Here at MetroMile we’re working on building a platform to take the hassle – and expense – out of car ownership. But there are plenty of ways you can knock down the cost of having a car, yourself. While changing out a transmission is most likely beyond your current skill set, a whole lot of car maintenance isn’t as tricky, and taking care of it on your own can save you big-time. Below are our top five DIY tips for rolling up your sleeves and taking your annual car maintenance costs into your own hands…
1 – Change Your Own Oil And Top Off All Other Fluids, Too
Changing your oil takes about 30 minutes and though it requires a few tools, is well within your ability. It’s recommended every 3-5,000 miles and though a dirty job, is actually pretty rewarding. Just follow along to a demo like this one, to get the job done. And as far as checking your fluids, this bit’s easy! Fluids you can monitor and change yourself include transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, anti-freeze, coolant and windshield washing fluid. Here’s a tutorial on how to change transmission fluid, and one on changing brake fluid, too. Plus, a step by step walk through of how to change all them all in one fell swoop.
2 – Change Those Wiper Blades
Sometimes auto parts stores will offer free installation if you buy premium blades, but we suggest going for the economy blades and installing them yourself to save – especially since there are no tools required. You’ll need to check if your car has the same size blades on both the passenger and driver’s sides, or if one is longer on the driver’s side, before purchasing. Plus, don’t forget to buy a third blade if you have a wiper on the rear window. It’ll set you back just $10 to $20 and take you about 15 minutes, maximum to install. Here’s a quick demo.
3 – Replace Your Air Filter
Every year, or 12,000 miles, it’s a good idea to switch out your air filters. Check out how easy this process is here – it takes all of ten minutes, and, again, no tools are required. With filters running between $10-$50, depending upon the make of your car, if you’re reeeeeealllly looking to conserve, you can even reuse your old filter. Just hit it with some compressed air to clean out the debris, and reinstall. Boom, (almost) good as new!
4 – Check Your Battery
There are a host of electrical issues that stem from corroded or loose battery connections. One way to remedy this problem is to buy an appropriate brush (under $5 at an auto parts store) and undo cable connectors where you notice corrosion, clean them, then reconnect them securely – here’s a demo. Of course, you should also refer to the ‘Check Engine Status’ feature within the MetroMile app, too, to get a broader sense of any problems potentially related to your battery.
5 – Replace Your Lights
Having a light go out poses a pretty big safety concern, so this is something you’ll want to jump on as soon as it happens. Replacement bulbs generally cost just a few dollars – headlights, excluded – and can be replaced rather easily, oftentimes without tools. Why pay hefty labor fees for something you can completely take care of on your own? Visit YouTube and search for your car’s model along with ‘DIY’ and ‘Headlights’ for a number of demos to walk you through the process.
These five tips are good places to start, but there’s plenty more you can take charge of, too. In fact, the MetroMile app can be a big help. When it alerts you to an engine trouble code, do a quick Google search and see if it’s something you can handle on your own. You wouldn’t believe how many times we’ve heard stories of codes being fired simply due to a loose gas cap – something you can easily take care of, but that might’ve otherwise cost you an $80 visit to the mechanic to ‘clear the light’. Never again!