Berkeley Auto Repair

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A few simple DIY Maintenance Tasks

A few simple DIYMaintenance Tasks

Vehicle owners may be tempted to forego maintenance because they think it’s expensive and not necessary.However, regular maintenance is necessary because it can help prevent more expensive repairs and breakdowns in the future.Not changing the oil regularly can lead to premature engine wear and failure or cause your car to run poorly.

On occasion we have a customer who wants to do some of their car maintenance themselves.There is no reason a skilled and enthused person shouldn’t give some service items on their vehicle a try.Performing some of the basic service items can save money if done correctly of course.

Safety first, only physically fit individuals should attempt any maintenance item that requires them to bend over the engine compartment, squat by the wheel for more than a minute or two or climb under the vehicle.And always, always use jack stands properly if raising the car up with a service jack.Never use an old jack.Place the jack stands in the proper locations under the body and park the vehicle on level pavement. Important for personal safety is protective gear like safety goggles, ear protection and rubber gloves are all essential when working on an automobile, so don’t forget to use them.

Below is a list of several maintenance jobs skilled DIYers may be able to handle on their own:

  1. Replace wiper blades

When wiper blades are worn they can greatly reduce visibility when it’s raining or snowing and even on cold mornings when the windshield is covered with dew.

Choose a quality wiper blade as they are made with high quality rubber, clean better and usually last longer.Follow the instructions that come with the blades.It’s easier to fit a complete blade replacement as opposed to an insert.Inserts, which are just the rubber piece are tricky to fit and must be matched to the type of blade. Whereas different brand blades can be used without problem.

  1. Replace air filter

An engine air filter should be checked annually and if your car is driven the national average of 12,000 miles a year it will need to be replaced at that time.If you drive off road or in sandy areas the filter should be checked every 5,000 miles.

  1. Check spare tire

A spare tire should be in good working condition since it’s mainly used in an emergency after an unanticipated tire blow out.It’s usually an out of sight, out of mind situation.Access to the spare tire should be something you familiarize yourself with before you need to use it.Typically they are located in the trunk under the carpeted floor panel, on the outside of the tailgate or can be located under the rear of the vehicle.Look around and see where it is located.Once you’ve gained access to the tire, look at the sidewall surface for cracking or flaking rubber which is a sign of dry rot and the tire must then be replaced.Also check the tire pressure in the tire, over a period of years it may have gone flat.

  1. Replace headlamp bulbs

Some headlamp bulbs are easy to replace.Make sure to buy the correct bulb beforehand.Access the headlamp bulb holder from the engine compartment; remove the electrical connector from the back of the headlamp.On occasion they can be difficult to remove.Use a rag or towel when gripping the bulb, twist to free it from the holder.Remember when installing the new bulb, to not make direct contact with your fingers as the oils in our skin may shorten the life of the new bulb.

Warning: Some vehicles will require the battery be removed to gain access to the headlamp.On these models we don’t recommend DIYers attempt to replace them as there is a risk of damaging electronic parts if the battery is not removed and reinstalled properly.The same goes for HID (high intensity discharge) headlight bulbs.We advise a professional replace them, as these systems run on high voltage electricity and impose a risk of electrocution if not handled correctly.

  1. Replace engine oil and filter

Not as easy a DIY service as the other items listed but for a savvy, physically fit person it’s doable.Laying on the ground one must be able to exert some force to get the oil filter and the drain plug loose.Some special tools are needed; a jack, jack stands, oil filter wrench, drain pan and standard wrench the size of the drain plug.All supplies should be bought in advance.Use quality oil the weight recommended by the manufacturer, a genuine or better oil filter and don’t forget the drain plug gasket if applicable because they are not reusable.Be extra vigilant when tightening both drain plug and oil filter, leaks can lead to dangerously low engine oil level and result in engine damage.Care also must be taken when adding the oil, not to over or under fill the engine.

Note: One significant difference of doing your own oil change or having a reputable shop do an oil maintenance service is a professional technician can spot concerns with the vehicle that a DIY would find hard to interpret or see when working on the ground.Concerns like a small coolant leak, a broken brake part or a worn suspension component, the latter having to be measured and tested because wear is not always visible, could negatively impact the car if not noticed and corrected.

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