Not every car problem requires the expertise of a fully equipped shop and a trained service tech. Here are 5 basic DIY repairs that you can do yourself and save a bunch of money.
Air filter replacement
A clogged or worn-out air filter can significantly decrease your car’s overall performance. By replacing it, you’ll increase your vehicle’s power and gas mileage. For most makes and models, an air filter costs around $15 to $20 at a retail store.
On most modern vehicles, the air filter is housed in a duct box that directs the incoming airflow into the engine. It is usually a simple matter of unclipping the lid or removing a couple of screws to gain access. If you are unsure of how to find your air filter, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual or check YouTube for a visual of how to do it for your particular year and model.
Headlight and taillight replacements
Avoid a traffic ticket for non-working lights by checking monthly to make sure they’re shining brightly. Naturally, you’ll need someone to help you review your taillights’ efficiency by pressing the brake pedal. Replacing any burned-out bulbs is simple on automobiles without sealed beam lights. Confirm the correct type of bulb by bringing the old one to the parts store for comparison. When you change the bulb, wear gloves. Residue from your bare hands can cause bulbs to burn out prematurely.
On many older vehicles, the plastic headlight lenses begin to yellow, and their clarity fades. This can cause your vehicle to not pass a state inspection and, more importantly, makes it harder for you to see and be seen on the road. You can avoid potentially expensive replacement parts by restoring the lenses yourself. Auto parts stores sell kits for polishing the covers, so they’ll almost look and function like they did when they were new. There are hundreds of “how -to” videos on YouTube that show you what is involved, and with a little elbow grease, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars.
Windshield wiper replacements
When the rubber strips on your windshield wipers wear out, they lack the strength to clear rain or snow. A set of new windshield wipers generally comes with installation instructions. Auto parts stores have a reference manual that can tell you what type you need. This will ensure the correct size and fit for your car. Also, note that on many newer vehicles, the left and the right wiper blades are a different size. Make sure to note and remember which goes on the driver’s side and which goes on the passenger side if the part numbers are different. The replacement process is simple enough that even a novice can do it.
When you take your car in for an oil change, the mechanic will likely check for other areas that may also need maintenance. While this is certainly a helpful service, in most cases, not everything they are likely to recommend are urgently needed repairs.
The visual inspections they perform during an oil change are also something you can and should be doing on a semi-regular basis. Open the hood and look for any signs of leaks (oil or coolant). Visually inspect belt(s) for any signs of cracking, chipping, etc. These are problems that need to be addressed but might be better suited to a professional repair.
Changing your own engine oil is a great way to save money on routine maintenance. The processes are basically the same for every vehicle on the road, it’s just the location and access to the components that vary.
Essentially, you will need a pan to collect the old motor oil and oil filter, the correct size wrench or an adjustable wrench to remove the oil pan bolt and a filter wrench to remove the old oil filter. Many local auto parts stores sell “oil change kits” if you don’t already have the tools on hand.
Your vehicle’s owner manual will provide you with the information for the correct weight and volume of engine oil. It is important that you follow the manufacturer’s specifications and purchase only what is specified for your vehicle.
If you are unsure of the process, we are again to refer you to YouTube for “how-tos.” Watch a video on the process, and then you can determine if this money-saving venture is something you feel comfortable tackling.
Keep your car in the best condition with these do-it-yourself repairs. If you find that you need additional assistance, contact us at Advantage Car & Credit. We’re here to help.