Your car is your chariot, and if you treat it with care and attention, it should last you for years. Keeping your car in ship-shape and on the road is actually fairly easy – just make sure your car is regularly serviced and maintained. You can always take your car to an auto-repair or service centre of course, but if you’re a Handy Andy why not take a crack at doing small car repairs and maintenance yourself? DIY car repairs and maintenance are a great way to save a few dollars, if you don’t make a mess of the job!
However, do keep in mind that many new cars are under warranty and repairs that you do yourself may void that warranty. Newer cars tend to have more complicated, integrated electronic equipment too, which may make it difficult for the home mechanic without the proper tools.
Speaking of tools – before you pop the bonnet, there are a few common ones you’ll need to have at your disposal:
- Adjustable spanner
- Torque spanner
- Socket and ratchet set
- Phillips and flat head screwdrivers
- Jack (often included with your car)
If you have your tools and you’re revving to go, AutoMD is great place to start – they have a range of how-to repair guides for different makes and models of vehicles. Meanwhile, those of you who are visual learners and are searching for an instructive video tutorial should try searching the database at Expert Village.
All right, let’s get started
1. Check the oil
It’s advisable to check the oil in your car once a month to make sure your engine is properly lubricated. To check your oil,
- Find and put out the dip stick
- Wipe it off with a clean rag or paper towel
- Put the dipstick back where it came from and pull it out again
- You’ll be able to see where to oil film is on the indicator – if it looks low, head to your nearest auto parts shop to get some oil to top it up
Need instructions with images? Try these.
2. Top up windshield wiper fluid
No one likes looking through dirty windows and driving with a dirty, streaked windscreen can be dangerous. To top up your windshield wiper fluid, find the windshield wiper fluid reservoir, remove the cap and fill with your preferred water/detergent combination to the indicated line. Make sure you put the cap back on and voila! Clean windows and safer driving. If you need instructions with pictures, we’ve found some here.
3. Clean the air filter
Cleaning your air filter every few thousand miles will help keep your car more fuel efficient. Every car air filter is located somewhere slightly different, so check your owner’s manual for its exact location. Once you’ve located and removed your air filter, clean it up with a quick vacuum (you don’t necessarily need to replace it every time). Also, vacuum the inside chamber of where the air filter sits. Wipe the chamber down with a dry cloth, pop the air filter back in and do the cap or clips back up. If you need a video guide, we’ve got our hands on one right here.
4. Replace spark plugs
Feeling a bit lost when it comes to spark plugs? You’re not alone. If you’re wondering when and even if you should change your spark plugs, watch this video by the team at TrustMyMechanic.
5. Replace the battery
The battery is the heart of your car, and without it you’re going nowhere fast. Car batteries last around four years, so keep that in mind when your car’s birthday ticks over each year. Make sure you charge the right battery for you particular vehicle. You can replace your car battery using these simple steps.
6. Replace brake pads
Don’t ignore the squeaking, grinding, whining noise coming from your brakes. They’re possibly the single most important safety device on your car, so take care of them and they will take care of you. Replacing your brake pads takes a bit of elbow grease but if you’re able-bodied and keen, you shouldn’t have a problem. Flex your eye muscles on this video before tackling the job yourself.
7. Replace a worn or damaged drive belt
Although not as labour intensive as replacing the brake pads, this one’s still a job for the mechanically keen. If your car starts squealing, chances are, you need to replace your drive belt. This can be quite an intricate process, so do your research carefully before diving in trying this one yourself. If you need a video introduction, we’ve got you sorted here.
The Final Word: Know When To DIY
Although you can do a fair number of minor to mid-range repairs yourself, if you are ever unsure or suspect any major damage or faults, take your car to a certified mechanic. And before undertaking any DIY, make sure any maintenance you do won’t affect your warranty. It’s also a good idea to schedule in regular log book maintenance for your car so that it remains in great condition and retains the highest value it can for resale in the future.
If you’re looking for some other car related savings, make sure you compare your current car insurance against others available on the market. After all, another provider may have a better deal to suit your needs and save you a few dollars!