Let’s face it. Owning a car isn’t cheap. According to AAA, the average cost to own and operate a new car is a little over $8,400 dollars per year.
Even a new car requires annual maintenance and repairs from time to time. And, once an automobile is past its prime, the expense of car repairs and maintenance can start getting pretty pricey.
If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, DIY car maintenance can save you a hefty chunk of change. And, it might prevent you from having to pay for unnecessary car repairs in the future.
One recent survey estimates that 64 million Americans, or one out of every three people in the U.S., would be unable to pay for an unexpected car repair. After all, the average car repair costs anywhere from $500 to $600 dollars. Yikes.
Performing proper maintenance on your vehicle can ensure that it runs smoothly and help to keep most major repairs at bay.
Luckily, there are several auto maintenance tasks that you can do yourself. By performing the work yourself, you can avoid the high costs of professional maintenance work, and dodge the cost of those unnecessary repairs, too.
Read on to learn about DIY car maintenance!
6 DIY Car Maintenance Tasks That Everyone Should Know
Even if you aren’t strapped for cash, learning about DIY car maintenance is a smart move. You never know when these kinds of skills might come in handy.
Most of the repairs we’ll discuss don’t require special parts, other than simple tools or a low-cost repair kit. If you happen to have spare car parts after performing maintenance or repair work, be sure to properly dispose or recycle them.
If you haven’t every performed maintenance on an automobile, don’t sweat it. Here are 6 tasks that almost anyone can do with a little effort.
1. Replace Your Windshield Wipers
If you can’t see through the rain, or you notice that your wipers are leaving heavy streaks on your window, it might be time to replace your windshield wipers.
You can purchase a windshield wiper replacement kit online or from a local retailer. Just follow the instructions and the task probably won’t take more than half an hour of your time to complete.
2. Check and Top Off Your Fluids
Everyone should know how to check their car’s fluids. And, if you don’t, no worries. Your car manual should show you exactly where each receptacle is located and also give you directions as to where the corresponding dipstick or lid is located.
Just screw off the cap or use the dipstick to determine if your fluid levels are below the recommended “fill line”. The fill line will be either on the dipstick itself or visible on the inside of the reservoir.
If your oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, or coolant appears low, you can add fluid immediately to ward off a major malfunction. Then, have a mechanic take a look to check for leaks or damage.
Sometimes, older cars will burn oil at a faster rate and need to have oil added more often than most. But, other fluids, such as your transmission and power steering fluid, won’t typically need topping off. If they do, it could signal a bigger problem.
3. Replace the Bulb for a Head or Tail Light
Got a headlight or taillight that’s gone out?
Head to your local parts store to pick up a bulb.
You should be able to detach the light plate using a screwdriver. Unscrew the faulty bulb and toss it. Once you install the new bulb, just reattach the light plate and your job is done.
4. Replace a Bad Fuse to a Headlight or Tail Light
There may be a time you replace a bulb and in no time, your light’s out again.
Instead of wasting your time and money buying and replacing bulb after bulb, check for a bad fuse. Your car manual should direct you where to find your fuse box. These are often located near the steering column towards the front driver’s side of an automobile.
Find the fuse that correlates with the dysfunctional light, and remove it from the box. You can then take the fuse to an auto parts store to purchase a match. These usually come in a pack (but you’ll only need one for this repair) and cost only a couple of dollars.
Replace the missing fuse, then you can replace the bad bulb, and hopefully, your problem will be solved.
5. Check Air Pressure & Add Air to Low Tires
If you notice that one tire seems lower than the rest, you should always check to see if there is an obvious leak on the tire. But, if you can’t find a culprit, such as a nail or dry rot, you’ll want to add air until you can have the tire changed or checked out by a pro.
Find a gas station that has a freestanding air machine. Then, check the tire’s pressure with a pressure gauge to determine how much air you’ll need to add. You should have roughly the same amount of air in all of your tires, usually between 30 and 40 pounds for most cars.
Once you know how much air you’re lacking, you can easily insert the needle of the hose attached to the air machine and pull the attached lever until the tire is filled with the desired amount of air.
Twist the air cap back onto the tire, and you’re good to go. Just remember to keep an eye on the tire to observe for additional leaks. And, if you do notice a tire continues to leak air, make sure that you schedule a tire change (or do it yourself!)
6. Repair a Defroster Grid
Although repairing a malfunctioning defroster grid may sound like a complicated task, the truth is that anyone can do it.
All that’s required is a Permatex Quick Grid repair kit. Amazon sells these for under $14 bucks, or you can pick one up from your local auto parts shop.
The kit includes everything you need to perform a professional-quality repair. Just follow the kit’s instructions, and you’ll have your problem solved in no time.
Ready for More Easy Car Repair & Maintenance Jobs?
Now that you know just how easy DIY car maintenance can be, maybe you would like to learn other tasks to try. With a little instruction, there are lots of auto maintenance and repair jobs that don’t necessarily require a mechanic’s expertise.
Want to delve deeper?
Keep browsing our blog to learn even more about car maintenance and repairs!