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This is a guest post by Bill Akintoye. You can read more about him at the end of the post! Write for us.
One of my biggest woes in life is the money it costs me to keep my car ship-shape.
It seems every time I take it to a workshop, they find things wrong that I never even heard of. Things that end up costing me money I hadn’t planned spend—not now, anyway.
So I figured there had to be a better way to do basic repairs, and save not only the cost of the materials and labor but also the “extra” things mechanics always seem to uncover.
Here are 5 easy at-home car repairs…
1. Changing the Air Filter
There’s lots of contradiction about how often you should change the air filter, and it varies between every 3,000 miles and every 12,000. If you don’t drive much you can go longer in between changes, but if you drive a lot and especially in rough conditions, you should rather err on the side of caution and go for more frequent changes.
It takes all of about five minutes to change an air filter in most modern cars:
- Look for the filter under your car’s hood, or check your owner’s manual for its location if you’re unsure. You’ll usually find it in a black box with metal clips holding it closed.
- Open up the box and take a look at the air filter and the way it fits into the casing. Take the filter out and see how much dust it holds.
- Insert the air filter into the casing the way it was positioned, and close the metal clips on the box to seal it in.
Voila! Your air filter is either cleaned or changed. And it sure beats giving up your car for a day and paying for a mechanic’s labor for an hour.
2. Flushing the Radiator
With most vehicles, the radiator only needs flushing every year or two. When it needs doing, however, it’s vital that you give it timely attention if you want the car to keep running cleanly and efficiently.
- Find your radiator drain plug using the owner’s manual. Unscrew it and let the coolant drain into an empty bucket or bottle. Replace the cap, fill the radiator with a flushing solution and water, and start the car.
- Let the car run until it warms up to the normal temperature, then turn the internal heater on high. Run the engine for another 10 minutes, then turn it off and allow it to cool completely.
- Drain the flushing solution the same way you drained the coolant and fill it with fresh coolant. The hardest part of this task is making sure you dispose of the old coolant (and the flushing solution) safely where pets can’t drink it by mistake.
3. Obvious Oil Options
Oil changes are one of those pesky tasks that usually require sending your car to a maintenance workshop. Changing your oil and oil filter is an obvious way to avoid having to do so. It’s a messy, dirty job, but I’d rather clean my hands of grease afterwards than part with hard-earned cash!
- Drive your car around the block to warm up the engine and loosen the oil, then allow it to cool.
- Jack up the car, get underneath and find the oil pan. Unscrew the drain plug and drain the old oil out. Replace the plug.
- Locate the oil filter using the handbook, and remove it with a filter wrench. Lubricate the new oil filter’s gasket with some clean motor oil and tighten it in position.
Fill the new filter two-thirds full with clean oil using a funnel to avoid spillage. Use your dipstick to make sure you’ve put in enough.
4. Keeping the Battery Clean
There are few car problems as annoying as a dead battery, and often the cause is simply a build-up of dirt on your terminals.
- Unclip the negative cable from your battery.
- Disconnect the terminals, using a flat head screwdriver if you need to.
- Clean the posts with a professional solution or a mixture of baking soda and water, using a wire brush to scrub around them.
- Rinse the solution with clean water, dry the posts thoroughly with rags and remove all traces of moisture.
- Reconnect the battery terminals to the posts.
Honestly, could it really get any easier than that?
5. New Windscreen Wipers
Ok, even my mother can do this one herself. It’s always fun to see workshops offering free installation of new blades, because there’s really nothing to it: Buy the right blades for your make and model. Lift the wipers and press the tab underneath the wiper to remove the old blades. Attach the new blades to the wiper arm. That’s really all there is to it.
Take the plunge.
All you have to lose is some unnecessary expense and inconvenience, which I’m sure you can do without anyway.
About the Author:
Bill Akintoye works with Shabana Motors in Houston, TX. He runs the Shabana Motors Blog where he writes specifically about fixing bad credit and in-house financing options.