Cars are expensive. No doubt about it. It’s largely because they cost money even after purchase. While some repairs are difficult to tackle on your own, car maintenance is generally pretty easy. The following article describes the various car maintenance projects you can DIY. Get prepared to save tons of money!
Changing oil is really simple. And after doing it a time or two, you can even save time compared to driving to your mechanic and waiting for him/her to do it.
Changing a car’s engine oil is really simple. And I’m not just saying it. This is the process:
- Do the oil change after the car has been running for awhile.
- Life the front of the car up with a floor jack.
- Place two jack stands under the car just in case the jack fails.
- Pull off the oil fill cap.
- Take a socket wrench and unscrew the drain plug on the oil pan – catch the oil with a pan.
- Unscrew the oil filter. It’ll be near the oil pan. An oil filter needs changed about every 3 oil changes. Oil will flow from that as well.
- Wait about 10 minutes for all the oil to drip out.
- Fill the new oil filter with new oil and screw it on.
- Screw back in the drain plug.
- Fill the engine with the proper oil.
Transmission Fluid Change
This is pretty much like the oil change. Except it isn’t done very often. I think most cars can go about 140k without needing fresh fluid. For manual transmission cars, there isn’t a filter. On automatic cars, there is a filter. It’s trickier to change the fluid on an automatic transmission but still entirely possible to do in your driveway.
It’s mostly a matter of draining the system and filling it back up with fresh fluid. Don’t worry about the gimicky coolant cleaning products. There are plenty of YouTube videos showing how to do this.
Fuel Filter Change
This is a smelly job but it usually isn’t too difficult.
Cleaning the Fuel System
Many shops charge hundreds to do this. In reality, it can be done for about $20 by using a high quality fuel system cleaner. All you do is pour the right amount in your fuel tank. The car does the rest.
Air Filter Change
Most air filters are the drop-in kind. It’s nearly as it easy it sounds. You simply drop-in a new air filter. But first, you need to undo the clips that hold the filter into the air box. This job only takes a few minutes. It’s definitely worth doing yourself. And plus, doing this job can really help your fuel economy.
This sounds fancy but it’s really just a matter of unbolting each wheel and swapping corners. Make an ‘x’ with the tires as you rotate them. This ensures even tread wear.
Interior and Exterior Detail
If you keep a car clean, it never takes a professional to sort out. YouTube has TONS of great videos on how to detail a car like a professional.
Paint Chip Fix
This is harder than it sounds but it’s definitely worth doing yourself. You can get touch up paint online or at a dealer. Pro tip: Get a painting brush as well. The brush supplied in the bottle is almost always too large for your job. A smaller, high-quality, brush will result in a far better result.
Spark Plugs and Wires
It only takes one wrench to undo these. On some cars, they are a nightmare. These include Subaru’s. But most cars, it’s an easy job: these include Honda’s and most other cars.
Valve Cover Gaskets
If your engine is dirty, it’s probably because of a leaking valve cover gasket. These are easy to replace. And that’s good because the gaskets are cheap as well! This makes it a very cheap job to do yourself. Pro tip: I say valve cover gasket’s’ but 4-cylinder cars only have one.
Brake Fluid Change
This project is a little more involved. It takes either a special bleeder tool or an extra person. Either way, it’ll be cheaper than taking it to a mechanic.
Brake jobs are actually pretty easy. It’s just a matter of replacing the brake pads and/or the rotors. Pro tip: Remember to liberally grease the brake pads wherever they touch the brake caliper! If you don’t do this, you’ll end up with squeaky brakes. Most peoples brakes squeak because grease wasn’t applied – not because they need new pads.
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