6 Easy DIY Car Maintenance Tasks
The year 2020, will not only be remembered for the global pandemic but also as the year we embraced DIY. Whether it’s buzz cuts, home repairs, DIY highlights, or the home-baking phenomena, we as a nation are adapting to the new reality and broadening our skillset, for better or worse. The upside is that we may be noticing the extra few bob in our pockets, but what exactly can we do ourselves?
I’ve teamed up with Liberty Insurance to bring you some simple DIY car maintenance tasks that don’t require a mechanic and will keep you tipping over until business is back to normal. The instructions provided are just a guideline for cars in general and aren’t specific to your vehicle. We advise you to consult your car manual and if you are at all unsure to contact a mechanic.
Topping up coolant
Coolant is vital to the mechanical operation of your car as it helps to maintain a steady engine temperature. This helps to avoid overheating which would result in engine damage or failure.
- Ensure the engine is cold before starting.
- Open the bonnet and secure it.
- The coolant reservoir cap should be on top of a transparent plastic container with MIN and MAX markings on the side, with the existing liquid levels visible to the outside.
- Open the radiator cap and carefully set it aside.
- Pour in equal amounts of water (distilled) and coolant, or pre-diluted coolant, using a funnel to avoid spillages.
- Replace the cap by screwing it on clockwise.
Replacing a bulb
If you have a bulb that needs replacing and you have a spare, this can be an easy job. Check the owner’s manual to find out where to look depending on the light in question.
- Open the hood and locate where the lighting unit is housed.
- Remove any cover and locate the blown bulb. You may need to twist out the connector, or release spring levers and disconnect the electrical connectors so proceed carefully.
- Remove the old bulb. Be careful not to touch the glass of the new bulb with your fingers, as the oil left from your skin will heat up on a lit bulb and cause damage to the glass.
- Insert the new bulb and check it is securely fastened.
- Replace the cover of the lighting unit.
- Check that the bulb works correctly
You’ll know when your wipers need replacing as they will leave streaks on your windscreen and this can affect your visibility. Replacing wipers can differ from car to car, so it’s important to check your owner’s manual and follow the instructions specific to your car.
Basically, the process is similar to changing your air filter:
- Carefully lift the blades, as if you were washing your windshield by hand, and remove the old blades.
- Pay attention to how the old blades connect to the metal arms.
- There may be a tab on the underside of the wiper, push this to remove the old blade.
- Attach the new blades, being careful not to bend the wiper arms or scratch your windshield. Don’t allow the wipers to snap back down against the windscreen as you could damage it. Carefully, place them back down. Line everything up and make sure the new ones are secure and tight.
Topping up water/windscreen wiper fluid
Keeping your windscreen wiper fluid topped up ensures you will have better visibility and a safer journey.
- Wait until your engine is cold.
- Open the bonnet and secure it safely.
- Locate the windscreen fluid reservoir, it will have the windscreen/water symbol on it.
- Twist off the cap carefully and set it aside.
- Pour in water/wiper fluid until it reached the top.
- Replace the cap.
Engine oil protects your engine against wear, corrosion, and contaminants. It should be checked at least every two weeks and especially before long journeys.
- Make sure your vehicle is turned off. Consult your owner’s manual, it will have detailed instructions on how to pop-open your hood and where your dipstick is located.
- Open the hood of your car and make sure it is secured in the opened position.
- Locate the measuring stick, in most models, it has a yellow or orange circular handle.
- Take out the dipstick and clean it with a cloth, then place it back in and make sure it goes all the way in so the oil level is measured accurately.
- After a minute, take the dipstick out and check its level. Most models have a textured area showing where the desired level of the oil should be.
- If the measuring stick shows the oil level is normal, plug it back in. If it is below the lower mark, pour in the needed amount.
- The colour of the oil should be amber, if it looks dirty or denser than usual, consult a car mechanic.
Before starting with any car maintenance jobs, make sure you’re wearing proper protective gear, such as a mask and utility-grade disposable nitrile gloves. Keep your tools and supplies at hand to save time and energy. You may also want to wear coveralls for mechanics to protect your skin from injury and your clothes from permanent stains. Now that you’re all geared up, you can start giving your car some much-needed TLC.
Changing the tyre
- Ensure your handbrake is on and the car is parked on level ground before starting.
- If you are on the side of the road, pull in as far as possible and put on your hazards.
- Apply wheel wedges.
- Check that you have the appropriate equipment:
- Inflated spare tyre
- Hazard triangle
- Hi-Vis clothing
- Wheel nut key – if locking nuts are fitted
- Flat piece of wood – to steady the jack if ground is uneven
- Tyre pressure gauge – to check if spare tyre is properly inflated
- Loosen the wheel nuts by turning the wrench anti-clockwise but don’t remove them fully just yet.
- Position the jack at the dedicated jacking point under the frame of the car and raise it until the flat tyre is off the ground.
- While the car is raised, remove the wheel nuts completely and gently take off the tyre and place it on its side.
- Lift the spare tyre onto the hub making sure to align it correctly. Tighten the wheel nuts by hand.
- Using the jack, slowly lower the car and tighten the wheel nuts completely with the wrench.
- Check tyre pressure to ensure the spare wheel is fully inflated.
Performing simple car maintenance tasks at home will keep your car running smoothly and even save you some money. If you would like to make your money go further, call Liberty Insurance for a quote on affordable car insurance.