8 DIY Car Maintenance Tasks to Save You Money

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Have you ever experienced a car problem and the quote to fix it was over hundreds of dollars? If so, you’re not alone. This is completely normal, but nobody wants to spend extra money on car repairs or maintenance. Fortunately, there are ways to cut costs.

The best way is to do some tasks yourself instead of letting a professional handle all the work. Your car will be in better shape if you regularly do these simple and easy repairs yourself. Here are 8 car maintenance tasks to save you money. 

Oil and Oil Filter Changing

Changing the oil is important to keep your engine in great condition. Your car owner’s manual will specify when it is necessary for oil changes. The intervals usually depend on the number of miles. Older cars have shorter oil changing intervals than newer cars.

Grab new oil and a new oil filter from the store. Wear clothes you’re not afraid to get dirty because it may get messy. You’re also going to need car ramps or a jack in order to get under your car.

After you’re done, place the dirty oil in the new oil bottles and go to a parts store to recycle it. Recycling the oil is usually free and if one place doesn’t accept it, go to another. 

Air Filter

The air filter protects the engine from dirt and particles. If the filter gets too dirty, the engine and gas mileage may not function properly. Changing the filter is one of the easiest tasks.

Under the hood along the side look for a big plastic capsule with bolts. Disconnect the bolts holding the lid of the capsule to uncover the air filter. Remove the old air filter with a new filter. Next place the lids and bolts of the capsule back.

Changing the Battery

On the battery, you can find a positive (+) terminal and a negative (-) terminal. First, always remove the negative terminal because electricity flows from the negative terminal to the positive terminal.

Posts may be on the side-mount or the top of each terminal and each post has a red (+) wire as well as a black (-) wire. The red and black wires may represent the opposite on an imported car, so check the battery key to be safe. A bolt or nut will hold each wire that can be removed with a wrench. Don’t touch both terminals at the same time with the wrench because it’s unsafe.

It’s also important to not touch any copper on the wires because the electricity that runs through them. Only touch the rubbery part of the wires.

After putting the new battery in, make sure to reconnect and tighten the positive wires onto their posts first and repeat with the negative wires in that order. Some shops might do a battery installation for free. It’s better to buy a new battery from a shop than a mechanic.

Fluid Levels

To check each fluid level use the dipsticks provided in your vehicle. You will check the fluid levels for the engine oil, the transmission fluid, the power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, and the coolant. To use the dipstick for each fluid, extract it out, wipe it with a towel, dip it in, pull it out again and look to see if it's at the necessary level by reading the signs on the dipstick.

For the engine oil, there should be a stick labeled “engine oil” near the engine. Examine the oil’s color too. It may range from a deep amber to black and the darker the oil the older it is. 

Radiator Flushing

Removing the radiator cap is dangerous while it’s hot. Wait for the radiator and cap to cool down then unscrew the cap with a rag, which is better to use than your hand. Also, after the radiator has completely cooled down, you can get underneath the car to drain the vehicle.

For this process you’re going to need a pan to hold the drainage, a tool to remove and replace the bolt, a funnel, radiator flush solution, distilled water, and a coolant.

Make sure to safely get rid of the old coolant at a parts store because it’s deadly for pets. Unfortunately, pets think the coolant tastes good. 

Spark Plugs Replacement

This task’s difficulty level depends on the vehicle. The process involves removing the spark plugs from the top or the side of inline engines. Thick rubbery wires are connected to the spark plugs. Vehicles with single-core engines have the same number of wires and spark plugs as the number of the engine’s cylinders. Dual-core engines may have two spark plugs for each cylinder.

To remove a spark plug, you need to take off the wire first. Most importantly, never disconnect more than one wire from a spark plug at a time. If you do disconnect more than one wire you may have a difficult time remembering which wire needs to be reconnected where. The order of each wire is critical to get the engine to work and to get the car running properly.

When you buy the correct plugs at the store, they’ll already be pre-gapped. You don’t have to gap the plugs when you’re done screwing in each new spark plug and reconnecting its wire with the correct plugs from the store. 

Windshield Wipers

Replacing windshield wipers is important. It prevents streaks on your windshield window when you need it to be clean so you can clearly see. Check out the car owner’s manual to know which new wipers to get and for specific steps.

New windshield wipers should go on the vehicle the same way your old ones did. The new blades packaging will also have directions to help you. 

Brake Pads

If you hear squealing when you break, it’s time to replace your brake pads. Make sure you stay safe while replacing your brake pads. The car owner’s manual will have a specific interval of when to replace the brake pads, but if you use them a lot while driving, you should change them earlier.

The task may make some people uneasy. If it does, you can always get a professional to do it instead. For this process, you need to place your car on a jack and secure it on the jack stand. It involves removing the wheel and brake caliper.