DIY Where You Can
Learning how to DIY your car repairs and maintenance is a necessity today, even with modern cars that appear to be too complex for today’s owner. The truth is that despite the complexity of modern cars there are still quite a significant number of repairs you can do that will save you a lot of money.
For example: replacing a broken bolt on your license plate that believe it or not can easily cost you around $200―a job you can do yourself much cheaper.
Best Drill Bit Set
That was the motivation of today’s article after watching an informative Project Farm YouTube channel episode where the host asks the question of whether an $11 drill bit set can perform as well as a $200 drill bit set. Spoiler alert: Not quite; however, surprisingly close enough to not matter when it comes to many car repairs.
Car Repairs Requiring a “Good Enough” Drill Bit Set
DIY jobs you can do on your car―regardless of how modern or old it may be―includes (but is not limited to) almost any minor part or component that has a broken bolt such as the soft bolts that attach the protective splash covers beneath your car’s engine, fender or bumper bolts that have broken free, and bolts that hold your license plate onto the bumper or (more likely today) the bumper body cover.
In fact, one commenter from the Project Farm YouTube channel episode admitted that as an automotive technician, replacing a simple bolt is expensive when done by a garage:
“I drill out broken license plate bolts all the time (car dealer, trade in vehicles) and buy those bulk packs of Irwin, they do a great job and last so-so, and they can be sharpened a couple times. I looked for some Bosch packs on Amazon and didn’t see any, so for now the Irwin is the one I will stick with. BTW I am a flat rate tech and get 0.5 hours to drill them out, if I have to struggle a little I can get away with charging 1.0 here and there… and we charge $179.95 an hour to the used car dept. I know most of your viewers are DIYs so keep on learning out there everyone, paying someone else is quite the challenge unless you have a really good job.”
Here’s the Project Farm drill bit set test and review:
Best Drill Bit Set? $11 vs $200? Let’s Settle This!
DIY Cost of Repairing a Broken Bolt
From the video we can see that in reality you can spend just $11 for a drill bit set that will do the job of drilling out a broken bolt. However, bear in mind that this is for “soft” bolts as opposed to hardened heavy duty performance steel bolts like those bolting the exhaust manifold onto the block.
The only other tool investment (aside from a drill) you will really need is a tap and die set to re-tap new threads into the bolt hole you just drilled out. While you can spend as low as $20 for a tap and die set from Harbor Freight―it’s not a good idea. The final bolt fit will likely be significantly loose compared to what more expensive brands provide. A $60 Irwin set will do you better for non-critical jobs.
Here’s a Project Farm Video from last year on the best tap and die set test and review:
Best TAP & DIE Set? Craftsman vs Irwin, Bosch, Draper, Vermont American, Tekton, GearWrench
Cheaper Tool Option
If you want a quality tool but without the pricing of an entire set, one cost-saving option is that with many brands you can buy just the single tap size you need for under $10 and even a tap T-wrench for working the tap in. Do not use a pair of vice grips in a pinch due to a T-wrench will help you stay centered better as you tap out a new set of threads.
With some brands you can even find a combination drill bit and matching tap for under $10 that will do the job too.
In other words you can easily turn a $200 repair into a money-saving $30 or less.
If you have never used a tap and die set before, it is a good idea to practice on a piece of soft aluminum bar before committing to the actual repair. Practice makes perfect…right?!
Additional Benefits of This DIY
Once you have discovered how easy it is to repair a damaged thread or broken bolt you will undoubtedly begin to find more repairs that you can DIY on your car and save a lot of money over time.
For additional articles on DIY your car repairs and maintenance, here are three for your consideration:
Timothy Boyer is an automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on “Zen and the Art of DIY Car Repair” website, the Zen Mechanic
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