Learning how to do certain things yourself can really help save up on costs. Most car owners do try to live more frugal lives by getting better at handling projects that they used to go to professionals for.
This isn’t to suggest that professionals are a thing of the past. It’s just that there are some parts of car maintenance that are quite simple that anyone can handle fairly easily and quickly with practice.
Today, we’ll be discussing some of the car maintenance projects that are so simple, any handy car owner will be able to do it for themselves.
Duration: 10 minutes
Estimated Cost: $10
A lot of professional car services have been known to charge upwards of $20 for an air filter change. Any car will need a new air filter every 12 months or 12,000 miles–whichever may come first. Going to a pro can mean surrendering your vehicle for half a day (depending on how busy their shop is). Doing it yourself will take about 10 minutes or so.
- First, find your filter under the hood of your car. It’s in a black rectangular box with metal clips on the side. Check your owner’s manual if you don’t see it as soon as you pop the hood.
- Open up the casing, and check out how the air filter fits inside it. Make a note of which way the filter faces.
- Remove the old air filter, and insert the new one exactly how the old one sat.
- Remember to close the metal clips when you’re done.
That’s pretty much it. When you really get used to changing the air filter yourself, you’ll really start to wonder why you had a pro do that for you before. For extra savings in the long run, you can extend the life of your new air filter by hitting it with some compressed air to clear out any debris.
Oil Change and Oil Filter
Tools needed: Ratchet, oil filter wrench, oil pan, and a funnel
Duration: 45 minutes max
Estimated Cost: $20
Experts say you should change your oil every 3,000 miles, but with better products and cars operating more efficiently, I think you can get away with changing it every 5,000 miles. Whichever benchmark you decide to use, you can save time and money by handling the change yourself. Before you start, keep in mind these precautions:
- Never change your oil when your engine is hot. Park, wait for it to cool, and then get started. Driving around the block to heat the car and loosen the oil can result in a more effective drain, which is good news, but you must let the engine cool before going to work.
- You’ll have to jack up your car, so make sure you’re comfortable safely handling a jack.
Now that you’ve covered safety first, it’s time to get a little dirty.
- Get under your car and locate the vehicle’s oil pan. It shouldn’t be hard to find.
- Unscrew the drain plug and drain all of the old oil into your oil pan.
- Once all of the oil is drained, replace the drain plug.
- Go back to your engine and remove the old oil filter with your oil filter wrench. (Be careful, because the oil filter contains some old oil as well).
- Lubricate the rubber gasket on the new oil filter with some new motor oil.
- Fill the new oil filter about two-thirds of the way with new oil.
- Screw in the new oil filter. Hand-tighten it only.
- Fill the engine with new oil, using your funnel.
- With a dip-stick, double check your oil level to be sure you’ve added enough.
- Discard the old oil filter and recycle the old oil (most gas stations will take it).
Changing your oil is the dirtiest job on the list, but it might be the most rewarding too. Though you can find plenty of quick-service stations nearby, when you think about going possibly four times a year, the expense and time commitment adds up. So ultimately, arming yourself with the know-how to change the oil and oil filter yourself can really give your funds a breather.