New car care is occasionally more complicated than simply breaking out a socket set and replacing a worn out part or two. Increasingly, vehicles require that their electric components be linked together in order to function properly, and this can mean that plug-and-play is a thing of the past: calibration and programming of specific control modules and other parts are now a crucial part of getting a repair done.
This type of work often requires specialized tools and equipment that financially are out of reach of the average home mechanic. Don’t worry: There are still some jobs you can do at home without investing in pricey programming gear. Let’s take a quick look at the dos and don’ts of modern DIY repairs.
Brakes, Oil Changes, Wheels and Tires
If you’ve always changed your own brake pads and rotors, drained and replaced your own oil and filters and swapped out your summer wheels for winter wheels with the changing of the seasons, you can relax. None of that work is in danger of requiring a programming degree to accomplish. At the very worst, you might be asked to reset the oil change interval monitor on a modern car, which can be done easily using the infotainment or driver information controls.
ABS Pump and Engine Control Module
Once you start to get into components that actively communicate with other parts of your car, things can become more complicated. For example, an ABS pump is straightforward to replace, but you might not be able to access its bleed functionality after it’s installed to make sure you get all the air out of the unit. Likewise, an engine control module is often a blank slate until it’s been programmed to properly interact with all the other electronics in your vehicle. You may also find this to be true of window control switches, seat controls and remote door lock activators, which at the very least might require a reset using a factory tool before they will function properly.
Borderline Tech May Work
In the grey zone between these two new car care worlds are features that sometimes work after you perform certain steps, or which might still need professional intervention. These can include infotainment system screens and modules, which may have anti-theft steps you need to go through before they’ll power on, and tire pressure monitoring systems, which sometimes ask you to perform a procedure that adds or removes air from each tire, in sequence, in order to calibrate.
Ready to take on a DIY car repair? Consider this list before getting your hands dirty.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on new car care, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.