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Simple DIY Car Maintenance

If you’re comfortable getting a little dirty, you may want to consider taking on routine auto maintenance to keep your vehicle running smoothly.

The expense of bringing your vehicle to an auto shop for routine auto maintenance can add up over time. While costs and repair needs will vary depending on your vehicle type and use, there is general car repair and maintenance that applies to any make and model. Instead of turning to your local mechanic for easy routine auto maintenance, there may be some common upkeep you can take care of yourself.

Before you get started on any of your own DIY car maintenance efforts, consult reliable sources for step-by-step directions. Consider visiting sites such as Pep Boys and NAPA Auto Parts, or verified YouTube accounts for real-time visual instructions. You may also consult an expert.

As with any auto maintenance, make sure to reference your vehicle’s owner’s manual first. There you will find valuable information such as what type of bulb to use or how frequently you should change the car’s oil.

Replacing the engine air filter1

Frequency

Every 12,000 miles or annually (more frequently if you live in especially dusty conditions)

Supplies

  • New air filter
  • Screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Clean rags

Duration

15 minutes

Installing new windshield wiper blades2

Frequency

Every six to 12 months, or once they begin skipping, streaking, splitting or squeaking

Supplies

  • New blades

Duration

15 minutes

Changing your spark plugs3

Frequency

Every 97,500 to 120,000 miles, as needed; varies by vehicle type –consult your owner’s manual

Supplies

  • Spark plug socket
  • Spark plug gap gauge
  • 3/8-inch swivel socket and ratchet
  • Ratchet extensions
  • Compressed air

Duration

40 – 60 minutes

Replacing a headlight or taillight4

Frequency

As necessary, when a bulb burns out

Supplies

  • Check the owner’s manual for replacement bulb size and wattage

Duration

10 – 15 minutes

Changing the oil5

Frequency

Every 3,000 to 7,000 miles, according to your vehicle’s make, model and specification set by the manufacturer

Supplies

  • 4 – 6 quarts of oil (check owner’s manual for type)
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Socket wrench
  • Safety goggles
  • Latex gloves
  • Rags
  • 6-quart + drain pan
  • Car jack
  • Jackstands
  • Funnel

Duration

Up to 45 minutes2

Always consult your owner’s manual when doing routine maintenance on your vehicle. And if you run into any complications or questions, make sure to talk to a professional.

1 What You Need to Know About Changing Your Air Filter, NAPA Auto Parts, 2020.
2 8 DIY Car Maintenance Tips You Can Handle – Checklist, Money Crashers, 2021.
3 Replacing Spark Plugs, DMV.org, 2022.
4 Headlight Replacement Tips & Tricks, Pep Boys, 2022.
5 How to Change Your Oil, AutoZone, 2022.