Easy Vehicle Maintenance Filling Tires

Part of being a responsible car owner is keeping up with your maintenance, so your car runs smoothly.  Unfortunately, important maintenance is often neglected because of the cost or the hassle of getting your car to a mechanic. As inconvenient as it can be to perform proper maintenance for your car, it’s much more inconvenient (and costly) to deal with the repercussions of neglecting your vehicle.

Why is it so important to keep up with maintenance?

Every part of your vehicle will wear out eventually, some parts much faster than others. Parts that wear or break down faster, such as brake pads, air filters, and fluids must be changed regularly to help maintain the longevity of the rest of your vehicle.

For example, you should change your oil every 5,000-7,500 miles to keep your engine running smoothly and reduce wear and tear on the internal engine components. On average taking your car in to a mechanic to get the oil changed will cost about $50 but neglecting your oil changes or not having them done at all can damage your pistons and gaskets, causing additional wear and tear and leaks. You may not notice the damage right away (or even for months), but over time old oil will thicken into sludge and your engine can seize and completely break down.

The only way to fix a seized engine is to completely rebuild or replace your engine. All total, repairing a damaged engine because the oil wasn’t changed could cost $5,000 or more!

It will save you a lot of money, time, and stress in the future if you stay on top of all your necessary vehicle maintenance. To help save you money now, here are a few pieces of vehicle maintenance that are cheap and easy to do yourself.

Easy Vehicle Maintenance You Can Do Yourself

Wash Your Car 

Yes! Washing your car is one of the simplest maintenance jobs you can do that will make a huge difference in the life of your vehicle. Particularly if you live in a colder climate or on a coastline where your car will be exposed to a lot of water and salt, getting it washed regularly will limit the amount of corrosion and rust buildup on the undercarriage of your vehicle.

Washing can even help improve the lifetime of your exterior and keep rust from building up and damaging your paint. If you choose to wash your car yourself, be sure to spray down the undercarriage and your wheels very well. Otherwise, many car wash facilities offer regular deals and membership discounts for an even easier way to keep your car clean.

Refill Tires

Next to washing your car, filling your tires with air is the easiest maintenance task you can do. It is vital to keep the air pressure in all of your tires within the ideal range to reduce uneven wear on your tire treads and avoid quickly wearing down other wheel components.

Most gas stations or car wash facilities have air stations where you can fill your tires for free or for only a few dollars at most. Often, these stations also have easy-to-follow instructions for how to use the air compressor and fill your tires!

Look on the side of your tires or in your owner’s manual to find out what the air pressure should be. While you are filling your tires, periodically check the pressure with a gauge to make sure you’re not overfilling them.

Replace Windshield Wipers

Unlike other repairs on this list, worn or damaged windshield wipers won’t necessarily cause further damage to the drive portion of your car, but they are a serious safety hazard.

Best case scenario, faulty windshield wipers will make it more difficult for you to see in wet weather. Worse case, they can scratch and damage your windshield, making it even harder to see. Windshield wipers are simple to replace and come with instructions for removing your old wiper and putting the new ones on your vehicle.

Look in your manual to find out the wiper size you need; typically, you’ll need two different sizes, one for each side. Most auto supply shops can also look up the exact specifications for your vehicle, so if you’re not sure you can ask a worker for help. Then follow the instructions in the wiper packaging to remove the old wipers and install your new ones.

Replace Air Filters

Replacing your air filters is another simple repair to do yourself. Filters should be replaced once a year to keep your vehicle running smoothly and maintain good gas mileage.

Engine Air Filter

Your engine air filter is very easy to access. Pop your hood and find the air filter box, which is typically connected by a large hose to one end of the engine. Unclip the top of the box to access the air filter and replace it. Be sure to use the recommended filter in your vehicle’s manual to ensure it fits properly.

Cabin Air Filter

Most vehicles manufactured after 2000 have a cabin air filter that you can easily replace yourself. The majority of vehicles house this air filter behind the glove box.

First, open your glove box and clean it out completely. Then you can remove the pin or band on the side of the glove box that is held in place by a screw. Once this is removed, squeeze the sides of the glove box to release it and let it lower completely.

In this space, you’ll see a black plastic box that looks similar to the engine air filter box. Remove the lid and carefully slide the old air filter out. When you install the new air filter, pay attention to the airflow direction so you can be sure you’re installing it in the right direction. Most cabin air filter packages also have detailed instructions to replace your old filter.

