How amazing would it be to slash your routine car maintenance expenses, save time and effort, and learn some new and useful information at the same time? Maintaining your car doesn’t have to be complicated, you just need to know what you can do yourself and when to get a professional involved.
The next time you get your car serviced take a look at the tasks the mechanic is doing and identify things that you can try to do yourself. This can result in less time servicing your car at the garage and more cash in your wallet. Check out these ten easy things you can do on our own — with just a few basic tools and a little time — to maintain your vehicle.
10 Vacuuming the Interior
Your vehicle might be looking shiny and new from the outside, but no matter what car company you buy it from it will still get dirty on the inside if you keep up on regular cleaning. Pick up any trash, receipts, food wrappings, cups, and anything else that may have accumulated inside.
Take out the mats and dust them off properly. Get a vacuum cleaner, a cordless one is best for better mobility inside the car, and start working on the seats, dashboard, then the floor. Slide the front seats back and vacuum the spaces under, too. Don't forget to vacuum the trunk as well. Finish off with a damp cloth or car upholstery product for that nice shine.
9 Cleaning The Battery
Cleaning your car battery is a piece of cake. As a matter of fact, baking soda can be used to clean battery terminals. There is no need to have a service center do it for you, it's very easy. Everything you’ll need to perform this task is right inside your house. Put on work gloves first, then undo the cables, negative first and then positive. Brush the terminal with an old toothbrush and baking soda with water (1 tbsp. baking soda, 1 cup water). Afterward, clean everything up with water and dry off with a towel. It's a service that could save you 304.87, which is the price you would pay for a replacement battery like the Odyssey car battery
8 Checking Tire Pressure
Periodically checking your tire pressure can help your tires last longer. Check the sticker inside the door jamb on the driver's side (or your car’s manual) to find what PSI (pounds per square inch) your tires should have. Get a reading before using the car since hot tires will create an inaccurate reading. To get a reading, find the air valve, unscrew the cap, and press the tire pressure gauge against it. If it hisses you are letting the air out of the tire. Pressing it firmly for a second will get you the PSI. Repeat for the other three tires and then add/release air as needed.
7 Replace Bulbs Of Headlights
A busted headlight is a road hazard and a ticket waiting to be issued. Check your car’s manual to determine the type of bulbs you need. Turn off your car and headlights, then pop the hood and go to the backside of the headlight. There should be a wire socket outside the headlight's casing. Unplug that first. Grab the busted bulb and replace it with the new bulb. Reattach the wire socket and repeat the steps for the other headlight. Two different headlight bulbs could put off different types or strength of light, so even if the other bulb doesn’t need replacing, it’s best to replace them both.
6 Installing New Wiper Blades
Windshield wipers may be small, but it's impossible to drive without them when it rains. It can be dangerous too, as reported by the Federal Highway Administration. According to their report, 21% of vehicle crashes are weather-related. Your wipers play a big role in avoiding becoming part of that statistic. It’s a good idea to learn how to replace your wipers on your own.
Purchase new wipers, then lift the wiper arm on the driver's side first, and remove the old blade. For hook style, push the clip back and then slide the blade down. For clip style, press on the clips or press on the top tab to release the blade. Put the new blade on and it will click when positioned correctly.
5 Replacing Old Battery
Car batteries are expensive. One with a good rating available on Amazon costs $352.78. Even if you take care of your batteries with regular maintenance, you may still need to replace your battery at some point. Start by unplugging the cables, negative first and then positive. Unscrew the latch that keeps the battery in place, if there is one. It should be easy to remove, some types even have a makeshift handle, so use that to lift it out. Set the new battery in place. When you plug the new battery in, it should be the opposite from when you unplugged it; positive first and then negative. Then replace the latch that keeps the battery in place and you’re all set.
4 Changing Air Filters
Changing air filters takes about 15 minutes and is another simple car maintenance task you can do on your own. Replacing air filters is inexpensive and should be done at least once a year. Open the glove box and slide the pin off the limiting stop arm to remove the entire box. There are latches on the side of the faceplate that houses the air filter, lift them to open the housing. Note the filter’s arrow direction before you remove it. The new filter will need to face the same direction when installed. Vacuum the space to clean it off before putting in the new air filter, then reverse the steps to put everything back.
3 Flushing The Radiator And Coolant
When done at a service station this maintenance task can cost $151 - $207 according to Your Mechanic. But if you’d rather put that money to better use elsewhere it's fairly easy to flush your radiator. It takes time but it is doable on your own. You will need to elevate the vehicle (engine side) to move about underneath the car easily. Drain the old fluids by removing the petcock under the radiator tank. Rinse with water and radiator cleaner, start the car (lower the car before getting in) and let the cleaner marinate, and raise the temp. Turn off the car and drain again. Repeat the steps with water, then drain again. Finally, refill the radiator with new antifreeze. Properly dispose of the old antifreeze.
2 Changing Spark Plugs
It is usual for spark plugs to be replaced every 3,000 miles or so, but should we have that taken care of or is it easy to do ourselves? It's easy if you know some basic things about cars and engines, as long as you have the right tools. Check if you have the following: spark plug sockets, socket wrench, and an extension. If you have these tools you can try to replace your spark plugs yourself when the time comes. Spark plugs are affordable, but you have to make sure to get the one that fits in your engine. Check your car’s manual to determine what model is needed.
1 Seat Belt Maintenance
According to the CDC, seat belts can reduce the risk of death when in an accident by 45%. Do not replace seat belt mechanism parts if they’re not working properly on your own, these tips are only for maintenance. If your seat belt needs to be replaced/repaired, go to the nearest authorized service center as soon as possible. The following advice outlines how to keep your seat belt in good working condition. A simple cleaning using WD40 on the steel latches and buckles helps to prevent rusting. Avoid spilling liquid on the straps and buckles, but if it happens clean the straps with a mild detergent and water. Use a wet/dry vacuum to try to remove any liquid that goes inside the buckles.