A vehicle needs more than just gasoline to keep it running and safe to drive, it needs general maintenance. Although taking it to a mechanic is probably a safe bet, if you are looking to save some time and money there are some projects that the Average Joe can do right in their driveway with very little tools if any and hardly any mechanical experience. Here are ten do-it-yourself auto maintenance projects that can help keep you away from the mechanic shop or dealership hassle.
This is a simple project that 99 percent of the time requires no tools. Even better, if you don’t have the time to go to the parts store, you don’t have to. Places that have an automotive section like Walmarts, Meijer, or Kmart carry simple auto parts like windshield wipers.
It is a simple fix and pretty inexpensive. Putting off changing your old windshield wipers can obstruct your field of vision and can be not only a hazard to you but everyone on and around the road that you are driving on.
Fuel Additive for Your Gas Tank
This is an easy one. Fuel additive works like Drain-O for your fuel system. Every parts store carries it and what you gain from it is much worth the effort. After you purchase the fuel additive, you just head to the gas station and pour it in your gas tank along with your gas.
Fuel additive will improve horsepower, give you better throttle response, and improve gas mileage. It does this by cleaning out the accumulation of carbon and slug build-up in the valves, injectors, fuel filter and other fuel-system parts. If you are a victim to a lot of stop-and-go traffic, then this is something you really want to do on a regular basis.
Replace Air Filter
Your engine breaths in dirty air every second it is running. Your air filter has the pesky job of cleaning that air as much as possibly. Eventually the filter gets clogged and needs to be replaced. If it doesn’t get replaced, not only will your car start to suck questionable air which is harmful for the engine, it will obstruct the air from following freely in, and air into the engine is as important for performance as gasoline.
Changing the air filter is simple. Most vehicles don’t even require the use of any tools, and they are usually some of the most accessible parts to get to under-the-hood. Just head to the parts store with your year/make/model of your car, tell customer service what you need and they will give you the correct filter. This project should not take you more than 10 minutes. You can do this type of project right in the parking lot and if needed, in some cases, you might be able to get an employee to come out and help you.
The oil change is the most important maintenance you need to do on your car. Without it your engine will seize and you will be changing your engine instead of your oil. Doing it yourself is a pretty easy task. All you need is an oil filter wrench, which can be bought from any place that has an automotive department. A standard wrench for the drain plug, a bucket or pan for the old oil, a new oil filter, about 5 quarts of oil and a floor jack will help.
It’s as simple as locating the drain plug, which is on the oil pan under the engine and the oil filter which will be close by. After draining the oil and removing the oil filter, screw the new filter back in place and put the drain plug back. Next, locate the oil cap on top of the engine which will be labeled, check the manual for the amount of oil that is needed, pour it in and then your done.
The only thing that is left to do is getting rid of the old oil. DO NOT POUR IT OUT JUST ANYWHERE. Take it to your local parts store or dealership and they will dispose of it for you properly. Dumping it somewhere else is considered pollution and could net you a hefty find.
It’s amazing to me how many people drive around with missing headlights, taillights, turn signals, and license plate bulbs. Not only is it a hazard it is also is a good reason for the police to pull you over. Even if they spare you the ticket and only give you a waring, it is still a pain in the you know what to get pulled over.
Exterior lights are pretty inexpensive and easy to change, some of which don’t need any tools to get replaced. To help you out, most dashboards from the 1980s and up have some type of warming system to alert you of your problem.
NOTE: Being that they are inexpensive, my suggestion is if you change one side you may as well change both sides, that way you don’t have to worry about that set of lights for a while.
Rotate Your Tires
This is an easy task and can save you money by prolonging the life of your tires. If your tires stay in the same position for to long without being rotated, they adapt to a certain pattern wear that can not only make them dangerous to drive on but after a while useless. A simple rotation from left to right and front to rear will help them wear evenly and last longer.
Change Spark Plugs
Changing your spark plugs are a little more time consuming but not difficult. All you need is a deep-well spark plug socket and the correct replacement spark plugs which all can be found at your local auto parts store.
For this do-it-yourself project, just take off each plug wire one at a time (wiggling and pulling involved), wrench the old ones out and screw the new ones in (patients and finesse required).
NOTE: Do each plug individually so you don’t forget which plug wire goes where. It may not seem like a big deal but each plug wire must go back on a plug in the original spot it came from or the vehicle won’t run properly.
Staying up-dated on your brakes is vital to the safety of your vehicle. This do-it-yourself auto maintenance project may be a scary task for some people, but it can still be done in your driveway with a small amount of tools. If you never done them before, I suggest watching a few how-to videos first. After that head to the store and get the proper tools and parts for your application. It really is more intimidating then most would think, the hardest part is usually taking them apart. Rust and corrosion can play a part in stubborn bolts and nuts.
NOTE: Always take a test drive on a road that is not heavily trafficked to make sure every thing works properly.
Keep Your Vehicle Clean
Keeping your vehicle clean does more than just says something about you as a person. It will help you protect your vehicle from rust and corrosion on the outside, and if you use leather and vinyl protector on the inside it will help the interior from cracking and fading usually caused by the sun. You may not care too much about it now, but when it is time to resell it or turn it in, it will greatly help your resell value.
Take Your Vehicle for a Field Test
Vehicle problems are like any other problem, when they are not worked on in a reasonable amount of time they only get worse and can turn into a disaster. A small problem that may be a cheap and quick fix can turn into a big expensive problem that can take days or weeks to fix.
In regular driving conditions you are not going to notice your car making strange noises or making wired vibrations that could be directly related to the on-set of a serious problem. The best thing to do is every once in a while take your car to a smooth secluded road and do some hard accelerating and breaking; some quick turns and driving in reverse. If you hear or feel anything during this do-it-yourself auto maintenance check that doesn’t seen right, then you might want to schedule your car for a check-up.