Regular car maintenance and repair tasks performed at home can often save money in costly repairs later. A monthly inspection of headlights, turn signals, brake lights and parking lights could save money and make driving safer for yourself and other drivers.
Many of these tasks can be completed by practically anyone with just the proper tools.
Check Your Tire Pressure
At its optimal, tire pressure should be checked first thing in the morning when your tires are cold and you have not been driving (driving heats the air within). A reliable tire pressure gauge, available at most auto parts stores or gas stations, should be used. Unscrew the end cap on the valve stem, press firmly against each tire with the gauge, record its readings and unscrew the end cap again to record them.
If your tire pressure drops too low, adding air is simple with either an air compressor–available at most gas stations–or home unit that plugs into an electrical outlet. Consult your vehicle handbook for recommended tire pressure levels.
Change Your Oil
Oil changes are one of the best ways to keep your car running smoothly and extend its lifespan, saving both money and hassle by doing this simple 20-minute task yourself. Doing it yourself saves both money and hassle compared to visiting a mechanic, saving money as well as time.
Before beginning, ensure your vehicle is on level ground and clears away all clutter underneath it. Next, place a drain pan underneath the oil plug and unscrew and allow old oil to flow out while wearing rubber gloves.
Replace the plug and filter, loosen the oil fill cap and pour in your new motor oil – using an appropriate weight and type for your specific vehicle.
Check Your Brakes
If your car pulls to one side or vibrates when braking, or you experience vibrations while trying to stop, your brake pads could be worn out and need replacement. You can inspect them through an inspection hole in your wheel or remove the tire (jack up your vehicle, unscrew all lug nuts and remove tire).
Most brake pads contain wear indicators that sound an audible alarm when they’re nearing failure, signaling when new pads may be required to prevent metal-on-metal friction from damaging your rotors.
Check Your Battery
Utilizing a battery tester (see number 3 below), you can easily determine how close your battery is to dying and potentially leaving you stranded. While all batteries eventually deplete over time, with proper care you may extend its lifespan for years longer.
Doing your own car repair can be rewarding and easy; but please keep in mind that an engine bay contains sharp metal edges that could cut you. Wear gloves when working in an engine bay to protect yourself, and always disconnect first the negative terminal and then the positive to ensure safety. Spark plugs are relatively cheap, making this task an affordable way to save money over time.
Change Your Air Filter
An air filter installation can be one of the simplest and most rewarding DIY tasks you can complete for your car, making a noticeable impactful difference in how efficiently its engine runs.
Locate your air filter housing, typically a black box sitting atop or to one side of your engine. Covers are often held securely by metal clips or screws – you may need to unclasp it or unscrew it by hand depending on your vehicle type.
Remove and dispose of the old filter before installing a clean one – then simply close up and enjoy improved fuel economy and smoother driving experience!
Jump Your Car
No matter if it was left on over night or your battery has reached the end of its lifespan, knowing how to jump your car yourself can save both time and money. Plus, doing it yourself gives you more knowledge about your vehicle which may come in handy when speaking with professional service providers for repairs or services.
Start by parking an operational vehicle nearby so you can connect jumper cables between them (they don’t have to be bumper-to-bumper). Next, turn off both ignitions and set parking brakes on both cars before connecting your jumper cables between them.
Connect the red jumper cable’s clamp directly to the positive terminal on a dead car battery, while connecting its black cable clamp directly to an unpainted piece of metal in your own car for grounding purposes, rather than directly onto it.