If you are mechanically inclined (and thrifty), you can do basic maintenance and repairs on your vehicle. However, no matter how confident or experienced you are, a little caution can go a long way. Follow these tips before you get out your tools:

1. Do your homework. Be sure you understand what you are getting into. Read the owners’ manual at the bare minimum.

2. Put safety first. Have a fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit on hand in case anything goes south.

3. Dress for success. That means donning protective eyewear, like safety goggles. Clothing should be close fitting and keep accessories to a minimum. Thick gloves and tennis shoes are musts.

4. Protect your lungs. Ventilation is a must if you’re working on your car’s exhaust system. If your garage is your de facto shop, then park your vehicle so the tailpipes are venting outside. Keep the garage door wide open to allow air pollution to escape.

5. Shed some light on the subject. Make sure you have ample lighting, as to avoid making preventable errors.

6. Invite a friend over. Not only can a friend keep you company, he or she can be there if anything goes awry.

A general word of advice: Not every job is a DIY one. Always contact a professional mechanic for complicated and unfamiliar jobs.