Basic Maintenance You Can Do

While more and more it seems that cars are so complicated that you can’t work on them at all, there are still basic service tasks that you can handle on your own.

changing oilChange the oil. You can do this in an hour on a Saturday morning. Takes five quarts of oil (usually – it varies) and a filter. Depending on what you buy and where you should be able to save about 20 bucks handling this yourself. Plus you get the satisfaction of taking care of your own stuff. These days most places are recommending changes every 6,000 miles.

Check your fluids – again, it only takes a minute and you can do it at the gas station while you’re waiting. Many incipient problems with your car will show up in fluid levels before they become more obvious problems.

Change bulbs. They are a little trickier than they used to be to get at, but mostly it is still a pretty simple operation. Make it a habit to check all your lights on a regular basis. Headlights, tail lights, brake lights and turn signals.

Check on your battery connections and clean them when necessary. Poor and corroded connections can make your car hard to start when there is no underlying problem. Save yourself the trouble of trying to figure out what is wrong later by keeping an eye on this now.

Windshield wipers. These are pretty darn easy to change. Most come with pretty good instructions. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to change both blades, and difficulty seeing through the windshield is an unnecessary hazard.

Replace your air filter. Even these days this is a simple task on most vehicles. Much like yourself, your car will perform better when it can breathe freely.

Rotate your tires. Maximize your tires life by keeping them rotated. You can do this yourself, but many time buying new tires includes this service at regular intervals and will balance them to boot.

Change spark plugs*. This has an asterisk, because while still a relatively easy task for most vehicles, there are some vehicles on which it is very difficult.