5 DIY Car Maintenance Tips for Extending Your Car's Life – Checklist - Fixd Review Car Diagnostic Tool
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5 DIY Car Maintenance Tips for Extending Your Car’s Life – Checklist

Your car is a work of art – really. Entire teams have spent years designing, testing and tweaking your auto’s internal design to ensure that it meets your needs. But without maintenance, the vehicle that has been designed with the utmost care might start to display its age.

The engine will wear. The transmission will wear. Your vehicle will become less reliable.

And sure, there are some manufacturers that are known to have problems while others are known for cars that can last hundreds of thousands of miles with little to no problems.

You’ll want to do a few things well before even thinking about your vehicle’s maintenance:

  1. Read the manual. The manual will have your maintenance schedule and all of the information you need to know to properly maintain your auto.
  2. Pay attention to your vehicle. Your vehicle’s normal driving condition will change over time. Pay attention to any changes in your vehicle, such as slower response time, bucking or any other “sicknesses” that may indicate a serious problem with your vehicle.
  3. Check your computer. Your vehicle has a computer that monitors your vehicle’s condition at all times. This on-board diagnostics system will display a check engine light, and it gives insight into your vehicle’s current problems. Fixd car diagnostic is a cheaper OBD-II reader that can be used for diagnosing car problems.
  4. Find a go-to mechanic. Unless you’re willing to get your hands dirty and learn on-the-go, you need to find a go-to mechanic that can help you correct some of the more intense problems with your automobile. This mechanic should be honest and willing to work with you on an acceptable time schedule.

These are just some of the basics that can go a long way in ensuring that your vehicle stays in tip-top shape for years to come.

Checklist of Maintenance Tips to Extend Your Vehicle’s Lifespan

You spent a lot of money on your vehicle, so it only makes sense to do everything you can to extend the vehicle’s lifespan. The 5 DIY maintenance tips to extend your vehicle’s lifespan that I recommend are:

  1. Change the air filter (12 months/12,000 miles)
  2. Change the oil and oil filter.
  3. Check all of your fluids often and top off.
  4. Clean the battery terminals.
  5. Change the spark plugs.

Print out this checklist to better be able to maintain your vehicle. I recommend that you pick a manual for your vehicle that provides you with vehicle-specific instructions on repairing and maintaining your vehicle.

But we’ll provide some information for these basic maintenance tasks below.

1. How to Change an Air Filter


Changing an air filter is so easy that you often don’t need tools, and when you do, a ratchet is often the only thing you’ll need. The air filter should be changed every 12 months or 12,000 miles – whichever comes first.

You’ll need to:

  1. Open the hood of the car.
  2. Locate the black box with clips on the side.
  3. Open the casing.
  4. Note the placement of the filter.
  5. Remove the filter.
  6. Place the new filter inside.
  7. Close the case and position the metal clips again.

That’s it. Online forums or a good manual will help you locate the air filter.

2. How to Change Your Oil


If you have 45 minutes, you can change your car’s oil. You’ll need to have the following tools available:

  • Oil filter wrench
  • Ratchet
  • Funnel
  • Oil pan

Follow the mileage benchmark set in your manual for when to change your oil. Now, make sure the vehicle is cool. You’ll also need a car jack and need to know how to jack up your vehicle.

Now, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the oil pan and place the oil pan below.
  2. Remove the drain plug and allow to drain fully.
  3. Replace the plug.
  4. Remove the oil filter with your wrench.
  5. Lubricate your new oil filter with new oil.
  6. Fill the filter partly with new oil.
  7. Screw on the new filter with your hand.
  8. Lower the vehicle and open the hood.
  9. Use your funnel to fill the engine with new oil.
  10. Check the oil level with your dipstick making sure the levels are sufficient.
  11. Discard your old oil responsibly.

3. How to Check Your Vehicle’s Fluids


You’ll be surprised at how many check engine lights come on per year because fluid levels remained low for too long. This is simple, and you’ll need to have any required fluids available. Simply open the hood, and locate the dip-stick or level for:

  • Oil
  • Coolant
  • Power steering fluid
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Brake fluid

Check and replace fluids as needed. If the fluids are dirty, you may need to drain them and replace them.

4. How to Clean the Battery Cables


If your battery cables get dirty, you’ll have problems starting your vehicle. A good rule of thumb is to clean these cables every time you check your fluids – once every month or every other month will suffice.

You’ll need a few items:

  • Wire brush
  • Wrench or socket

A quick visual check will signal you to any erosion which may exist. Once you’ve checked for erosion, you’ll want to:

  1. Remove the battery cables by locating the nut and loosening them.
  2. Remove the ground first which is often the negative cable. There’s a guide to help you here.
  3. Clean off any corrosion with the wire brush.
  4. Put the posts back on and tighten as needed.

You can also use corrosion removing fluid, but I find the wire brush to work better.

5. How to Change Spark Plugs


Spark plugs are a bit complicated to replace, so make sure you’re comfortable before following these steps. You’ll also need a ratchet, socket wrench, spark plug socket and a 12″ socket extension to get started.

Now, open your hood and locate your spark plugs.

  1. Remove the first wire.
  2. Use your socket and extension to remove the first spark plug.
  3. Apply anti-seize compound to the threads of the spark plug ignoring the lower threads.
  4. Install the new spark plug by hand and then tighten slightly. Use a torque wrench if possible.
  5. Re-attach the wire.
  6. Repeat for all spark plugs.

You need to ensure that you do this one wire at a time so that the wire order doesn’t get mixed up. Buy pre-gapped spark plugs and a torque wrench to follow the right specs for your vehicle.

 

July 4, 2017

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