Going to the mechanic can be inconvenient and expensive. Most of what you end up paying goes toward labor, not necessarily the parts themselves. You may be surprised how easy it is to do some of the things you are willing to pay a mechanic for. Check out these auto repair and maintenance tasks that you can and should do yourself.
1. Air Filters
Generally, there are two filters in your ride. There is one that is under the hood and one that is in the cabin (behind the glove box). If you suspect one or both of your air filters needs to be changed, try doing it yourself. It may seem like a daunting and complex undertaking, but it is actually one of those auto repairs you can do yourself with minimal tools and effort.
Your best bet is to read your car's manual and watch some instructional videos beforehand. They will show exactly where to locate each air filter for your make and model, and how to effectively remove and replace them.
Tip: Splurge on a quality filter. It is better to spend a little more money to get a good filter, as they last longer and are more effective, which means more savings down the road. It might cost you $50 for a good one, but it beats paying an extra $100 on top of that for someone else to swap it out for you.
2. Tire Pressure
The pressure in your tires can change for a variety of reasons, such as the weather getting colder or warmer. But since, you don't always know the cause for sure, you go on autopilot to the dealership to get your tires adjusted as soon as your tire pressure sensing monitor light comes on. But, this is actually an easy and inexpensive fix in most cases.
Pressure gauges are sold at automotive stores for less than you probably spend on your morning latte. Plus, most vehicles have the recommended tire pressure listed on the inside frame of the driver’s side door for reference. In some cases, you might have to find it in the manual. Both of these will help you determine whether you need to inflate or deflate your tires to alleviate the issue.
Air machines can be found at most gas stations for a dollar or less, and they often have gauges built into them for convenience and accuracy.
However, if your tire is completely flat, you are going to have to change it or get it fixed by a professional.
3. Spark Plugs
These sound like something that would be dangerous to replace. However, it is similar to screwing in a light bulb, making changing your spark plugs another auto repair you can easily do yourself.
Like most things, the complexity will depend on the make and model of your car. And, like light bulbs, those fancy ones that cost a little more will last longer and save you money. Once you get that all squared away, you will use a wrench to loosen the old plugs until you can twist them out and then again to tighten the new ones securely in place.
4. Windshield Wipers
If you have noticed any streaks on your windshield, feel the rain isn’t being wiped away as it should be, or see the rubber separating from the arms, it is time to change you wiper blades. For most cars, they pretty much just clip on and off. However, you can always pull up instructional videos for your specific video online if need be.
Tip: Many many auto supply stores will install them for you free of charge when purchased at their location.
The battery is usually the most easily accessible part under the hood. It is also one of the easiest parts to change out.
A common problem with batteries is also corrosion. This happens over time if the battery is not properly maintained. You can buy sprays to help prevent this from happening. However, if you see what looks like old toothpaste that has been missing its cap for a while, you will need to treat the battery corrosion. This can easily be remedied by using one of those sprays and a toothbrush to scrub away the corrosive material.
It is important to avoid corrosion because it affects the life of your battery and can also, essentially, fuse it to the terminals. If that happens, the terminals will need to be sawn apart from the battery and replaced. These are all more inconvenient and expensive than just keeping up with it to begin with.
Warning: Obviously, the biggest concern here is being shocked, so it is important to follow instructions carefully. The other concern is the acid from the battery, which can damage fabrics, so be mindful and avoid touching it or laying it on anything you do not want damaged.
These may not be as easy for certain makes and models, but overall, they should be simple, straightforward things you can do. The best part is, they don't require an extensive tool set.
However, one thing you want to be sure of, is that any of the work you do to your car will not void your warranty. Some dealerships sell or offer extended warranties that go beyond the manufacturer’s warranty, which may stipulate certain repairs that are not done by a certified technician will cause that warranty to be null and void.