Maintenance You Can Perform Yourself

Lift up the hood of a car today and it’s scary. Wires are everywhere and plastic covers hide everything from view.  Things have changed a lot since the good old days when much automotive technology was simple and cheap to repair.  That being said, there are many procedures that are critical to your cars well being that you can perform yourself.  Here are five to consider:

Change Your Air Filter
Time required: 5-15 minutes
Tools required: Screwdriver
Discussion:  Changing your air filter yourself keeps dirt out of your engine and improves fuel economy. In areas with lots of dust, you should change the air filter more frequently. Mechanics often charge $20-$60 just for the labor involved in changing an air filter so you can save some good money here.

Rotate Your Tires
Time required: One hour
Tools required: Jack stand, leg nut sockets and your car’s jack
Discussion:  Front tires often wear faster than rear tires because braking and cornering wears them down prematurely. By rotating your tires, you help ensure that your two front tires need replacement prematurely. A tire rotation can ranges from $43-$60. For a person driving 12,000 miles a year, that’s two tire rotations a year so doing it yourself could save $120 annually. That being said, notes that lifting a car up in the air and changing tires is a lot of work.  You may want to factor into your decision if you are up to the chore physically.

Check and Inflate Your Tires
Time required: 15 minutes, once a month
Tools required: Commercial air pump (usually free at a gas station)
Discussion:  Keeping your tires properly inflated is important for three reasons:  Properly inflated tires improve safety as your car handles better during emergency braking and cornering,  prolong tire life (tires wear more evenly) and reduce fuel costs. The savings is the increased fuel economy that comes with tires that are inflated properly.  According to, the average savings is $112 a year in gas but could go as high as $800 for drivers with chronically underinflated tires.

Replace Bulbs 
Time required: 30 minutes
Tools required: Screwdriver
Discussion:  It doesn’t cost much for a mechanic to change a bulb but it’s a safety issue.  If you spot a bulb or light out, you can easily change it yourself right away. Mechanics charge from $27-$132 to replace bulbs depending on the make and model of vehicle.

Change Your Engine Oil
Time required: One hour
Tools required: Jack, oil pan for catching the old oil, socket wrench, oil-filter wrench, recycling bottles  and plenty of rags.
Discussion:  While an oil change is more advanced than other items on this list, it is well within the ability of anyone with a little mechanical knowledge. After you master this task, you might feel like a real mechanic and you may find yourself bragging about it to your friends. Quick-lube shops and dealership service departments area charge $39-$60 for an oil change.

Need some help with the DIY task listed above?  You will literally find hundreds of Youtube videos on these subjects.  In fact, you may want to view the procedure first before you dig in and buy the parts.  If it looks like something beyond your ability, then play it safe and let your local dealer take over.
Source: Antioch Chrysler Jeep

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