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November 20, 2012

Easy Do-It-Yourself Car Maintenance to Save Money

Woman-checking-oill-400x333Maintaining your car is an essential part of ownership. Failure to maintain it properly will result in some serious problems – high costs for repairs or even the need to replace major components (like your engine or transmission), for instance. While you can certainly benefit from letting a mechanic or dealership take care of your maintenance steps, there are plenty of things you can do on your own to save time, money and hassle. What should you know about these steps?

Wiper Blade Replacement

Good wipers are essential to staying safe on the road while it’s raining. Of course they’re often overlooked – it’s easy to forget that your wipers are worn out when you don’t actually need to use them. You don’t need to head to a shop to have these replaced. Buy a set of replacement blades at the auto parts store, undo the clip, pull off the old blade (assembly, not just the rubber) and slide the new one in place. As a note, it’s easier to replace the entire wiper than just the rubber blade.

Air Filter

Your air filter is an integral part of the engine and ensures the engine gets the air necessary for combustion while preventing dust and other contaminants from getting in. Replacing your air filters is pretty simple – just undo the housing, remove the old one and install the new filter. Opening the housing will be the trickiest part of the entire process (will vary based on model, but usually requires no more than undoing a handful of clips).

Engine Oil

If you’ve got a spare few minutes and don’t mind getting under your car, you can change your oil and oil filter on your own. Make sure you have the right type and quantity of oil and the right filter for the engine, then take off the oil filler cap. Slide under your car with a wrench that will fit the drain plug. Remove the plug (after putting a catch pan in place), and let the old oil drain out. Remove the filter and replace it with a new one (lube the new gasket first). Put the drain plug back in the pan and refill the oil.

Other Fluids

You’ll find that your engine needs a variety of different fluids to operate, including the following:

•  Engine coolant (antifreeze)
•  Brake fluid
•  Power steering fluid
•  Transmission fluid

All of these fluids need to be maintained at the proper levels (they also need to be replaced periodically, but that’s a bit more in-depth than changing your oil). For basic maintenance, the best option is just to check your fluids on a regular basis and top them off when necessary. If they seem to be getting low very quickly (none of these should see drastic level changes), you might need to have major service performed. In most situations, you’ll just need to top off the fluids – make sure you have the right fluid for your vehicle (some manufacturers require a specific type/grade of fluid in certain situations), and top off as needed.

Washing and Waxing

Another important part of maintaining your vehicle is keeping the exterior clean. Not only will this ensure that it looks good for the duration, but that your vehicle withstands exposure to the harsh elements. Regular washing and waxing are important steps and can be done easily. Use a car wash formula designed for automobiles (not dish soap), and use a soft cloth or microfiber cloth for washing. After washing the vehicle, dry it thoroughly before waxing. Make sure to buff out all the wax completely, and pay close attention to areas around door handles, trim pieces and the like.

Don Elfrink is the owner and operator of AutoMatStore. Based out of Columbia, MO, AutoMatStore specializes in customized car floor mats. Before AutoMatStore, Elfrink was the operator of an automotive production site. AutoMatStore focuses on all-weather, logo, carpeted and molded car mats.


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