There is a strong chance that you will be involved in a road traffic accident at some point during your life. Most are minor accidents that result in the inevitable dent in the car and an insurance claim, but others can be much worse. The number of cars on the roads of Ireland is in the millions now – a great deal more than just 10 years ago – and with little change to the roads it’s inevitable that more cars means more accidents. If you are involved in an accident there are some things you may be able to fix on your own.
Below we have 10 tips that will help you if you happen to have an accident. However, for serious accidents and those involving safety issues we strongly advise you engage the services of a crash repairs specialist who will be able to carry out the job properly.
1 – Minor Bodywork Repairs
While the modern car is far more sophisticated than one from 20 years ago, the bodywork remains largely the same. Some cars have plastic or fibreglass body parts which are difficult to repair, but if you get a dent in a metal part – a door or wing – you can buy a tool that will effectively ‘suck’ the metal back into shape. These are great for minor repairs, but for major work you need a body shop.
2 – Paintwork Repairs
You have a scratch you want to repair? This can be done easily with one of many scratch repair kits and a can of the right colour paint! The kits work by sanding down the scratched area and then you need to clean it, after which you apply primer and then – when that is dry – a fresh coat of paint. It takes time and patience, but it’s much cheaper than getting it done professionally.
3 – Windscreen Repairs
One common form of damage in a car accident – and it can occur with even the lightest of collisions – is a broken or cracked windscreen. This will definitely need replacing, and with many cars a competent DIY fan can replace the screen themselves. There are many videos online showing how to replace a screen for popular models. If you’re not confident we recommend you check out a local car repair centre as working with glass can be hazardous.
4 – Head and Tail Light Repairs
Depending on the model of car you drive, and the extent of the damage, you may be able to replace broken head or tail lights yourself. With some, the glass or plastic cover simply unscrews and the replacement screws back on. With others, the entire light unit is one piece. These can be replaced using DIY but are more expensive. Bulbs are generally replaced easily, and your local motor store should stock popular models.
5 – Wing Mirror Repairs
With most modern cars the wing mirrors are affixed by screws so a new one can be purchased and may be simple to repair. Make sure that you consult the manual of your model and watch any online videos detailing the procedure. If your wing mirrors are electrically controlled, you may need to consult an auto electrician to get the job done properly. Be careful to buy the right mirrors for your model year as there can be major differences.
6 -- Attempting Mechanical Repairs
The ancillaries at the front of the engine may be damaged in a front-end crash. This often includes the radiator and electrical items. Replacing these yourself may be a time-consuming job, but if you have the right tools and the skills to do it, you might be able to save some money. We recommend that you go to your local car repairs service provider if you are unsure, as modern car electronics can be difficult to understand.
7 – Exhaust Replacement
If the exhaust is damaged in a crash, or if it should blow and need replacing, you may be able to carry out a DIY repair or replacement. Many car exhaust systems are in several stages, so you may not have to replace the entire exhaust. You will need ramps to raise the vehicle from the ground enough for you to get underneath – never do this when it is on a simple jack – and the right tools. If you don’t wish to do this yourself, your car repair or exhaust centre will have the right stock.
8 – Wheels and Punctures
You can change the wheels on even the most modern cars quite easily, but we recommend you use a jack that you are confident with. You may need the key if you have locking wheel nuts, and we advise you to read the handbook to get an idea of how it should be done. If the spare is a space-saver you will need to get the old wheel and tyre fixed quickly. Punctures should be repaired by a specialist and not by DIY.
9 – All Major Parts
While we are here to give tips on DIY crash repairs, we will say that for major parts of the car when you’re involved in road traffic accidents in the Republic of Ireland you should leave it to the experts. Modern cars can be surprisingly complex when it comes to the mechanicals, so your car repair shop is the place to go for anything other than those mentioned above.
10 – Read the Handbook
Our final advice is to read the handbook that comes with your car. It is designed to help you understand the systems that are in play when you drive and has many useful tips as to how to troubleshoot. If you are serious about DIY car repair, we also recommend you obtain the Haynes Manual for your car. These are renowned the world over as the best guides to car repair available and are worth the small amount you will pay.
The low down is, if in doubt, get in touch with your local car repair experts and be sure you are on the safe side.