Did you know that you don’t always have to take your car into the shop to maintain it? You can do many services mechanics offer yourself for little to no cost. Knowing just what you can do can save you money and time. But, more importantly, performing basic do-it-yourself car maintenance helps you better understand your vehicle.
Car Maintenance You Can Do Yourself
It may take some time to learn basic car maintenance, but practice makes perfect. The more you perform simple car maintenance yourself, the better you’ll get at noticing major issues before they happen. Plus, you can save money on simple repairs by doing them yourself.
Of course, complicated procedures such as replacing a timing belt should be done by a certified mechanic. But, there are five simple car maintenance tasks you can at home that can save you hundreds of dollars:
- Change the battery – Car batteries typically have a lifespan of three to five years. If you plan on keeping your vehicle for more than three years, you can expect to change the battery at least once during the car’s lifetime. Batteries typically range in price from $90 to $170 depending on the brand and the vehicle make and model. Be sure to research and follow the correct procedure in order to avoid an electrical shock or any damage under the hood. You should also know how to jump start your car battery in case you ever need to.
- Replace the air filters – Another simple task you can do is replace the air filters. Like a battery, you can purchase replacement air filters for both the engine and cabin and swap them out yourself. The location of both should be listed in your owner’s manual, although the engine air filter is usually located in a large plastic box in the engine compartment, while the cabin air filter is typically located in or under the dashboard near the glove box.
- Check tire pressure – If your vehicle doesn't have a tire pressure monitoring system, you need a dial or gauge to check it on your own, which shouldn't be too expensive at your local auto parts store. Simply unscrew the valve stem dust cap and press the gauge to the valve. Double check your owner’s manual or the sticker on the driver’s door jamb for the correct air pressure, and adjust accordingly. If any are low, just use an air compressor if you have one or head to your local gas station, where you can fill them up for free or a small fee.
- Change oil – Many car owners take their vehicles in for oil changes, but you can do this at home for much less money. Depending on your car, you should change the oil every 3,000 to 10,000 miles (check your owner’s manual for the recommended intervals). You need to purchase new oil, and a new oil filter – generally a total cost of around 30 to 50 dollars. Once you’ve changed the oil, take the old oil to a local recycling center to properly dispose of it.
- Check other fluids – One last maintenance task you can do yourself is to check your vehicle’s fluid levels. Doing this can help you better understand when some might need changing. Typically, there are four fluids you can easily check: oil, transmission, coolant, and power steering. Oil and transmission fluid levels are measured with a dipstick, coolant can be checked by viewing the overflow tank, while the power steering fluid level can be viewed in a translucent reservoir located near the engine. Consult your owner’s manual to see where each is located, and what their proper levels should be.
Should You Repair it or Buy a New Car?
Your owner’s manual is your greatest asset when doing basic car maintenance. Although it’s important that you know the ins and outs of your vehicle, you probably can’t fix everything on your car by yourself, while sometimes it just cannot be repaired.
If your vehicle is beyond repair and you’re ready to buy a new one, but aren’t sure where to start, let The Car Connection lead the way. With our simple auto loan request form, it’s easy to get the process started. We work with a nationwide network of dealerships, and we want to connect you to a local dealer that can help you get the financing you need.