1. Change your engine air filter
Most mechanics will charge you between a third or half an hour of labor to change your engine air filter. That means changing your air filter could cost you anywhere between $80, at the absolute cheapest, and up to $300, if you’re going to a master mechanic that knows the value of your exotic car. Changing your own engine air filter is actually quite easy.
Finding the proper filter is as easy as going to a parts store and telling the customer service agent the make, model and production year of your vehicle. From there, all you really have to do is open your hood, open the case that houses your air filter by flipping the brackets holding it in place, remove the old filter and replace it with a new one.
It really is as simple as that. The truth is, if this takes you more than 15 minutes, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t over think it—this is a simple swap anyone can do.
Approximate shop cost: $80 to $200
Approximate DIY cost: $50
2. Change your headlights
If there’s one thing that many exotic car owners probably spend too much time on, it’s fiddling with their lights. If you’re in the market of changing your lights, the last thing you need to do is take it to someone else. Instead, save the minimum one-hour labor charge and make the change yourself. Changing a headlight bulb on your vehicle is extremely simple. Go to a parts store and pick out the new light, making sure that the part is specifically designed for your vehicle.
From there, you’ll need to find the back of your headlights inside your vehicle, which is under your hood. Opening up this section of your vehicle is as simple as turning a few screws, but be sure to change the correct bulb when making this swap. Changing a light bulb on your car is arguably as easy as changing a light bulb at home.
All you really need to do is make sure that you check the consistency and angle of the light after you’ve installed it. Our advice is to do this at night with your beams pointed directly at your garage door.
You’ll immediately see that your lights are pointing properly or askew. If things don’t look right, open it back up and make a slight alteration (nudging the bulb left or right) to ensure that your lights are pointed exactly correct.
Approximate shop cost: $80 to $175
Approximate DIY cost: $20
3. Replace a drive belt
Your local mechanic is going to charge you at least half an hour of labor for this particular job. It’s common to fear making a mistake on this type of repair, but it’s a lot easier than you’d anticipate. Before you actually go about doing this type of repair, you really need to make sure that the belt legitimately needs changing.
If you notice any high-pitched squealing from your engine, check the belts and if you see any fraying or inconsistency of color on the belt, chances are you need to make the change. After buying the appropriate part at your local parts store, lay out an adjustable wrench and a socket wrench with multiple size options so you’re prepared for the job.
From there, loosen the tensioning device, which are the bolts holding the belt in place. Put the new belt exactly where the old one was, making sure to go over precisely the same loops that the old one followed. After making sure that your belts are in line with the pulleys, lock all bolts in place that you had previously moved and start your car to ensure that the belts are moving properly. That’s it, you’re done.
Approximate shop cost: $75 to $150
Approximate DIY cost: $35
4. Replace your battery
If you haven’t replaced a battery before, you’re in luck: This is the easiest do-it-yourself job on any vehicle. If you’ve paid someone else to replace your battery, and still intend to do so after reading this description, then we have some swampland in Florida we would love to sell to you.
All kidding aside, replacing a car battery is a job that a mechanic is going to charge you more than half an hour of labor to accomplish. In actual fact, replacing the battery is something that can take less than 20 minutes.
After disconnecting both cables from the top of the battery, you’ll need a wrench to detach the battery from the base underneath it. After you’ve removed it, replace the old battery with the new one by tightening the bolts that holds it in place underneath and attaching the two cables back on top.
The only tricky part to this repair is to make sure that you attach the appropriate cables to the corresponding knobs on the top of the battery. If you can just remember the positive stays with the positive and the negative stays with the negative, you’ll do just fine.
Approximate shop cost: $175 to $250
Approximate DIY cost: $100
5. Replace an alternator
Most shops won’t charge you less than an hour and a half of labor to do this job. To change your alternator, you’re going to have to disconnect the positive battery cable first. From there, you’re going to have to loosen the belt (see change a belt in tip 3) and pull it off of the pulley that is attached to the alternator.
Remove the bolts that are holding your alternator in place and pull it out. You will also have to essentially unplug and remove any electrical connection to it in order to make the change. After you remove the alternator, reverse the process and you are all set. Make sure that you tighten the bolts on the alternator itself, as well as those that are responsible for keeping your belt tight.
Approximate shop cost: $250 to $350
Approximate DIY cost: $125
6. Replace the starter
If you weren’t serious about your exotic car, you wouldn’t be reading this article. Now isn’t the time to get squeamish about a do-it-yourself repair. Sure, replacing your starter can be extremely daunting and perhaps even scary for someone who hasn’t ever made a serious repair on their vehicle.
But it is doable and actually a lot easier than you’d expect considering that most mechanics will charge you at least one and a half hours of labor for this particular job. After locating where your starter is under the hood, you’ll need to remove any wires that are attached, as well as the attaching bolts that hold it in place. Drop the starter down out of where it is housed and you are ready to install the new one. From there, reattach everything as it was before and attempt to start your vehicle.
If you did it right, your car should start exactly as planned without any incident whatsoever. If you did it wrong, no worries, go back and check all of the wires and bolts and make sure that everything has been fastened properly. This is only as complex as you make it.
Be meticulous with making sure you follow every single wire, bolt and attachment as you’re removing the old one so you can retrace your steps when you’re replacing it with the new part. Take a picture before you start and be sure to reattach stuff in the same manner as pictured.
Approximate shop cost: $275 to $350
Approximate DIY cost: $125
7. Replace the front brake pads
If there’s one thing you can’t afford to screw up when you’re working on your vehicle, it’s your brakes. One mix up here and you’ll be sliding through traffic like a toboggan going downhill. But fear not, this isn’t a difficult repair. Think of it like changing a tire with a little bit of extra effort.
A master mechanic is going to bill you for about two hours of labor on this job and that is a cost you do not need to put yourself through. Here’s how to do it: Jack up your car as though you were going to remove a flat tire because that’s also the first step of how to replace your front brake pads. After the car is securely raised, remove the bolts holding the tire in place.
From there, you’ll need to remove the two bolts on the back of the brake caliper and simply pry off the brake calipers that are in place. Detach the brake pads and replace them with the new ones. Then, retrace your steps by rebolting the brake calipers and reinstalling your tires. Repeat on the other side and you’re done. That was easy!
Approximate shop cost: $275 to $325
Approximate DIY cost: $125
8. Detail your car
The hard part may be done with your exotic car now that you’ve gone about the aforementioned do-it-yourself repairs, but if you’re still outsourcing the waxing of your paint job, that’s just throwing money away. Let’s get serious about your car and put in a little elbow grease to make it shine like never before.
Go to a parts store and look over all of the wax offerings available. After selecting the brand that you think matches the level of care you intend to offer your car, you’ll need some simple supplies and a couple of hours under the sun.
If you don’t know how to clean your car yet, we have a feeling you’ll learn really quick once you see the quotes that most detailing shops offer when it comes to making an exotic car glow. Don’t shirk the work in this case and when you get a compliment about your awesome vehicle, you’ll know that you earned it!
Approximate shop cost: $100 to $200
Approximate DIY cost: $25
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