Money talks – do it for your wallet!
I know what it’s like – I don’t want to touch anything underneath the hood of the car. I’m not even sure I can open the hood and prop it up successfully. I was like that growing up, until I got into a serious relationship. We moved in together and suddenly it became a joint effort to save money. My boyfriend refused to let me be afraid to learn the basics about my car. He explained that in the long run we would be saving a lot of money if we were able to take care of our respective cars ourselves. And I figured since we equally split every other chore, like house cleaning duties, it would only be fair to be responsible for maintaining my own vehicle. Well, we’re no longer together, but I still have that knowledge and quite frankly I’m better for it, it’s beneficial for anyone to know!
1. Change a Fuse.
Have you ever freaked out because your automotive lights won’t turn on? Or worse, the stereo stopped working? Before you have a panic attack, confirm that it’s not something as simple as a blown fuse.
A fuse is designed to protect your car by preventing an electrical overload from damaging your electrical components. It does that by shutting off the electrical power. And all you have to do when it blows is swap it out with a new one. Check your Owner’s manual or look online to learn where the fuse box in your car is located (it’s often below the glove compartment or steering wheel). A replacement fuse only costs around one dollar and you can replace it in a flash. If you’re a visual learner, you could always YouTube it.
2. Washing / Detailing
Sure, it’s been a part of an American routine for years. Going to get the car washed during lunch break from work every Friday. But when I calculated the cost I realized what a pricey mistake I was making at paying over twenty dollars a week (with tip). And that really is easy to do yourself, it can even be fun! All you need is a hose, bucket, soap, wax, washing mitt and some towels and you’re good to go. Involve a friend and it’s lively and quick. On a hot day you can be done and dry in twenty minutes. Of course, you get in a bit of exercise with it, too, so it’s win/win!
3. Replace the Windshield Wipers
You probably know your wiper blades are worn, and shame on you. You drive in the rain with obscured vision. Go right to a department or auto store, tell them your car’s make and number and follow the diagram on the box for replacing them. Even if there’s no illustration it should be easy enough to figure out. If you still have trouble, the clerk will usually be happy to step outside and give you a hand. Depending on the severity of weather where you live you may need to replace them as much as twice a year.
4. Replace the Brake Lights
You don’t want to get pulled over for any reason. It could result in an expensive ticket. Naturally you don’t want to do anything that would warrant a traffic stop – like a brake light that’s out. The reality of it is, it is potentially dangerous so you want to change these out the moment it comes to your attention. You may need to refer to your owner’s manual if access to your brake light isn’t immediately clear. Typically it’s as easy as switching out any light bulb, you just have to remove the housing or access the socket through the trunk.
5. Change the Air Filter
Every time you get your oil change an employee approaches you with a filthy air filter in hand and the claim that it’s time to get a new one. Often they could actually just shake most of the dirt out, but they won’t do that, they get a commission. And the truth is an air filter is a cinch to replace not to mention cheap.
You will easily find your air filter under the hood in a plastic container next to the engine. Usually it’s just a matter of undoing one wing tipped screw in the center and maybe three metal clips on the sides and the top of the container pops off and reveals the old filter. You should be able to figure it out from there.
6. Change the Oil
Ah, this must be the granddaddy of DIY’s. The one that sets a standard for everything else you can do yourself. That’s because it’s a bit of a challenge that not everybody lives up to. And that’s okay, there’s a reason why professional oil change bays have sprung up everywhere. You just need the right parts – like a jack, socket wrench, regular wrench and a drain pan. Oh, oil and an oil filter will help. If you’ve never done it before it’s best to have someone walk up through it personally. My boyfriend practically had to do it for me a few times before I got comfortable with the procedure, now it’s old hat.