Everyone knows that servicing your car is the most important thing that you can do to keep it running for a long time. However, the costs of keeping up on maintenance can add up over time. For those who are mechanically inclined, are willing to invest in a few tools, and have the patience, performing your own service might be a solution. If you are interested in servicing your own car, here are a few suggestions.
How to Service Your Car
If you are considering servicing your car, the first thing you need to know is what types of services need to be performed and how often. Every make, model, and the year of your vehicle has a unique service schedule. Your Owner’s Manual is the best place to find out this information.
In general, the items on this list should be done every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Many people think that the only thing that needs to be done is to change the oil, but all of these things should be done on a regular schedule. Here is the basic list of what needs to be done.
- Changing the Oil – Changing the oil means draining the old oil out, replacing the filter with a new one, and putting in new oil. Make sure to choose the correct oil weight for your vehicle and the weather. You will need a few tools for this, including an oil filter wrench and oil pan.
- Changing the Spark Plugs – Sometimes old spark plugs can make the engine run rough, and the solution is to change them. This is a simple process. All you do is to unscrew the old one and screw a new one in its place. A special tool might be needed to remove some types of spark plugs.
- Check Fluid – You should check your fluids and make sure they are at the proper levels according to the Owner’s Manual. Some of the fluids that need to be checked are the power steering fluid, radiator fluid, brake fluid, and windshield wiper fluid. Make sure to use the manufacturer’s recommended products.
- Rotate Tire – Rotating the tires ensures even wear. It is as simple as changing four tires. Be sure that you are comfortable working with a jack. Also, this is a good time to check for defects and proper tread.
- Replace Your Air Filter – A clogged air filter can make the engine run rough, eventually fail to start, or it can stall out. Keeping it replaced is easy. In most cases, you simply unscrew a cover, take the old one out, put the new one in, and replace the cover.
Other services need to be performed on a regular basis, such as changing the brake pads and changing belts, but these items are typically a bit more complicated and might require a service technician who has the right tools and knowledge. This list is something that almost anyone can do with little or no mechanical skills.
What to Avoid
If you are not a professional mechanic, there is plenty of room for error when doing it yourself. Even though these jobs seem simple, you can still make mistakes. One of the most common is not getting the oil filter tight enough. If this happens, all of the oil can leak out of the engine and can cause damage.
Another common mistake is topping up the various fluids too full. Some of these fluids expand while the engine is running and creating heat. If this happens, you could rupture a seal or gasket due to pressure. Also, in some cases, it can cause fluids to leak onto hot components, like the manifold. This can cause it to smoke or damage your parts.
Another typical mistake is cross threading the oil filter and spark plugs. This happens when you cannot get the threads aligned correctly, and you try to force it. It will eventually go on, but it will not seal correctly, and it will be difficult, if not impossible, to remove the next time.
The best advice is to take your time and not rush. Make sure that you have enough time scheduled to complete the job and be sure to schedule a bit of extra time the first time you do it. Make sure that you do your research, read your Owner’s Manuals, and have all of your supplies and tools purchased ahead of time. The worst time to find out that you forgot something is once you have already started.
These are only a few examples of the things that can go wrong when you try to service your own vehicle. If you have the patience and skills, servicing your own car can be a rewarding experience and give you a sense of accomplishment. It can also save you money, but if you are unsure of your skills, then it might still be best to find a contact a qualified mechanic for quotes on your car service.