8 DIY Car Maintenance Tips For Beginners
The love between a new car owner and his/her automobile can easily be compared to that between new love birds. And just like any other love-based relationship, it takes time, effort, and money to maintain and keep it going strong. Unfortunately, as much as that love may always be there, the money for maintenance may not.
But did you know that you could save a lot of money when it comes to car repairs and maintenance? All you need to do is to know the basic things you can do yourself without needing to visit a mechanic. So, in this article, we will take a look at some maintenance tips you can do on your own even if this is the first time you own a car.
- Replacing the air filter
You do not need any special tools to check the air filter, and it should take you no more than 10 minutes to start and finish. Always ensure that you get a new filter every 12,000 miles or 12 months. You have the option of leaving your car with your mechanic to change your filter (which will probably take a whole day) or can take just 10 minutes of your time to do it yourself. To do the latter, locate the air filter under the hood of the car. It usually takes the form of a black rectangular box that comes with metal clips at its side. Be sure you visit your owner’s manual to guide you locate it. Once found, open the casing and observe closely how the filter fits inside and which direction it faces. Next, remove the old filter and replace it with the new one. Be sure to place it the same way the old one was. Finally, close the clips on the side.
- Replacing the windscreen wipers
Just like the air filter, you do not need any professional tools when replacing your windshield wipers. Plus, it should not take you more than 15 minutes to complete – unless you want to leave your car with the mechanic for the whole day (if you’re lucky). Don’t fall for those free windshield wipers installations that require you to first purchase an expensive windshield wiper. You can do it yourself. Be sure to change your windshield wipers once every 12 to 6 months. The setup of wiper blades differs from one automobile to another. Thus, be sure to have your manual with you. First, lift the blades just like you would when washing the windshield. Then remove the blades and observe how they are connected to the metal arm. If you notice a tab located on the underside of the wiper, push it to release the old blade and then attach your new blades. But be careful you don’t scratch the windscreen or bend the wiper arms. Also, make sure all the blades are well aligned, secure, and tight.
- Changing the spark plugs
Arm yourself with a socket wrench or ratchet, a spark plug socket, and a 12-inch socket extension to take on this activity. Changing the spark plugs may sound or look like a complicated job, but it is quite easy. It should take you about 20 to 30 minutes to replace them. Before doing anything else, check your owner’s manual to be sure when it is best to replace your spark plugs. Then make time for yourself to do the changing because you don’t want to rush through this. First, find the spark plugs attached to the thick wires with rubber covers. There could be between five and nine plugs, depending on the number of cylinders the car has. Next, remove the first plug with your spark plug socket and socket extension. Remove the first plug only and avoid removing all the plugs at the same time. Now, install the new plug and tighten it with your hand first. Once done, tighten it with the wrench, being careful not to overdo the tightening. Then, re-attach the wire and repeat the same process for the rest of them.
- Changing the oil and oil filter
To do this, you need a funnel, an oil pan, an oil filter wrench, and a ratchet. This should take you about 35 to 45 minutes to finish. Your oil should be changed every 5,000 miles or even less, and fortunately, you can do it yourself. Bear in mind never to attempt changing the oil when the engine is hot. Also, you will need to jack up the car a little to make sure you’re more comfortable. First, slide under the car to locate the oil pan. Next, unscrew the plug to drain the old oil into a pan and replace the drain plug. Now get back to the engine and use your oil filter wrench to remove the old oil filter. Use a bit of motor oil to lubricate the gasket on your new oil filter. Pour the new oil into the new oil filter, filling it only about two-thirds. Fix the new filter oil, screw it and tighten by hand only. Now use your funnel to fill your engine with your new oil. Check the level of the oil by using your dip-stick to be sure you have filled enough.
- Battery maintenance
Armed with rags, a wire brush, corrosion removal fluid, and some wrenches, this should take you about 20 minutes to complete. A good connection is all your battery requires to keep your car running – all things being equal. Inspect the condition of your battery regularly to know when it is time to do some maintenance. Start by removing the terminals of the battery, beginning with the negative first. Now, clean the posts using a mixture of baking soda and water – that is if you cannot afford a professional cleaning product. Apply the mixture to the posts and use a wire brush to clean them vigorously. Once done, rinse the cleaning mixture off the posts with just a little water and dry it with your rag. Now replace the terminals of the battery.
- Radiator flush
This should take you no more than 30 minutes to complete. You will need the following; a used coolant receptacle, a funnel, a coolant, a radiator flush solution, and a wrench. For your car to work properly, your radiator and cooling system should be clean. One of the best ways of cleaning it is by flushing it once every year or a couple of years, depending on the automobile. First, be sure that the car engine is not hot before starting. Locate the drain plug of the radiator with the help of the car manual. Position your used coolant receptacle to receive the draining old coolant. Once completely drained, replace the plug and release the radiator cup. With the aid of your funnel, add the radiator flush cleaning mixture, after which you can fill the rest of the radiator with water. Once done, you can replace the cup of the radiator and start the car to let it run for a while. When it gets to its normal temperature, turn the heater on to the hottest level and allow the car to run for about 10 minutes. Now turn off the car, allow the engine to cool down completely, and drain the content in the radiator. Finally, refill it with fresh coolant.
- Fuel filter replacement
To replace your fuel filter yourself, you will need a form of eye protection, some rags, open-end wrenches, new fuel line washers, and a new fuel filter. The procedure should take you no more than 30 minutes to complete. This procedure can be very dangerous for you and your car. So, if you have no experience in it, it is better to leave it to the pros. Start by making sure to relieve any fuel system pressure and disconnecting all the fuel lines from the filter. With the help of your wrenches and a rag, loosen the bolt. Slide off the fuel line and use the same process for the second side of the fuel filter. Now remove the fuel filter and change the filter washers. Fix the new filter the same way you removed the old one and re-install the fuel pump before trying to start the car. Other kinds of maintenance, such as engine performance, should be left to the professionals. You can visit enginecarbondetox.co.uk for issues related to carbon buildup in the engine.
- Replacing the brake pads
Your car’s brake will need replacing about every 20,000 miles. To do this, you will need the following tools, a hammer, an adjustable or open-end wrench, a C-clamp, and a lug wrench. Replacing a brake pad should take you not more than an hour. But if you’re uncertain about doing it yourself, then get a pro to handle it. To start, lift your car and let it sit safely on jack stands. Now, break the lugs on the tires and remove the wheels one after another. When removing the brake clipper allow the brake pads to slide out through at the top side. Remove the bolts on both sides of the clipper and pull the clipper upwards. Now slide the brake pads out. Next, fix the new pad and secure it with the retaining clips. With your c-clamp, compress the brake piston and tighten the clamp. Finally, re-install the brake calliper.