Why pay a shop when you can do it yourself?
Service centers or casas will always be appreciative of you bringing your car in for service. Yet there are some things that you needn't schedule a service appointment, meet with a service advisor and go through checklists for. That's not even counting the diagnostic, labor and parts fees a visit can incur.
Some simple maintainance work can be done by yourself, requiring just a quick trip to an auto parts store, your owner's manual and simple tools like a screwdriver.
We're not talking about changing oil or replacing brake pads. Below, is a quick guide to five things you can DIY on your car at home. What we listed are simple replaceable parts that you can fit just by using household tools. In addition, provided you've used original replacement parts, these won't void the warranty.
The cabin filter keeps the air flowing through a vehicle’s air-conditioning system clean. It traps dust, dirt, and even larger foreign objects such as leaves. It can't do this forever and, over the years, can accumulate these foreign objects and not work as effectively. Signs of a clogged cabin filter are weak air conditioning, or the A/C not as cold as when it was new. Changing it yourself can save you a lot of labor costs and more expensive problems with the A/C in the future.
Before you actually replace the cabin filter, you must first order a replacement unit. Cabin filters are often vehicle specific, so you will first have to know the part number before you can buy one. This is typically indicated on the filter itself or in the car's owner's manual.
In most cars, the cabin filter is located behind the glove box, which can be accessed by simply pulling the glove box down. Meanwhile, other cars have their cabin filter situated in the engine bay, inside an air box. If you’re not sure where your cabin filter is, consult your owner’s manual.
Either way, both these areas of the vehicle are easy to access. In some cars, you may need to use tools to open the filter's enclosure, but they're likely pretty common like a screwdriver. The covers are usually secured by either screws or clips. Once open, remove the old cabin filter, and just drop in or slide in the new one.
Worn wipers blades ca, at best, be a mild annoyance, or at worst, obscure your view of the road, especially in heavy, pouring rain. A wiper blade gets worn over time and is something that also needs to be replaced.
Telltale signs are marks or streaks where it has passed. Blunt blades can even make the windshield blurrier than before you turned on the wiper. There are also telltale sounds like squeaks or skipping instead of the usual "whoosh." These are cause by worn blade tips that can't create smooth, consistent contact with the windshield surface, hence causing those lines or skipping over the windshield.
Rather than having it replaced at a shop or the dealership and being charged for overpriced wiper blades and labor, you can do this yourself almost anywhere. You won't need tools to do this either.
Before anything, measure each blade first with a ruler or tape measure. Keep those sizes in mind (left and right blades may be different sizes) and pick up a brand new set from any auto shop.You can also use this opportunity to upgrade your conventional blades to the newer "banana" type ones.
You'll find instructions on how to remove the old blade on the back of the wiper blade's packaging. For most cars, the old wiper blade can be removed by sliding it out from the hook arm. Sometimes there's a lock that keeps it in place. You only need to give it a pinch to release it. Then, you simply slide in the new one in its place.
A car's lights make it easier for other motorists to see you and know what you're about to do. They make you care more visible, allow you to see better, and also serve as communication. As such, it's important to keep them in working order.
Changing a car's bulbs is one of the simplest quick fixes to do. To check if they're in working order, park your car, turn on all your cars lights and hazzards and walk around your vehicle to make sure each one is illuminating. Cycle through dim and bright modes of the headlights. For brake lights, you'll need someone to have a look behind and tell you if they're working while you step on the brake. If you're alone, back up to a wall and observe the red glare from the taillight. The brake light is brighter and it will be easy to notice it.
If one is broken, it's pretty easy to replace. Before anything else, check your owner's manual for information on the kind of bulb you have, how to access it, and how to remove it. You'll need to keep the part number or size in mind when buying a new one. Different models use different sized bulbs – H4, H11, HB3, T10, T5, and more. Do your research on what bulb size you need first before buying from the shop. Shops will typically ask you if you need a "single" or "double contact" bulb. Once you have the replacement, you can access the busted one by opening either the hood or the trunk. Be sure the car is off before you start.
In older cars, the headlights are easily accessible as there is no plastic trim or rubber shields in the way. You can simply remove the connector, pull out the old bulb, and drop a new one in.
For newer cars, it could be a bit more complicated. The owner's manual will usually detail all the steps to do this.
Signal and brake light bulbs are usually found behind a plastic cover that can be pulled or twisted off. The connector plugs can be either pulled out straight away or simply need to be unlocked before pulled.
For headlights, you may first need to remove some plastic trim in order to reach them. You then unplug the power connector from the end of the bulb. After, you may have to remove the rubber bushing/shield. Then, you'll find that the bulb is secured with some metal wire. These usually require a twist or pinch to be unlocked. Once unlocked, you have to twist the bulb to remove it from its socket. When putting in the new bulb, try not to touch the glass with your bare hands or fingers. Twist it in and make sure it falls into the slots that secure it. Do all the steps above in the opposite order.
NOTE: If your car uses HID or LED lighting systems that have a headlight ballast and/or ECU, it's best to leave this repair to the dealership. These more complicated systems require specific bulbs and possibly even some computer calibration.
Fluids or lubricants are vital for keeping parts of your car running smoothly and keeping temperatures down. Ensuring their levels are high is ensuring smooth running.
We're not talking about more complex activities like draining or flushing. This simply involves checking levels and topping up.
Lubricants like brake fluid and automatic transmission fluid (ATF) / power steering fluid can be very specific per vehicle. Take brake fluid, for example. A vehicle may use either DOT3 or DOT4 brake fluid. Each vehicle is different so check your manual (or reservoir cap) to see what kind your vehicle uses. It's the same for engine oil and the oil's viscosity. Most cars are not that very picky with washer fluid and coolant though. Once you've done your research, its time to buy the fluids.
For this step, just open the hood and check all the fluid levels of the brake fluid, power steering fluid, washer fluid, coolant, and engine oil.
The only tool you might need is a flashlight. These containers (power steering, brake fluid, coolant, washer fluid) typically have lines on the side to indicate the minimum and maximum levels. Shine the flashlight through the container from the opposite side to see where it currently is in relation to the level lines. You can keep the light on as you pour the fluid to get a better view of the level in relation to the maximum line.
For the oil, bring an old rag or newspaper. It's best to check the oil on level ground and when the engine is cool. Pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean. Then dip it in again briefly before pulling it out to see the correct oil level.
After topping up, start your car up and let it run for a minute. This lets the fluids circulate through the cars' systems. The levels may have decreased and could need another top up.
Check back on those levels after a day or two. A few drops are normal, but large puddles mean you've got a leak somewhere. That's an indicator that it's time to bring it to the dealership or shop for a checkup.
Washing the Car
Why bring your car to the car wash if you can wash it yourself? There are lots of products and accessories out there that make cleaning your car on your own just as effective if not better than brining it to the corner car wash .Since it's you're car, you're more aware of its hidden curves, crevices and dust traps that most car wash boys usually miss.
The basic products you'll need are a car shampoo (don’t use Joy or laundry detergent), microfiber cloth, and you’re good to go. You can go even go further by buying wax, polish, tire black, and clay bars to get a brighter shine.
Washing your own car is one of the ultimate forms of bonding with your vehicle. You can also involve other people such as friends and family. After the wash, we can all agree that it feels good to stand back and look at your car, all clean and shiny.
These tips may not save you much money, but addressing them is certainly faster and more efficient than scheduling an appointment with the casa. Who knows, the experience might even convince you to try doing other, more complicated maintenance work in the future, and on your own. Now that's something all car guys and girls should add to their caps, right?