Unless you’re a car enthusiast, most vehicle owners are less than enthusiastic about doing car maintenance. A lot of times, it’s just a lot easier to drop it off at the mechanic and have them do the work on it. However, the reality is that there are plenty of fixes and maintenance tasks that are relatively simple to do on your own.
Learn below some car problems where you can skip the mechanic…
CHANGING YOUR FLAT TIRE
This is an essential skill that every driver should know. The general steps for changing a flat tire are as follows: park your car on a flat surface, check the wheel opposite of the flat tire, use a lug wrench (with the special key for one of your lug nuts) to loosen the lug nuts, jack the car up until the flat tire is off the ground, fully remove the lug nuts, remove the flat tire, slide the new (or space saver) tire in place, and then reinstall the lug nuts by alternating tightening them in a star-like pattern. It’s best to practice the process before the time of necessity hits, of course.
It’s also a good idea to keep gloves, knee pads, a flashlight, and a crowbar in your car for this task. The gloves will help to protect your hands, the knee pads will protect your knees as you kneel on hard surfaces, the flashlight will come in handy at night, and the crowbar will help you pry off your wheel in case it has become melded or rusted to the axle.
SWAPPING THE WINDSHIELD WIPERS
Windshield wipers should generally be changed every six months, and it’s a simple matter of lifting up each wiper, pulling each wiper down off of the arm hoof, and then using a reverse motion to install the new wiper. In general, it’s a good idea to swap your windshield wipers in spring, since the winter months tend to be damaging for them.
PUTTING IN A NEW BATTERY
Changing the battery in your car is simpler than you think. First, it’s a good idea to confirm with a car battery supply shop that your battery is truly dead. Often they offer a battery test for free, and if your battery still has life in it, it’s a simple matter of charging your battery with a battery charger overnight. In the case of a dead battery, you’ll want to have gloves and safety goggles on hand to protect you from the harmful chemicals in car batteries. Locate the positive and negative terminals on the battery under your hood, disconnect the negative terminal by disconnecting the cable clamp, disconnect the positive terminal, remove the battery, clean the terminal clamps and battery tray, and use the reverse process to install the new battery. Applying grease to the terminals after installation of the new battery will help to prevent corrosion.
CLEANING YOUR HEADLIGHTS AND TAILLIGHTS
Many mistake the foggy look often seen in headlights and taillights as built-up dirt on the surface of the plastic, and they attempt to get rid of the hazy look by cleaning with an all-purpose or glass cleaner. Since the root of the issue is oxidation, however, this approach is ineffective. Instead, you can buy an affordable headlight deoxidation kit at your local discount department store and use it in combination with your power drill to gently buff away the oxidation. Another affordable method that many go for is using simple toothpaste (not of the gel variety) and a washcloth to gently buff away the oxidation. This typically isn’t quite as effective, but it can do the job in a fix and is significantly easier. It’s a good idea to apply a thin layer of wax when you are finished to help prevent your headlights from oxidizing and yellowing as quickly.
These tips can save you lots of money in vehicle-related costs, over the years, and leave you with more money in the budget for when serious car-related troubles come up!