Simple Car Maintenance You Can Perform Between Milestone Maintenance
Car Maintenance You Can Do At Home
Service Advisor, Auto House Phoenix
Your car is a big investment, so regular maintenance is a must. But did you know some routine car maintenance is actually car maintenance you can do at home? Even if you don’t know an engine from an alternator or are completely clueless about changing a tire, basic car maintenance is still easy. There are plenty of at-home car maintenance service tasks you can do to help you save on your next trip to the mechanic, and extend the life of your car. Here are some simple car maintenance tasks you can perform yourself in-between milestone services.
Car Preventative Maintenance Checklist
- Change the oil and filter: An engine running on old oil will fail sooner than one that is well lubricated, so it’s important to check your oil level regularly. Try to check it when the engine is off and the car has been parked for a while. You’ll want to change your oil about every 7,000 miles or three months—whichever comes first—and also replace the oil filter. Oil change frequency can vary depending on your driving habits and what kind of car you drive. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, or ask your mechanic for guidance.
- Change Your Air Filter: Check your vehicle’s air filter every six months or 6,000 miles. Your engine needs air to run properly (and so does your A/C), so make sure your air filter isn’t clogged with dust or dirt. It takes minimal effort to change or clean them, and the best part is that most cars have two—one for the cabin and one for the engine. Both are easy to find and low cost to replace, so it’s worth the effort.
- Tire pressure check and inflation: This can be done in less than a minute. Simply make sure that the air pressure of your tires is up to the standard specified by the manufacturer on the tire’s sticker located on the inside edge of the driver’s door, or in the owner’s manual. While you’re looking at your tires, inspect the tread for wear and tear, and look for any foreign objects embedded in the tire.
- Replace your wiper blades: The easiest way to check your windshield wipers is to wet the entire surface of your windshield and turn on your wipers. If you notice any smearing or skipping, it’s time for a new set of blades. On average, your wiper blades should last between 6 and 12 months, depending on weather conditions and other factors. However, in hot climates like Arizona with excessive heat in the summer months, your blades probably won’t last that long. While you’re at it, take a look at the color of your windshield wiper fluid. If it’s more than two years old, you should replace it with new fluid as soon as possible.
- Check all fluids regularly: Windshield wiper fluid is easy to refill, so if the fluid is low, simply top it off at home. Be sure to keep an eye on the levels of oil, brake, and transmission fluids as well. Depending on the make and model of your car, oil changes can be relatively simple to perform on your own. However, for newer models, it’s best to let a professionally-trained mechanic handle oil, transmission and brake fluid changes. Newer vehicles are more complex and computerized so they tend to need less owner-maintenance between dealership milestone maintenance appointments.
- Check for leaks: Oil, brake fluid, and transmission fluids can all leak if there is a problem with the vehicle. Look in the engine and on the ground or floor of the garage for anything visible that might indicate a leak. If you find something is leaking, be sure to consult your mechanic soon before a smaller problem turns into a bigger and more expensive one.
- Check your battery often: The Arizona heat tends to shorten battery life. Clean terminals if there are any signs of corrosion. If your battery is nearing the end of its life, don’t wait or you’ll be calling AAA or someone to give you a jumpstart. And don’t worry, battery replacement is a simple process. On average, most car batteries cost between $75 and $125, and the replacement process is fairly simple. Remove the cables, secure the new battery, and reattach the cables to the proper terminals, and you should be good to go! Pro tip: If you open up your hood and consistently find corrosion in your battery, get it replaced right away as it could suggest a leak of some other chemical in the car.
When to Perform These Simple Maintenance Tasks
Know your vehicle, and how it drives, feels, and sounds. Any changes you notice could indicate that something might be failing. Keep an eye on your dashboard for warning indicators or Check Engine lights. If the car starts making a noise that it shouldn’t, get it checked right away by a mechanic.
Why It’s Important to Do These Simple Maintenance Items
Regular maintenance, whether DIY or performed by a mechanic, extends the life of your car plus maintenance costs can be much higher for poorly maintained vehicles versus those that are serviced regularly. And you’ll get more for your vehicle when you sell or trade it if you have a documented maintenance history. Make a habit of checking under the hood periodically and consistently. This will help you get more familiar with the engine and keep things in check and running smoothly. Once you get into the habit of taking care of your car, you can avoid potentially costly maintenance problems down the road. Finally, be sure to keep records of at-home oil changes and other small maintenance tasks as keeping good records can also help maintain your vehicle’s resale value.
When to Take Your Car to a Professional Mechanic
Even diehard do-it-yourselfers need to know when the problem under the hood is one that needs the expertise of an ASE Certified mechanic. Cars are getting more complicated by the model year with many technological advancements. While you probably won’t damage your car (or hurt yourself!) by changing the wiper blades, there are things you should always leave to a professional, like timing belt replacements, transmission maintenance or repair, anything related to the suspension, and fuel system components. Auto House offers comprehensive ASE Certified Auto Repairs and Maintenance at a better price than traditional dealerships! No matter where you bought your car, we follow the Golden Rule and treat everyone fairly and honestly. See for yourself.