100+ Essential Car Maintenance (DIY) Tips You Should Learn Today
We all love our sweet ride. We do everything we can for her. It breaks our heart when it gets even a single scratch. Servicing and cleaning it regularly is like the regular health checkup of the car. Being in a hobby includes spending a lot of time doing what you love. In the car hobby, a lot of people prefer to spend more time with the car and do all the maintenance themselves.
A car costs a lot and so does its repairs and servicing. The servicing agency may cost a lot for labour depending on its brand and workers and sometimes that can go way out of budget for some of us. Doing some minor work on your car is pretty easy and works as first aid for our car. It is a bit time consuming but it does manage to save a lot of money. Here are a few tips and tricks for keeping your car healthy.
Exterior car maintenance tips and tricks:
Wash your car
We all think washing our own car is easy. The only issue in doing so is time. But if you still manage to find time to wash your own car do you know how it should be done.
Do not wait to wash the car until the car is visibly dirty. A weekly car wash is always recommended.
Do not wash a hot car since it can be difficult and at the same time cause deposits that damage paints.
Read the label and directions on every car related products. Some of the cleaning products may have been just designed for a specific area. Using it all over may damage the entire finish of your car.
Hose down a car first to get the larger dirt pieces out of the way.
Wash your car in sections. This way you will be able to concentrate more on the problem areas.
Apply the 3 bucket system where 1 bucket consists of soapy water, another with plain water in which you can clean the mats before dunking it in soapy water after wiping the car. The 3rd bucket will be exclusively for tires.
Invest in proper supplies for the car wash like clean running water, large sponge etc. Get a good soap for water and always have tar remover handy.
In the case of acid rain areas, rise your car thoroughly if the car has been in contact with the acid rain. The acid rain can damage the paint of the car.
Liquid detergents and dish soap can damage the wax off your car and even strip off the paint. Use a soap that is dedicated to cleaning the cars.
Use a clay bar to remove the contaminants from scratches and other places where it is difficult to reach.
After washing the car you can choose to polish the car. To get this high gloss look you can use your hands to apply or use a dual-action polisher.
Car wax provides shine but it also provides a protective layer against the corrosive materials. It also prevents car paint from UV rays and fading. You can either use a polymer wax which is easier to apply or carnauba wax.
Maintain the shine and protection of your newly washed car with a spray cleaner and a clean cloth to remove the dust, bird droppings etc on the go.
Using regular glass cleaner for your car’s windows can sometimes damage your car’s tint. Use a cleaner specially designed for the windows of your car or if you decide to go for a glass cleaner choose one that has no ammonia.
Use a wheel cleaner for cleaning the wheels of your car. Make sure you do not get any of it o tires or on the car itself.
Use a very soft sponge or toothbrush for cleaning your car. Remember, wheels are easy to scratch so use something very soft.
Use plenty of water. Apply the three bucket system for cleaning your wheels.
For the finishing, you can use car wax to provide the rims of your car with a protective layer. Click here for more information.
Repair the rust on your car
Rust can damage your car in a million ways. It is the ultimate enemy of your beloved vehicle. Not only it affects the look of the car but over a period of time, it also reduces the strength of your car.
The paint bubbles or brownish stains that are often seen in our car can lead to its early retirement. Rust is an oxidation process of iron molecules. Saltwater and humid weather can expedite the process. So here are a few tips to get rid of rust.
To perform rust removal, pick a day with low wind and clear skies. Make sure the car is in the shade that is clean and dry. It can work better in a garage. This process is as long as it may take an entire day. For the minor rust issues like an edge of hood or spots of rust, use a liquid aerosol rust remover.
Make sure you mask off the area around the rusted spot with some tape. Make sure a few inches of an area is covered by the tape.
The usual rust removal requires us to spray on the affected area and wipe with a clean towel. Wear some protective gear when handling it.
If the rust is not gone, remove it with sandpaper.
Clean it with grease and wax remover soap and leave it to air dry.
Spray primer and allow an hour to dry, spray 3 light coats of it.
Spray the colour base coat. Remember that the colour should be similar to that of your car. Do as many coats as required to make sure the entire area is covered. Remember to allow it to dry between every coat.
Spray a clear coat and do not wash the car for 2-3 days. Wax the car after 2 months.
If the rust of any part is more than 30%, damaged enough to have holes in it, it's safe to just replace the entire part instead of repair.
