You can save a lot of money if you learn to handle some simple car repair and maintenance tasks yourself. It will also give you much satisfaction when you learn a new skill. Here are 6 tips for car maintenance tasks you can handle on your own.
- Replace the air filter
If you can find your air filter, you can replace it. You need to do this once a year or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. Look for a black box with metal clips; it should be in there. Open the box, take out the old filter, put in the new, and then close the box. That’s it.
- Change windshield wiper blades
You should replace your wiper blades every 6 months or so, depending on the weather. Strip off the old blades after you lift the arms to the upright position, noting how the old ones connected to the arm. Put the new blades on in exactly the same way. In some models, you have to push a metal clip to release the blade. Push the clip back in place after putting in the new one.
- Replace spark plugs
You need special equipment to replace spark plugs, but the process is the same as replacing a light bulb. The big difference is you have to follow a certain sequence, so do this carefully. You will need a socket wrench, 12” socket extension, and a spark plug socket on hand.
You need to take out the thick rubber wires attached to your engine. This is where you will find the spark plugs. Take out just the first wire. Use the socket and extension to get at the spark plug and remove it. Put in the new one and screw it in. Avoid over tightening it. Put back the wire. Do the same for all the remaining spark plugs, one at a time. Make sure you buy the right plugs for your car. If you don’t know what it is, bring one of the old ones to the store.
- Change oil
Jack up your car and get under there with the basin. Find your oil pan. It should be right under your engine, so it should be easy to find. Remove the drain plug, making sure the basin I ready to catch the oil. Let it drain completely. Put back the plug.
Next, look under the hood to find your oil filter. It should look like the new one. Use the oil filter wrench to remove it. Be careful as it will also have some oil. Put in new engine oil in the new filter to 2/3 full, and smear some on the rubber gasket as well before screwing it in place by hand (do not use the oil filter wrench). Fill the engine with the new oil. You can check with the dipstick if you put in enough. You’re done!
- Clean your battery
You will sometimes see gunk on your battery terminals that may be keeping your car from working properly. You can clean them by using a mixture of distilled water and baking soda. Remove the terminals, negative cable first (the one without the rubber insulator). Clean the posts and terminals with the baking soda mixture until it is pristine. Rinse it with just water, and wipe everything dry. Put back the terminals.
- Flush your radiator
Your radiator keeps your engine running smoothly, so you need to clean it regularly. You will need radiator flush and a Philips screwdriver. Make sure the car is cool before you get started.
Find and remove the radiator drain plug and drain the radiator completely. A basin will come in handy here. Replace the drain plug and pour in the radiator flush fluid. Top it up with ordinary clean water. Start the car and let it run until it gets to running temperature. Let the car cool down, and then drain the radiator again. Replace the drain cap and fill your radiator with clean water. You can add in coolant if you want before topping it with water. Replace the radiator cap.