Did you know that the average American spends about $397 per year on vehicle maintenance and repairs?
While this may not seem like a ton of money to some, this doesn’t factor in the cost of gas, insurance, parking, or monthly car payments. When you add it all up, people are spending thousands and thousands of dollars over the years on their vehicles.
Luckily, there are certain things you can do to help cut down on your vehicle maintenance bills. One of the best things you can do is learn how to do some basic car repairs on your own, so you don’t have to take your car into the shop every time there’s an issue.
Check out this blog post to learn about the top DIY car repairs that every car owner needs to know.
1. How to change a tire
Seven tire punctures occur each second in the US, resulting in over 220 million flat tires per year. Even if you’re a careful driver and stay on top of putting air in your tires, you never know when your vehicle will snag something in the road and go flat.
However, a recent survey revealed that 60 percent of people don’t know how to change a flat tire. While it can be intimidating at first, changing a flat tire is relatively easy.
Steps to change a flat tire
First, find a safe location to park and turn on your hazard lights. Never attempt to change a tire on a narrow shoulder next to incoming traffic.
Apply the parking brake and wheel wedges to ensure your vehicle doesn’t roll forward while fixing the flat. If you’re changing the rear tire, apply the wheel wedges on the back. If you’re changing the front tires, apply the wheel wedges to the rear tires.
If your vehicle has a hubcap covering the lug nuts, remove the hubcap before lifting the vehicle with the jack. You can use the flat end of your lug wrench to remove the hubcap. If you can’t remove it with your lugnut, you may need to use a specialized tool. Consult your owner’s manual to figure out what that tool is for your vehicle.
Then, use the lug wrench to remove the lug nuts one by one. Twist them counterclockwise, but don’t remove them altogether (you may need to put your whole body weight into it depending on how tightly they’re screwed on).
Next, it’s time to place the jack under the vehicle. Typically, the best place for the jack is beneath the car’s frame alongside the blowout tire. However, you should check with your vehicle owner’s manual for proper jack placement to avoid damage to your vehicle.
Next, raise the vehicle with the jack about six inches off the ground and unscrew the lug nuts. Then, remove the flat tire and mount the spare tire. Place the lug bolts back in and retighten them.
Lower the vehicle and reinstall the hubcap, and you’ll be good to go!
2. Change the air filters
It would be best if you changed your vehicle’s air filters every 12 months or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Changing the air filters helps prolong your engine’s life, as trapped dirt and debris in the filter can cause damage to internal components.
To change the air filter, start by popping the hood of your car. You can find the filter under a black rectangular box with clips on the side.
Before removing the filter, please make a note of which way it faces. Then, take off the old filter and insert the new filter in the same direction. Once you’re done, close the metal clips alongside the box.
3. Replacing your spark plugs
Typically, it would be best if you replaced your spark plugs every 30,000 miles. However, you should check your owner’s manual to confirm your vehicle’s needs.
Begin by locating the spark plugs under the hood of your car (they should be pretty easy to find, as they’re attached to long rubber hoses). Depending on how many cylinders your car has, you may find either four, six, or eight spark plugs.
Take the wire out from the first spark plug only. Don’t remove the wires all at once, as maintaining the correct order is crucial. You can use a spark plug socket and a racket extension to remove the first spark plug.
Then, screw in the new spark plug by hand, and tighten it with a wrench for a snug fit. Lastly, put the spark plug wire back in place. Repeat these steps for the following spark plugs, changing one at a time.
4. Installing new wiper blades
Changing out your wiper blades only takes about 15 minutes, and it’ll cost you just around $10 to $20. If you were to take your vehicle to a mechanic to have your wiper blades changed, you’d be paying $60 to $80.
Make sure you read your owner’s manual before you begin the process, and the steps for installing new wiper blades can vary significantly from vehicle to vehicle.
Typically, you need to lift the wiper blades as if you were washing the vehicle by hand. Look for a tab on the wiper’s underside and push the tab to remove the old wiper blade.
Then, attach the new blades. Take extra care not to scratch the windshield or bend the wiper arms. Make sure the new wiper blades are secure, tight, and properly aligned.
If you get confused when installing the new wiper blades, check the package. It usually comes with a set of instructions.
5. Maintaining your battery
There’s nothing that can put a damper on your day, quite like a dead car battery. It takes just a few minutes to perform essential battery maintenance, and it can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.
To check your battery, begin by removing the battery terminals. Start with the negative cable first. If the terminals are stuck, you can use a screwdriver to loosen them up.
Then, clean the battery posts using a professional product from an auto repair shop. Keep in mind that most battery cleaning solutions are just a composition of baking soda and water. If you’re feeling frugal, you can make your at-home solution. Some people also swear by Coca-Cola.
Generously apply the cleaning product to the battery posts, and scrub it down using a wired brush. Then, use a little lukewarm water to rinse the cleaning fluid.
Use a rag to dry the posts and replace the battery terminals.
6. Changing the oil
Changing your vehicle’s oil may be a dirty job, but it’s well worth the mess, considering the amount of money you can save. An oil change costs anywhere from $35 t0 $125, depending on the type of oil you use and where you get it changed.
If you do it yourself, you only need to pay about $20. Considering your oil needs changing every 3,000 miles or so, doing it yourself can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Before changing your vehicle’s oil, give your car’s engine some time to cool off. Then, jack up your vehicle so you can get underneath it and locate the oil pan.
Next, unscrew the drain plug and drain out all of the old oil into the pan. Once the oil stops draining, replace the drain plug. Then, use your oil filter wrench to remove the old oil filter.
Use some new motor oil to lubricate the new filter’s rubber gasket. Fill up the new filter around two-thirds of the way with new oil. Then, use your hand to screw on the new oil filter.
Next, use a funnel to fill your engine with new oil. You can check your oil level using a dipstick if you’re not sure whether you’ve added enough.
Staying on top of oil changes is very important. Oil changes help to remove excess dirt and buildup on your vehicle’s engine so it can last longer. If you don’t stay on top of oil changes, your car will break down a lot faster, and you may need to scrap it or sell it.
You can check out this scrap car guide to learn if your car is a junk car.
DIY Car Repairs: Time to Repair Your Car
Now that you’ve read this guide on DIY car repairs, it’s time for you to begin maintenance on your vehicle. As you can see, performing maintenance by yourself can help you save a lot of money. For many people, working on their cars also gives them a sense of pride.
Be sure to check back in with our site for more car repair and maintenance tips.