Taking your car to the mechanic for routine maintenance is not the most economical way of maintaining a car. There are many simple things about car maintenance that you can do at home using simple hand tools. An average car owner spends nearly $600 on maintenance every year, and you can save a big chunk of that by carrying out maintenance on your own rather than depending on the mechanics.
These might appear daunting, but they are relatively simple. What’s even better is that once you start maintaining your own car, you can also use that knowledge to fix or maintain other machinery.
Here are the top five maintenance repairs every car owner can (and should) do at home.
Engine Oil Change
This is the simplest part of car maintenance and an excellent place to get started. An average passenger car needs an oil change every 5,000 or so miles. In an oil change, the old engine oil is drained and replaced with the new one. You also have to change the engine oil filter with the oil.
Doing this is straightforward. The first thing you need to do is to find out which oil your car uses. This depends on the age of the car and the temperature of the area you live in. You can see the owner’s manual to find out the grade of engine oil you need to use.
Once you have the correct type and quantity of engine oil for your vehicle, the process of an oil change will take just 10 minutes.
All you need to do now is to locate the oil drain plug and oil filler cap. The drain is at the bottom of the engine, and the filler is inside the engine compartment. Open the oil filler and then remove the drain plug. Once all the oil has been drained, unscrew the oil filter, and replace it with the new one.
Now, reinstall the drain plug and fill up the engine with the new oil. That’s it! You are done.
The next DIY car maintenance that any car owner can carry out is replacing the battery. This can be done in just a few minutes, like an oil change. Start by checking the old battery to make sure it needs replacing. You can use a multimeter to check the voltage on the terminals, which should be 12.6 volts for a good battery.
Once you have made sure that the battery is faulty, see the label/markings on it to see the specifications. Now go to the local parts store and get a battery with the same specifications.
All you need to do is unscrew the terminal cables from the battery and remove the retaining bracket. Then remove the old battery and install the new one.
Be careful to attach the new battery in the same polarity as the old one.
Windshield Wiper Replacement
Nothing can spoil a day more than faulty windshield wipers on a rainy day. It’s not only extremely annoying and uncomfortable to drive a car with worn-out wipers, but it can also be dangerous.
However, you do not need to do a lot of work to change windshield wipers. All you need to do is to press the release tab at the point where the wiper is attached to the arm. This will detach the wiper from the car. Get a new one of the same size from a parts store and install it on the car. It takes less than five minutes.
Brake Pad Replacement
Brake pads are one of the things that get worn out with time and need replacement. This is also a maintenance repair that you can undertake as a DIY project. It might seem dangerous to mess around with a car’s brakes, but nothing can go wrong with this process if you do it the right way.
Look up in the owner’s manual or on the internet to find out what kind of brake pads your car needs. Arrange the brake pads and start the replacement.
Jack up one of the wheels and remove it. It will give you access to the brakes of the car. Unscrew the retaining nut to rotate the brakes; this will expose the brake pads. Take the brake pads out and replace them with the new ones. It is good to compare the old and new pads to make sure they are a perfect fit.
You might have to bleed the brakes at the end of the repair, which is also a reasonably straightforward process.
Changing the Spark Plugs
When a car reaches 100,000 or so miles, it needs a new set of spark plugs. Like any other repair, the first step is to find out the recommended spark plugs for your car and arrange them.
Depending on the car, you might need to remove the air intake to access the spark plugs. Once you have access, use a spark plug extractor to loosen and pull out the spark plugs. Then, replace them with the new ones and tighten them so that they are snug.
It would be best to be careful here because dropping a spark plug or mishandling it can disturb the distance between its electrodes. The space needs to be maintained within a very narrow range, and any change in it can render the spark plug useless.
Car maintenance is important and costs a lot of money. However, some of the maintenance a car needs can be carried out at home with standard hand tools. These maintenance repairs include oil change, battery replacement, installing new wiper blades, replacing brake pads and changing spark plugs. Do these things at home, and you can save quite a bit of money and won’t have to wait for the availability of a mechanic.