For it to keep running properly, a car needs regular servicing. It is normal to miss a service here or there when things are tight financially. However, when you do this, your car will be that much closer to breaking down. Car servicing is a costly affair that most car owners try to avoid. If you cover a high yearly mileage, you should consider servicing your own car to save on costs. You will likely save up to two thirds of what any garage would charge you. This is a basic guide that will help you to service your own car.
When should you do maintenance? Consult your car’s handbook for details on when to service your car. If you do not have a manufacturers guide, car servicing should be done from 6,000 to 16,000 miles. Regular car maintenance includes:
.Checking oil level
.Checking hydraulic brake fluid level
.Windscreen washer refilling
.Checking for tire pressure and damage
Engine oil change
The engine should be warm before an oil change because warm oil flows faster than cool oil. Therefore, you should run the engine for about 15 minutes beforehand. Perform the oil change on a level surface. Jack the car up and use a stand for safety. On the top side of the engine, remove the oil cap; not doing so may create a vacuum, causing some oil to remain inside. Put a bucket under the sump plug and drain the oil. Because the oil might be hot, you need to be extra careful.
Using an oil filter wrench, turn it anticlockwise to remove the oil filter. Wipe the mounting surface clean using a towel. Coat a new oil filter gasket with oil and install it by hand until it meets the filter mount. Reinstall the drain plug using a new washer and tighten it accordingly. Refill the engine with oil while checking the car’s oil level indicator. When the level is just below maximum on the dipstick, replace the cap and let the engine run for 10 minutes. Check the oil level again using the dipstick. As you finish up, make sure there are no leaks around the sump plug.
The cooling system is a very important part of the engine. About a third of the energy produced by engines is wasted after being converted to heat. The right mixture of engine coolant not only keeps the engine from overheating during summer, but also from freezing in the winter. Moreover, it prevents the corrosion of internal components. If you notice a puddle of green, orange, or yellow liquid after parking, you have a leak. The liquid is known as antifreeze and might be coming from holes in the exterior hoses.
Open the car’s hood and check the leak on a plastic piece or hose. Do not touch it, as it might still be hot. If you can see the leak, you might be able to fix it. Simply unclamp the leaking hose and install a new one in its place then reinstall the clamp. If the leak is not visible, then it might be inside the radiator. Do not attempt to fix it yourself; take your car to an expert.
Changing spark plugs
Before you remove the existing spark plugs, get rid of debris that may enter the ignition chamber. Use high quality spark plugs with copper core electrodes and insert them by hand until tight. Tighten them some more with a spark plug removal tool for a 1/2 or 1/4 turn while ensuring that you do not over-tighten as it may cause thread damage.
Replace air filter
An air filter keeps particles of dirt from getting into the engine when it sucks in air. Therefore, it is essential to the operation of your vehicle. Dirty filters affect the performance of your engine as well as mileage. To replace it, simply unscrew the plastic screw on the side of the engine and take the old filter out. Install a new one and screw the lid on.
Replace your brake pads
If you hear a squealing sound after applying the brakes, then it is time to replace your brake pads. On the other hand, if you hear a grinding sound, the rotor needs replacing. If you are a novice, do not attempt to change your own rotor. However, the brake pads are easy to change. Start by loosening the lug nuts on the wheel and jacking up the car. Slide under the car and look for 2 slider bolts that keep the caliper in position. When you find them, remove the lower bolt. You can now check the thickness of your brake pads and change them.
Check windscreen washers
Are the washers and wipers working properly? There is nothing worse than being stuck in a heavy downpour when your wipers do not work. It is also extremely dangerous to drive without wipers when it is raining. If your wipers are faulty, you can have them replaced or do it yourself.
Replacing battery or alternator
If your car is not starting and the accessories will not power on, check your battery and alternator. Use a multimeter to test whether your alternator and battery are dead. If either of them does not measure enough power, it needs to be replaced. The solution might be simpler: if you left your lights on overnight, your battery only needs a jump. When the alternator or battery has failed, a jumpstart will provide a short-term solution.
A full car servicing is not necessary every time. Sometimes, you can save on money by learning how to do your own servicing. When it is time for a full service, you should ask for the cost in advance. This will help you to be prepared and keep you from being hit with hidden charges. To avoid being overcharged, find a garage with good reviews and a good reputation. If you are doing your own car servicing for the first time, buying tools might be more expensive than a basic service. However, it will save plenty of money in the long-term.