When it comes to maintaining and restoring our cars, it can be tempting to pay a visit to the local body shop without thinking twice. What the majority of people don’t know is that many routine tasks and small repairs can be done with only a couple of tools and the will to learn. Even if you aren’t ready to fix cars full-time, it’s always handy to have a few tricks up your sleeve that can keep you on the road. To get you on the right track, our experts at Caliber Collision have compiled a list of parts you can change, check and clean all from the comfort of your own garage.
TIDY UP YOUR TOOLBOX
The first step in any routine maintenance is making sure you’re outfitted for the task at hand. Start off with a small toolbox and keep your equipment clean and organized for easy repairs. At a minimum, your tool stash should contain combination wrenches, ratchets, screwdrivers, a breaker bar and pry bar, pliers, a C-Clamp and a socket set. If this sounds overwhelming, try taking the easy road and simply investing in a basic mechanics toolkit.
REGULAR AND ROUTINE MAINTENANCE
• Oil and Filter: One of the services every car requires regularly—about every 5000 miles, to be exact—is an oil change. This simple service can be done at home with an oil filter wrench and quick skim through your car’s repair manual. Not only does this save you a trip to the body shop, but also about $15 each time you take matters into your own hands, which really stacks up in the long run.
• Windshield Wipers: On average, drivers will need to change their windshield wiper blades once a year due to normal wear and tear. And while the wipers themselves only cost $8 to $18 dollars, and the installation takes less than 10 minutes, many car owners are unaware how simple this task is.
• Tires: Even if your warning light isn’t on, your tires could still run the risk of being under-inflated. If you notice your car is going through gas quicker than usual, veering to one side, or taking longer to come to a complete stop, you might want to check your tires and fill them up as needed. All you will need is a tire pressure gauge, and a quick peek at the sticker on your driver side door.
• Fluids: When it comes to engine maintenance, there are 5 key fluids to check and top-off regularly. While you’ll need a dipstick to check your oil, you can “eyeball” your coolant, power steering, brake and windshield fluids in their clear containers. Most of these tanks have lines and markers indicating where the contents should be, and if you’re finding any of these levels consistently low, it may be time to bring it to the shop to check for a leak.
• Corrosion: Have you ever looked at an old battery and seen white solids around the ends? That’s actually corrosion, a byproduct of the battery’s contents, and it can just as easily happen to the large one inside of your car. In order to prevent low conductivity and faulty connectors, it’s important to clean away corrosion before it builds up. Proper safety precautions, everyday baking soda, hot water and a toothbrush can get your battery back to normal and ready to roll.
• Filters: While you’ve likely had your car’s air filter replaced in the body shop or done it yourself, even the most seasoned enthusiasts are prone to overlooking the importance of cleaning it in between replacements. A clean filter can help your car run smoothly and more efficiently, and rarely takes more than 20 minutes start-to-finish. Whether you choose to wash or vacuum your filter, you’ll be doing your car a favor by extending the filter’s life and maximizing performance.
While caring for your car might not be the most exciting task on your to-do list, it is essential for a safe and smooth ride. If your tune-up turns out to require more than your toolkit can handle, our team here at Caliber Collision is always here and specializes in Restoring the Rhythm of Your Life.® To all of our DIYers out there, happy fixing!