It’s never a good sign when your car starts making a funny noise or an ominous dashboard light comes on. And we all know how the mileage can creep up on you until you suddenly realize that you should’ve had the oil changed weeks ago. But when these things happen to you, you don’t have to panic: Your budget isn’t necessarily blown. Sure, a trip to the mechanic can be expensive, but you (yes, you!) are more than capable of dealing with a lot of routine car maintenance without having to call in a pro.
Replace the Air Filter
Taking your car in to get the air filter changed can cost $40-$85, but if you provide the labor and just buy an air filter, the cost is more like $12. That’s a much better price for a part that’s basically paper folded into an accordion-like shape. The air filter attaches to the engine’s intake manifold and cleans the air your engine needs to run, so an errant bird feather or a bit of road salt doesn’t destroy your engine. The good news about this fix is that you shouldn’t need any tools and you can save some money.
Change the Battery
Most garages charge around $70 for labor when replacing a battery. This is a DIY project you should be able to knock out in about an hour. The first thing to do is to consult your car’s owner’s manual to find out what type of battery you need, and visit a local auto parts store to purchase it. Next, watch the video above to learn how to change your battery at home!
Brake Pad Replacement
Replacing your brake pads can cost $150-$300 per axle. Ouch. Or you can do it yourself and save on those labor costs. Brakes are very important, so the idea of changing them can be daunting, but actually, it’s a great DIY project. To do it, raise the car on jacks and remove the wheels and tires. Remove the caliper fasteners and pull the calipers away from the brake pads (you can secure the calipers with bungees). Next, you’ll check the brake fluid, follow the greasing instructions that came with your pads, and check the rotors. Then, reverse these directions and put your car back together.
Fuses usually cost about a $1 at your local auto supply store, but you’re going to spend $20-$50 if you get a mechanic to change the fuse. Changing fuses can be easy! Grab your owner’s manual, learn where your car’s fuse box is, and open the fuse cover. Follow the steps in the video to identify which fuse is blown, and how to replace it.
Fuel Filter Replacement
Fuel filters typically need to be replaced yearly, and with labor, that replacement can cost up to $165. This is a more complicated job, requiring you to disconnect the fuel pump. Make sure to read through the steps before starting, as this can be a complex process.
Headlight Bulb Replacement
The cost of a standard bulb is around $20, but if you hire someone to do it, expect a bill that can run $100 or more. Ready to save the difference? Pop the hood and locate the headlight. Remove the wires holding the bulb in place. Remove the old bulb. Put on gloves or pick up a lint-free rag: You don’t want your skin oils getting on your new bulb. Put the new bulb in place, attach the wires, and close the hood. It’s as simple as that.
Oil Change and Oil Filter
Oil changes are a recurring vehicle maintenance cost. Most cars these days require them every 5,000 miles or every five months. That can really add up over time, but you can save money and do it yourself. To get started, you’re going to park your car on level ground, crawl under the vehicle, locate the oil pan, and locate the drain plug. Follow the steps outlined in the video above, and before you know it, you will have changed your own oil!
Spark Plug Replacement
Spark plugs cost about $10 each, but the labor on spark plugs can cost between $40 and $150. Instead, you can give up an hour of your day and change them yourself! Changing spark plugs is a more technical process and requires the following equipment:
- Gap gauge
- Needle-nose pliers
- Socket/ratchet set
- Swivel socket
- Torque wrench
Once you’ve got all of those things as well as your new spark plugs, read over the step-by-step instructions carefully and get to work.
You can expect to pay up to $16 per wiper blade to have them professionally installed. Luckily, it’s super-easy to change out windshield wipers! Start by consulting your owner’s manual to find out what size wiper blades your car requires. Once you’ve acquired those, lift the wiper arm away from the windshield. There’s a small tab on the underside of the arm. Press it to release the blade. Slide the wiper blade from the arm with a downward motion. Then, attach the new blade. When you hear a clicking sound, you know it’s locked into place. Slowly lower the arm back to the windshield. It’s that simple.
While there are many minor car repairs that you can DIY, there are others that require the help of a trained mechanic. Should the unfortunate happen and you be faced with a car repair bill that you cannot afford, TitleMax title loans/pawns and personal loan products can help you make ends meet. When you visit one of our local stores or begin the application process online, you’ll be able to pay for that car repair and continue driving your vehicle while you pay off your account.
NOTE: This blog is intended for educational purposes only. Tasks outlined above should be performed with extreme caution and at your own risk.