Get rid of scratches
Most of the times our new beloved car gets scratched the moment we take it out of our garage. Getting small scratches on the car is inevitable. No matter how careful we are, we end us having these ugly scars on our car. There is a quick and easy fix for those scratches and most of them you can get rid of at home.
A car has mainly 3 layers of paint on it. The first being a primer that goes on the base of the metal body, the second is a basecoat that gives the car its colour, and the 3rd is the clear coat which is soo far the thickest layer.
Clear coat scratch
When a scratch is just at the clear coat, the light reflecting in a different way causes us to see the scratch on the car. In this type of scratch, filling up the scratch with a substance or getting rid of that reflective area can give us a scratch-free car.
To identify clear coat scratches, spray soapy water on the car to see if the scratch goes away. If the scratch goes when the area is wet it’s a clear coat scratch. It will appear once the patch is dry.
Clean the scratch with soapy water and a microfiber towel. Put tape on both sides of the scratch leaving 1 inch of area on both sides. And rub it in the perpendicular direction with sandpaper of 3000 grit.
After that rub, the area with 5000 grit sandpaper till the scratch is completely gone. Make sure you spray a lot of soapy water in between the processes.
Once that is done its time to apply polish. 2 cotes of polish are enough to cover and fill up the scratch. After that to protect the clear coat from further damage a layer of wax should be applied. Paste wax works best for this. For more information click here.
Another method can be the use of toothpaste and microfiber cloth. Rubbing the toothpaste gently in a circular motion helps fill up the scratch.
Do not attempt to do this if the temperature is below 15-degree Celsius.
Deep coat scratch
For deeper scratch, the above process has to be repeated with rougher sandpaper and it also required similar tone paint which has to be spread on the affected area.
Exterior car accessory repairs
Replace your wiper blades
If your wiper blades are not cleaning properly then its time to replace them. You get the replacement wipers for the really cheap cost. The brand name blades have better rubber and do the job perfectly. Just follow instructions on the packets and you will be good to go.
Replace broken antenna
All you have to do is unscrew the leftover antenna and screw in the new one. In case of pillar mount antenna, you will have to disconnect the wire from radio and reconnect it later.
Touch up chipped auto paint
Chipped paint can cause the area to rust. Getting it covered it’s the best option to prevent that from happening. All you need is touch up paint and a fine applicator. Make sure you remove wax and grease off the area and with fine applicator apply some paint. Make sure you do not add too much as this way drip. Let it dry and apply a coat of wax 30 days later.
Lubricate window tracks
Sometimes it can get difficult to close a window. So in order to avoid too much pressure on it apply silicone or dry Teflon spray lubricant all over the window tracks. Open and close them a few times and wipe out the excess.
Repair those screechy windshield wipers
Spraying silicon lubricant on the rubber of the wipers helps with the screechy noise.
Fill those tires up
You can do it yourself at home, all you need is an air pump. Though most of the petrol pumps have this facility free, it's advised to keep an air pump handy. You can always check the pressure in tires at the petrol pumps.
Change your tire
You will need a jack to lift the car up. Use a wrench to unscrew all the screws carefully. Now place your fully inflated tire the same place and screw it back on. Make sure it's tight enough.
Detailing your car
Washing your car the proper way is not only limited to the exterior but the interior needs to be polished too. Detailing your car is important and you may spend minimum rs. 1000 every month to do so. But at the same time, it is something you can do on your own.
Destiny your interior
Especially during monsoon, our car can end up smelling really bad, to make it smell fresh all over again just get an aerosol spray and spray it on the ac unit and switch the ac on high. Lightly spray on headliner, seats and carpets. Keep the windows closed for at least an hour and you will be good to go.
Wash the windows
Most of the times even after the cleaning, people forget to clean the top of the windows. A good glass cleaner and a soft rug are all it takes to remove the grime.
Brush out the vents
It sounds simple but it often gets ignored while cleaning a car. Air vents can be the real magnet to dust particles and cleaning them often helps to clear the vent.
Deep clean carpet
If you have a carpet cleaner than great! If you don’t a vacuum cleaner works as well. But if you do not manage to get a vacuum cleaner just taking the carpets out and dusting them can work too.
Wax your car
As mentioned earlier waxing gives your car an additional protective layer. You can either use a paste form or a liquid form with a liquid being the easier one to apply. Just apply a coat on the car, leave it for a few mins and once it dries up wipe with a soft dry cloth.
