Even if you have a mechanic you trust or a dealership where you can get affordable auto service near you, it’s still a good idea to take care of some things yourself. I’m not about to tell you to rebuild your engine or fix your transmission if you don’t have a lot of experience with auto work, but there is a lot of car care and maintenance that is quite simple and that you can handle with very little previous experience. I’m going to take you through some easy routines you should do for your vehicle – just be sure to check your owner’s manual and learn how to do these things with your specific car.
Easy Car Care #1 – Change Your Engine Air Filter
This is an easy one to start with, and it can help keep your vehicle running well since the air filter prevents dust and debris from getting into your engine.
- Check your owner’s manual to determine what air filter you need and buy a new filter.
- Locate the airbox on your engine.
- Open the airbox – you might need a screwdriver.
- Remove the old filter and debris, then install the new filter with the correct orientation.
- Close and secure the airbox.
It’s that easy, and this can help you avoid costly repairs or service later.
Easy Car Care #2 – Change Your Wiper Blades
Although the wiper blades on your vehicle don’t impact performance, they’re vital for maintaining good visibility in rain and other poor weather. Replacing them is easy, and it can help you avoid serious collisions.
- Check your owner’s manual to determine the right wiper blade replacements and buy them.
- Be sure to remove any plastic blade guard or protection on new blades before installing.
- Lift the wiper arms up off your vehicle’s windshield, then remove the old blades – either by pivoting it back or pressing in a tab before sliding it off.
- Place the new wiper blade onto the arm and secure it in place.
- Carefully lower the wiper arm and new blade back onto your windshield and repeat this process with the other wiper.
This can take a little patience the first time you do it, but it’s simple preventative care that can make a big difference when you’re on the road.
Easy Car Care #3 – Replace Your Window Washing Fluid
Your window washing fluid is more important than you might think. It’s vital that you can spray it onto your windshield to use your wipers to clean off grease, dirt, and insects that can obstruct your vision while driving. It’s also very simple.
- Buy some new washing fluid – there are different types available.
- Open your car’s hood and locate the window washing fluid reservoir – it is typically labeled with an image that looks like a windshield and droplets.
- Remove the cap to check the fluid level.
- Pour additional fluid into the reservoir until it reaches the marking to indicate it’s full.
- Return the cap, secure it in place, and close your hood.
If you live in a cold climate that tends to freeze, look for washing fluid that contains antifreeze in it to keep your windshield clean and to help remove ice and slush.
Easy Car Care #4 – Change Your Headlights
As soon as you notice one of your headlights is dimming or out, you should replace it immediately. This will keep you safer on the road by ensuring the area ahead of you is properly illuminated and help others see you. It can also help you avoid an expensive ticket, so don’t wait.
- Check your owner’s manual to determine what bulb you need and buy it.
- Open the hood of your vehicle and find the rear of the bulb – you might need to remove your car’s battery or air filter to access the bulb.
- Unplug the socket from the rear of the old bulb – be sure to pull on the socket, not the wires attached to it, and you will probably need to press a clip or tab to release it.
- Twist the bulb and pull it out – there may be a clip that needs to be removed before you can remove it.
- Insert the new bulb the same way you removed the old one, then re-secure the socket and make sure everything is replaced and secure.
That’s all it takes to make sure you can see at night and stay safe on the road.
Easy Car Care #5 – Check Your Oil
This is one of the simplest and most important things you can do to care for your vehicle properly. The oil keeps reduces friction, preventing damage to the countless metal parts of the engine, so you always want to make sure you have enough. I’ll also go over what to do if your oil is low.
- Make sure your car is parked on a flat, level surface, then open the hood of your car and locate the oil dipstick on the engine.
- Pull the stick out of the engine and wipe it clean – the level it shows will not be accurate at first.
- Replace the stick into the engine, and then pull it out again. This time, look at the oil level on the dipstick.
- There will be indicators on the dipstick to show the level where your oil should be at – check to ensure the oil level on the stick is between these two marks, near the top one.
- Replace the dipstick into the engine and make sure it is secure.
While you’re checking your oil, pay attention to how it looks. The oil should be clean and pale or golden amber in appearance, not dark or dirty. If the oil level is low, then add more oil to the engine by removing the oil filler cap and pouring oil into it through a funnel. Be sure to use the same type of oil that is already in the engine when you add to it – you can change types of oil during an oil change, but when topping off, you always want to use the same type.
Easy Car Care #6 – Check Your Coolant
Although the oil in your engine helps keep parts moving smoothly to avoid friction, there’s still a lot of heat in there. The coolant flows through your engine to move heat out of it and keep things from getting too hot, which can cause serious damage. Checking and topping off your coolant when needed can help you avoid much more expensive issues down the road.
- Make sure your car is parked on a flat, level surface, then open the hood of your car and locate the coolant reservoir.
- Do not remove the cap, as hot coolant is dangerous – instead, look for markings on the side of the reservoir.
- If the coolant level is low, then you can add to it; if your coolant looks old and dirty, then you should replace it. Coolant is simply a mix of distilled water and antifreeze, and you can get it
- premixed or mix it yourself.
- To add coolant, simply pour more of the same type of coolant into the reservoir – do not mix different types.
Changing your coolant is a bit more complicated but still something you can do at home (though it’s beyond the scope of this simple guide).
Simple Car Care Will Save You Time and Money
As you can see, this kind of maintenance is generally quite simple and doesn’t take very long at all – plus, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Best of all, by doing these sorts of things at home, you can make your life a lot easier in the long run as you avoid much more expensive repairs and service. These things can also help you avoid breaking down or being stranded along the side of the road in a very unpleasant situation.