12 DIY Vehicle Maintenance Tips
Driving around in your car can be both rewarding and stressful. Rewarding because you treasure your ride, and stressful because you hear a clicking sound every time you turn the steering wheel. Over time things fall apart if you don’t maintain it. You’ll save hundreds if not thousands of dollars over time by taking care of some simple tasks yourself.
The following list of essential yet practical DIY vehicle maintenance tips will keep you safely on the road for years to come.
1. Keep Your Tires Balanced/Inflated
An unbalanced wheel can cause damage to your steering system, which may result in an expensive repair. Not only that, but it will also affect the way your vehicle handles, which is dangerous, especially at high speeds or when driving through hazardous conditions like rain, snow, ice, etc. Make sure to check the pressure in all four of your tires regularly. Don’t forget to check the spare tire as well. If the tires need replacement check out Costco tires.
2. Rotate Tires Every 6-10k Miles
Regularly rotating your tires will help ensure even wear and extend their life expectancy. Rotation is critical when you experience different driving situations like frequent wear on one side of the car (i.e., front tire wearing down more than the rear). Consult with your owner’s manual for specifics regarding how often you should rotate your tires depending on your car model.
3. Get Your Brakes Checked Regularly
Brakes are among the most critical safety features on your car, so make sure they work correctly. If you notice any “squealing” or unusual noises when braking, take it in for a professional inspection immediately. At worst, if left untreated, you could be putting yourself and other drivers at risk.
4. Check Brake Fluid Every Few Months
Under a car’s hood, you’ll find a reservoir for brake fluid, which is vital to the functionality of the brakes and the safety of everyone on board. Ensure that this reservoir is never empty by checking it every few months and adding new fluid if necessary. Consult with your owner’s manual for specific instructions regarding how to check/add brake fluid in your vehicle.
5. Replace Fluids According To Manufacturer Recommendations
The fluids that lubricate and protect critical components of your engine will gradually be used up through normal usage over time, resulting in diminished performance/engine life expectancy.
This means they need to be replaced with fresh fluids every so often. Make sure to consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions on how often these need to be replaced in your car model.
6. Some cars even have a monitoring system that will alert you when to replace certain fluids.
Keep Spark Plugs Clean/Adjust As Needed
Dirty or improperly gapped spark plugs can cause problems that are potentially expensive to fix, including misfires and decreased engine performance. There are service intervals for replacing the spark plugs for most cars, usually every 30k miles depending on driving conditions/style. If you have not had this done recently, then start by cleaning your current spark plugs according to their suggestions in the manual before checking/adjusting the gaps.
7. Clean/Replace Air Filter Every Few Months
The air filter should be cleaned every few months to ensure that dirty/oily particles do not get into your engine. Consult with your owner’s manual for specific instructions on how to check/clean your filter in your car model. If you notice a significant change in performance or gas mileage, it may be time to replace the air filter. Some manufacturers will recommend replacing this at certain intervals depending on driving conditions/style.
8. Check Your Hoses
The rubber hoses under your hood can become brittle over time, which may cause them to break while you are driving. If you notice any signs of leakage or cracks in the hoses, get them inspected immediately. This is especially true for coolant hoses, but also make sure to check oil/ transmission fluid lines as well.
9. Replace Wipers Often
Make sure that your windshield wipers are always in good condition. Especially during inclement weather, this is extremely important because it helps improve visibility- which leads to better driving habits. It’s recommended that you replace wiper blades once or twice per year, depending on your climate and driving conditions.
10. Change Oil As Needed
Changing oil is one task that many people are hesitant about since it can be messy and time-consuming, but the rewards are well worth it. Most cars have an oil change schedule that requires you to change the oil every 5-8k miles depending on your specific model, driving conditions/style, and environment (i.e., dusty, humid). Some vehicles even have an alert system that will tell you when it is time to do an oil change.
11. Get Vehicle Inspected Every Year/Two Years
The vehicle inspection should be done annually or biennially, depending on your state’s requirements. During this inspection, many problems may be detected that could end up damaging other components of your engine if not fixed before they become serious problems. So don’t neglect to get this maintenance performed.
Even if you are unsure about doing some of these simple maintenance tasks yourself, you can still save money by inspecting your car to ensure that there aren’t any problems before going to a mechanic.
12. Have A Tune-Up Every Year
For newer cars with fuel injection systems, a tune-up consists of inspecting critical components within the vehicle, including spark plugs, wires, distributor cap/rotor, O2 sensor(s), etc. However, many older cars may still require a more traditional tune-up with spark plugs, fuel filters, distributor cap/rotor, etc.
The older your vehicle becomes, the more frequently you will need to replace components within the engine. Depending on how many miles are on your car, the recommendation is getting an engine tune-up at least once every 3-5 years.
Keep Track Of All Repairs
This is by far the most critical car maintenance tip of them all. “How often do I change my oil?”-“Oh, no idea.”
If you don’t know when your last primary service was or how many miles are on your vehicle’s odometer, it’s time to make a record of it. Otherwise, you run the risk of neglecting some vital tasks while putting yourself and other drivers at higher risk of breaking down while driving.