One of the most expensive items you’ll ever own is your auto. But you can save money on car maintenance by learning how to change your oil and other custom car care tasks. If you’ve never looked under the hood, this might be a good time to try.
The money you save will help you to pay for school and other necessities. Or you could just use your savings to pay for a fun road trip. Here are a few custom car care tips to get you started.
In a 2011 article for MoneyCrashers.com, ”8 DIY Car Maintenance Tips You Can Handle – Checklist,” David Bakke listed a few of the more common car maintenance tasks with a rundown on how they could be done economically.
The tasks included:
- changing the air filter
- changing windshield wipers
- changing spark plugs
- changing oil and oil filter
- checking the battery
- flushing the radiator
Most of these tasks clocked in at less than an hour and at a cost of under $40. According to Bakke, by taking over these tasks yourself, you could save thousands of dollars over the life of your car.
“Just be sure that you know your experience level, and don’t try a DIY project that’s too big to handle. Don’t risk injury or take apart pieces that you can’t put back together. Otherwise, you can learn a new skill, teach others and save yourself a few bucks all at the same time,” Bakke cautioned.
How to change your oil
In an hour or less you could save money by changing your oil yourself. Ashley Jacobs explained the process in a May 16, 2011, post for USNews.com, “11 Car Maintenance Tasks You Can Do Yourself.”
Before you begin, make sure that the car is not hot and that it is parked on level ground. You’ll need the following tools and supplies:
- new oil filter and gasket
- new oil
- oil filter wrench
- a funnel to pour the oil into the engine
- car jack
Jack up the car so that you can get to the oil pan located under the car. Then follow these steps:
- unscrew the oil pan and drain the oil into a recycling container
- replace the drain plug
- find the oil filter and use a filter wrench to remove the filter and its gasket (watch out for dripping oil)
- lubricate the rubber gasket on the new filter with new oil
- fill the oil filter about two-thirds with new oil
- screw the new filter into place as tightly as you can
- open the hood and remove the oil cap
- fill the engine with new oil using a funnel
- use the dipstick to check the oil level and make sure you’ve added enough oil
- replace the oil cap
- discard the old oil filter and recycle the old oil at a gas station
The typical oil replacement will cost you about $45 if you pay someone. And while you’re there, they will try to sell you other services. Do it yourself and you’ll only spend about $20 for the oil and filter. What will you do with your savings?
More car maintenance tips
Another task that could be done by an amateur is changing the spark plugs. Over time the plugs become worn and develop carbon deposits. Because the plugs don’t ignite as well, your car’s overall efficiency is reduced.
Eric J. Leech explained how easily you can change spark plugs in his article for HowStuffWorks.com, “6 DIY Automotive Repairs Anyone Can Do.”
“Installation is as simple as removing the ignition wires from the old spark plugs, removing plugs with a socket wrench, installing new plugs, then coating the inside of the ignition wire boots with a little dielectric grease for a good seal before snapping them onto the new plugs,” Leech explained.
When it comes to buying new spark plugs, you can buy the same type that originally came with the car.
For more help on knowing what to do and when to do it, refer to the owner’s manual. It will tell you when to change fluids, tires, fuses and other items. You’ll also get help in choosing the right oil and transmission fluid.
What custom car maintenance tips do you have to share? Tell us in the comments.