Owning a car can be expensive, and I’m not just talking about the initial purchase. At some point or another, your car will need repairs, updates and maintenance. Auto maintenance and repairs are one of the monthly expenses many tend to forget to include in their budgets or even their “emergency funds”. Surely, most know that depending on the car make and model an oil change is needed roughly every 3,500 miles, but it can be easy to forget about the other ongoing maintenance that is needed and the costs that are associated with it. When it comes time to get those repairs, going to a shop or a dealer can be quite costly. Check out these 5 DIY tips that can save you money.
1. Replace Your Wipers: If you go to a shop to get this done, you might as well crumple up those dollars and use them to play “desk-basketball” like you’re Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street. At a general auto parts store a set of wiper blades can cost anywhere between $5.00- $15.00 and about 5 minutes to replace yourself. If you go to a dealership, they will charge you double if not triple just for wiper blades and then on top of that, labor. Also, if you ask really nicely, an associate at the car parts store will probably install them for you for free!
Your DIY Savings = $30.00 – $40.00
2. Headlights & Taillights: I can’t explain how important it is to ensure all your car lights are working. Not only because you don’t need the headache of being pulled over and issued a ticket but most importantly for yours and other motorists’ safety. If you have a light out, it’s time to fix it. Take a trip to your local auto parts store, bring the burnt out light bulb with you so you know you have the correct match (very important). And remember, do not touch the bulb with your bare hands. The natural oils and grease from your fingers could make the bulb burn out faster.
Your DIY Savings = $60.00 – $80.00
3. Oil Change: Most quick oil change shops can change your oil and filter pretty quickly. But with quick changes can also bring extra costs. Usually that starts with the mechanic coming in after they’ve inspected your car and telling you that a lightbulb or two have burnt out or your transmission fluid needs changing (most likely your lightbulbs are fine and you have thousands of miles before your transmission fluid needs changing). Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the shop may have a deal going on or you found a great coupon. But if you want to save a couple bucks, doing it yourself is actually pretty easy and you don’t have to be that “handy” of a person to do it. To be safe you’re going to want a jack, jack stands, oil filter wrench, oil pan and the oil. Though you may have to spend a buck or two for that equipment, it should only be a once in a lifetime purchase. YouTube has hundreds of videos that can take you step-by-step.
Your DIY Savings = $20.00 – $40.00 (After the initial purchase of the equipment)
4. Change the Battery: A battery typically lasts 4-6 years. So as long as you keep track of when your battery was last replaced, you should be in good hands. Nobody wants to be stranded with a dead battery so if you’re not sure, check on the battery itself. It should have a date stamped on it. An average car battery costs around $80.00. If you take it to a dealer to have it replaced it can cost you easily $200.00! Changing your own battery is a very simple task. Just remember to follow the proper steps in order. First you want to remove the negative cable and then the positive. Once the new battery is in you want to replace the positive first and the negative last. If you’re not 100%, Google it.
Your DIY Savings = $100.00 – $150.00
5. Spark Plugs: These little guys are not expensive at all. You could get a set of spark plugs for about $30.00. Some dealers and shops could charge you all the way up to $200.00 to change spark plugs. I know that number seems ridiculous but it’s true and I’ve seen it before. Changing your own spark plugs could save you a lot of time and money. Although you will need to purchase a spark plug wrench, this is also another one-time purchase and it costs about $10.00.
Your DIY Savings = $170.00 (after the one-time purchase)
Being able to take care of these minor maintenance repairs yourself can save you a lot of time, money and the hassle of dealing with the pressures from the auto shop managers. Before doing any of these projects yourself, make sure you do a little research. Every vehicle is different and will require certain odds and ends pertaining to that particular model and make. Google and YouTube are some great resources, and if you’re not 100% confident, talk to your local auto parts store. They’ve always been so gracious with me to offer their advice. Who knows, maybe you’ll find your inner-mechanic and I’ll see you in the pit-crew for NASCAR!