Unhaggle | 5 Car Maintenance Tasks You Should Be Doing Yourself

Posted by | April 08, 2014 | Maintenance, Ownership | No Comments

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Several car repairs can drain your wallet quickly, with easy-to-perform maintenance wasting money for new car owners everywhere. You can do a wide range of repairs yourself, regardless of your technical skill, such as changing oil and other fluids as well as rotating your tires. If you want to make the most of your car without having to take it to the dealership for every issue, read on to learn five maintenance tasks you should be doing yourself:

1. Oil and Transmission Fluid Changes

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If you’re like the average person, a major worry on your mind is engine troubles on your new Ford Fusion. A huge factor when it comes to engine trouble is your car’s engine oil. This makes sense, considering oil bathes and lubricates the power plant of the vehicle. Furthermore, it’s the job of the transmission to parcel out the engine’s power to the wheels, meaning you should give transmission fluid just as much attention as engine oil when thinking about car maintenance.

Unless your car’s oil filter and/or oil drain plug is impossible to reach, you can save money by changing your oil and oil filter yourself. To help extend the life of your transmission, ATRA recommends changing fluid every 50,000 km or every two years.

2. Rotating and Aligning Your Tires

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Car tires are both expensive to buy and easy to damage, not making for cheap replacements. A new tire can set you back anywhere from $100 to $400, making it imperative that you take care of them. One simple way to extend the life of your new tires is to regularly rotate their location on your car.

Tire rotation means changing where the individual tire is mounted on the car. Some people never rotate their tires, and those that do, usually let a quick lube take care of it. This simple 15-minute job, however, will set them back by at least $20 at most places. Save yourself the money by doing it yourself.

3. Changing Your Battery and Spark Plug

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Car batteries have an uncanny ability to die at the most inconvenient times. The next time there’s a blizzard or heavy rain as you’re stuck on the highway in your Honda Civic, the chances of your car battery dying are near the 100-percent mark. The most important thing when preparing your car for a battery change is ensuring that the battery isn’t receiving any power from your engine. This will reduce the chance of a spark or shock while you’re changing it.

Changing your spark plugs can take anywhere from 20-30 minutes, depending on how many plugs you have. It costs around $15 to do this yourself, which is essentially the price of new spark plugs.

4. Replacing Your Brake Pads

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The brake pads are the part of your brakes that apply the frictional force to stop the car. These pads have a built-in warning system that squeals when the brakes are applied and the pad is worn down. Therefore, if you hear a squeal when you apply the breaks, you know it’s time to replace the pads. Note that if you hear a grinding sound instead of a squeal, it means the rotor might need replacement. The brake pads are an easy replacement you can do yourself. You will require a jack, tire iron, C-clamp as well as a torque wrench and ratchets.

5. Replace a Broken or Worn Drive Belt

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A drive belt is the rubber strap that connects and loops around the pulleys on your car’s engine, and is located at the front of the engine. These belts control several important aspects of the car, including the cooling system, battery-charging mechanism, windshield wipers and even power steering. If your car is from a few decades ago, there may be multiple belts for each system. On newer cars, however, there is often a single belt that loops through all the systems, called a serpentine belt.

If you are hearing squeaking sounds when starting your car or using certain accessories, then your drive belt is probably worn out. You can give the belts a quick visual inspection to check for cracks, wear and tightness. If the belt is loose, you can tighten it up instead of replacing it directly.

While most treat their new cars like extremely fragile ice sculptures, you can treat them as the resilient machines they are. Cars can handle plenty of maintenance and repairs from amateurs, so even the clumsiest owner can carry them out.

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