Don’t let the fear of fixing your own car keep you on the road to the poorhouse. There is no reason to pay for something you can do yourself.
While modern automobiles are increasingly sophisticated, not every repair or maintenance job requires a skilled technician. There are plenty of easy tasks that motorists with no mechanical skills can do to avoid hefty auto shop bills.
Here are eight do-it-yourself projects you can complete from the convenience of your own driveway.
1. Changing a cabin air filter
These devices support air quality in cars, screening out dust and pollen to keep ventilation systems running smoothly. You should be able to find the location of your car’s filter with your vehicle owner’s manual. It may be under the dashboard, behind the glove box or under the hood.
Lauren Fix, author of “Lauren Fix’s Guide to Loving Your Car,” tells Money Talks News that changing the filter is “super easy.”
“They’re supposed to be replaced a minimum of once a year, but I recommend every six months,” she says. “If the filter is dirty, you are breathing dirty air.”
Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes when you replace filters. You’ll need to remove the screws, clips or wing nuts that hold the filter housing in place. Next, remove the cover. Clean the compartment before you install a new filter. Use a cloth and a vacuum cleaner to remove dirt and dust. The last step is replacing screws or clips.
2. Replacing a taillight bulb
To replace a taillight bulb, gain access to it through the taillight housing. Your owner’s manual will tell you how to do this. Depending on your car, you may be able to reach the rear bulbs through panels inside the trunk or through the hatch, says Fix.
Once you have the taillight housing open, you should be able to remove the bulbs. Take them to an auto parts store to purchase matching replacements, or have someone at the store look up the proper bulb, using your vehicle’s year, make and model. Put everything back in place after you install the new bulb.
3. Replacing windshield wiper blades
Sunlight, rain and dirt damage rubber blades over time. You’ll need a new set whenever you notice your blades no longer remove raindrops from your windshield without smears and streaks.
It’s much cheaper to replace a set of windshield wiper blades yourself than to hire a mechanic to do the work. You can find the correct replacement blades for your car’s make and model at an auto parts store. The blades come with instructions for installation, but it’s a good idea to also consult your owner’s manual.
Many wiper arms have tabs that can be pushed to remove old blades. Be careful not to damage the wiper arms by bending them too far back from the windshield when you replace the blades.
Fix says you always should buy premium, high-quality replacement blades, since most of your driving decisions are based on visibility.
4. Checking the tire pressure
Checking tire pressure is something you easily can do yourself, with the help of tire gauge.
The recommended tire pressure usually can be found on the inside of your driver side door frame or in your owner’s manual. Tire pressure is measured in pounds per square inch, or psi. Michael E. Gray, co-author of “Auto Upkeep,” tells Money Talks News that air pressure should be checked at least once each month.
Air expands when you drive, so test your tires when they’re cool. Edmunds.com, which provides advice to motorists, recommends waiting a half-hour for warm tires to cool down so you can get a true reading.
When you check the air, make sure your valve cap has no cracks. Place the exposed end of the gauge onto the valve stem. When you take a reading, make sure there is no hissing, which indicates that air is escaping. Replace the valve cap when you’re done.