase price or save you frustration years down the line.

Be Patient!

After you have collected your tools, reviewed videos and repair manuals, consulted a selection of replacement auto parts reviews, and cleaned your garage, you are ready to get a little greasy. Don’t expect the project to fly by without any problems. The nature of auto repair is that you will find another part that needs to be replaced, the screw will get stripped, and you might need brute force to get the old part out. Invite your buddy over for moral support and share a few laughs along the way.

Before you click to buy your new performance radiator, make sure to check out the parts reviews. Other drivers will be sharing important information and experience allowing you to make the most out of your purchase while adding a few more horsepower at the track.