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30 July 2015

Do it yourself maintenance

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With the price of petrol only going up, car owners across the world are constantly looking for ways to decrease their automobile expenses. When it comes to the everyday routine maintenance of their car, most people prefer to take it to their local mechanic, which costs money. When in actual fact (provided you can hold a wrench) there is so much maintenance you can do on our own.

The biggest thing people have to overcome when it comes to DIY maintenance of their cars is the fear associated with just that – doing it yourself. Our cars are pretty resilient regardless of the year or make and there are plenty of repairs even the clumsiest of people can handle.

Air filter

On most cars the air filter will need to be replaced every 12 months or every 2000km. You can pay a mechanic to do it, which will require not having a car for the whole day or do it yourself, in 10 minutes.

  • You will find the filter under the hood of your car. It’s a black rectangular box with clips on the side. Refer to the owner’s manual if you’re unsure.
  • Open up the casing and make a note or take a photo to see exactly how it fits in.
  • Remove the old filter and replace it with the new one. Remember to close the clips once you’re done.

Windshield wipers

The windshield blade setup varies from car to car, so you may have to refer to the owner’s manual but the basics are as follows:

  • Lift the blades from the windshield, as if you are about to wash the car.
  • Take note of how the blades are connected to the arms.
  • Most cars come with a tab that you can push in order to remove the blades.
  • Attach the new blades, being careful not to bend them.

Spark plugs

Most cars’ spark plugs need to be replaced every 5000km, but it’s best to check your owner’s manual for the specifications.

  • The spark plugs should be easy to locate as they’re attached to thick rubbery wires.
  • Your car will either have four, six, or eight plugs. It depends on how many cylinders the car has.
  • Remove the wire to the first spark plug only. Do not do this simultaneously on all the plugs as each plug has been installed in a certain order, which you need to maintain.
  • Use the spark plug socket and extension on your ratchet to remove the spark plug.
  • Install the new plug, screwing it in by hand and then tightening it with a wrench for a tighter fit. Do not over-tighten it.
  • Re-attach the wire.

Oil and oil filter

Never change the oil filter while the engine is hot. You’ll also need to jack the car up, so make sure you’re comfortable doing that.

  • Once the car is jacked, get underneath and locate the oil pan.
  • Unscrew the plug and drain all the oil into the oil pan. Once it’s all drained, replace the plug.
  • Go to the engine and remove the oil filter. Lubricate the oil filter using motor oil.
  • Fill it about 2/3 of the way.
  • Screw in the new oil filter.
  • Using a funnel, fill the engine with new oil.
  • Use the dipstick to ensure you’ve filled it with enough oil.

Radiator flush

Make sure the car is completely cooled down before you begin.

  • Check the owner’s manual in order to locate the radiator’s drain plug. Position the used coolant container in place, unscrew the drain plug, and let the coolant drain.
  • Replace the plug and remove the radiator cap.
  • Using the funnel add radiator flush cleaning solution and then fill the rest of the radiator with water.
  • Replace the cap and start the car, allowing it to run until it gets to normal operating temperature.
  • Turn the heater to the hottest temperature, run the car for a further ten minutes.
  • Turn the car off; allow it to cool down completely.
  • Drain the contents of the radiator and refill the radiator with fresh coolant.
  • Dispose of the coolant safely, by either taking it to an auto parts shop, garage or mechanic.

Doing all of this will not only save you money but it will help you understand the inner workings of your car as well. Do remember, that the first thing when it comes to DIY is knowing when not to do it yourself. So if you’re really unsure or don’t feel comfortable doing something, rather take your car in to get checked over properly.

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