5 DIY Car Maintenance Procedures that You Don't Need a Mechanic to Do
While petrol rates fluctuate, one cost stays consistently high: automotive repairs. If you are trying to be more frugal, you will save money and nix labor costs by performing these 5 do-it-yourself car maintenance procedures.
1. Replacing the Windshield Wipers
There are few DIY car maintenance procedures that are simpler than changing windshield wipers, and yet there are still those that would rather fork over their hard-earned cash to have someone else do it for them. That’s their right, but changing a wiper blade only costs about $12–$25, takes less than 10 minutes, and should be done every 6 months to a year depending on how much you use them.
1. Pull the blades out and away from the windshield.
2. There might be a tab on the underside that will help it slide off. Otherwise, examine how it is connected, and then remove accordingly.
3. Line up the new blade where you removed the old one, and snap it tightly into place.
4. Lower the wiper and replace the next blade.
5. Test the wipers to ensure that they are fixed firmly in place.
2. Changing Oil and the Oil Filter
Generally, mechanics agree that you should change your oil around every 5,000 kilometres to keep your car properly running. The reality may be closer to every 15,000 kilometres, however, that’s not to say that you have to take it to a mechanic to have it done. You can change your oil and the filter in about 30–45 minutes for only about $25. Doing it yourself can also be beneficial in helping you remember to keep an eye on fluid levels and thus prevent other common car problems.
1. Never change the oil when your engine is hot. Let it cool before you begin, then jack up your car safely.
2. Get under the car and locate the oil pan.
3. Unscrew the drain plug to drain all of the old oil into a secure container (You can recycle the old oil at a full service gas station).
4. Replace the drain plug.
5. Go to the engine and remove the old oil filter with an oil filter wrench.
6. Lubricate the rubber gasket on the new filter, and fill the the filter â…” of the way with oil.
7. Tightly screw in the new oil filter.
8. Using a funnel, fill the engine with oil, and measure the levels with a dipstick before placing the cap back on.
3. Replacing Spark Plugs
Most spark plugs should be replaced after about 45,000 kilometres. Changing your own spark plugs will take 20–30 minutes and will cost less than $20.
1. Locate the spark plugs. Under the hood, your will find thick, rubbery wires attached to 4, 6, or 8 spark plugs (depending on the number of engine cylinders).
2. Wearing insulating gloves (as a safety precaution), pull the wire off the first plug (work on one plug at a time because they are in a certain order).
3. Use a spark plug socket and extension on your ratchet to slide over the plug and remove it.
4. Use your hand to screw in the new spark plug, before you use a wrench, to assure that it is snug.
5. Re-attach the wire and begin the process with the next spark plug.
4. Radiator Flush
In general radiator’s should be flushed every 1–2 years, so as to get rid of deposits that affect the cooling system. You always want to research you vehicle to assure the timing and need for a flush. A radiator flush takes 20–30 minutes, and will cost you about $30.
1. Locate the radiator drain plug, and place a coolant receptacle under the drain.
2. Unscrew the plug and let it drain completely before replacing the plug.
3. Remove the radiator cap, and use a funnel to add the radiator cleaning solution and water before placing the radiator cap back on.
4. Run your car for 10 minutes with the heater on full.
5. Turn off the car and wait for the engine to cool.
6. Drain the radiator, replug it, and then fill it up with a 50/50 mixture of water and coolant.
7. Tighten all caps and safely dispose of the old coolant.
5. Fixing a Fuse
If certain electric functions in the car are not performing, then you may have a blown fuse. Replacing a fuse will only take about 5 minutes, and will save you the time and money of taking your car to a mechanic to locate the problem. Many cars come with spare fuses, otherwise it will cost you about $2.50 to replace a fuse.
1. Locate the fusebox under the driver's dashboard.
2. Pull it out and look in it. Sometimes the box will have a diagram of which fuse controls what, or they will be color-coded.
3. Replace the burnt-out fuse using pliers or tweezers. If there isn't one, check under the hood and follow the same process to find which fuse to replace.
Check out your owner's manual to your car to get a better idea of how the car works and how these maintenance tips may vary slightly to your situation, and always take any necessary safety precautions when maintaining your car.