Oil Change

Changing the oil in your vehicle is simple to do on your own as long as you have the right equipment for the job. You will need:

  • A jack and 4 jack stands
  • Wrench
  • Oil-filter wrench
  • A large, wide-mouthed container or pan to catch the oil – it needs to be large enough to hold more than a gallon of liquid!

Be sure your vehicle has been off for at least an hour so the engine is cool. Then, carefully lift it onto jack stands, placing one stand on the frame by each wheel. Your oil pan is located near the front of the vehicle. It is typically a large rectangular part at the lowest point of your engine.

At the bottom of the pan, you’ll see the oil drain plug. Using your wrench, remove the plug and let the oil flow out into your pan. The oil filter is a white or brightly colored, cylindrical component located right next to the oil pan. Be sure your container catching the oil is wide enough to put under the filter as well as the oil drain, then you can remove the filter with your oil filter wrench and let oil sitting in the filter drip out.

Note: When removing your oil filter, be sure the rubber gasket is still attached to the filter. This MUST be removed with the old filter. If it remains on the vehicle when you put in the new filter, it can cause a serious oil leak and potentially damage your engine.

Leave your vehicle to sit and allow all the oil to drain out of the engine. Once it has stopped flowing out, it’s best to wipe down the outside of your oil pan, drain, and connection threads for the oil filter. Then, replace the plug in the oil pan and screw in your new oil filter. Be sure that both are tight! Then, you can lower your vehicle off the jacks, pop your hood and pour the new oil in the oil spout.

Check your owner’s manual for the correct type and amount of oil you should be using. Only once you’ve filled your car back up with oil and all caps and screws are tight, should you turn your engine back on. Let your car run for a few minutes to spread the new oil around before you drive.

Before changing your own oil, be sure you have a way to properly dispose of the used oil. Many auto shops and some auto supply stores offer used fluid disposal, but you should contact them first to be sure you can take your oil there. NEVER dump oil or other fluids from your vehicle down the drain or into storm drains.

Tire Rotation

Rotating your tires every 5,000 miles, or twice a year, is very important to ensure even wear on the treads. This helps to improve the lifetime of your tires, keeps them from wearing unevenly, and even helps prevent cracking and leaks from forming.

To rotate your tires, you will need:

  • A jack and 4 jack stands
  • A lug nut wrench

Loosen the lug nuts on all four tires before jacking up your car. Then, once your vehicle is safely elevated, you can fully remove the lug nuts and pull off each wheel.

For rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, you’ll move the two front tires back, and cross the rear wheels to move to the front. Follow this diagram for wheel placement.

Image by Tire Rack

The above diagram is the standard method for tire rotation, but you can also cross both sets of wheels and swap their positions like this:

Image by Tire Rack

For front-wheel drive vehicles, you can also use the above method, but it is most common to move the rear wheels forward and cross the front wheels to the back.

Image by Tire Rack

Once you’ve put your wheels back on the vehicle, hand tighten all of the lug nuts then lower your car off the jacks. When it is on the ground, tighten the lug nuts the rest of the way with your wrench. Be sure they are TIGHT. If you have a torque wrench, you can look up the needed torque for your specific vehicle in your owner’s manual or online, and use that to be sure your lug nuts are tight enough.

Clean Battery Terminals

As your battery gets older, it is much more likely to have corrosion build up on the terminals. This is especially likely if your vehicle doesn’t have caps to put over the terminals and connections, exposing it to more weathering and oxidation.

You can make a homemade cleaning solution with one tablespoon of baking soda mixed into one cup of water, or you can purchase battery cleaning solution from your local auto supply shop. While working with homemade or store-bought solutions, make sure you wear protective latex or dish gloves.

First, make sure your car is off. Then carefully disconnect the positive and negative cables connected to the battery. Remember, your battery will still have a charge even when the vehicle is off, so be careful of sparking while removing the cables. You can consult your vehicle’s manual for more details on how to safely disconnect the battery.

Once your battery is safely disconnected, dip an old toothbrush or small scrub brush into your cleaning solution, then scrub the corrosion buildup off the battery. DO NOT use a wire brush or anything metal to clean off the terminals. It may take some time to fully clean off each terminal post, so be patient and continue to scrub until the buildup is gone.

Then, wipe off the terminals with a damp rag, and dry thoroughly. Once it’s dry, apply a small dab of petroleum jelly to each terminal, which will help the connection and prevent future corrosion.

