The holidays are over and 2020 is just starting.  During January many people make resolutions to improve their health and finances.  If you have decided that 2020 is the year to focus on your finances and you own a car, we want to inspire you with information on how to do a few easy DIY car maintenance tasks and save money all year long.  

These tasks require only basic tools so there is no major investment to get started.  Also, you can pick and choose which tasks seem easiest for you to do and start with them. If you need more instructions, we recommend looking at videos on YouTube, reading WikiHow articles or going to your local auto supply store to purchase your parts.  The sales staff are very helpful and at times are known to help customers install products such as wiper blades.

Ready to get started?  Roll up your sleeves and get busy!

A man holding a windshield wiper in his hand, possibly to exchange it with a new one.

Windshield Wipers

Wiper blades wear out and when they need replacing you need to do it right away.  Otherwise your windshield will not be clear, your vision will be compromised and this could cause an accident, not to mention that if you wait too long the rubber can actually wear away and then the metal can scratch your windshield. You don’t want that!  You can usually purchase a pair of quality blades for somewhere between $20-$40. Many stores have a reference guide to help you purchase the correct pair. They even come with instructions so you can’t go wrong. In most cases, the old ones slide out and the new ones slide in.  No tools necessary. And you have saved yourself around $100 for installation!

Old time purple car's round headlight and part of the grill.

Headlights & Taillights

Usually people don’t know a light is out until someone tells them.  That can be dangerous, especially if you drive at night time on a dark street.   To avoid this from happening periodically walk around your car and have someone else apply the brakes and turn on the lights.  You will know right away if a bulb needs replacing. In order to remember to do this because it is an intermittent task, you might consider setting a reminder in your calendar app.  

Not all lights are easy to access, and some are nearly impossible without the right tools. We suggest you check and see if yours are the kind you can easily get to and remove yourself.  If so, and one needs to be replaced, remove the bulb and take it with you to the store so you get the exact one you need. When you are installing it, use caution to not touch the bulb with your bare hands as the natural oils from our skin will cause the bulb to burn out faster. Once installed, make sure to turn the lights on and make sure they are working.  

Mechanic holding a car's very dirty air filter.

Air Filter

The cost of most air filters is about $20 and only take minutes to change out.  If you have a German made car (like a VW Beetle) you may have a few more parts to remove but you can get to the filter.  In most cases, with the engine turned off, open the hood of the car, locate the filter box, open the lid by either popping the latches or turning a few screws. Once it is open set the lid to the side.  Next step is to swap out the filters.  Make note of the top and bottom of the filter so you install the new one in the same way.  Your last step is to return the lid to the top of the filter box and secure it in the same way you opened it (screw down if needed). It really is that simple.  Here is a YouTube video to demonstrate the task.

A man is holding a car spark plug in his hand with his car in the background.

Spark Plugs

Replacing your car’s spark plugs is probably a one-time task because it only needs to be done every 100,000 miles or so, but it’s a great idea to check them every 30-40,000 miles.  We like the WikiHow article that shows you exactly how to complete the task.  You probably noticed that they used a spark plug wrench to do the work.  They are not expensive and can easily be purchased at your local auto supply store when you get the spark plugs.  If you choose to do this task you will save around $250 in shop labor!

A car's fuse box showing the various sizes and colors of fuses.

Fuses

Ready to up your game?  Our final DIY car maintenance task that is easy to do and will save you money is to replace the fuses.  They are part of the electrical system of your car and are actually designed to blow out!  When this happens the blown fuse is safeguarding the part of the system it supports.  It may have gotten overloaded and needed to be protected. 

Replacing the blown fuse with a new one is easy to do if you have good lighting because it’s usually located under the steering wheel.  In oder to get good lighting in that part of the car we suggest using a headlamp.  They are inexpensive to buy and easy to slip on your head. The focused light will help you read the information on the fuse box and see what you are doing. If you don’t have one you can also use a flashlight.

With the fuse box in sight, your next step is to remove the fuse box cover. The inside of the cover will have a diagram, with numbered information about what each fuse powers and its amperage.  It’s very important to make note of the amperage because you want to use the exact same amount in the new fuse or you can cause serious electrical damage to the car.

Using your headlamp or flashlight you can see the blown fuse.  It will be a dark black inside the fuse or the metal filament will be broken. Once identified you can remove it carefully with your fingers or a simple tool to pull it out of place. Be careful not to break it as a broken fuse is more challenging to remove.  Last step is to slip a new fuse into place and put the fuse box cover back on. Make sure everything is working by starting your car. If the fuse blows again in a short amount of time or it doesn’t work at all, you might need to go see your mechanic, but at least you would have tried.

We hope this inspires you to be brave and try a couple car maintenance tasks in 2020.  If you live in the southeastern part of the U.S. (Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina) and get into an accident or need auto body or windshield repair, we hope you will look for your nearest Classic Collision.  We are a trusted collision repair center who values every client we have the privilege to work with.