We all know the dreaded feeling when you receive a mechanic’s repair bill for work which is either routine or seems simple enough to do yourself but when you add up parts, labour and taxes it can soon mount up.
Even if you are not mechanically minded, if you want to save money and you are willing to read instruction manuals and watch instructional videos online, there are many car maintenance tasks which can be carried out at home.
While you don’t need a garage environment, you will need some basic tools and the space to work, including space to jack your car up and work safely underneath. The number one rule though is to be confident you know what you are doing. If in doubt always get a professional to do the work for you.
The team over at bigmotoringworld.co.uk were kind enough to provide us with this list of 8 basic car maintenance tasks which could be done at home:
1. Changing the air filter
You generally need to have a new air filter every year, or every 12,000 miles for your car and it can take a garage a day to fit this in for you, when in actual fact, if you do it yourself it’s only really a ten minute job, saving you both time and money.
2. Changing wiper blades
While wiper blades can vary from car to car actually changing them is a fairly simple process and when you buy a new set they should come with clear instructions. You just need to be careful not to bend them or scrape the windscreen while you are working.
3. Changing the spark plugs
Check your owner’s manual to find out when to change them but generally they should be changed after 30,000 miles. You will need a bit more time and patience to change these but as long as you follow the instructions in the car manual step-by-step it is a simple job which can be carried out at home.
4. Changing the oil
Modern cars don’t need oil changing too often but around every 5,000 miles is good. You can save time and money doing it yourself, however it is one of the dirtier jobs and you will need to jack your car up so make sure you are confident doing that safely. Another key issue is that you must always let the car cool down first –never attempt an oil change while the car is hot.
5. Looking after the battery
Having a good battery and connectors is key to having a car that runs well and any kind of residue build-upon the battery posts can cause problems. You can check this just by looking and then it’s easy enough to clean the battery yourself to avoid the really annoying problem of a dead battery further down the line.
6. Flush the radiator
It’s important to keep the radiator and cooling unit clean and clear of debris so they can both work efficiently and a radiator flush can help keep them running. Check your car’s manual to see how frequently this should be done and again, it’s another job where you need to make sure the car is completely cool before you start.
7. Changing the brake pads
These will need changing around 20,000 miles unless the car manual says any different and if you do a lot of stop-start driving around town they will need changing sooner. Safety is of paramount importance here, not only while you are working as the car will need to be on jacks, but also to make sure the brakes are fixed properly and working afterwards. If in doubt, ask a mechanic.
8. Replacing the fuel filter
A replacement filter can protect your engine and costs very little however this does need to be considered as a more advanced DIY project due to working with fuel. If you are not confident then always ask a professional to do it. However, if you follow the instructions very carefully it is possible to do at home.
There are many aspects of routine car maintenance which can potentially be carried out at home, saving you both time and money and reducing the reliance on a garage and the nuisance of being without your car for a whole day or more.
However, the important thing to remember is to make sure you are not working out of your depth and to always err on the side of health and safety. Before you attempt any kind of job on your car make sure you read all of the manuals and instructions and have all the tools you need to hand before you start. If in doubt, when it comes to working with cars, then always seek professional help and guidance rather than risk damage or injury.