Some shops just use inspections to upsell you on services you don't need. At a good shop, inspections are valuable tools to keep your car in good shape.
At Parkside Motors, we do repairs ranging from the quickest and simple, to the most complicated rebuilds that you could imagine over the course of the day. Our technicians love their work and have been studying the craft of automotive repair since they were young. Being inquisitive and being confident enough to try things out on your own vehicle is a sign of a true car lover and potential DIY mechanic. If you feel so inclined, here is a list of really simple maintenance procedures you can do on your own if you want to get your hands dirty and learn a bit about your vehicle. These are approachable and fun, and you will get a great sense of satisfaction when you finish your first job.
1. Air Filters
Most vehicles have two air filters, one under the hood and one in the cabin. Over time, air filters get clogged with dust and debris and airflow gets compromised. Changing the air filter will improve your fuel consumption and your car will run more efficiently.
Your owner’s manual and YouTube will both have detailed instructions on how to locate, remove and replace the air filter for your specific model.
We suggest investing in a quality filter. For a fraction of the money you’ll save on labour and shop fees, you can easily splurge on a higher-end filter. A quality filter is constructed from stronger materials and will last longer and be more effective.
2. Tire Pressure
All kinds of minor things affect your tire pressure, like changes in temperature for example. When the tire pressure light comes on inside your vehicle, it isn’t a reason to hustle to the dealership and pay for technicians to inflate your tires, unless one of your tires is completely flat in which case you’ll need professional assistance.
If the tire pressure sensor light comes on, spend a couple of bucks on a tire pressure gauge. Either in the manual or inside the drivers’ door frame, you’ll find the recommended tire pressure listed there for reference. Then all you have to do is go to your neighbourhood gas station, and drop a dollar into the air machine, and follow the instructions to fill your tires to spec.
Gas station attendants are more than happy to show you how to fill your tires, and in less than 10 minutes, you’ve solved the problem yourself. Many gas stations now require you to pay to use their air hose. This is nonsense, to be honest, and we have found that Husky stations in Victoria still have free air, so swing by when you pass a station and you are in need of a top-up.
3. Spark Plugs
Changing your spark plugs is another auto repair you can easily do yourself. The complexity will depend on the make and model of your car. Once you refer to the owner’s manual for the location and type of spark plugs, all you need is a spark plug socket, and you can swap them out yourself. There are lots of handy guides to answer your questions, just do a quick search.
4. Windshield Wipers
Streaks and scuffs on your windshield plus annoying squealing sounds are signs your wipers need replacing. For most cars, they’re affixed with a clip and replacing them is easy. Keep in mind that many auto supply stores will install them for you free of charge when purchased at their location. Some vehicles, like Honda Civics, require you to change just the rubber wiper blade and not the full assembly, and others require you to buy a whole new arm. Your service manual is your best friend for finding the specifics.
The battery is one of the easiest parts to change out. Batteries can become corroded over time and will be visible as what looks like old toothpaste. Baking soda and a toothbrush will scrub away this corrosion before it fuses the terminals together and renders your battery useless. Follow the manual or manufacturer’s instructions to prevent a shock or your skin from coming into contact with the acid inside the battery.
Be mindful of which work you do to your car could void your warranty. Most of these maintenance tasks are DIY, ensure you’re aware of which repairs your warranty requires to be done by a certified technician.