5 Temporary Auto Repairs You Can Perform In Minutes
High-mileage vehicles are prone to minor problems. For example, a hose may spring a leak, the brakes may misbehave, or the battery may die. If you’re at home or near a repair garage when these things occur, getting them fixed is simple (if inconvenient). But when you’re on the road in unfamiliar territory, minor problems can cause major headaches. This is especially the case if your family is traveling with you.
For this reason, it’s worth knowing how to apply temporary fixes to small automotive issues. We’ll share five of them below. Realize that the following remedies are not meant to be permanent. They are meant to offer short-term solutions that will last long enough to take your vehicle to a mechanic.
#1 – Dangling Tailpipe
Long ago, the clasps that held the exhaust pipe to the undercarriage of your car were vulnerable to breaks. They would deteriorate from age and heat, and sometimes become loose. In some cases, they would snap. The result was that the pipe will dangle, and occasionally make contact with the ground, causing sparks.
This rarely happens with today’s vehicles since the exhaust pipe is held more securely to the undercarriage. But it can still occur with older cars. If it happens to yours, use a wire hanger to reattach the pipe to the chassis (keep an extra hanger in your trunk). It should hold until you can visit a mechanic.
#2 – Shattered Side Window
Whether due to vandalism, an errant baseball, or an unfortunate tree branch, a broken window can make driving difficult, especially at highway speeds or in the rain. Because buying and installing a new window is often expensive, you may need to postpone the repairs. In the meantime, cover the opening with a large trash bag secured with duct tape around the edges.
If you need to postpone the installation of a new window for more than a few days, buy a heavier plastic covering. You should be able to purchase a sheet at most home improvement stores.
#3 – Cracked Or Leaking Hose
If a hose develops a leak, your engine can overheat. Some hoses bring coolant to the engine. The fluid absorbs heat from the assembly, and transfers it to the radiator. A leak will impair this process. Other hoses are designed to carry fuel to the engine, maintain vacuum, and keep emissions at an acceptable level. These too can develop leaks.
Duct tape is handy for patching cracked and leaking hoses, but it will deteriorate quickly due to heat. Buy a roll of silicone repair tape, and keep it in your trunk. It seals on its own, providing a more durable patch.
#4 – Depleted Battery
If you have roadside assistance, jumping a dead battery seldom poses a problem. Otherwise, make sure you keep a pair of jumper cables in your car. Learn where to place the cables on your battery’s terminals so you can do so quickly when a passerby stops to offer help.
#5 – Punctured Gas Tank
Even late model vehicles can develop a leak in the gas tank. When driving at high speeds, road debris can be propelled upward into the tank. If this debris is hard and sharp enough (e.g. pebbles, nails, etc.), and launched with sufficient force, it can cause a puncture.
The easiest method for “fixing” the problem is to insert a screw into the hole. The screw should be small enough to fit through the puncture, but large enough to provide a secure fit. Use a washer to help seal the opening.
Even though this problem is rare, it’s a good idea to keep several screws and washers in your car just in case. You never know when you might need them.
Above all, follow standard safety precautions when applying any of the short-term solutions described above. Also, when you return home, avoid postponing repairs for the car problem you’ve experienced. Keep in mind that the repairs above are only temporary.