In this day and age, we are all busy, struggling to find time to do the things that we need to do.
But what if I told you that you could save hundreds of dollars by doing your own car maintenance?
What if you never had to take your car into the shop just for someone to overcharge you for their work?
To some people, cars are like a foreign language. And we don’t know what to do with them. We drive them, fill their tank and then are on our way.
But keeping up to date on your cars needs is essential for saving money and the longevity of your vehicle.
You may be one of those who loves their cars. You WANT to know how to fix things yourself but no one has ever taught you.
Well, here are some easier than you might think tips for car maintenance.
So, take notes. You may be surprised at how much car maintenance could save you.
First Things First
If you own a car, and drive it around, you need to have the proper insurance. If you have an old car in your garage that you would are repairing, then when you do fix it, you will need insurance.
One DIY project you may not be thinking of is insurance shopping. Having the correct cheap car insurance could save you hundreds every year.
You may have to shop around. Or, there are cheap auto insurance companies that could help.
Usually there is a minimum amount of insurance you will need for your vehicle. This could include Liability insurance and property damage.
There is also car insurance companies that cover roadside assistance and towing which may come in handy.
Saving money with your car isn’t just about the physical labor, but the risk management as well. If you get into a car accident, you will want to be prepared.
After the insurance and registration are in order, you will want to take care of and maintain your vehicle.
There are a list of items you will need to have fixed on your car during it’s lifetime. But, you don’t necessarily have to take it in.
Doing It Yourself
There may be something strange to you about pulling that car into the garage and cranking on your tools.
“Tools cost a lot!”, you may be thinking.
Yes, the right tools can cost a lot, but they could last you a lifetime.
And, down the road you will save tons. Most of the time, these tools can also be used for other things around the house as well.
Here are a few tools you will need to get started on any car project:
- Car Jack/ or ramps ($50-$100)
- Ratchet/wrench set ($60)
- Oil collection basin ($15)
- Funnels ($5)
- Shop towels ($10)
- Gloves and safety glasses ($15)
DIY Fixes That Save
Here are some basic steps to changing the oil in your vehicle.
- Pull car up onto ramps or raise up with car jacks.
- First you will need to purchase an oil filter and the correct type of oil for your specific car. This can be found in the cars manual.
- Pull the plug. Pull the plug quickly and pull it away from the oil stream. Let the old oil spill into your oil pan.
- Put a new gasket into the plug.
- Remove the old oil filter and install the new one.
- Do not change the oil when the car is hot. Wait for the car to cool down before starting this process.
- Hand tighten the filter and never use a filter wrench.
- Pour in correct amount of oil into the car. The amount can also be found in your owners manual.
- Make sure to wipe up any spilled grease and check for leaks.
Changing A Tire
These are the steps on how to change a flat tire.
First, you need to pull over to a very safe place.
If you are on a freeway, try and pull the car way over onto the shoulder and put out cones or some sort of sign for people to see.
It’s always a good idea to have roadside assistance just in case you need it. But if you don’t, here is what to do.
- All of the materials you will need for changing your tire should be found in your trunk. Every car comes with a spare tire, a jack and a wrench.
- Turn on your hazard lights.
- Make sure you have on the parking brake. It may also be a good idea to have your phone handy if you are changing your tire in a precarious area.
- If you have wheel wedges, apply these to the other tires to make sure that your car does not roll.
- Remove the hubcap or wheel cover.
- Loosen the lug nuts. Use the lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts, each one an equal amount of times so that the tire is easier take off.
- Keep track of your lug nuts because you will need them to replace the tire.
- Place the jack under the vehicle. Place it under the frame for the most support.
- Raise the vehicle with the jack. There should be a place in your vehicles manual that walks you through this process.
- Do not go under the vehicle at anytime. Just because the car is slightly raised off of the ground, does not mean that it is secure.
- Remove the flat tire.
Adding The New Tire…
- Mount the new tire onto the lug bolts. You will see how they should align. Push gently until the lug bolts show through the rim.
- Tighten the lug nuts by hand. Check twice and tighten by hand again as much as you can while the car is still lifted off of the ground.
- Lower the vehicle and tighten the lug nuts again.
- Put the hubcap back in place. The hub cap should fit with the spare tire. If it does not, just put it in your trunk with the rest of your equipment.
- Check the pressure in the spare tire and put away all equipment.
- Take your flat tire into the tire shop to figure out the cause and they can replace it for you.
Changing A Battery
Here are some simple steps to changing the battery in your car.
- First, you need to buy the correct replacement battery before you get started. By bringing your cars make and model to the store where you are buying your batter, you can determine this.
