Auto maintenance can be expensive. And many times it’s the little items, which really cost money. Larger purchases, such as tires, drivers only buy once every five or six years. To save money, here are a few items you can do yourself.
Experts say the most important maintenance item for automobile owners is changing the engine oil. This reduces wear, improves performance, and adds longevity to your motor. Most cars require a mere four quarts of oil and a filter. The job is an easy one, although can be messy if you’re not careful. It’s best to invest in jack stands (around $25) or a hydraulic floor jack ($200) as a one-time investment. Basically, you jack the car up (Caution: always set the parking brake and block the wheels), re-enforce it with jack stands, remove the oil filter, drain the old oil, install the new filter, and add the new oil. Remember to recycle the old oil properly. Savings are about $30 dollars each oil change. With three or four oil changes a year, the savings quickly add up.
Rotate the Tires
Rotating your own tires increases longevity and allows for even wear on all four. As with changing the oil, it’s best to use jack stands and/or a hydraulic jack. Follow the change pattern in your owner’s manual. Savings are about $20 per tire rotation.
Change the Air Filter
Many garages charge as much as $40 plus the cost of the filter just to install a new air filter. You can purchase a new air filter on sale for as little as $5 (garage cost: $18 and up). Installing it yourself requires removing a couple of fasteners, wiping out the air filter housing, and installing the new filter. Done.
Change Windshield Wiper Blades
Here’s another simple job. Purchase the correct blades for your car and follow the directions on the package. Repair shops charge as much as $20 to install, plus the price of the blades ($20-25 average price from a shop).
Install New Battery
You can tell when it’s getting to the point when you need a new battery. Your car starts slower and sounds different. If you suspect your battery will require replacement soon, take it to an auto supply shop where the personnel will test it free (of course, they would like to sell you a new battery but you don’t have to buy one). Installation often only requires unfastening a couple of bolts, removing the old battery and installing the new one.
Washing Your Vehicle
This is a no-brainer, but you can pay up to $20 just to have the outside of your car cleaned and another $20 for cleaning the inside. Buy a bottle of good-quality car wash for about $5 and wash the exterior yourself. On the inside, clean the vinyl, glass, and mirrors, then vacuum the upholstery, carpeting, and floor mats. You will be surprised how good your car looks, most likely much better than having someone else do the job.