7 Car Maintenance Jobs You Should Be Doing Yourself
It’s that time of year, the season of pre-winter oil changes. While your knee-jerk reaction may be to pack-up and head for the nearest auto repair shop, you might want to think twice. Isn’t it about time you rolled up your sleeves and made use of your at-home garage? With these easy tips and tricks for car maintenance in mind, you can channel your inner car repairman in no time.
With a few standard tools like a wrench set, ratchets and sockets, impact gun, pliers, screwdrivers, funnels, and hammers, you’ll find yourself elbow-deep in the nooks and crannies of your automobile.
If you aren’t well-versed in a car engine’s components or the intricate parts of your vehicle’s headlights, you’re one Google search away from hours of tutorial footage. In just a few minutes, you can learn from an experienced mechanic and hone your car maintenance skills gradually.
DIY car maintenance tasks
Of course, repairs are inevitable. When parts malfunction or break, you might need to recruit the expertise of a professional mechanic. However, there are some maintenance tasks you can do yourself, even if you’re not mechanically-inclined.
Replacing your headlights
Driving at night with malfunctioning headlights is worse than running at night with one eye closed. If your headlights are broken, the lens is super cloudy, or your entire housing is damaged, it’s time to replace the headlights.
To DIY, remove the wiring-harness connections behind the housing. Depending on the car model, you might have to remove the front bumper. Refer to your vehicle’s manual or DIY YouTube videos specific to your car to get the hang of it.
If your headlights have damaged lenses or need replacement of the entire housing, visit a salvage yard to find affordable used headlights.
To help your engine breathe better, changing an air filter is paramount. Fortunately, the project at hand will only take you approximately 10 minutes. Not to mention, this task requires zero tools.
To change your air filter:
- Find the air filter under the hood. You can refer to the manufacturer’s manual to find its location.
- Open the casing to assess how the air filter fits in. Pay attention to the direction the air filter is facing.
- Remove the old air filter, and replace it with the new one.
- Remember to close the metal clips when complete.
Replacing windshield wipers
Visibility is pivotal for safe driving. To that end, if you notice visible smears and streaks or a screeching sound when using your wipers, it’s time to change them. All you need is new wiper blades (which will cost $7 to $25 per blade) and a tape measure.
The simple steps are:
- Establish the type of connectors. Some wiper blades use pins, while others use hook connectors. Establish the one on your car before purchasing a new one.
- Measure the blades because some vehicles require different sizes for each side.
- After purchasing new blades, attach them securely to your car and be careful not to scratch your windshield.
That’s it, folks. With a few simple steps, your wipers will go “swish, swish”—without leaving any smear behind—in virtually no time at all.
Checking fluid levels
Fluid checking is the most straightforward task of all the car maintenance tasks listed. At least once every month, check your vehicle’s fluid levels. Most of the time, the fluid levels will be satisfactory, but this doesn’t mean you stop checking.
Be sure to check the following fluid levels in your car:
- Transmission fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Brake fluid
- Windshield washer fluid
If low, just top it off with the relevant fluid, which you can usually purchase at your local grocery store. Be sure to consult your car manufacturer’s manual to determine the correct fluid.
For the coolant, make sure that the engine has cooled down before opening the radiator cap. Otherwise, it can turn into a disaster. Boiling coolant can spill, burning your face and nearby extremities.
Cleaning your battery terminals
If you find your battery running out of juice often, you might want to check the battery terminals before rushing to the nearby car shop to buy a new battery. Note that corrosion of the terminals can compromise the charging system of your vehicle.
Use baking soda, water, and a wire brush to clean rusty battery terminals. If terminals aren’t closing tightly, they could be worn out, and you might want to replace them. New terminals cost $5 each (give or take), and it will take you only a few minutes to replace them.
Replacing worn-out fuses
Fuses protect your car from a malfunctioning electrical system, as they blow out before the electrical glitch reaches more expensive parts. Blown-out fuses can lead to issues such as incessant horn-blowing or difficulties starting your vehicle.
While replacing fuses is easy-peasy, the daunting task is finding out the blown-out fuse. Refer to your owner’s manual to establish the location of your car’s fuses. Most car fuses are covered with a transparent plastic or glass casing, making it easier for you to spot broken or charred fuses.
Checking tire pressure
Checking the tire pressure of your car isn’t rocket science. Perhaps, the vital thing is to understand why the correct pressure is essential for your vehicle. Properly inflated tires increase your tires’ lifespan, improve driving performance, and reduce fuel consumption. Overinflated tires lead to a bouncy ride and can even burst your tires.
Find the recommended tire pressure on the owner’s manual or the driver’s side door pillar. Then, use a tire pressure gauge to determine your tires’ pressure.
You don’t have to be an automotive expert to perform the above DIY tasks. As long as you’re willing to buy the car parts yourself and ready to use elbow grease, these repairs will be a breeze. The next time your car requires the above maintenance tasks, don’t hurry off to the nearest mechanic. Be prepared to pull out your toolbox and get your hands dirty.
However, if unsure, don’t gamble with your car. Involve a professional mechanic.