In the third and final part of our “Show Your Car Some Love” series, we wanted to show you how easy it is to take care of your vehicle without a mechanic’s help. Within the last few years, auto labor rates have risen between $15-20 an hour. If the trend continues, car owners may be looking to pay more than $35-40 an hour for any maintenance job, big or small. To us, it seems ridiculous for people to break the bank when their headlight burns out or be without a vehicle for days while they wait for simple maintenance to be completed. Believe us; regardless of your mechanical skillset or knowledge of your vehicle’s components, you can perform a wide range of maintenance jobs yourself.
If the thought of performing a repair terrifies you because you think you’ll instantly turn your car into a clunker, keep this in mind: It’s very difficult to destroy a car. You might briefly break something, or a repair may not work over time, but your car probably won’t fall to pieces. Cars are built strong and no matter the year or make, here are five inexpensive repairs even the most mechanically-challenged person can perform.
Change Burned-Out Lightbulbs
Your vehicle’s headlights and taillights are one of the most important safety components. Instead of paying out of pocket for a ticket or mechanic, get out your owner’s manual and swap those bulbs yourself. The most difficult part about this job is reaching the broken lightbulb, so be sure to review the instructions in your manual. The fuse component is much easier to reach, but do read the electrical part of the owner’s manual before attempting to replace it.
Replace Spark Plugs
Over time, the metal on the spark plugs’ electrodes could wear away and become coated with carbon deposits, affecting your vehicle’s overall efficiency. For around $15, you can replace your spark plugs in your own driveway. Simply remove the ignition wires from the old/broken spark plugs, remove the plugs with a socket wrench and install the new plugs. Finish with covering the inside of the ignition wire boots with dielectric grease for sealant before connecting them onto the new plugs.
Perform Battery Maintenance
If you’ve ever experienced trouble starting your vehicle, the first place to look for the problem is the battery. A battery with even a few spots of residue on the posts can keep your car from starting. With the help of a wrench, corrosion-removal fluid, a wire brush and rags, you can fix your vehicle’s battery connection single-handedly. After your remove the battery terminals, clean the posts with corrosion-removal fluid (these solutions are made of just baking soda and water, so feel free to make your own). Clean vigorously with your wire brush and rinse the fluid with water. After you dry the posts and replace the terminals, your battery should be as good as new. Make sure to check your battery once every three months to see if it needs another cleaning.
Changing Brake Pads
Brake pads need to be replaced once every 20,000, but if you find yourself in a lot of “stop-and-go” traffic you may need to do it more frequently. If you have an hour of spare time and $40, you qualify to perform this DIY maintenance. After you jack up your car and loosen the lugs on your tires, remove the wheel and the break caliper (should be at a 12 o’clock position), then remove the bolts on the back of the caliper. Slide out the old pads and insert the new ones, securing them with the retaining clips. Tighten the C-clamp until the brake piston has moved far enough to where you can place the caliper over the new pads. Put your wheel back on and repeat 3 more times.
Power Steering Flush
How nice would it be to perform a $100 repair for less than $10? You can perform a power steering flush with the help of a common household item: a turkey baster! This process should remove 90% of the old fluid and involves no detaching of the hose or crawling underneath your car. Take the baster and siphon as much of the old fluid as possible from the fill canister located inside the engine compartment. Place the old fluid in a plastic container that can be taken to an oil recycling facility. After you’ve removed about one third of the old fluid, pour in the new fluid, start the vehicle and work the steering wheel back and forth. Turn the vehicle off, let the engine cool a bit, and then repeat the entire process. Follow these steps 3-4 times or until the fluid looks clear.
By performing these maintenance jobs yourself, you will instantly get more pleasure out of driving your vehicle, knowing you saved yourself hundreds of dollars in repair costs while getting a better understanding about how your vehicle works. To learn more DIY maintenance jobs, contact Warranty Direct today at (800) 632-4222. Can you think of other easy auto maintenance jobs? Do you have a story about your first crack at performing your own vehicle maintenance?