By trying to live a more economical life, you can learn how to work with projects for which you normally pay professionals. By learning a few things about repairing and maintaining your car, you can save a pretty decent amount of money that you will spend paying the mechanics. And rest assured that you don’t need to be a car expert for that.
This article will give you some practical tricks on repairing and maintaining your car that you need to do and pay for on a fairly regular basis. Also, there are some well researched and easy to use repair manuals that will prove to be very useful when servicing your car.
1. Air Filter
- Tools You Need: None
- Estimated cost: $10
- Time to Complete: 10 minutes
You need to replace the air filter for your car every 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. You can pay the mechanic and give the car away for the day, or you can replace the air filter at home in about ten minutes.
- First, find the filter under the hood of the car. It is in a black rectangular box with metal clips on the side. Check the user manual if you cannot see it as soon as you open the hood.
- Open the hood and check how the air filter fits inside it. Make a note of which side the filter is facing.
- Take out the worn air filter and replace it with the new one.
- Close the metal clips when you have completed the job.
There you go. For additional long-term savings, you can extend the life of your new air filter by hitting it with compressed air to remove any debris.
2. Windshield Wipers
- Tools You Need: None
- Estimated cost: $10 to $20
- Time to Complete: 15 minutes
If you visit your local auto parts store and see that they have sales on wiper blades, offering the installation free, this usually only applies if you buy the most expensive blades in the shop, so maybe change them yourself.
You will need new wiper blades after about six months or a year of use. You probably tend to push them a little longer before asking your mechanic to change them, but you should not deal with the danger of lanes while you postpone an inconvenient trip to an auto parts store.
The installation of the windscreen wiper is very different depending on the car. Therefore, you may have to perform several different steps according to the instructions of your owner’s manual. For example, The Honda Civic is different from the Opel Corsa. However the process is the similar to changing an air filter:
- Lift the blades by hand and remove the old ones.
- Look to see how the old blades connect to the metal brackets.
- On most models, you will see a tab on the underside of the windscreen wiper. Click on the tab to remove the old blade.
- Attach the new blades with care not to bend the wiper arms or scratch the windscreen.
- Align everything and make sure the new blades are securely fastened and tightened.
If you are distracted or can’t remember exactly how the new blades should fit on the wiper arm, don’t worry. Packaging for new blades should have a common set of instructions and a useful diagram.
3. Spark Plugs
- Tools You Need: 12″ socket extension, ratchet or socket wrench, spark plug socket
- Estimated cost: $10 to $15
- Time to Complete: 20 to 30 minutes
Spark plugs often need to be replaced after about 30,000 miles, but check the owner’s manual to see for your specific car. While changing spark plugs can sound like a lot of work, it’s a relatively simple process. You may put some time aside and be patient. Take your time because you need to install the replacement in a particular order.
- You should be able to find your spark plugs quite easily because they are attached to thick rubber wires.
- You will usually find either four, six, or eight spark plugs, depending on how many cylinders your car has.
- Remove the wires to the first spark plug only. Do not remove all the cables at once. Your spark plugs are set in a particular order that you must maintain.
- Use the spark plug socket and extension cord on the ratchet to remove the first spark plug.
- Install a new spark plug by screwing it in manually first and then tightening it with a wrench to ensure a tight fit. Do not tighten it too much.
- Connect the spark plug wire again.
Repeat these steps for each spark plug. If you buy the right spark plugs, you won’t have to worry about “listening” to them. If you have a Chevy Silverado truck, check out these spark plugs for 5.3 silverado.
4. Oil and Oil Filter
- Tools You Need: Ratchet, oil filter, oil pan, wrench, and funnel
- Estimated cost: $20
- Time to Complete: 30 to 45 minutes
Experts say you should change the oil every 3,000 miles, but with better products and more efficient cars, I think you can get away with changing oil every 5,000 miles.
Whichever way you choose to use, you can save time and money by doing the change yourself. Before you start, remember these precautions:
- Never change the oil when the engine is hot. Park it, wait for it to cool down, and then start. Driving around the neighborhood to heat the car and loosen the oil can result in more efficient drainage, which is good news. However, you should let the engine cool down before you start.
- You need to jack up the car, so make sure that you handle the jack carefully and safely.
Now that you’ve covered the security first, it’s time to get a little dirty.
- Get under the car and find an oil tray. It shouldn’t be hard to find.
- Unscrew the drain plug and drain all the old oil into the oil tray.
- Once all the oil has been drained, replace the drain plug.
- Return to the engine and remove the old oil filter with the oil filter wrench. (Be careful, because the oil filter also contains the old oil).
- Lubricate the rubber gasket of the new oil filter with new engine oil.
- Fill the new oil filter with about two thirds.
- Screw in the new oil filter. Only manually tighten.
- Fill the engine with new oil using a funnel.
- Double-check the oil level using a measuring rod to ensure that you have added enough oil.
- Throw out the old oil filter and recycle the old oil (most petrol stations will take it).
An oil change is the dirtiest job on the list, but perhaps the most useful. Although there are many quick-service stations nearby, if you think about driving maybe four times a year, the costs and time adds up.
5. Battery Maintenance
- Tools You Need: Wrenches, wire brush, corrosion-removal fluid, and rags
- Estimated cost: $5
- Time to Complete: 20 minutes
The answer to keeping your car running efficiently and smoothly is a good battery connection. Just a few crisp white spots on the poles can prevent your car from starting. A simple visual check of your battery will tell you when you need to do this.
- Remove the battery terminals, which should be a fairly simple process. Make sure that you always remove the negative cable first. If they get stuck, use a flat-head screwdriver to pull them out.
- Clear the poles. Some say Coca-Cola will work, and it does, but I suggest you use a more relevant product from your local auto parts store. Most of these solutions are made up of baking soda and water, so if you feel very economical, create your cleaner.
- Gently apply the liquid to the racks and vigorously clean with a wire brush.
- Rinse the fluid with a little water.
- Dry the racks with rags.
- Replace the battery terminals.
A discharged battery can be one of the most frustrating problems in a car because it is usually so easy to avoid. Especially if you have had the same battery for several years, remove the hood every few months and look at the battery to see if it needs a simple cleaning.
6. Radiator Flush
- Tools You Need: Phillips-head screwdriver or wrench, radiator flush solution, coolant, rags, funnel.
- Estimated cost: $25
- Time to Complete: 30 minutes
The radiator and cooling system of the vehicle must be clean to work effectively. If wear and tear are reasonable, the vehicle radiator will form deposits that may disturb the cooling system.
Flushing the radiator is a quick and inexpensive way to keep your system in shape. Refer to your owner’s manual to see if you should wash your radiator annually…