Carefully reconnect your cables, and you’re good to go!

NOTE: If you open your hood and notice that the battery casing is cracked, bloated, or severely corroded, it is time to replace your battery. Many auto supply shops offer free battery replacement with the purchase of a new battery and installation kit, so it’s best to take your vehicle to your local shop to get a new battery.

 Replace Headlights and Rear Lights

Depending on your vehicle, replacing your headlights and rear lights can be a very simple or time-consuming process. Before you get started, consult your owner’s manual for more specific details on how to replace the bulbs, and what type of bulbs you need for each spot in your vehicle.

For the rear lights, you can typically access the connection in your trunk. Peel back the lining in your trunk just behind the lights to expose the connections. You’ll see wires connected to a plugin the light mount. Gently pull it out and pop out the old lightbulb.

When handling the new lights, it is best to wear gloves to keep the oils on your skin from gunking up the bulb. With each pack of bulbs, you’ll also get a little packet of conducting gel, which you’ll need to dab on the connection of the bulb. Then you can pop the bulb into place and replace the whole light connection back into the mount.

For the headlights, some vehicles have similarly easy access by simply popping the hood and locating the light mounts inside the engine compartment. However, many newer vehicles require you to remove the bumper to access the headlights. Consult your owner’s manual to find out how to access your headlights and then follow the same process of switching out the bulbs as your rear lights.

Final Thoughts

Vehicle maintenance is vital to keeping your car healthy and running for a long time. These are some easy vehicle maintenance tips, but this is by no means a full list of the necessary maintenance you need to do. For more information, be sure to look in your owner’s manual to understand all of the required maintenance for your car and how often you need to do it.

While these are all simple repairs that you can do yourself, if you don’t feel comfortable doing them, it’s best to take your car to a mechanic. Even paying the additional labor costs of a mechanic will be much more cost-effective than repairing long-term damage from neglect.

Always keep your vehicle maintained and drive safely!

Disclaimer: Use at Your Own Risk 

The information provided in all blog articles is for educational purposes only. Pass Drivers Ed is not a licensed automotive expert, and any information regarding automotive repairs or maintenance should not be taken as professional automotive advice. Pass Drivers Ed is not responsible for any damages or injuries resulting in following the information provided.

Part of being a responsible car owner is keeping up with your maintenance, so your car runs smoothly.  Unfortunately, important maintenance is often neglected because of the cost or the hassle of getting your car to a mechanic. As inconvenient as it can be to perform proper maintenance for your car, it’s much more inconvenient (and costly) to deal with the repercussions of neglecting your vehicle.

Why is it so important to keep up with maintenance?

Every part of your vehicle will wear out eventually, some parts much faster than others. Parts that wear or break down faster, such as brake pads, air filters, and fluids must be changed regularly to help maintain the longevity of the rest of your vehicle.

For example, you should change your oil every 5,000-7,500 miles to keep your engine running smoothly and reduce wear and tear on the internal engine components. On average taking your car in to a mechanic to get the oil changed will cost about $50 but neglecting your oil changes or not having them done at all can damage your pistons and gaskets, causing additional wear and tear and leaks. You may not notice the damage right away (or even for months), but over time old oil will thicken into sludge and your engine can seize and completely break down.

The only way to fix a seized engine is to completely rebuild or replace your engine. All total, repairing a damaged engine because the oil wasn’t changed could cost $5,000 or more!

It will save you a lot of money, time, and stress in the future if you stay on top of all your necessary vehicle maintenance. To help save you money now, here are a few pieces of vehicle maintenance that are cheap and easy to do yourself.

Easy Vehicle Maintenance You Can Do Yourself

Wash Your Car 

Yes! Washing your car is one of the simplest maintenance jobs you can do that will make a huge difference in the life of your vehicle. Particularly if you live in a colder climate or on a coastline where your car will be exposed to a lot of water and salt, getting it washed regularly will limit the amount of corrosion and rust buildup on the undercarriage of your vehicle.

Washing can even help improve the lifetime of your exterior and keep rust from building up and damaging your paint. If you choose to wash your car yourself, be sure to spray down the undercarriage and your wheels very well. Otherwise, many car wash facilities offer regular deals and membership discounts for an even easier way to keep your car clean.

Refill Tires

Next to washing your car, filling your tires with air is the easiest maintenance task you can do. It is vital to keep the air pressure in all of your tires within the ideal range to reduce uneven wear on your tire treads and avoid quickly wearing down other wheel components.

