Car Repairs and Maintenance You Can Do Yourself
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Repairs and maintenance are two of the biggest expenses that come with owning a car. Even a seemingly small replacement job can cost hundreds of dollars- and it’s not because of expensive parts, it’s primarily because of labor.
Mechanics can charge as much as $100 per hour of service, which means you could save hundreds of dollars by just doing your own repairs. Sound difficult? Not at all. Here are four common car repairs and maintenance procedures that you can definitely do on your own:
Changing Your Oil
Periodic oil change is necessary if you want your engine to last. Some vehicles may require them more often than others, so check your car’s owner’s manual first to be sure.
Changing your oil can be a dirty job, but relatively simple. All you need are new oil and new oil filter, an oil drain pan, a wrench and a jack or car ramps to get you underneath your car.
First thing you need to do is get under your car and locate the drain bolt. It should be just a single bolt underneath your engine. Place the oil drain pan underneath it and undo the bolt. Once undone, let the old oil drain completely before replacing the bolt and moving on to the oil filter. Depending on your car, it may be easier to remove the filter from the hood. Move the oil drain pan underneath the filter before unscrewing it, as there may be some oil still trapped in it.
Next, apply a thin layer of oil to the new filter and attach it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Once the drain bolt and filter have been properly replaced, all you have to do is pour in the new oil.
Maintaining Tire Pressure
It’s important to maintain proper tire pressure as this can affect safety, handling and fuel economy. You can check tire pressure yourself simply through a pen-style pressure gauge you can buy at around a dollar at any parts store.
To check the pressure, just remove your tire’s valve cover, insert it into the pressure gauge and bend it a little to the side to release some air. The reading should come up immediately, and you can compare this to the normal pressure range indicated on the side of the wheel. If the pressure is lower than recommended, then head to a nearby station to add some more air. And if in case you need your tire replaced, a price comparison site such as TyreCompare can save you a few bucks by sourcing deals from your local tire shops.
Checking Your Fluid Levels
This is often considered one of the most overpriced car maintenance services, because if you just know where to put each fluid, there really isn’t much work required. The process is the same for every dipstick: you stick it in, wipe it off, stick it in again, and that should show the correct reading. The dipsticks should already have the markings indicating the proper levels for your car.
When checking the oil, don’t forget to check not only the level but also the color of the oil. The blacker it is, the older it is. There should be a stick near the engine, often marked “engine oil”.
For transmission fluid, the stick should be located within the tube where the fluid is added.
To check the power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid and coolant levels, simply locate the caps. The caps for these fluids should be clearly marked and you can readily see from inside the tanks if they are full or need more fluid. Be careful when opening the radiator cap when checking your coolant level, as it may still be hot. Allow it to cool first and remove it slowly in case there’s built up pressure underneath the cap.
Replacing Your Battery
While most mechanics won’t charge for battery replacement, doing this yourself ensures that you get the best battery for your money and won’t have to purchase at a higher price from your mechanic.
To start, take note that every battery has a positive (+) and negative (-) terminal and electricity runs from the negative to the positive, so it would be wise to disconnect the negative side first. Wires should be running from each terminal, often red (+) and black (-) (check the symbols on the battery to be sure). What you need to do is unscrew the bolts or nuts holding each wire.
This should be fairly safe as long as you don’t hold both terminals at once, or come in contact with exposed copper on the wires. Once unscrewed, simply lift the battery out and replace it with the new one. Attach the positive wires first, holding them by the rubberized portion, before attaching the negative wires.
And remember, for most car maintenance tasks, there are plenty of YouTube videos that can help illustrate the procedures. It’s a great place to start learning about the basics.
These are just some of the simple car repair and maintenance procedures you can DIY and save money on.
Photo courtesy of: Ryan McGuire
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