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Save on Car Maintenance With These Do-It-Yourself Tasks

For many people, driving a car is a fact of life. If you own a vehicle, you already know how important it is for work and play. At the same time, vehicle ownership is such a natural part of our modern life that it can be easy to forget that it’s a machine that requires maintenance.

Car problems can be costly. While it is always a good idea to save in case you need to take it to a mechanic for a major repair emergency, there are many things you can do at home that can reduce your overall maintenance costs.

The Importance of Regular Car Maintenance

You may live in a place where owning a vehicle is necessary. Therefore, it makes sense to do what you can to make sure your car is always ready to go when you are. Keeping tabs on your automobile is always a good idea.

The little things you do before hitting the road make a huge difference, whether for your daily commute or a family road trip. Checking your car from time to time—and doing some maintenance work yourself—has many benefits, like:

  • Staying informed of your car’s condition
  • Improving handling and vehicle safety
  • Enhancing gas mileage
  • Saving money

Doing auto maintenance at home saves money and reduces the amount of trips to your local mechanic. At the same time, it’s essential to recognize and understand your limits. If you do not have the tools or knowledge to perform specific maintenance tasks, it is always a good idea to turn to a trained and experienced professional to do these things for you.

With that out of the way, here are a few common car maintenance tasks that can be done without making an appointment with your local mechanic. Compared to going to an auto detailer or garage, doing these tasks yourself is relatively inexpensive and won’t take up too much of your time.

Improve Safety and Visibility

Regarding road safety, the ability to see and be seen are priorities. You can conduct various maintenance tasks at home to improve your awareness and visibility while in traffic.

Replace your windshield wipers. The Sunshine State gets its fair amount of rain, especially during spring and summer. The sunlight, rain, and dirt will degrade the rubber on windshield wipers over time.

If you turn on your wipers and see streaks, it’s time for a replacement. Also, consider replacing them if they look torn or damaged. Your owner’s manual should have information on how to replace your windshield wipers.

Check and replace your taillights. In many states, functioning taillights are required by law, including the blinkers and emergency lights. Take some time to confirm that your taillights and blinkers are functioning correctly.

If they aren’t, you can easily replace the taillights at home. For most makes and models, you only need a replacement bulb and a screwdriver to complete the job. You can access the bulbs through the housing, which is held in place through your vehicle's trunk or rear hatch.

Go to your local auto parts store to find matching bulbs. They should be sorted by the make, year, and model of your vehicle.

Handling, Comfort, and Fuel Efficiency

Automobiles contain different systems that work together to make travel easier. Many adjustments you can make on your own will improve vehicle performance without taking the time to call a mechanic.

Check tire pressure and fill your tires. Tire pressure directly impacts vehicle handling, safety, and gas mileage. Your owner’s manual and multiple parts on your car should list the ideal pressure (PSI) your tires should have.

You can buy a handheld tire pressure gauge to check these readings weekly. If one or more of your tires are underinflated, use an air pump at your local gas station (or buy your own) to fill them to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Replace air filters. Your car should have two air filters for your engine and the in-cabin air conditioning system. Refer to your owner’s manual to confirm their locations and directions on how to replace the filters. Often, the only tool you need for these repairs is a flathead screwdriver.

The engine air filter keeps particles out of your engine, so it is important to check this part regularly to maintain good gas mileage and performance. Organizations like AAA recommend changing the filter every 20,000 miles (conveniently, this interval coincides with oil changes for most vehicles).

Visually speaking, bright light should pass through most of the filter. If it doesn’t, replace it. You can also go the extra mile by vacuuming the filter box every time you check or replace the filter.

Like your HVAC system’s filter, the in-cabin filter affects air quality and performance. Neglecting it would risk your car’s air conditioning to fail prematurely. The in-cabin filter should be located near the passenger’s side of your vehicle, near the glove compartment. Again, consult your manual for the actual location and replacement directions.

Nothing compares to the satisfaction of a job well done. When you take these common car maintenance tasks into your own hands, you do more than save money: you are doing your part in making driving a safer and more cost-effective part of your life.

If you’re in the market for another vehicle, it helps to partner with a trusted financial institution. First Florida Credit Union offers auto loans with budget-friendly finance terms and industry-leading member support. View our loans today and learn more about your options.


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