6 Things All Drivers Should Be Able to Do By Themselves

Cars today are extremely reliable compared to cars from previous generations. However, even the best-built car from any era will need some periodic maintenance. It’s important to check your car every three to six months for the following, and sooner if you drive long distances regularly.

1.) Check and change oil

If you drive your car regularly or have accumulated a total of around 5,000 to 8,000 km, your oil may no longer be doing a good job of lubricating and will probably need to be switched out. If your oil doesn’t match your vehicle’s viscosity requirements, it could lead to overheating and premature wear and tear in your engine.

Periodic oil checks are even more important in older vehicles because of outdated metallurgy and designs, so it’s absolutely important you don’t miss this step in your quarterly car check-ups. Be sure to do research on the type of oil needed by your vehicle, as some have very specific requirements, and engine damage can happen if you use oils that are too light or too heavy.

2.) Check radiator for debris and replace coolant

Even if you use top-grade distilled water in your radiator, mineral deposits and other contaminants will eventually build up inside of it. While you might get by a year or so without even thinking about your radiator, the resulting heat build-up can seriously damage your engine.

If there is significant debris or mineral build-up, you can use a radiator cleaning solution to help remove it, after draining your old coolant fluid. You can then top it up with new coolant afterwards.

3.) Check and replace air, oil, and fuel filters

Your car’s filters play a key role in keeping your vehicle running smoothly and efficiently. When they’re clogged up or damaged, they may affect your vehicle’s efficiency and fuel economy, and you can risk damage through overheating if your engine has to constantly work harder to produce a given amount of power.

Fortunately, air, fuel, and oil filters tend to be easy to swap out by design. While you shouldn’t be blindly swapping them every three months, you should at least check up on them to see if they may need to be replaced soon.

4.) Check brake pads

Good brake pads are an investment in both your property and your life, so it’s important to check them regularly, or when the brakes start to feel off. Some experts suggest checking them around the 30,000 to 35,000 km mark.

Replacing brake pads isn’t really a DIY project most people want to handle. However, if you’re up for learning how to do it, you can save thousands of dollars in fees over the lifetime of all your vehicles. You will need to invest in a C-clamp, floor jack, jack stands, spanners, pry bar, and a set of pliers. For older vehicles, you may want to invest in a mallet, as these can be necessary to install pads in older designs.

On the other hand, you’re not sure if you can actually perform a brake pad change on your vehicle, it’s best to get a professional to do it for you.

5.) Check and clean up the battery and electrical systems

Make sure your battery terminals are free from corrosion because rust and other kinds of corrosion can cause shorts and impede the function of your battery. You can clean up any corrosion on the battery terminals and other parts of your electrical system with commercial products or with a paste made with a combination of baking soda and water. Be sure to use a clean, dry rag to wipe off any spot that you cleaned.

This is also a good time to ensure that your signal lights, running lights, and headlights are all in good order. Other parts of your electrical system may be a bit more difficult to access, so you may need professional help if there is an issue.

6.) Replace worn-out wipers

Wipers may not be exactly the most “mission critical” part of your vehicle but bad wipers that leave streaks in your windshield can also be distracting and keep you from putting your full attention on the road. However, they are easily checked and replaced and functioning wipers can tremendously improve your driving experience.

Wipers should be swapped out yearly or when they start to present problems. So long as you have the right wipers, swaps can easily be performed by anyone.

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