DIY Car Maintenance: 7 Car Maintenance Tasks You Can Do Yourself
From oil changes to tire rotation, maintaining a car takes a lot of work and money. If you see your mechanic so much you’re thinking about naming them your child’s godparent, it may be time for a change. There are several car repairs you can do yourself to save you money and trips to the shop.
Learning how to do some DIY car maintenance can be a huge help to your wallet, and many repairs are simple enough to do. You need a few tools and a Google search, and you’ll be off to the races. Read on to learn about some basic car repairs you can handle yourself.
Change Your Coolant
Engine coolant is the liquid that keeps your car from overheating, and it doesn’t last forever. You need to change your coolant about every 25,000 miles or about every five oil changes. Luckily, this is a job you can do yourself; all you need is an air compressor and hose, a socket, a 4-in-1 screwdriver, and a wrench.
Before you start replacing your coolant, you’ll want to check on the levels. Be sure to do this when the engine is cool, and make sure the coolant looks clean and the levels are good. If you see rust on the cap or floating in the liquid or if the liquid looks like chocolate milk, take the car to a mechanic.
Change Your Oil
Oil changes are the car maintenance most of us keep up with best. You should get your oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, or every three months, depending on how far you drive. At a shop, you can face prices of $70 or more. But you can do this job at home for just the cost of the oil.
Put your car up on jacks somewhere flat and find the oil drain plug under the car. Put a drain pan underneath to catch the oil, remove the plug, and drain all the old oil out; you can take the used oil to an auto parts store to have it recycled. Replace the plug (don’t forget this step) and pour new oil in the designated opening in the motor.
Replace Your Filter
While you’re waiting for the oil to drain out of your car, it’s a good idea to check on your air filter. The filter helps keep your car running efficiently and improves your heat and AC systems work properly. The filter should be free of debris and discoloration; if they look clogged or dirty, it’s time to replace them.
Replacing your air filter is usually as simple as unscrewing the cap covering the filter, sliding the old one out, and sliding the new one in. Check your car’s owner’s manual to figure out where your air filter is located. Most air filters cost about $10 to $15, so this is a quick, easy repair.
Clean Your Headlights
Gunky headlights can make driving at night a lot harder and more dangerous. Luckily, cloudy headlight glass is no reason to spend money on having your headlights replaced.
Most auto parts stores sell headlight restoration kits for about $20. You can get one and follow the directions to have crystal-clear headlights that will make a world of difference to your nighttime visibility. Some people also claim you can use toothpaste for this job, which can save you a few extra bucks.
Clean Your Battery Terminals
If you find that your battery keeps dying, you might assume you need a new battery. But a good first step is to check if your battery terminals are corroded. Rusty terminals can put a strain on your charging system, and in time they will mean you need to replace your car battery.
If your terminals are a little bit corroded, you can clean them using a mixture of baking soda and water and a wire brush. If your terminals won’t clamp tightly or there’s green corrosion on the copper cable going into the terminals, it’s time to replace them. Terminals usually cost around $5 each, give or take a few bucks, and replacing them only takes an hour or two.
Fix Your Defroster Grid
If you’ve ever noticed lines running across your back windshield, it’s your defroster grid. Those lines are tiny wires that heat up when you turn the grid on to help keep your windshield clear. But sometimes they can start to malfunction in places or stop working altogether.
You can pick up a defroster grid repair kit at your local auto parts store for about $20. You’ll need to start by cleaning your windows and identifying the breaks in your grid (a voltmeter can be handy if you have one available). You’ll paint over the breaks with conductive paint, and you’ll be back in business in about 15 minutes.
Replace the Fuses
Worn out fuses in your car can cause everything from a turn signal failure to your horn blowing incessantly to your car refusing to start. Fuses are the pieces of your car’s electrical system designed to blow out before an electrical problem causes damage to more expensive parts. Replacing them is an easy job; the hardest part is figuring out which fuse is blown.
Check your owner’s manual to figure out where your fuse box is and start checking the fuses one-by-one. Most fuses are housed in transparent glass or plastic, so you just need to check to see if there’s a break in the fuse. If you find one that’s broken, pull it out and slot a new one in; it’s as easy as that.
Learn More About DIY Car Maintenance
Cars can get expensive, but there are a lot of DIY car maintenance jobs you can do to save costs. Simple things like an oil change or replacing a fuse only take a few minutes and can save you a lot of money. Next time your car needs one of these repairs, pull out your toolbox and get going on the repairs yourself!
Some problems still need a mechanic’s expertise. For those cases, come see us at Viking Motors. We offer service and parts for vehicles, as well as financing on new and used cars. Schedule a service appointment with us today.