DIY Car Maintenance

DIY Car Maintenance bb3 Mar 20, 2014

By Staff Writer

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Save money on routine maintenance by tackling the job yourself. While many car repairs should be left to a professional, consider handling these simple tasks.

DIY auto maintenance
  1. Replace your wiper blades. Every six to 12 months is a good rule of thumb, depending on how often they’re used. If they leave streaks, make noise or are hard and cracked, it may be time for a fresh set. Consult your user manual for more information about what type to buy.
  2. Fix minor scratches and paint chips. Any break in a vehicle’s finish makes the surface susceptible to rust. Temporarily seal small chips and scratches with clear nail polish until you can correct the damage. A touch-up paint kit might be a good option for repairing minor problems. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.
  3. Inspect the tires. Tires must be kept in good condition and properly inflated for the safe and economical operation of your vehicle. Here are some simple checks:
    • Take a good look at each tire, including your spare, monthly. Note tread depth (replace tires with treads worn to 1.5 mm); uneven wear; and cracks, damage and other deterioration. Consult your local tire professional if you find any of these issues.
    • Check the tire pressure. Do this in the morning when the tires are cold (preferably before driving the vehicle that day). Tire pressure can change due to many factors, including a change in temperature. For every 5 degree Celsius change in temperature, tire pressure can increase (if the temperature rises) or decrease (if the temperature falls) by 1 psi. Find your vehicle's recommended tire pressure on the placard in your owner's manual or information sticker inside the glove box or driver's side door frame.
  4. Repair minor windshield chips. Some windshield repairs are covered by insurance. If your windshield has a small chip with minimal cracks, you may be able to fix it yourself with a repair kit and about an hour of time. While it’s not possible to fix all chips, you may be able to prevent one from growing or discoloring.
  5. Wash and wax. One of the best ways to maintain your car’s exterior is to remove dirt and residue that can damage its finish. A hand wash also provides a close-up look at scratches, chips and dings you may not normally notice.
    • Wash your car out of direct sunlight and with a cleaning solution designed for automotive finishes. Work in sections from the top down and use a microfiber or lambswool washing mitt. Clean tires with a separate cloth and new bucket of soap and water.
    • Inspect the paint for hard-to-remove gunk such as bird droppings, tree sap or pollen. A clay bar designed for car care may help remove them.
    • Dry the car thoroughly with fresh towels. Soft, absorbent chamois drying towels are a great option.
    • After you finish washing the car, apply a coat of wax according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This should be done twice a year to protect the vehicle’s finish.