Regular car maintenance is the only way to ensure your car is running in top condition. Yet a lot of drivers know very little about their cars, other than driving them, and pay the local mechanic a lot of money for even the simplest of tasks. But car maintenance is actually far easier than you would imagine and there’s a lot of things you can accomplish in your own garage instead of paying a mechanic to do it.
1. Checking the Oil Level
Oil level checkups are as simple as they are important. Oil is used to lubricate the moving parts of the engine, trap combustion byproducts and dirt, and help cool it off by dissipating excess heat. Most car manufacturers recommend letting the engine cool off before an oil check. To check the oil level, you need to let the engine cool off, pop open the hood, take the dipstick and wipe it clean, insert it deep into the oil tube and pull it back out. Oil streak bellow the indicator is a sure-proof sign your car is in need of a refill.
2. Changing the Oil
Oil changes can be messy, so make sure to change your clothes before you begin. Different cars use different types and amounts of oil. Check the manual before you begin. You will need a car jack, socket wrench, a container for draining, an old towel and new oil and oil filter. Let the car run for a minute or two to warm up the oil, turn off the engine and proceed to jack up your car. Locate the drain plug under the oil pan, place the container underneath, unscrew it carefully and let the oil drain. Wipe off any excel oil and replace the plug if necessary.
3. Replacing the Oil Filter
The best time to replace an oil filter is during an oil change. The old filter will have some leftover oil inside, so position the container below the filter before removing it. Once removed, clean up the mounting surface and lubricate the new filter with a little bit of oil before screwing it back in using your hand. While you’re under the hood, inspect the cylinder heads and the engine block for any signs of damage. After you’ve replaced the filter, it’s time to pour in the new oil. The best way to avoid overfilling the tank is to pour the exact amount specified by the manufacturer. Lastly, let the engine run for a couple of minutes to check for any oil leaks.
4. Checking the Tires
Checking tire pressure requires a tire pressure gauge, which can be found at almost any gas station. The recommended tire pressure is found inside the manual or at the front door jamb. Start by removing the valve cap, insert the pressure gauge inside the valve stem and press down until you get a reading. Repeat the process for each tire and, if necessary, refill them using the air compressor. You should also check the tires for any signs of damage, such as bulges, cuts or uneven wear.
5. Replacing the Spark Plugs
Spark plugs and the conductive elements surrounding them are prone to erosion and need to be replaced on a regular basis. They need to be wired in a specific order, which can be found in the car manual. Carefully disconnect the wire from the spark plug to reveal the top end, clean it up properly and use a socket or a wrench to loosen up the plug. Once lost, replace it with a new plug, tighten it properly, and pop the spark plug wire back into place.
Checking the oil level, replacing the filters, and changing the spark plugs are all very simple tasks that everyone can do on their own. All you need is the car manual, some basic tools, a little bit of elbow grease and some patience to ensure that your car is running at top performance. Doing it yourself might take some time, but it will save you a lot of money you would normally have to give to the car mechanic.