- Make sure you park on a level surface before installing a new battery. Make sure you are away from smoke, flames or heavy traffic. You will also need to wear safety goggles and gloves. Batteries contain toxic chemicals.
- open your hood and prop it open.
- Located the positive and negative terminals of the battery. They will be shown with plus signs and minus signs.
- Disconnect the negative terminal by loosening it with a wrench. It is important to disconnect the negative terminal before the positive terminal. You should also keep track of which is which.
- Disconnect positive terminal.
- Remove the old battery which could weigh more than you might think.
In With The New…
- Put the new battery in place. First you may want to clean any clamps or extra slug build up.
- Make sure the positive and negative terminals are in the correct place and lined up just like the old battery.
- Connect all screws, clamps and bars holding it into place.
- Reconnect the positive terminals. Tighten with a wrench.
- Then reconnect the negative terminals by the clamps, using a wrench.
- Then you must apply battery lithium grease. This will help prevent corrosion.
- Close the hood of your car and check that all of you electronics in the car are functioning correctly.
- To get rid of your old battery, you must take it to a recycling center or an auto shop. These batteries must be disposed of in the correct way. Do not just throw the battery in the trash.
What is one of the best ways to keep on top of your car problems?
If you car is making noise, get it checked out as soon as possible.
Changing Spark Plugs
Spark plugs are for keeping your car running smoothly.
They need to be replaced regularly for your car to function at it’s best. You can do this yourself and it isn’t hard.
- Start by locating the spark plugs under the hood. Clean around them and blow away any extra gunk or crud that has built up.
- You can look up a diagram of your cars engine, or have someone you know show you where everything is located. It is a good idea to understand where things are before you go digging around.
- The owner’s manual is also a very reliable tool you should use.
- After cleaning around the coil, remove the ignition coil. You must turn it to break the seal, then lift straight up and out.
- Remove the old spark plug. Make sure you remove and blow away debris before removing.
- You must use what is called a Gap Gauge. Check the spark plug gap before installing it.
- Use a torque wrench to install. The correct amount of torque is crucial.
- New spark plugs will have a coating on it with “threads” which make it easy to fit into place.
- Grease up the spark plug boot with dielectric grease.
- Reinstall the ignition coil, hold-down bolt, and electric connector.
- Your car will now have more power and function better with a brand new spark plug!
How Much Could You Save?
Here is the breakdown of how much you could save. Use this guide as well as your car manual to solve these mechanical issues in your car.
On average a car needs 3-4 oil changes a year.
Most local shops charge on average $30-$50 for an oil change with filter. Using synthetic oil can cost you even more.
$30, four times a year is $120.
When you do your own oil change, you will be paying for the oil (usually around 4-5 quartz), filter and oil pan. You will probably spend about the same on an oil change at home as you would in the shop. What you are saving on is what could go wrong if a shop tends to your car. Many times, oil changing stations are in a hurry to get your car in and out. There have been countless cases of bolts being stripped, seals not being properly replaces and heavy leaks.
You want to prevent these things. No one takes better care of your car than you!
Tire changes won’t cost you in money as much as they will in time.
If you know how to change your own tire, calling and waiting for a roadside assistance is a thing of the past.
If you don’t have roadside assistance with your cheap auto insurance plan, you will end up paying out of pocket.
An average car battery costs about $50-$100.
The average labor costs for repairing a battery are anywhere from $75 to $150.
Batteries typically last anywhere from 2-5 years.
So, it won’t kill your bank account to take it in to a shop, however it is always nice to play some music, pop open an ice cold beverage and work on your car at home.
Spark plugs may cost up to $200 in a shop
While parts for spark plugs range between $75 and $100, labor costs are another $100 to $150.
So doing this by yourself every couple of years could save a couple hundred dollars.
You may also find that learning to do this will help you better understand the anatomy of your cars engine.
Things to keep in mind:
- If you lease a car, you usually have to have the oil changed at the car dealership you leased it from. There are specific regulations on when and where your leased car can be maintained.
- Classic cars may have more expensive parts that are harder to find. You may need expert advice when working on these vehicles.
- Every car has different specifications for maintenance. Please check your service manual before proceeding with these tasks.
- DIY projects needs to be done in a safe environment with the proper safety gear.
Being handy with your car isn’t just about saving money. The more you know about your car and how it functions, the better.
If you are looking for help with these at home projects, check out Youtube.com. There are a lot of great videos for everything listed above.
Do-It-Yourself blogs can also be helpful and they are everywhere. Pretty much any at-home project that you are interested in can be found online.
Make sure you always use the correct safety protection such as goggles and gloves. Dispose of batteries and oil correctly and remember to not throw them away.
The best part about doing things yourself, is the independence you will feel when you don’t have to take your very own car into a shop!