6 simple auto maintenance jobs that you can do yourself
If you’re trying to save money or simply just want to be more self-sufficient, then maybe it’s time to learn how to do a few basic car maintenance tasks at home. Do-it-yourself (DIY) vehicle maintenance doesn’t just save money either; it also saves you valuable time spent waiting for the mechanic to get to your vehicle and complete a task that might only take 10 minutes.
Let’s take a look at an easy car maintenance checklist of tasks you can do at home.
1. Change your air filter
Changing your air filter is one of the easiest DIY car maintenance tasks. You’ll usually need to change it every year or every 12,000 miles. It takes roughly 10 minutes and you shouldn’t need any tools.
The first step is to find the air filter box under your hood. It’s usually a black rectangular compartment with metal clips. Pop open the clips and look at the filter. Make sure to notice which direction it lays. Simply remove the old filter and insert the new one in the same way. Air filters usually cost around $10 for most vehicles.
2. Replace your wiper blades
This is another service on your basic car maintenance list that is often offered at lube shops. It should only take you about 15 minutes to complete at home. Wiper blades usually cost between $10 and $20 at your local auto parts store.
The interval to replace wiper blades isn’t as consistent as some other car parts, but if you notice your blades streaking and scraping when you use them, or if they look noticeably worn, it’s time to get new ones.
Installation varies from vehicle to vehicle, so make sure you note how the blades fit on the metal arms before removing them. There’s usually a tab removal system and it doesn’t usually require any tools.
3. Change spark plugs
This might sound like a complicated job, but it’s actually fairly easy with some specific tools and your owner’s manual. Standard copper plugs usually need to be replaced every 30,000 miles or so. Finding your plugs is easy: they’re on your engine block attached to thick wires. You’ll have the same number of plugs as cylinders, so if your vehicle is a V6 or I6, you’ll have 6 plugs.
This job takes about 30 minutes and each plug will usually cost around $10 or less. You’ll need a spark plug socket, a socket wrench and a 12-inch socket extension. The main thing to remember when replacing plugs is the firing order, so you need to install each plug in a specific order as indicated by your owner’s manual.
4. Replace engine oil and filter
This job can take well over an hour in a shop and typically costs about twice what it does to do it at home. However, it does require a bit more effort than the previously mentioned jobs.
Unless you have a vehicle with high ground clearance like a 4×4 truck or SUV, you will need to jack your vehicle up. You also never want to change your oil when the engine is hot. If the engine is slightly warm, this could help the oil drain better. But in general, it should be cool.
The other issue is finding a place to dispose of your used motor oil. Changing your oil can take anywhere from 20-45 minutes depending on your vehicle. The cost varies as well depending on how many quarts your vehicle requires and how much you want to spend on an oil filter.
In terms of tools, you’ll need an oil filter wrench, an oil pan, a funnel and ratchet. Oil changes are generally recommended every 3 months or 3,000 miles, but many newer vehicles can go longer than that.
5. Maintain your battery
Start by visually inspecting your battery for signs of corrosion. Cleaning your battery should only take about 20 minutes and the required tools include fluid to remove corrosion, a wire brush, rags and wrenches.
Assuming you have the other items, the only real cost is for the corrosion-removal fluid at about $5. Remove the battery terminals and then clean the posts with your corrosion-removal fluid and the wire brush. Dry the posts with rags and replace the terminals.
6. Check and maintain tire pressure
Your tires slowly lose air pressure over time, so it’s a good idea to check them about every month or so. For this task, you’ll mainly need a tire gauge. The most accurate ones are digital and usually cost under $10. The time to check all your tires is only about 5 minutes, but if you need to fill them, you’ll need to head to a gas station unless you own an air compressor.
To start, check your door jamb for the proper fill pressure. It should list the cold PSI for your particular vehicle. This means the pressure your tires should have after having sat overnight or for several hours. Ideally, your tires should be checked and filled when cold to get the right pressure. Don’t use the pressure listed on the tires themselves as this is the max fill amount for that particular tire.
If you need more complicated repairs on your vehicle or don’t have the time to do the mentioned maintenance tasks yourself, then contact the Bryant Motors service team. Our experts will help you get back on the road quickly and safely.