It might sound daunting, but you can take care of many car fixes in your own driveway. Doing minor car repairs and maintenance yourself, is a great way to reduce the amount of money you spend on your car each month, and keep your car running in top shape without seeing a mechanic.
You should refer to your car’s manual for directions on performing any of the tasks below and if the job seems beyond your capabilities, it is best to leave it to a professional. But most, if not all should be a DIY piece of cake. Here they are:
Check and Adjust Tire Pressure
Having proper tire pressure will maximize your gas mileage, improve the life of your tires, and keep you safer on the road. Additionally, it is a job almost anyone can do. Your car’s tire pressure should be checked at least once a month. To find out the ideal pressure for your tires, check the car manual or the manufacturer’s tire notice which is usually located inside the driver’s door sill, glove box, fuel filler cap or under the hood. Almost all gas stations will have an air pump for customers to use, and the new ones allow you to set the pressure and have the air stop when that air pressure is reached. If in doubt, ask the gas station attendant to show you how to use it.
Change Windshield Wipers
Most people don’t realize that windshield wipers should be replaced every 9 to 12 months, depending on the climate you live in and the wiper itself. More rain and snow means the wipers will be used more and replaced faster. The good news is that replacing your wipers is a surprisingly easy task so there’s no reason to take it in to a mechanic to get it done. Replacing your windshield wipers will take about 10 minutes and the cost is the cost of new wiper blades (about $15). Once you match the wipers to your car, the packaging usually includes instructions on how you install them.
Replace Your Brake and Turn Signal Lights
Having a light go out on your car, poses a big safety concern, and could get set you up for more than a few tickets. You can replace that light yourself as soon as you notice it is out. Replacement bulbs generally cost just a few dollars, headlights excluded, and can be replaced rather easily, often times without tools. Again, refer to your car’s manual for instructions, and also check youtube for videos about changing the bulbs in your car’s make and model.
Change Spark Plugs
Spark plugs play a really important role in your engine working properly and when one or more are not working bad things happen to your engine and its performance. You can suspect spark plug issues if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Engine Misfiring
- High Fuel Consumption
- Lack of Acceleration
- Rough Idle
- Problem Starting Your Car
Spark Plugs are a relatively easy job for most DIY mechanics. New technologies have caused them to be replaced a lot less often than in the past, meaning they are good usually from 30,000 to 100,000 miles depending on your car. The job can take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes and the costs are minimal.
Where to get DIY car parts: There are two obvious choices for you to get parts:
- Automotive Stores:
There is at least one automotive parts store in every neighborhood (AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, Pep Boys), that stocks a wide variety of parts for most cars (you may be out of luck for many expensive foreign and high end cars though). They also usually have knowledgeable staff who can advise you if you are unsure or get into trouble.
- Ordering Parts Online (with discount coupons):
There is a thriving on-line discount car parts business that can get you access to almost any parts you need, and have them delivered to your home in a day or two. What’s even better is that they offer discount coupons for purchases on practically anything you buy.
All of these DIY maintenance jobs should be easy to do. If you’re not sure about anything or it appears too complicated for you, take your car to get serviced by a professional mechanic.