Car maintenance can be expensive, so you can’t take your car to the shop for every little problem.
Instead of letting all these little problems add up to one big repair visit later, you can fix some of them on your own.
A lot of these fixes are easy enough to go on your normal car care checklist. Take a look at these seven DIY car projects you can do at home.
1. Changing Your Oil
This is one of the most important maintenance jobs for any car, but oil shops are charging more and more for the task.
But changing your own car oil is easy enough to do on your own, so you don’t have to get stuck paying that extra cost. Just follow this quick guide.
Warm Up Your Car: Before you change the oil, you’ll want it to be slightly warm, but not hot. Let the car run for about 5 minutes before you get started.
Pull the Plug: Look under the car to find the oil filter and drain plug and pull the plug out. To do this, you’ll need a wrench. The oil will start running out right away, so make sure you have a container underneath to catch it.
Remove the Oil Filter: If you choose to remove the filter, you should do it after all the oil has drained. You can then either clean it off or replace it with a new one.
Put the Plug Back: Once you clean the plug you can put it back in. Make sure it’s nice and tight.
Refill the Oil: Before you do this, figure out what kind of oil is best for your car. Then go to the top of the engine, remove the oil cap, and refill the oil tank. When you’re done, run your car for about 30 seconds so the new oil can circulate.
2. Changing the Transmission Fluid
This is a very similar process to changing the oil. In fact, it has the same basic steps, you’re just dealing with a different part of your car. You should definitely add this to your at home car care list.
Warm Up Your Car: Again, this process is easier if the fluid is slightly warm. Leave your car running at idle for a few minutes before you start.
Loosen the Bolts: Unlike the oil, the transmission fluid doesn’t have a single plug. Instead, you have to take off the entire pan. Loosen the bolts slowly at first so the fluid can begin to drain. Remember to have something underneath to catch it!
Remove the Filter: If you want to, you can remove the filter at this point. Either clean it or install a new one.
Put the Pan Back: After you clean the pan, put it back into place and make sure the bolts are tight.
Refill the Transmission Fluid: Find the transmission fluid cap under the hood of your car, remove it, and refill the fluid. Make sure you get the right type of transmission fluid for your car.
3. Fixing Bumper Dents
The type of car you drive says a lot about you, and if that car has a dent in the bumper, that says something about you too. But it’s annoying to take your car to the shop for such a minor issue.
Fixing these kinds of dents on your own is an easy part of your car care. All you need is a little boiling water.
Boil Some Water: Make sure it’s really hot. The boiling water will soften the plastic so you can pop out the dent, so if the water’s only luke-warm it won’t work very well.
Pour the Water Over the Dent: Do this right away so the water doesn’t have a chance to cool.
Put Out the Dent: As soon as you pour the water over the dent, reach behind the bumper and pop the dent back out.
4. Removing Small Scratches and Scuffs
In this case, we’re talking about small scratches and scuffs that haven’t penetrated the paint job. If you can grab the edge of a scratch with your fingernail, it is too big for this trick.
Clean the Area: You don’t have to get too detailed, but you do want to remove dirt and dust.
Wash Again with Damp Rag and Toothpaste: Yes, toothpaste. Just put a touch on your rag and rub it over the scratches. After a moment of two of scrubbing, they should all come right off. It really works.
5. Removing Stains
Whether from eating, drinking, or just having kids, you’ve probably managed to stain your upholstery at least once or twice. But you don’t have to take your car in to get it professionally cleaned. You can get rid of those stains on your own.
Mix the Right Ingredients: Stir water, dish soap, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and lemon juice together.
Spray the Stain: Let it sit for about 15 minutes.
Spray Again and Scrub: Use a strong brush and work the stain out of the upholstery. When you’re done, use a dry towel to suck up any remaining liquid.
6. Cleaning Leather Seats
The same solution for fabric upholstery won’t work for leather. If you have a car with leather seats, you should use this cleaning method instead.
Mix Ingredients: This could be water and dishwashing soap or olive oil and vinegar.
Spray on Seats: Don’t spray too much of either mixture because it could damage the seats. Just spritz the cleaner onto the seats and let sit for a few minutes.
Scrub Clean: Using a towel, wipe your seats down and remove any remaining cleaner.
7. Brighten Your Headlights
Constant exposure to the sun, dirt, and other grime make your headlights get cloudy over time. If your car is so old that your headlights are broken or have yellowed with age, it may be time to just get a new car altogether (shop now).
There’s a pretty easy cleaning solution to this though, and yes, it involves toothpaste again.
Scrub Headlights with Toothpaste: You can do this with an old toothbrush, and if you want to make it even better, mix in a bit of baking soda.
Clean with Water: Once you’ve scrubbed toothpaste over the entire headlight, wash it off with some clean water.
Stay on Top of Your Car Care
You shouldn’t empty your wallet for car care fixes you can take care of yourself. However, if your car does have some serious problems, taking it to the shop is the best idea.
After all, you don’t want something like this to happen to your car!