Car Maintenance: You Can DIY
Taking care of your car is one of the things we mention most in our articles. No matter what you choose to drive, if you take good care of it and have it serviced regularly, it could last you for years to come. We also generally advise our clients to use professional service providers for tricky projects. But that doesn’t mean you need to have a certified mechanic look at your car just to check your oil or change a tyre. Here are some the easiest car maintenance and repair tricks that you can use to make sure you get the most out of your car for as long as you can.
Changing A Tyre
You’ve probably heard this one a million and one times already. That’s because it’s still as important every time. Being able to change your own tyre could save your life on the road (or at least save you some time), and you’ll be able to drive with more confidence knowing that you can take care of it if problem arise. Make sure that you always have a spare tyre (in good condition) in the back of your car. You’ll also need a jack and a wheel brace to loosen the lug nuts. The simplest way to explain how to change a tyre is:
- Lift the car with the jack.
- Loosen the wheel nuts and remove the flat or damaged tyre.
- Place the spare tyre on the wheel and tighten the wheel nuts.
- Lower the car and remove the jack.
If you’ve never done this before, we suggest you ask someone close to you to show you how. While the process is fairly simple, it is still dangerous to use a jack incorrectly.
Checking Your Fluids
You could just have a petrol attendant do this every time you go to a petrol station (and we do recommend that you check your fluids often). If, however, you see your warning lights come on to check your oil or water, you should be able to check them yourself if you need to. Being able to check your transmission fluid and brake fluid will also help save you time and money in the long run if you catch problems early on.
- Let your car cool down before checking the oil. Once it's cool, locate the dipstick.
- Hook your finger through the loop of the dipstick and gently pull upwards to release it.
- You will see oil at the bottom of the dipstick. Make sure it is at the right level and the right colour (these will both be specified in your owner’s manual). Oil that is a light golden colour is generally good while darker or black oil might be cause for a concern. If the oil is milky or foamy, it might contain coolant and should be checked by a mechanic.
- Replace the dipstick properly when you have finished.
- Like the oil check, locate the dipstick and pull it gently to release it. This is usually done while the car is running (make sure it is in park or neutral with the handbrake up).
- Wipe the dipstick on a paper towel or cloth. Push it back into the fluid and remove it again to check the colour and level.
- If your transmission fluid looks dirty or murky in any way, make sure to have a professional check it. The transmission fluid is integral to keep your car moving smoothly.
- Replace the dipstick properly once you have finished.
- Locate the brake fluid reservoir. It could simply be a plastic reservoir that you can check from the outside.
- Gently shake your car if you cannot see the fluid inside. The movement will help you see the fluid level.
- Alternatively, you can look inside the reservoir by removing the cap. The brake fluid should not be low. If your brake fluid levels seem to drop between checks, take your car to a mechanic.
Power steering Fluid
- Your car might have electronic power steering, in which case you won’t be able to easily check it. If your power steering fluid is in a plastic reservoir, you can also simply check it from the outside.
- Make sure that the fluid reaches the minimum level showed on the side of the reservoir.
Jump Starting Your Car
If you're caught with a flat battery and you can’t push start your car, you’ll need to be able to jump start it. You could use a battery powered jump starter, or you could have someone park their car with the fronts facing each other. All you’ll need is jumper cables.
- Make sure both cars are NOT running while you connect the jumper cables. Open the bonnets of both cars and locate the batteries (you might also need to remove the battery covers if there are any).
- Attach the red clip to the positive terminal (marked with POS or +) of your car. Then attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the other car.
- Attach the black clip to the negative terminal of the other car, and attach the other black clip to an unpainted metal surface of your car.
- Start the working car and let it run for a few minutes. After this, try to start your car.
- If your car starts, do not switch it off. Make sure to leave it running.
- Remove the cables and make sure to go for a drive to recharge your battery.
Checking Your Tyre Pressure
If you have a pressure gauge, you can regularly check your tyre pressure to make sure it’s still alright. The image above was created by Bridgestone Tyres, and if you click on the image’s link, you will be directed to a video that clearly illustrates how to check your tyre pressure. You could also contact Bridgestone Tyres or another service provider.
If there are any other maintenance tips or tricks that you would like to know about, let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them.