5 DIY Maintenance Tips
We love our vehicles. We like to accessorize, customize, detail and polish them. To truly show the love, some of us even like to do minor maintenance tasks to keep our vehicles in tip-top shape.
If you’re looking to spend a little quality time with your vehicle this weekend, here are five DIY car maintenance projects to keep you busy!
1. Windshield Wipers
Windshield wipers should be replaced about every six months, but many drivers let them go far too long to avoid an even more expensive repair later down the road. The good news is that you’ll only need about 15 minutes to do this on your own with no tools at all. You can find the wipers you’ll need in your owner’s manual. Our Parts Center will get you the wipers you need.
Keep in mind that you are likely to use your windshield wipers more during certain parts of the year, like fall and winter, so plan your replacement schedule accordingly.
2. Air Filter
Your car’s air filter is what keeps dirt and other unwanted particles from getting into the engine while it’s running. A dirty filter can hurt both your gas mileage and engine performance. Replacing an air filter is about as simple and easy as it gets. It’s as simple as reading a page in your owner’s manual to find the correct section, taking the lid off the box, switching out filters, and putting the lid back on.
You should replace your air filter once a year or every 12,000 miles. Filters are usually cheap, depending on your vehicle, and this task can also be completed with no tools at all. Be wary though, as cabin air filters can be more complex than this, and are best left to a professional.
3. Battery Maintenance
There is something about electricity and its potential for serious harm that keeps car owners at a safe distance from their batteries. Never fear! As long as you disconnect the battery properly (negative node first!) you’ll be fine.
Maintaining a strong battery connection is important to keep your car running smoothly throughout daily wear and tear. A battery is one of the driving forces behind your vehicle. A simple visual inspection will tell you if it’s time to clean your battery. The crunchy white residue that builds over time will keep your car from starting properly and, reduce the life of your battery and other starting components.
For this task, you’ll need a few items: a rag, some wire brushes, wrenches to loosen connectors, and corrosion removal fluid. Some say you can substitute Coca-Cola here. You could, but we wouldn’t recommend it.
The cleaning process shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes and, assuming you have a wrench and wire brush lying around, investment in tools will be minimal.
4. Oil and Oil Filter
Performing your own oil changes is perhaps one of the dirtier and more involved DIY tasks. However, doing so, will give you peace of mind and help you to get better acquainted with the machine you use.
Convention would have you change your oil every three months or 3,000 miles, but the fact is that today we have higher quality oil and more efficient engines. Most cars even have oil quality meters, but you can always double-check by eyeing the quality on the dipstick. You might even be able to get up to 5,000 miles out of a single oil change.
You’ll need to buy some oil (check your owner’s manual for specs, and speak with one of our Service Specialists to find out which is best for your needs), as well as a ratchet, oil filter wrench, oil pan, and funnel. The whole process takes about 30-45 minutes.
Before you start: Make sure your car is cool. Hot oil will burn, and most likely melt through your plastic oil pan, creating a mess that is nearly impossible to clean completely.
5. Spark Plugs
Replacing your own spark plugs can save you a lot of money. It takes some patience, but it’s a pretty simple task.
You’ll need a spark plug for every cylinder your car has (4, 6, or 8) and they should be replaced about every 30,000 miles. The proper gap size for the plug can be found in your owner’s manual. Just bring this number to our Parts Center and they should have you in and out in no time.
Note: Do not to unhook all the spark plugs at once – they have to be done one at a time.
Tools involved include a ratchet, 12-inch socket arm, and spark plug socket (this is deeper than the typical socket). The fix should take 20 to 30 minutes and the spark plugs are relatively inexpensive. Always buy your parts from a reputable dealer to make sure are getting the best for you investment.
Performing basic maintenance will give you a better relationship with your car and can be a great hobby. It’s easy to forget that you are operating a piece of heavy machinery on a daily basis. By understanding more about how your car operates, you will be more apt to know when something is failing or if more significant repair is required. Of course, if a task is too involved don’t hesitate to give us a visit and we’ll be more than happy to help!