If you want to keep your car in tip-top shape without spending too much, self-maintenance may be the way to go. Though there are many car maintenance tasks that require a qualified mechanic, there are still several tasks that a car owner can manage on their own. Regularly performing these tasks will help you keep your car in working condition and could potentially prevent a larger (and more expensive) problem from arising.
The first step to performing any car maintenance is to review your manual. Cars can differ greatly from one another, so being familiar with your car’s needs is important. If you don’t have your car’s manual, check with your local dealership.
There are several fluids you vehicle needs to run. Filling or replacing some of these may be better left to a professional, but they are easy enough to check yourself.
You have probably already had to check your oil once or twice, as this is easy to do with a dipstick in the engine. Make sure your engine is cool before opening your hood. Double-check you are on a level surface, as this is necessary for an accurate reading. Remove the dipstick and wipe with a rag or paper towel. Put the dipstick back into the engine and pull it out. You should be able to get an idea of whether or not you have a sufficient amount of engine oil by using the gauge at the end of the dipstick. If your oil is low, you can add more yourself or take it to a mechanic. If you do add the oil yourself, take care to not overfill.
Your coolant, or antifreeze, helps keep your car’s radiator from overheating. Your coolant is typically stored in a translucent container under the hood near the radiator. Look at the container and ensure the levels are not too low by checking the markings on the side of the container. If you are running low, you can add fresh coolant into this reservoir. Double-check whether your selected coolant is pre-mixed or not before adding more to the reservoir.
Blake fluid is also stored on a reservoir in your car’s engine bay. Consult your vehicle’s manual for the location and check your levels. If it is low, you can top it off but this is usually an indication of a bigger issue (such as a leak) that will need to be addressed by a mechanic. This should be taken care of immediately
A dirty windshield can make it harder to see when you’re behind the wheel, so maintaining your washer fluid is crucial. Washer fluid is cheap and easy to fill yourself. The reservoir is a translucent plastic container and is usually near the engine of your car. Keep it topped off using a funnel.
Windshield wiper blades are important for clear visibility on the road. If you notice your wiper blades are leaving streaks on your windshield, it may be time to replace them. Inspect them to see if they are cracking, as this is also an indication that it’s time to replace them. Check your manual for the proper size. You can pick up wiper blades at most auto parts stores.
Check your current blades to see how they are installed. Remove your old blades carefully to avoid damaging your windshield. Connect your new wiper blades and test them to make sure they are working properly before you are driving on a rainy day. For more information about how to replace your windshield wipers, read our blog post.
All vehicles have filters to clean the air being drawn into the engine and the air being drawn into the cabin. These filters can eventually become dirty and less effective. Check your owner’s manual to confirm the locations, but changing them is relatively easy to do. When checking your filters, look for signs that they are clogged with dirt, brittle, or cracked. If they need replaced, check your local auto parts store for replacements.
Maintaining your tires is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your car safe. Checking your tires once a month will help you stop a potential problem, such as a blowout on the freeway. Use a tire pressure gauge to check that your tires are properly inflated as per your owner’s manual. If you notice your tires are low, you can use a pump at home or one at your nearest gas station. Most stations have a pump that you can use for free or for a small fee.
Give your tires monthly checks to ensure there’s no abnormal wear or signs of a leak. Check your tread and keep any eye out for worn patches, cracking, or other damage. If your tires are especially worn or show signs of damage, replace them immediately.
Another great resource when it comes to self-maintenance of your vehicle is to utilize online videos. But remember not to try anything yourself that is best left to the professionals.