DIY Car Maintenance For Cash Savings

When I was 16, my dad gave me my first vehicle.

I can’t imagine that he didn’t get it for free; I’m sure he did. It was the dumpiest van I’ve ever seen, but I was excited to have anything that I could get my hands on that would allow me some freedom.

I had it for just over two weeks before the first incident. The van struggled getting up hills.

I phoned my dad in my driveway in frustration one day, begging him to come back and take it away. I’d tried looking up the solution online and didn’t really get anywhere.

My dad told me not to throw in the towel just yet. He told me to write something down, and take the slip of paper to Lordco to get a part.

After much fighting with me, he had me on the phone, in the driveway, with the hood popped and I’m pretty sure I was bawling because he was asking me to use a wrench.

He walked me through the steps of changing a fuel filter on the phone. I was successful in doing that and have ever since looked for ways to save money on care repairs and maintenance by finding things I could do for myself. Car ownership is expensive enough without getting mechanics to do things for you that you, yourself, could do for hundreds of dollars cheaper.

There are, of course, certain things that should never be done without a professional, but there are quite a few things that you can do yourself to your car to save money. If you don’t know how to do the following things, I suggest that you Google it or watch a YouTube tutorial prior to giving it a try.

Oil Changes

In your average car, the oil pan is not hard to access, so oil changes are fairly easy to do by yourself, as long as you have a flat driveway or garage and good lighting.

I’ve found that my oil changes were costing upward of $60 every few months, so to save money I either have my boyfriend do them, or I help him.

Air Filter Changes

Air filters are easy to change on your own. All you need is the filter, and the appropriate wrench.

Air filters aren’t typically very expensive, but I’ve seen people take their existing filter out and clean it off to instead of buying a new one. I don’t think that’s as effective as getting a new air filter, but it will work in a pinch.

Having a dirty air filter can cause fuel inefficiency and considering that a car engine runs on both air and fuel, having sufficient air flow through the air filter is pertinent to the successful running of your car’s engine.

Tire Changes

It’s important to know how to change a tire because a flat happens to everyone at one time or another. Your car usually comes with the tools necessary to change a tire, including a spare, a jack, and a wrench.

Because flats rarely happen while you’re parked in your driveway, having a flashlight available in your car is also a good idea, should you get a flat when driving at night.

I’m always shocked when I hear people pay for tire changes if they get a flat suddenly, when it’s relatively easy to do and quicker to do it yourself rather than to get somebody else to come out and do it for you.

Usually the spare tire that comes with your car is a temporary, “donut” tire that cannot be driven on for more than a couple of days before you must put a real tire on it, but changing into your spare if disaster strikes can save you some time and some coin.

Fuses

I don’t know when I learned what fuses were for and how to change them, but when I had my older car, if a light stopped working or a window wouldn’t roll down, I’d always check the fuses first.

In some cars, the fuses are labelled as to what they do, but for some vehicles you have to look in the owner’s manual for a breakdown of what fuse is responsible for which function.

Fuses are fairly inexpensive at an auto parts store, and probably some of the easiest things to replace on your vehicle.

If you don’t know where your fuse box is, read your car’s owner manual, however, they are usually in a small plastic box under the hood, close to the windshield. If a fuse is blown or not working properly, it usually looks like a burnt out light bulb, in that it’s turned black.

These are all easy tasks that you can do on your own to maintain your car. As mechanics can charge a pretty penny for their time, it’s sometimes beneficial to do the simpler tasks yourself.

Do you do any of your own car maintenance?


Comments

DIY Car Maintenance For Cash Savings — 16 Comments

  1. My fiancee has done a few things to our car to save money, including replacing burn out headlights and tail lights (easy) and replacing the battery (not so easy). Changing the oil sounds pretty easy, maybe we’ll add that to the list.

  2. Excellent excellent post! Couldn’t agree more! Don’t let those mechanics rip you off, when some of these things are really easy to do yourself.

    HEre’s another tip. The next time your “check engine’ light comes on, don’t go to the mechanic.They’ll charge you to even look up what the problem is. Go to AUtoZone or some like store. They have the little computer FOR FREE that they will hook up to your car FOR FREE and tell you what the check engine problem is. With this, you can go to the mechanics (if you need to) with already knowing what’s wrong. YOu can even go online and look up what that fix might cost. Walking into a mechanics with that knowledge is very powerful!

    • You’re right, it is. I have had mechanics try to take advantage of me because I’m female and they automatically think I’m clueless. When I tell them what I think it is, at least they know that I have done my research and the dollar signs in their eyes fade a bit.

  3. I can get my oil changed and tires rotated for less than $30 so I pay to get that done but I try to do more expensive or easier tasks myself. I changed my own air filters a couple weeks ago. It took 5 minutes and saved me $40! Well worth it!

  4. This just reminds about another thing I hated about living in apartments—you can’t do any car maintenance on them in the complex. This is going to save us a ton of money because now my husband can just fix everything himself.

    Yay for doing stuff yourself. 🙂

  5. I have to tell you, with available time, I’m sure DIY can be a nice way to save. Personally, with time constraints, I get my oil changes and other car work done by others. We all have different time constraints and schedules!

    • Oh trust me – as a full-time student, full-time worker and blogger (and staff writer.. freelancer.. you get the idea) I know what busy is. But waiting for somebody to do work on your car can take just as long. Driving to get an air filter changed takes longer than just popping one in yourself – it takes less than 5 minutes.

    • Great idea! Those still exist! I think they are called Hanes (spelling?) manuals. They are actually pretty handy for DIY. But youtube is much better 🙂

      • I suppose those are probably really useful for something more complicated than a quick tuneup where a youtube video would suffice. He had a think manual that seemed to have everything in it, way beyond anything I could comprehend! haha.

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