4 DIY Car Maintenance Tips from the Pros

Man performing DIY car maintenance

Tackling certain routine car maintenance chores yourself won’t just save you time and money – you’ll also get the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes from doing something yourself. To make sure it’s a job well done, follow these tips from Stan Markuze, founder of PartsMarket, an online auto-parts marketplace; and Matt Allen, co-host of Bumper to Bumper Radio, a top automotive-advice radio program in Arizona.

Changing your oil

  • When it comes to do it yourself auto repairs, many people are surprised at just how easy it is to change your own oil. Start by using an oil extractor pump, which you can buy online for around $40 to $80. “This is a tube that you insert into the opening where the dipstick is, and then use a hand pump to suck all of the old oil out,” says Markuze. “It’s a lot safer, easier and cleaner than the standard way of doing an oil change, because you don’t need a jack and you don’t need to crawl under your car.” Then refill with the appropriate oil.
  • Correctly disposing of your oil is an important part of being a DIY car owner. When you’re done, you can bring the old oil to an auto parts store for recycling.

Replacing your windshield wiper blades

  • Windshield wipers are a great place to start when entering the world of DIY car repair. Depending on your car’s design, the wiper blades can be hard to reach when they’re in their resting position. If that’s the case, turn your engine off while the wipers are in motion, suggests Allen. “The blades will be in more of a vertical position which makes them easier to get to.”
  • When you’re purchasing new blades, buy the entire blade assembly (the rubber and metal parts) rather than just the rubber replacement strips. “The entire assembly is easier to replace and lasts longer,” Allen says.

Checking your air filter

  • If you take the air filter out and decide it’s not dirty enough to replace, resist the urge to try to knock out all the dirt before putting it back in the car. “Shaking the filter will just further embed all of those fine dirt particles into the filter, which makes it work less efficiently,” says Allen.
  • Another important tip to keep in mind; if you drive on a lot of dirt roads, you’ll need to replace your air filter more frequently.

Replacing headlights and brake lights

  • Avoid touching the glass part of the bulb with your bare hands, Allen says, because the dirt and oil on your hands can cause the bulb to burn out prematurely.
  • If your car takes xenon bulb headlights and one burns out, buy two bulbs at the same time, says Markuze. “Different brands come in slightly different colors so you want to make sure that both of your headlights are the same color,” he says.

There are some car repair issues that do require professional assistance. This is when it pays to have Nationwide Roadside Assistance.