Clean the hood latch
Wipe the grime away with a clean cloth. If you see any rusted spot, apply some wd40 on it. Move it a few times wipe again and apply a lubricant.
Scrape off old stickers
Old stickers may become a visual hazard and can also look ugly at times, for the stickers that are easier to remove, use a plastic scraper the one that is used for dough, and scrape off the sticker at a 90-degree angle. For more stickier stickers use soap water or glass cleaner and clean off any residue with a multi-fibre cloth.
Fix the squeaky doors
If your door makes noise every time it opens it may be due to corrosion. Use wd 40 to remove any corrosion from the hinges. Wipe down and lubricate well. Motor oil can be used as a lubricant.
Clean every corner of the car
Detailing is to clean every corner of your car. Every nooks and cranny have to be cleaned in this process. This requires a great deal of attention towards the car.
Clay can be used to remove ant dirt embedded on the clear coat or inside a scratch on the car. Just pressing the clay onto the surface and removing will do to your car what a peel-off mask does to our skin.
Lubricate the door locks
We pay soo much attention to bigger things that we sometimes ignore the small little important details. Door locks were one of them. The door locks may rust and jam our keys at times. It's important to keep them free of corrosion and lubricated. Lubricate trunk hinges. Do not lubricate the joints that slow them, this will ruin it.
Fix leaky sunroof
If your sunroof leaks, there are derbies stuck on the window. You will have to clean it up with a vacuum cleaner. Look for the drain holes in both front corners and suck out the clog using high pressure of the vacuum.
Engine related repairs
The most important factor in maintaining a car is its car repair. Car repair can cost you a pretty huge amount of sum if outsourced. Most of these repairs are easy and doable and will cost you a fraction of what you usually pay.
Change your car oil
It's easy and doable. All you have to do is remove the old oil, change the oil filter and fill it up with new oil. For more information on how to change your oil, click here.
Replace your battery
Your battery or alternator needs to be replaced if the accessories in the car are not switching on and if the car is not turning over. You need to test them with a multimeter to check which one has stopped working. You will need to replace it as soon as possible.
The location of the battery or alternator will be mentioned in your car’s manual. If you have kept the lights running for a long period of time, your battery might just need a jump start. If the battery or alternator fails midway a jumpstart would probably be able to get you home.
Replace your brake pad
If the brake pad squawks when applying pressure, it needs changing. If you need a grinding sound, the rotor needs replacement.
Fix coolant leaks
If you see coolant leaking it might be coming from an external hose that’s cracked. If that’s the case you can take out the part and replace it with a new one. Make sure you do not touch the liquid. If you are unable to locate the crack, it might be inside the radiator and you might need professional help to fix that.
Replace fuel filter
A fuel filter filters out dust, particles and carbon. It’s an easy fix despite how terrifying it sounds like.
Replace air filters
When the engine sucks in air, it sucks a lot of dust particles along with it. Air filters are used to filter those out. It is an important component as a dirty filter will affect the mileage and performance of the car. To replace it all you need to do is unscrew the lid, remove the old filter, put in the new one and screw it back on.
Replace spark plugs and wires
A spark plug is something that ignites the fuel and air. If it fails it can cause your car to take time to start, lose the mileage and failed emission test.
Replace distributor cap and holder
The distributor caps distributes voltage from coil to the correct cylinder. It lets the spark plug work making ignition possible. Its an easy fix alongside spark plug.
Changing headlight bulbs
If your headlight bulbs need changing, doing it yourself is possible if the headlights are not sealed. Make sure you get the correct bulb for your car, this might be mentioned in the manual.
Damaged exhaust pipe
If the exhaust pipe is making noise when it starts, there might be an issue with its pipe holder or structure. A rubber loop holder is usually used to hold the exhaust pipe which gets damaged over time. You will be able to see any damage to the exhaust pipe under the car.
Car radiator flush
Cleaning system and radiator in an automobile need to be cleaned always to keep the engine cool. Radiator sometimes produces deposits which can clog the cooling system. Radiator flush is a process done to remove all the deposits to keep the cooling system running normally. The engine should be cool before performing the flush and even before removing the radiator cap.
Abs indication can show up on the car if the abs sensor is dirty. Clean abs sensors along with changing the brake pads.
