Routine auto maintenance can cost you about $700 or more per year. And that amount doesn’t include major repairs).
Most people nowadays don’t even have a spare tire, let alone the proper budget for car services and repairs. What’s even worse is the fact that someone always has a story about getting ripped off by a mechanic.
That’s not to say you can’t trust mechanics. However, you don’t always need one—at least not for basic maintenance. DIY auto repair is much easier than it sounds, and it’ll save you a whole lot of money.
Keep reading to find out more.
A Simple DIY Auto Repair Guide
If you rely on a mechanic for everything vehicle related, you’re going to waste a lot of money. From tune-ups to radiator flushes, there are a number of auto maintenance jobs you can do yourself.
Even if you’re not mechanically inclined, it’s still a good idea to get to know your car and what it needs. So save your money for the more serious auto repairs by learning how to do these simple service jobs for yourself:
Air Filter Change
Swapping out your air filter is probably the easiest of all DIY car maintenance projects. All you really need for this job is the new air filter. You may want to have a flathead screwdriver handy as well in case the metal clips are difficult to remove.
This should be done every 12,000 miles or 12 months—whichever comes first.
Just locate the air filter box, remove the metal clips to open it and take note of how the old air filter is positioned. Then, switch it out for the new one, close the box and put the metal clips back on.
A new air filter will cost you around $10. A mechanic will charge anywhere from $20-$50 on average.
You don’t need any tools for this one, and you certainly don’t need a mechanic.
You’ll need to change out your wiper blades every 6 months to a year. All it takes is a trip to your local auto parts shop and knowledge of the type of blades that fit your car. On most cars, there’s a push tab on the underside of the wiper for easy removal.
Just make sure to read the directions on the packaging first—and take note of how the old wipers connect. This should only cost you about $10-$20, and if you’re having trouble, someone at the auto parts store should be able to help you out.
Oil and Oil Filter
This auto maintenance project is slightly more advanced but easy enough for beginners. For this, here’s what you’ll to need:
- A ratchet set
- An oil filter wrench (or a leather belt if you’re handy)
- A funnel
- An oil pan
- New Motor oil
- A new oil filter
If you already have the tools, this should only cost you about $20-$30 bucks depending on the type of motor oil and oil filter you choose.
You’ll want to let your car run for a few minutes to warm up the oil—but please let the engine cool before you start. Locate and remove the drain plug on the underside of the vehicle.
Let the oil drain into the oil pan, and make sure to wipe the drain plug clean. Once all of the oil has drained, replace the drain plug.
Now locate the old oil filter, and remove it using the wrench (or leather belt). Before installing the new oil filter, you’ll want to lubricate its rubber gasket with new motor oil and fill it about two-thirds of the way. Screw in the new filter, hand-tightening it only.
Next, add the new oil to the engine using the funnel. The amount you’ll need depends on the make and model of your car, so refer to your driver’s manual. Check your oil level with the dipstick—once while the car is off, and then again after running your car.
You can recycle your old oil at a nearby gas station or auto parts store. This should be done every 3,000-5,000 miles and doing it yourself will save you about $30-$65
This is a DIY car repair that should be done every 20,000 miles or so. And yes, you can do it yourself. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A lug wrench
- An adjustable wrench
- A hammer
- A car jack and stands
This will cost you about $25 and up as well as about an hour of your time. A mechanic will charge north of $100 to do this job.
First thing’s first, loosen up your lug nuts before jacking up your car. When your car is jacked up, finish taking off the wheel.
Locate the brake caliper (it should be in the 12:00 position). Remove the caliper bolts and pull the caliper upwards. It may need a few taps from the hammer, just be careful not to hit the brake lines. Once it’s removed, make sure to set it somewhere secure—never leave it hanging.
The old brake pads should slide right out of their clips once the caliper is out of the way. Secure the new pads in those same clips.
Next, use the C-clamp to compress the brake piston. Secure the clamp with the screw on the piston and the other end on the back of the caliper assembly. Tighten the clamp until the piston is out of the way and you can get the caliper assembly over the new brake pads.
Once the brake caliper is securely fitted onto the brake pads, you can start putting your wheel back on. Make sure to finish tightening your lug nuts after lowering your car back to the ground.
It’s Cooler if You DIY
By performing one or more of the above DIY auto repair jobs, you’ll be able to save up enough money for that spare tire. Not to mention there’s an added ego boost for a seemingly tough job well done.
All you need are some tools and of course, your car repair manual—which you can find on our site just by clicking the link!