Most gas stations or car wash facilities have air stations where you can fill your tires for free or for only a few dollars at most. Often, these stations also have easy-to-follow instructions for how to use the air compressor and fill your tires!

Look on the side of your tires or in your owner’s manual to find out what the air pressure should be. While you are filling your tires, periodically check the pressure with a gauge to make sure you’re not overfilling them.

Replace Windshield Wipers

Unlike other repairs on this list, worn or damaged windshield wipers won’t necessarily cause further damage to the drive portion of your car, but they are a serious safety hazard.

Best case scenario, faulty windshield wipers will make it more difficult for you to see in wet weather. Worse case, they can scratch and damage your windshield, making it even harder to see. Windshield wipers are simple to replace and come with instructions for removing your old wiper and putting the new ones on your vehicle.

Look in your manual to find out the wiper size you need; typically, you’ll need two different sizes, one for each side. Most auto supply shops can also look up the exact specifications for your vehicle, so if you’re not sure you can ask a worker for help. Then follow the instructions in the wiper packaging to remove the old wipers and install your new ones.

Replace Air Filters

Replacing your air filters is another simple repair to do yourself. Filters should be replaced once a year to keep your vehicle running smoothly and maintain good gas mileage.

Engine Air Filter

Your engine air filter is very easy to access. Pop your hood and find the air filter box, which is typically connected by a large hose to one end of the engine. Unclip the top of the box to access the air filter and replace it. Be sure to use the recommended filter in your vehicle’s manual to ensure it fits properly.

Cabin Air Filter

Most vehicles manufactured after 2000 have a cabin air filter that you can easily replace yourself. The majority of vehicles house this air filter behind the glove box.

First, open your glove box and clean it out completely. Then you can remove the pin or band on the side of the glove box that is held in place by a screw. Once this is removed, squeeze the sides of the glove box to release it and let it lower completely.

In this space, you’ll see a black plastic box that looks similar to the engine air filter box. Remove the lid and carefully slide the old air filter out. When you install the new air filter, pay attention to the airflow direction so you can be sure you’re installing it in the right direction. Most cabin air filter packages also have detailed instructions to replace your old filter.

Oil Change

Changing the oil in your vehicle is simple to do on your own as long as you have the right equipment for the job. You will need:

  • A jack and 4 jack stands
  • Wrench
  • Oil-filter wrench
  • A large, wide-mouthed container or pan to catch the oil – it needs to be large enough to hold more than a gallon of liquid!

Be sure your vehicle has been off for at least an hour so the engine is cool. Then, carefully lift it onto jack stands, placing one stand on the frame by each wheel. Your oil pan is located near the front of the vehicle. It is typically a large rectangular part at the lowest point of your engine.

At the bottom of the pan, you’ll see the oil drain plug. Using your wrench, remove the plug and let the oil flow out into your pan. The oil filter is a white or brightly colored, cylindrical component located right next to the oil pan. Be sure your container catching the oil is wide enough to put under the filter as well as the oil drain, then you can remove the filter with your oil filter wrench and let oil sitting in the filter drip out.

Note: When removing your oil filter, be sure the rubber gasket is still attached to the filter. This MUST be removed with the old filter. If it remains on the vehicle when you put in the new filter, it can cause a serious oil leak and potentially damage your engine.

Leave your vehicle to sit and allow all the oil to drain out of the engine. Once it has stopped flowing out, it’s best to wipe down the outside of your oil pan, drain, and connection threads for the oil filter. Then, replace the plug in the oil pan and screw in your new oil filter. Be sure that both are tight! Then, you can lower your vehicle off the jacks, pop your hood and pour the new oil in the oil spout.

Check your owner’s manual for the correct type and amount of oil you should be using. Only once you’ve filled your car back up with oil and all caps and screws are tight, should you turn your engine back on. Let your car run for a few minutes to spread the new oil around before you drive.

Before changing your own oil, be sure you have a way to properly dispose of the used oil. Many auto shops and some auto supply stores offer used fluid disposal, but you should contact them first to be sure you can take your oil there. NEVER dump oil or other fluids from your vehicle down the drain or into storm drains.

Tire Rotation

Rotating your tires every 5,000 miles, or twice a year, is very important to ensure even wear on the treads. This helps to improve the lifetime of your tires, keeps them from wearing unevenly, and even helps prevent cracking and leaks from forming.

