A vehicle is considered one of the biggest financial commitments you’ll make in your lifetime. While there are only half as many cars in the world as there are bicycles (more than one billion bikes), your car is still a costly commodity. Not only are vehicles expensive to initially purchase but they have recurring expenses that will add up significantly throughout the life of the vehicle. Repair bills, insurance, gas, and anything else that it takes to keep your car on the road can amount to a shocking total. That’s why so many people try to save money where they can. They refinance their auto loans, subscribe to a gas station membership for three cents off the gallon, and learn how to do a few simple repairs on their own. While the first two are really one time things you’ll end up learning on your own, here are a few tips to making simple auto repairs at home.
The oil change
Probably one of the most notorious recurring expenses of owning a vehicle, you’ll need to change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles or so. Some might tell you that you can wait until 10,000 with a high-mileage synthetic oil but a simple oil change is a lot easier (and cheaper) than a total engine replacement, so it’s best to cut that number in half (Ed. Note: The Rock Father™ still recommends Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic). Typically, all you’ll need for an oil change is a drip pan, a container for the used oil, a socket or crescent wrench, a funnel, and a few quarts of new oil. If your vehicle is low to the ground then you might also need some jack stands. Changing your oil is as easy as these next few steps:
- Locate your oil pan underneath your vehicle
- Place the drip pan under the plug of your oil pan
- Carefully remove the plug. Oil will begin flowing out of the oil pan and into the drip pan
- Wait until the oil stops flowing. Replace the plug.
- In your engine compartment, locate and remove your oil cap.
- Begin pouring in the new oil. Check your owners manual for the recommended number of quarts.
- Check the oil level on your dipstick to ensure proper oil level.
- Replace oil cap. Wipe off any spilled oil. Done
You may also want to replace your oil filter as well, which can be exchanged simply by unscrewing the old one and screwing in the new one.
Fuel and air filter replacement
Fuel and air filters are essential components of your vehicle and once they go bad, your vehicle will start to severely lack in performance. Fuel filters help filter out four main impurities: water, rust, dirt, and scale. Air filters help keep out any bugs or debris that could get sucked into your intake. Air filters are inherently easy to replace and only require a new filter and usually a wrench to remove the old filter and install the new one. They are typically easily located in the engine compartment. Replacing your vehicle’s fuel filter is a little bit trickier but still something you can do on your own. Using online guides and referencing your owners manual can be useful tools to use.
Replace your windshield wipers
Undoubtedly one of the easiest repairs you’ll ever make on your own, replacing your worn out windshield wipers can take all of 10 minutes. First, you’ll need to purchase new wiper blades that are the correct size for your vehicle. You can find out the size needed by referencing your owner’s manual or visiting an auto parts store. There are a few different ways that the blades are connecting to the arms but they’re all very simple. Simply unhook the old blades from the arms and connect the new blades in a matter of minutes. You can find inexpensive wiper blades for about $20 or less and can save about $100 by doing it yourself.
Replace your battery
Another easy repair to do at home, replacing your battery on your own can save you some big bucks. Batteries are usually located in the front left or right of your vehicle’s engine compartment and will have a red and black clamp on each of the terminals. The average vehicle has about three owners in its lifetime and a good battery could potentially survive two of those owners. To change your battery, you’ll need to remove the connections on the old one (make sure your vehicle is powered off). Most batteries are tethered to a housing of some sort so you’ll need to assess your specific case to determine what tools you’ll need. You simply need to unhook the old battery and replace it with the new one, making sure to reattach the connections to their respective terminal (red for positive, black for negative). It might be worth mentioning that in some cases, your battery isn’t the problem but the connection is. In this case, you can remove any corrosion from the terminals with a wire brush to see if that was, in fact, the problem.
There are so many other easy repairs that you can do yourself to save a lot of money, especially if you put a lot of miles on your vehicles. If you’re a limo driver, for instance, who averages 105 trips per week, then knowing how to do a few repairs yourself can really save you in the long run. However, if you find that you don’t need to make repairs often or the repairs require experience, knowledge, and tools, then you’re better off taking your car to a mechanic.
Sometimes the headaches aren’t worth the savings but most of the time, they are.