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Jun 18, 2015

Simple Maintenance DIYs Every Car Owner Should Know

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DIY for cars is a rabbit hole: you can just keep going deeper and deeper and doing bigger and bigger projects. Not everyone is going to enjoy fixing a busted car, and not everyone will have the ability to do it successfully.

Simple Car DIY Fixes

However, everyone can do a bunch of quick fixes and preventive maintenance to keep the car from falling into a poor condition. The following projects are easy for anyone and will save you tons of money down the road.

  1. Basic Inspection
  2. Once a month, take a look at your vehicle. Use an air pressure gauge to test your tires. To test your tread, you can use an old penny, if any are still lying around your home. If you stick a penny in the tread and can see the Queen’s whole head, your tires need to be replaced. You can also use a tread gauge.

  3. Check your Fluids
  4. Almost every car has a way to check the fluids, even trickier ones like transmission fluid. Try to find all the caps of your fluid tanks, and see if there are gauges or dipsticks to check optimal levels. Dipsticks have a notch that shows the optimal level. If your fluid level is dropping rapidly, you have a leak and will need to get some repairs. No matter what, don’t keep driving for weeks on a leaky engine, it’s a recipe for disaster.

  5. Check and Clean your Battery
  6. Testing your battery to make sure it still holds a charge is a good idea everywhere. It’s an especially good idea in Canada. The last thing you need is to get stuck in a snowstorm somewhere.

    While you’re testing it, take a look at the contacts. Look for mineral buildup: these mineral salts are not conductive and get in the way of your battery charging. You can get rid of it with a cheap battery post brush.

  7. Replace your Air Filter
  8. A lot of people bring their car into the shop to change their filters every year, but it’s easy to do by yourself at home. If you have 15 minutes to spare, why not save yourself a trip to the mechanic?

    The filter is a long black box directly under the hood. The box should pop open if you fiddle with the clips on one side. Open it up and make a note of which way the filter is facing. Take it out and put the replacement in so that it faces the same way.

  9. Change your Wiper Blades
  10. There’s no hard and fast rule for when to do this. Basically, if your wipers are bothering you and leaving streaks everywhere, then fix them.

    To change your blades, lift the wipers up. Most blades are attached with a J-hook. To get them off, press the little button on the blades and pull them out. If they are attached by being clipped in to a pin arm, pry the clip open with a flathead screwdriver. Gently slide the new ones in, taking care not damage the windshield or the arms.

These quick checks and fixes can save you money, and might even prevent an accident. They’re also kind of fun, and can prepare you for more ambitious projects in the future!


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