4 Easy Car Maintenance Tips to Keep You Going
If you take your vehicle to car maintenance shops and hang around to watch, you might think to yourself, “Huh, some of that looks fairly simple. Maybe I could give it a shot next time.”
The good news is, you can. All you need is a few tools, a little know-how, and your owner’s manual in order to do at least half of what’s done when you take your car in for its regular maintenance. That said, if you don’t feel comfortable tinkering with your vehicle yourself (or just don’t have the time to figure it out), then there’s nothing wrong with taking it into the shop for any of these issues.
However, if you want to save a bit of money and make sure it’s done right, then check out these four easy car maintenance tips to keep you going — three of them don’t even require tools!
We’ll start off with an easy one, just so you know how simple it is. These aren’t some elaborate puzzles or mysterious entities: they’re just your windshield wipers. It’s extremely easy to change them out.
Step One: What you want to do is lift the blades off your windshield and inspect them for any wear. With the weather warming up and the snow, ice, sand, and salt done buffeting your windshield, chances are they will need a change.
Step Two: You are looking for a little tab, typically on the underside of the wiper. Push the tab in, and then disconnect the old wiper blade. Important to note: the tab might be hard to remove by hand. In that case, just grab a flat head screwdriver and push it in with that.
Step Three: Now that you have the wiper blades off, it’s time to go to the store and match them up. Bring your old blades with you, and ask any employee behind the counter to match the blades if you are unsure how to do so.
Step Four: In order to attach the new wiper blades, simply line each one up with the control arm, and make sure the rubber part is facing the windshield. Then, push it on until it clicks. Make sure not to bend the control arm, and don’t force the new blade.
The Air Filter is something people might not want to tamper with, but it’s actually easier than putting wiper blades on. Typically, you want to change this out every 12 months or 12,000 miles.
Step One: Locating your air filter is relatively easy. Open your hood and you should see a big black box with metal clasps on the side staring at you — it’s hard to miss.
Step Two: Open the casing by unhooking the clasps, but don’t remove the filter yet. Make sure to look at which way it’s positioned and how it fits inside the case.
Step Three: Take this air filter out and inspect it. If it’s not in bad shape, then you can blow it out with an air hose and put it back. If it’s ready to be changed, then place the new one in the exact same way you took the old one out. Put the cover of the case back on, clip on the clasps, and you’re done!
Check Your Fluids
Checking and topping of your fluids is easy, and the main ones you want to check are the windshield washer fluid and the engine oil. For the antifreeze and transmission fluid, you are better off taking it to a shop, because they are slightly more in depth. Important to note: with the fluids, make sure not to overfill any of them. It could cause potentially cause problems if you do.
Windshield Washer Fluid: Locate the cap labeled “Windshield Washer Fluid” and pop it off. Then, look at it from the side. You will see a maximum fill range and a minimum fill range. If it’s low, top it off. Put the cap back on, and you are done!
Engine Oil: First, it’s important to note that if your oil is black or smells burnt, then it needs to be changed. In that case, you need to take it to a shop. However, if it’s still a healthy red color, then all you need to do is top it off. To do this, first make sure your engine is off and cool. Then, pull out the dipstick and hold it parallel to the ground. Don’t hold it up or down; this will cause an inaccurate measurement of how much oil is in the engine.
After you have the dipstick out, take a look at where the oil level falls. As long as it’s halfway or more between the “Min” and “Max” marks, you are fine. However, if it’s lower or you want to top it off, then put the dipstick back in and remove the oil cap. Begin adding oil slowly, and check frequently to make sure you aren’t overfilling it. Once it’s close to full, your job is done!
Cleaning Your Battery
This is the only job on this list that requires tools, but it’s only a wrench, corrosion-removal fluid, a wire brush, and a rag. Important to note: Make sure your engine is off, and don’t let the wrench touch the post or any metal parts while removing the terminals. Always remove the negative (black cable) first. That way, you won’t short the positive terminal (red cable) by hitting something metal and potentially zapping yourself.
Step One: Look at the battery; that greenish-white stuff that’s built up around the posts and terminals is corrosion. Don’t be alarmed, it’s easy to get rid of. To start, remove the terminals (the metal pieces that clamp over the posts), by removing the nut with the proper size wrench. If they are stuck, stick a flathead screwdriver inside the slit at the back of the terminal and twist it to open the terminal. If you do this, be careful not to hit the post with the screwdriver head.
Step Two: Now that you have removed the terminals, it’s time to clean the posts. Apply the fluid to the posts and then start scrubbing them with your wire brush. After you’ve removed the corrosion, wipe the terminals down with a rag to get the liquid and corrosion off. Then, re-attach the terminals and tighten them down. Again, important to note: the process of attaching the wires is opposite from taking them off. Make sure you always attach the positive (red) cable first, and the black wire (negative cable) last — for your safety.
There You Have It
There you have it – four easy car maintenance tips to keep you going. Make sure to keep your owner’s manual close at hand, and always refer or double check it. Even if you’ve done it once or twice before, it’s still important to refer to it. That way, you will be able to safely and effectively work on your car.
Better yet, if you are unsure (even about changing out your wiper blades) then bring it into a shop. That way you know it will be done right.