5 easy DIY car maintenance jobs anyone can do
Does the phrase ‘car repairs’ send shivers down your spine (and wallet)? You’re not alone. Repair and servicing costs are some of the big ongoing outlays that make owning a car feel so endlessly expensive.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some easy DIY car fixes that your mechanic won’t tell you about.
One big watch-out: ALWAYS let the engine cool before you start working.
How to change your car air filter
This should be done every year or so to keep your car healthy.
Good news is, it doesn’t need any tools or mechanical skills – just grab an air filter from your local auto shop (a sales attendant should be able to help you find the right one).
Find the metal case your filter lives in under the hood. It’s probably a metal box with clips – consult your manual. Open the box and take note of how the air filter sits before removing it.
Then place the new air filter in the same way. Close the box and fasten the clips. Voilà.
How to change your windscreen wiper rubber
This is big save, and it’s easy to do. A replacement rubber strip from an auto store costs about $10-$20, but a mechanic could charge you upwards of $100.
Simply lift your windscreen wipers up, checking how the current rubber connects to the metal arms. You're likely to see a tab on the underside of the wiper arm. Push the tab and you'll be able to remove the rubber. Attach the new blades. You may need to cut these to size (you can use the old rubber as a measurement). Follow the instructions on the packaging about how to attach the new blades, being careful with the wiper arms. Easy.
How to replace your headlight bulbs
Headlights wear out like any other light bulb, but it’s illegal to drive with a broken brake or tail light, so fix this one quickly.
Head to your local auto store and get yourself a headlight or brake light bulb – ask the sales assistant for help if you need.
Once you’re home, grab a screwdriver and remove the light housing. This is often done from the back of the housing, within the hood or boot – just check your manual. Then turn the older socket a quarter turn anti-clockwise to unlock it. Remove the old bulb from the socket.
Pop the new one in its place (taking care not to touch the bulb) and turn it a quarter clockwise to lock it in place. Reattach the housing securely and test everything works before you drive.
How to remove a bumper sticker
Got an old, gross bumper sticker that’s seemingly grown into your car body? Don’t stress – there’s a way to remove it without leaving a mark behind.
Start by finding the loosest corner of the sticker and begin to peel back. Spray a lubricant, like WD-40, to the sticky side. Continue spraying and peeling slowly until the bumper sticker is completely removed. Wipe away the remaining lubricant and give the area a buff. Phew.
How to check your tyre pressure
You're not going to get too far in your car without working tyres. Thankfully, tyres are simple things: rubber rings with the right amount of air in them.
To make sure things are OK, check your owners' manual or the inside of your door for what your standard cold tyre-inflation pressure should be. Sometimes, depending on the vehicle, your front and back tyres may need different pressure.
Then head to your local petrol station and find their air pressure gauge. Unscrew the valve stem cap from the stem on the tire. This will be a small pen sized valve next to the hubcap. Attach the air pressure gage to the end of the stem. If you hear a hissing noise it means it is not fully connected. Next, let the air pressure gage take a reading of the tire and compare it to your manual. Record your reading and replace the stem cap, making sure there’s no air is hissing out.
That being said, there's only so much you can fix before you need to call in the professionals – and if your car’s issues are more major, then take a look at your options.
Because if you’re finding yourself under the hood more than behind the wheel, it might be time to look into a loan for a new set of wheels.