One of the most stressful things about owning a car is the constant maintenance they require to make sure things are running smoothly and that it remains reliable and safe to drive. You absolutely want to know that when you wake up in the morning, already 10 minutes late for work that your car will 100% start on the first click.
Unfortunately, that means forking out a not-insignificant amount of money every 6 months or so. As you probably already know, the costs can soon rack up. But we’re here to tell you there’s a much easier way. In fact, for most people you’ll be surprised at how easy (and ridiculously inexpensive) it is to do some of the maintenance on your vehicle by yourself, at home with supplies that can be bought from any big retailer or gas station.
Let’s run through some of the super-easy car maintenance tasks that you can do yourself:
1. Changing the oil.
This is one of the most important things you can do for your vehicle and it’s probably one of the easiest. Oil is what lubricates the inner engine parts and keeps everything running slick. Running low on oil can cause serious problems and could even damage your engine beyond repair.
This sounds complicated, but it’s really not. On most cars, the first step is to drain the oil by releasing a nut from underneath the engine. This should be easily found and fairly easily undone (on most cars, provided you’ve had your oil regularly). You should drain the oil into an old container of appropriate size (make sure to check the owner’s manual for specs).
Once the oil is drained, simply replace the sump nut underneath the engine, making sure it’s in nice and tight. Then all you have to do is fill the car up with the right oil (there are many different types so make sure to check this link and find the right type of oil). After you’ve done that, leave a little time to allow the oil to settle and then check the level using the dip stick to make sure it’s at the right level and that you don’t need to top up (remember to wipe it off first and then re-dip it).
Simple and yet if done right, you’ll notice absolutely no difference. Except that if you do this regularly (every 6000 miles or so) your car will run for many years to come.
2. Checking the engine coolant.
Engine coolant is a liquid that helps to keep your engine running at an acceptable temperature. However, if this runs low then this can cause problems with your engine overheating, which can cause serious damage to the internal workings and cause irreparable damage.
So, it’s very important and also very simple to check your coolant level and make sure that everything is as it should be. We recommend doing this approximately once a month to ensure that the level doesn’t dip below the minimum. All you have to do is simply top up the liquid if it get’s low, but again make sure you buy the right type of coolant for your car (check here) and then make sure you dilute it with the right amount of water.
Caution: Don’t open the coolant tank or the radiator cap whilst the engine is hot. Wait until the engine is cooled before checking the coolant fluid levels.
3. Changing the engine air filter.
The air filter on a car or truck ensures that your engine is using the cleanest air possible in the combustion process. This prevents particles of dirt entering the sensitive inner workings of the engine and possibly causing damage or clogging up which can cause the engine to run ineffectively.
Yes, if you don’t work with cars, this sounds complicated. Let me tell you now that it absolutely isn’t! In fact, for a lot of cars it’s as simple as undoing a few clips and swapping one filter out for a fresh new one. All you have to do is find out the process for your vehicle (it will be something like this).
Ideally you should change your air filter every 12 months, but if you’re driving along particularly dusty roads you should change the filter every 3 months. Doing this yourself is a really easy way to save a good amount of cash.
4. Check the car battery.
The battery of your car is what gives your car a jump start every morning before you head to work. When your car doesn’t start, then this is the first thing to check. However, there are a few simple things you can do at home to ensure that your battery stays in tip-top condition.
The first thing you should do is check the battery visually. The contacts on the top of the battery should be nice and clean. If there is a lot of built up dirt then this can have an effect on how much power the battery can transfer and possibly cause problems at startup.
If this is the case you can easily clean the contacts with a rag, making sure not to let get any on your skin as it is acidic and can cause irritation.
The next step is to check for any leaks. If you see any leaks at all coming from the battery, the battery will need replacing. The same goes for any cracks or other damage to the battery. This can be easily done by simply removing the battery clips from the terminals and putting them onto the new battery before clipping it down.
As you can see, it is very easy to perform basic maintenance on your car, truck or minivan. This will ensure that it’s always running smoothly and is reliable as possible. Of course, if you’re not comfortable performing these tasks, either ask someone to help you or take your car to the garage, sometimes you can cause more damage if you don’t practice caution.