Five DIY Car Maintenance Tips
Auto repair and maintenance can seem costly and overwhelming, but thankfully there are some maintenance tasks that anyone can accomplish. Simply maintaining air pressure in your tires, topping off fluids and keeping your air filter clean can extend the life of your car, improve gas mileage, help boost resale value and keep you out of the repair shop.
Check the Tires
Car tires are the point of contact between you and the road, but many people don’t pay attention to their car tires’ condition or pressure until there’s a problem. This can lead to a significant reduction in gas mileage, quicker wear and even flat tires. Always check your car’s tire pressure when the tire is ‘cold,’ meaning the car hasn’t recently been driven more than a mile or two. This ensures the air in the tire hasn’t expanded, leading to an inaccurate reading.
Optimal car tire psi levels can usually be found on a sticker inside your driver’s door, the sidewall of the tire itself or in the owner’s manual. Once you’ve determined the recommended pressure for your car’s tires, unscrew the valve stem and press an air pressure gage evenly onto the valve stem to get a reading. If any of your tires are low, use an air pump at your local gas station to inflate your tires to the recommended levels. Check your progress with the pressure gage often and be sure to check all four car tires separately. Also note that some cars may have different pressure requirements for the front and rear tires.
More information: http://www.wikihow.com/Check-Air-Pressure-in-Tires
Top off the Fluids
Many issues in used cars come from poor oil change practices early on in the car’s life. Checking your oil level is as simple as locating the dipstick and ensuring that the oil reaches the proper place between the two hash marks (sometimes marked “Low” and “High”) toward the end of the stick. Use a paper towel or rag to clean the oil off first, and then re-insert the dipstick to get a good reading. Experts generally say that if the oil is low but you aren’t due for an oil change just yet, adding a quart is acceptable to keep your engine running smooth. However, if your engine is often low on oil, you may want to take it to an auto repair shop to see why it’s losing so much. Keeping an eye on your transmission fluid, radiator fluid, brake fluid and window washer fluid are also important and relatively simple. You can find more detailed instructions on those here: https://www.edmunds.com/how-to/how-to-maintain-your-cars-fluid-levels.html
Change the Air Filter
Air filters are inexpensive, and replacing them is one of the easiest auto repair tasks you can do yourself. However, many people let them get contaminated with excess dirt and dust thereby hurting air intake, reducing power and fuel efficiency. First, check your owner’s manual or ask your local auto parts store which air filter is right for your car. Locate the air filter unit under the hood (this is easy to find online or in your manual). Remove the screws or pull the tabs that secure the lid. Pull out the old filter and clear the area of any dust or dirt (some auto repair shops use an air compressor to clean the housing). Pop in the new filter, replace the top and you’re good to go!
Taking care of your automobile now and making sure to keep up with these simple auto repair tasks can make a big difference when it later comes time to trade or resell your car.