The best way (practically the only way actually) to save money on the big repairs is to take good care of your car and handle the small regular check-ups yourself. This may sound intimidating to those who don’t consider themselves to be overly handy and mechanical, but most of the work could be done by a complete novice and if it’s really necessary a professional mechanic is always just a phone call away.
Windshield wipers should be changed approximately twice a year, but most people wait longer than that because it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. However, the middle of the storm is probably the worst time to realize that your wipers don’t work. Mechanics tend to charge way too much for this quite simple fix-up. Lift the blade like you’re washing the windshield. Push the tab on the underside of the wipers to remove them. Attach new one to the metal arms without bending them. If this is too much (and it shouldn’t be) the packaging for the new blades probably comes with the instructions.
A dead battery is one of the most frustrating car problems you could have – you can’t fix it alone and avoiding the problem would be so easy if you’ve done the proper maintenance on time. Remove the battery terminals, always starting with the negative ones. Clean the post using any cleaner product you want (even baking soda and some water will do the trick). Use a wire brush to vigorously clean the posts. Rinse it with water, wait until it dries and replace the terminals. This process should be repeated every couple of months, depending on the battery type and age.
Professionals advise to change the oil every 3000 miles, but with high quality engine oil, you can get away with as much as 5000. It’s pretty easy to do if you follow the proper precautions. Never change the oil while the engine is hot and make sure your jack is safe and working properly. Locate the oil pan, under the car. Remove the drain plug and drain the oil and replace the plug afterward. Remove the oil filter from the engine using a wrench. Lubricate the new filter and fill it with oil (two- thirds is usually plenty). Screw in the new filter and fill the engine with oil. Make sure you recycle the old parts.
It’s customary to change the air filters every 12 months or 12000 miles whatever comes first. It’s a simple procedure, but if you let a mechanic do it you’ll have to give your car up for a day or two. The filter is inside a black rectangular box with metal clips on each side. Open the box and make a note on which side the filter is facing. Remove it and replace it, making sure it faces the same way. Don’t forget to close the metal clips when you’re done.
A spark plug is pretty much essential for making your car work and that’s why many hesitate to replace it themselves. However, it’s a pretty simple task that shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes even for those who are trying it for the first time. The spark plug is attached to the rubbery wires. There are 4, 6 or 8 of them depending on the number of cylinders. Remove the wires first and do it one by one. Remove the plugs using the spark plug socket and extension. Install the new one, but make sure you don’t screw it too tightly. Attach the wires back on.
With these simple maintenance tasks your car will be much safer and your visits to the mechanic much less frequently.