For many of us, how our vehicles actually work is something of a mystery. We know how to drive from A to B but, when it comes to maintenance and repair, our first instinct is to call the garage.
However, if you learn how to perform simple car maintenance tasks yourself, you could save yourself a considerable amount of money – and learn some valuable new skills into the bargain. Here are six easy car maintenance jobs you can do at home.
Replace wiper blades
If your wipers are leaving streaks and smears across the glass, then it’s time to change the blades. Most auto parts stores carry a decent selection of replacements or, of course, you can go to your dealership. Either way, go with a quality brand rather than the economy option; they might cost more, but the rubber will be of higher quality, perform better and last longer.
There’ll be installation instructions on the packaging. Just be sure to have a firm grip on the wiper arm when you remove the perished blade; if it snaps back against the glass, it could crack it.
Change the engine air filter
You might think inspecting and replacing your engine air filter is a complicated job, but it really isn’t that difficult. You just need to unscrew or unclip the air filter box retainers and take the old filter out. Check it by holding a bright light behind it; if more than 50% of the light is blocked, it needs changing. Once you’ve replaced it (or reinstalled the existing filter), you just need to secure the box cover again.
Replace bulbs (non-headlight)
If the bulbs for your fog lights, indicators or license plate blow, changing them is generally simple once you’ve got a new one to hand. Remove the retaining screws and prize off the cover. Remove the broken bulb by pulling it straight out of the socket, then push the new one into place until it clicks. It’s a good idea to wear clean gloves or handle new bulbs with a paper towel; this stops oils from your skin transferring onto the glass. Then simply reinstall the cover.
Scratches on your wheels not only spoil how your car looks, but they also increase the risk of corrosion and further damage by allowing damp and dirt under the surface. The simplest solution is to use our own HideThatScratch microfilm patches; simply clean the area and apply. The process takes seconds and there’s no mess. And, because each patch is thinner than a human hair and formulated with professional car paints, the color match is perfect and the result almost invisible to the naked eye. We cater for most makes and models – find yours here.
Swap your brake fluid
You can’t do a complete brake fluid flush yourself – unless you’ve got all the necessary kit – but you can do a swap. This will replace enough of the old brake fluid to make a difference in between a full change at the garage.
You can test your brake fluid by dipping a test strip and comparing it to the chart you’ll find on the packaging – it should be a light honey color. If you decide to do a swap, use a turkey baster to suck out old fluid and squirt it into a bottle. Then refill the reservoir with fresh. Drive your car for a week to mix the new fluid with what was left of the old, then retest. You might need to do this several times.
Clean out the air vents
It might sound obvious, but air vents are often overlooked – we either forget to clean them at all or use the brush attachment on a vacuum and think that’s enough. In truth, it’s not the right tool for the job – and those vents are real dust magnets. Instead, take an inexpensive artist’s paintbrush and spritz it with furniture polish. Then work the brush into all the vents and crevices to collect the dust. Wipe it off on a rag every so often, spray with polish again, and carry on.
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