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February 09, 2012

Seven DIY Car Care Tips to Cut Your Maintenance Costs

Woman DIY CareStill trying to pare down your household budget? Here’s an option you might not have considered—doing more of the regular maintenance on your car.

The idea can be a little intimidating—even scary—for some. The website,, reports that one-third of women have some sort of “car-phobia” when it comes to servicing their cars.

You’ve learned DIY for your home, so why not for your vehicle? We’re not talking about a brake relining, but simple things that not only can cut your service expenses but also extend the life of your car, save on gas and keep you and your family safer on the road. Here are seven tips to get you started:

Use Your Owner’s Manual

Unlike men, most women find directions helpful. You don’t have to read every page of your manual, but skim through it and become familiar with the basics. Just like cookbooks, mark the important parts with tabs or adhesive notes. Keep your manual handy when inspecting or working on your vehicle. 

Put a Scheduled Maintenance Program on Your Calendar

Your manual has the details on how often you should change your oil and fluids and inspect and replace parts. Schedule these and other DIY activities on your calendar to make sure you don’t forget.

Maintain Proper Pressure in Your Tires

If you only have time for one DIY job, this would be your top choice. Underinflated tires are the No. 1 cause of tire failure or flats and can decrease you fuel economy by as much as 10 percent. Use a quality tire-pressure gauge and check when the tires are cool. Information about the correct pressure for your car is in your manual and on the driver’s doorjamb. 

Change Your Fluids Regularly

These include your radiator coolant, engine oil, brake fluid, power-steering fluid and automatic transmission fluid. Some of these tasks are quite easy, but even the most challenging are doable with a little help and practice. Your mechanic or a service representative can show you what to do, or you can find assistance online. This video, for example, will walk you through the steps of checking your oil.

Inspect Your Belts and Hoses

Belt and hose failures are the No. 1 cause of roadside breakdowns. You should inspect them every six months and before long trips.

Know How to Respond to Dashboard Warning Signs

Some of the most important signs are the check engine light, water temperature gauge, and indicators for electronic controls such as the antilock braking system (ABS) and traction control. For example, if your ABS light comes on and stays on, you should immediately have a professional inspect your car.

PalatineContent provided by George Palatine, Allstate Auto Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL
Palatine is a recognized expert in social marketing, SEO, online informatics and the power of content to engage, inform and entertain customers and business partners.

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