Cars cost money, and not just when you are buying them. After the first few free services and the warranty wears off, that’s when the maintenance costs start to go up. Sometimes this implodes in a mushroom cloud that blows your bank balance into smithereens.
But don’t wash your hands of your car just yet, for actual repairs and replacements don’t cost you as much as the dealer would like you to believe. Don’t believe us? Well, here go dealer-quoted "expensive repairs" that can be done at home in a fraction of the cost, even if you are no expert under the hood. Always remember to work on a cool car—one that has been parked for 5-6 hours to avoid any burn-related injuries.
10 Change That Geriatric Battery
Batteries grow old and usually need a change every 4-6 years depending on how much or hard you have ridden them. While cars will flash a low battery sign when the time is right, most batteries have a date stamp on them as well. Depending on the car, small or premium, an average battery costs $50-200.
However, most dealers would charge you $200-500 for a battery change, with service costs inflating the actual cost of the battery. All you need to do is disconnect the cables, removing the negative cable first. Wrestle out the old battery, put in the new one, and reattach the cables, with the negative one to be attached last to avoid any chance of a short circuit.
9 Windshield Chips & Repairs
While windshields are made of toughened and scratch-resistant glass, sometimes a falling rock or any other projectile can cause the glass to chip off, or get a visible scratch. Letting that chip or crack be will weaken the windshield and cost you replacement repairs which may not be covered by your insurance.
Procrastination can prove to be expensive in both time and money. All you need to do to fix this is one of those DIY windshield chip repair kits that cost you $10-20 and take about an hour to work their magic (try Amazon). Follow the instruction on the pack, and it will save you both time, money and any unnecessary trip to the dealers.
8 Replacing The Air Filter
The air filter in your car filters the air that goes into cooling and heating your car and traps pollution, contaminants, and dust, thus keeping the insides of your car cool (or warm), healthy, and fresh. In time, air filters get dirty and need to be replaced. One of the first signs of this is if the car shudders or mildly bucks when you turn on the heat or the air con.
Honestly, replacing a $15-30 air filter is easy as pie, and you save the service costs that run in the range of $150-250 at your dealer's as well. Open the hood of the car, screw open the air intake cover, take out the dirty air filter, put in the new one, screw back the cover and that’s it; you are done.
7 Time For New Brake Pads
This may not be for the car amateur who has no idea what lays beneath the hood or within their tires. But, for anyone with a bit of knowledge, this can again save you at least $200-300 per axle, as brake pads cost just $20-40 for a set.
You will need a jack for this, as you have to raise the car to remove the wheel. Begin with removing the lugs with the car in park, and then putting the jack under the jacking point to raise the car. There are many online videos on how to go about replacing the brake pads the right way, considering getting the caliper in and out takes a little talent. Watch and learn.
6 A Dangling Exhaust
A rough road can jostle the exhaust system of your car hard enough for the exhaust pipe to loosen and start making scraping sounds while you drive. While any unexpected sound that your car makes can be unnerving and make you think of mechanic costs, the first thing you need to do is peer at the backend of your car to see what’s wrong.
Remember to let the car cool down before you start tinkering. If you feel the exhaust pipe is moving or loose, you need to replace exhaust hangers, which cost no more than $5 apiece. You will need to jack the car up high and spend some time admiring the bottom of your car while you clip off the broken hangers and wrestle new ones in place.
5 Reignite the Spark
While most modern cars have spark plugs that last long, really long—sometimes a sluggish ignition may mean you need a faster than usual replacement. While a sparkplug set may not cost more than $50 for a set, actual replacement costs may end up taking this sky-high to the range of $300-500 depending on the car make and model.
To figure out where, and how many sparkplugs your car has, check the manual. Once you have located them, it’s a matter of removing the cover, using a wrench to remove them and fitting in the new ones. All you may end up is with some grease in your hands, and the adrenalin of saving money.
4 Replacing Flickering Lights
Not having your headlights or taillights in order can incur you traffic violation fines, and getting to the mechanic to do this may cost you the basic and average hourly cost of $100 – too much for a measly $15-20 bulb. The only difference that lies in replacing the headlight bulb and the taillight bulb, is how to get to them.
The headlight bulb is not accessed via the headlight cover but through the engine compartment under the hood, while, to replace the taillight bulb, you have to remove the taillight cover. Always remember to not handle the bulb with a bare hand, as skin oils lessen its life, and to always carry the old bulb to buy the replacement to make sure you get the same one.
3 Windshield Wiper Blade Change
Going to the mechanic to get your windshield wiper blades replaced makes you a dunce because you just threw away a perfectly good $100 bill. It takes nothing but two minutes of your time and a minimum of skill, and just $20-50 for a set. Mostly you just need to loosen the clips, slide out the old wiper blade, slide in the new one, and refix the clips and presto, you are done.
2 Changing The Oil
Okay, this one is undoubtedly messy and a tad more complicated than the windshield wiper blades. However, with enough patience, grit, some old clothes and rags, the right tools, a drain pan, and the best oil you can afford; you can get the job done. Oil changes can cost you $50-200, depending on the set of wheels you drive. If you go for those cheap oil change signages, they may put in cheap oil that affects not just performance but engine life.
Bad oil may scar your car for life and cost you phenomenal at the mechanics later. So, go online and hunt down videos on oil changing for your car brand, follow the steps, and you may come out greasier from under there, but infinitely happier.
1 Dings, Dents, And Scrapes
The most common dent seen on cars is when you back into something, and the bumper goes in. Luckily, most bumpers are made of plastic. Pouring a jug of boiling water on the dent softens the plastic a little, enough for you reach with a towel wrapped around your hand for safety and push the bumper out again.
It may not look as good as new but will save you a trip to the mechanic. Dents on the metal body of the car or deep scratches that have gouged of the paint will need more care. That said, suction cup dent removers do repair some of the damage, as do car paint pens. Both are available cheap from Amazon and other such sites.