To rotate your tires, you will need:

  • A jack and 4 jack stands
  • A lug nut wrench

Loosen the lug nuts on all four tires before jacking up your car. Then, once your vehicle is safely elevated, you can fully remove the lug nuts and pull off each wheel.

For rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, you’ll move the two front tires back, and cross the rear wheels to move to the front. Follow this diagram for wheel placement.

Image by Tire Rack

The above diagram is the standard method for tire rotation, but you can also cross both sets of wheels and swap their positions like this:

Image by Tire Rack

For front-wheel drive vehicles, you can also use the above method, but it is most common to move the rear wheels forward and cross the front wheels to the back.

Image by Tire Rack

Once you’ve put your wheels back on the vehicle, hand tighten all of the lug nuts then lower your car off the jacks. When it is on the ground, tighten the lug nuts the rest of the way with your wrench. Be sure they are TIGHT. If you have a torque wrench, you can look up the needed torque for your specific vehicle in your owner’s manual or online, and use that to be sure your lug nuts are tight enough.

Clean Battery Terminals

As your battery gets older, it is much more likely to have corrosion build up on the terminals. This is especially likely if your vehicle doesn’t have caps to put over the terminals and connections, exposing it to more weathering and oxidation.

You can make a homemade cleaning solution with one tablespoon of baking soda mixed into one cup of water, or you can purchase battery cleaning solution from your local auto supply shop. While working with homemade or store-bought solutions, make sure you wear protective latex or dish gloves.

First, make sure your car is off. Then carefully disconnect the positive and negative cables connected to the battery. Remember, your battery will still have a charge even when the vehicle is off, so be careful of sparking while removing the cables. You can consult your vehicle’s manual for more details on how to safely disconnect the battery.

Once your battery is safely disconnected, dip an old toothbrush or small scrub brush into your cleaning solution, then scrub the corrosion buildup off the battery. DO NOT use a wire brush or anything metal to clean off the terminals. It may take some time to fully clean off each terminal post, so be patient and continue to scrub until the buildup is gone.

Then, wipe off the terminals with a damp rag, and dry thoroughly. Once it’s dry, apply a small dab of petroleum jelly to each terminal, which will help the connection and prevent future corrosion.

Carefully reconnect your cables, and you’re good to go!

NOTE: If you open your hood and notice that the battery casing is cracked, bloated, or severely corroded, it is time to replace your battery. Many auto supply shops offer free battery replacement with the purchase of a new battery and installation kit, so it’s best to take your vehicle to your local shop to get a new battery.

 Replace Headlights and Rear Lights

Depending on your vehicle, replacing your headlights and rear lights can be a very simple or time-consuming process. Before you get started, consult your owner’s manual for more specific details on how to replace the bulbs, and what type of bulbs you need for each spot in your vehicle.

For the rear lights, you can typically access the connection in your trunk. Peel back the lining in your trunk just behind the lights to expose the connections. You’ll see wires connected to a plugin the light mount. Gently pull it out and pop out the old lightbulb.

When handling the new lights, it is best to wear gloves to keep the oils on your skin from gunking up the bulb. With each pack of bulbs, you’ll also get a little packet of conducting gel, which you’ll need to dab on the connection of the bulb. Then you can pop the bulb into place and replace the whole light connection back into the mount.

For the headlights, some vehicles have similarly easy access by simply popping the hood and locating the light mounts inside the engine compartment. However, many newer vehicles require you to remove the bumper to access the headlights. Consult your owner’s manual to find out how to access your headlights and then follow the same process of switching out the bulbs as your rear lights.

Final Thoughts

Vehicle maintenance is vital to keeping your car healthy and running for a long time. These are some easy vehicle maintenance tips, but this is by no means a full list of the necessary maintenance you need to do. For more information, be sure to look in your owner’s manual to understand all of the required maintenance for your car and how often you need to do it.

While these are all simple repairs that you can do yourself, if you don’t feel comfortable doing them, it’s best to take your car to a mechanic. Even paying the additional labor costs of a mechanic will be much more cost-effective than repairing long-term damage from neglect.

Always keep your vehicle maintained and drive safely!

Disclaimer: Use at Your Own Risk 

The information provided in all blog articles is for educational purposes only. Pass Drivers Ed is not a licensed automotive expert, and any information regarding automotive repairs or maintenance should not be taken as professional automotive advice. Pass Drivers Ed is not responsible for any damages or injuries resulting in following the information provided.

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