Owning a car is a huge responsibility, and as we all know it can be expensive. When owning a vehicle, you have to take into consideration the price of the car itself, the gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs. While we can’t do too much to circumvent the cost of some of these, we can try and lower the maintenance and repair costs. How you may ask? Simple, we do them ourselves. Here are just a few things that every car owner should know how to do on their vehicle:
- How to Change Your Oil - One of the most essential fluids in your engine is oil. It lubricates the gears and pistons in the engine and absorbs heat, allowing the engine to properly run. When you have dirty oil or if there isn’t enough, the oil will not be able to perform these tasks properly and could lead to a poorly running vehicle, or even damage to the car. Luckily, it isn’t that hard to change it. A usual oil change for a vehicle can be between $25-70 depending on the type of oil, as well as how much oil is needed. When I inquired for an oil change at a major oil service store, I was told it would cost me $65 for synthetic oil. When I went to the auto parts store, I purchased a 5-quart container of premium synthetic oil and went to my local Subaru dealership for an oil filter. Overall, it cost me $30 and about 30 minutes of my time.
- How to Check Other Car Fluids - Your vehicle has a bunch of fluids running in it at all times. There’s antifreeze to transfer heat from the engine to your radiator, brake fluid to transfer pressure to force the brakes to open or close, wiper fluid to clean off your windshield, and the list goes on. These fluids should always be topped off and checked in case of any contaminants. If any of these fluids are low or contaminated, there’s a high risk of an issue arising.
- How to Change a Tire - I’m sure you’ve seen people pulled over on the side of the road with a flat tire. Or maybe you’ve gotten a nail in your tire and need to bring it to someone to repair. Being able to change your tire with the spare tire can save a lot of headaches when needing a new tire.
- How to Change Lightbulbs - Light bulbs allow you to see the road, but they also allow other drivers to see where you are, as well as what you’re doing on the road. We have all seen that driver with only 1 working light out of the 5 on the back of their car. Checking your light bulbs is something that everyone should get in the habit of doing. Depending on the state, you can be pulled over and given a ticket if you have a light out.
- How to Diagnose a Check Engine Light - If anyone has had an issue with their vehicle, or had an older car, you may know the woes of a Check Engine light on the dashboard. This light tells the driver that there is something wrong with the car and that you should bring it into a shop. In order to save some money, we can diagnose it in a few different ways. We can check the codes using something called an OBDII reader. This device will read the code and spit out the number for you to look up. Most of us do not own this reader, which is why Autozone and Advance Auto Parts allows you to come in and they will read the codes for you, free of charge! If you have a vehicle with a lot of issues, or if you just want to be able to do it yourself, you can purchase one of these units (ranging from $15 to $100+) in order to read these codes. Personally, I own the VeePeek Bluetooth OBDII device. I pair it to my phone using the Torque Pro app, and I am able to read off any code that may pop up, as well as different values such as vehicle temperature, horsepower, intake temperature, boost value, and a plethora of other values that a driver may want to know.
Now, I’ve listed a bunch of different reasons as to why you should know how to do these basic tasks, but I never explained how to do them. This is because each car and engine are different based on year, make, and model. If you do a simple Google Search you’ll be able to find tons of different resources helping you to save a buck or two. I found CarCareKiosk when I was searching on how to change my headlights a couple years back. You’re able to select your exact vehicle, and you’re then greeted with a list of different videos about how to care for your vehicle. It’s definitely a great resource for anyone who is thinking about doing something to their vehicle. If you do not find your vehicle on their website, chances are your vehicle's Owner’s Manual has a section on maintenance. Otherwise, do some research or go to your local auto store and ask questions.