Whether you’re wanting to do as much as you can to take care of your car yourself, or you need to buy some more time between services to line up finances, learning some basic DIY maintenance skills is sure to save you money and the ones we’re sharing today are relatively quick and easy, even if you’re not particularly mechanically minded.
DIY Maintenance Tip #1: Check your oil regularly
Your car needs oil to keep the engine working correctly so making sure there is enough in the engine and that it is regularly emptied and replaced with clean oil makes a big difference to the performance of your car. Making sure that your car is warm (but not been running for ages) and on a flat surface. Turn the car off, open the hood and locate the dipstick and pull it out, then wipe on a piece of paper towel or clean rag and dip it back into the engine fully before pulling it back out and checking the level on the dipstick. If it’s low, a visit to your local auto parts shop is in order. With so many different oils on the market it’s worth having a chat with your mechanic to find out what brand and type they suggest for your car.
DIY Maintenance Tip #2: Change your own windscreen wipers
Did you realise that you should change your wiper blades every 6-12 months? It’s a surprisingly easy task so there’s no reason to put up with less than brilliant wipers. Parts stores will usually have a booklet where you can look up the make, model and year of your car and it’ll tell you what size blades you’ll need to buy. The packaging usually includes a diagram showing you how to install them. Some parts places also include free installation when you purchase blades from them too!
DIY Maintenance Tip #3: Check coolant levels
Your car simply cannot run without coolant so making sure the levels are as they should be is crucial. Every car is different so check your cars manual to locate yours. To check the levels you need to wait until the car is cool and then take a look at the outside of the opaque bottle for the indicator levels which are usually clearly marked on the plastic. Important safety tip – DO NOT REMOVE THE RADIATOR CAP UNLESS THE CAR IS COMPLETELY COOL. If the coolant system is still hot then the system is under pressure and releasing it can cause serious burns.
DIY Maintenance Tip #4: Check your tyre pressure
We’ve mentioned this in other articles, but checking your tyre pressure at least once a month is really important both for fuel economy and for the longevity of your tyres. Almost all petrol stations will have an air pump for customers to use, varying from ones with the gauge right next to the valve through to more modern versions where you can key in the pressure you need and the air will stop pumping when that pressure is achieved which makes it really simple. To find out the ideal pressure for your tyres, check the manufacturer’s tyre placard which is usually located inside the driver’s door sill, glove box, fuel filler cap or under the bonnet. If in doubt, ask your mechanic to show you how to do it next time you take your car in.
DIY Maintenance Tip #5: Keep your battery clean
The battery is one of those things most people don’t tend to think about until it stops working, but did you realise that even just a little white residue on the posts can stop the car from starting even if there’s nothing wrong with the battery?
Keeping them maintained is simple and if you check yours every few months you can take care of any minor corrosion quite quickly. If you notice any white residue you need to remove the battery terminals (remembering that you MUST do the negative cable first), then apply corrosion removal fluid that you can pick up from your local auto store and give them a good going over with a wire brush to remove the corrosion. Rinse with a little water (just a little) before thoroughly drying the battery and posts, then replacing the terminals again.
The biggest thing to remember when it comes to DIY maintenance is to know your limitations. All of the above are relatively simple tasks but if you’re not sure about anything, that’s when you should book your car in to see a professional.