You can change brake pads and damaged brake discs at the same time if necessary. Damaged brake disc can damage the entire axle of the car if not corrected immediately.
You can either choose to plug or patch a tire depending on your preference. Though these solutions are short term its still beneficial to learn how to do it yourself to save some money.
Fuel gauge sender
If your mileage is getting low or you are constantly running on low fuel, fuel gauge sender might be the cause. It is usually located under seats. The position may vary according to the manufacturer. Changing the faulty sender is the only way in this case.
Removing stripped screws
If you have accidentally damaged a screw’s head it must be correctly removed and replaced. To remove screws strip the screws by drilling holes in screw’s centre. Once screw’s head separate, it is easier to remove.
If the headlights fail to start, one of the possible issues could be a broken fuse there are three types of fuses, glass tube, blade or ceramic. Car’s manual has the information of fuse box and you will be able to find its location.
Car signal relays
If there is an issue with a signal relay, it may cause the turn signal to stop blinking. Check the signal relay setup in the manual for this issue.
Seatbelts and retractors
Seatbelts are used for protection so for safety reasons, replacing them once they stop working is essential. All you have to do is remove the old once with screwdrivers and replace them with a new one.
Damaged or cracked window strips can lead to water dripping from the side of the windows inside the car. The replacement of such strips has to be done as soon as possible.
Tire valve system
You will need to deflate the tire and remove the entire tire and wheel assembly. Once you remove everything, put the valve back and inflate the tire accordingly.
The location of the belt will be mentioned in the manual. You have to remove the belt by loosening the tensioners and put a new one back in the same way old one was removed and adjust its tension accordingly.
It provides car engine’s working temperature. The temperature always has to be at limited levels. For this process, the coolant should be drained first and the thermostat should be located on the radiator.
These are used to store the water used for spraying on the dirty windshield. You will have to locate the washer tank in the engine and remove the pump attached to it before removing the tanks. After replacement, fill the tank up with washer liquid and check its working.
Repair a dim headlight
Simply remove and clean the ground connection and apply a little dielectric grease. If the bulb isn’t turning on you’ll need to replace the bulb.
Replace a power antenna
You can simply do this by replacing it with a new one.
Fix the horn
You can check the horn with a fused jumper to pinpoint the exact problem.
Fix power door locks
If your locks are giving you a problem you can fix it by replacing the actuator.
Recharge cooling system
You can easily recharge your ac with the air conditioner recharging kit.
Refinish wheel covers
Sometimes cause of the wear the wheels of the car can end up looking really bad. To fix it you will need to remove rust and paint on the top of it. The paint will take 24 hours to dry and can be remounted after that.
Swap the brake fluid
Brake fluid must be replaced every 2 hours or 24,000 miles. It's easy checking when your brake oil needs replacement. It's easy to check, just dip a test strip in the oil and compare the colour to the chart. It's difficult to change entire brake fluid but you can add new fluid to the old, since it has a bit of new liquid, it'll still make a difference.
You will have to take out the liquid and mix some new one then drive the car again for a week and repeat this procedure until all of the liquid has its honey brown colour.
Change power steering fluid
The general rule of thumb for this is again 2 years. To change the power steering fluid, suck out the old one and replace with a new one.
Replace cabin air filter
A clogged air filter can damage the motor and ruin the ac of your car. Its easier to locate and replace and is usually placed in the air ducts behind the glove box. Remove the access cover and slide out the old filter and replace with a new one. Note the direction to install it in the proper way.
Replace non-headlight bulbs
To access bulbs like side marker, fog lights and license plate just unscrew the lens and take out the bulb. Wear glove hands and paper towel while handling the new bulb cause it’s a delicate glass. Push the bulb into the socket until it fits.
Check the level of electrolytes
Gently take off the lid off the battery. The electrolyte level should be half inches deep, enough to reach the bottom of the fill hole. Use distilled water if necessary and check the battery case for cracks. If you have added water then let the water mix with acid (electrolytes) for a few hours.
Change your transmission fluid
Transmission fluid is an essential part of an engine. Whether its automatic or manual transmission, constantly changing gear is difficult and to lubricate and cool this liquid has to be free of particles. Changing the liquid every 2-3 years is always recommended. Changing it by using a transmission fuel pump is really easy.
The clean mass air flow sensor
This sensor is really expensive. Cleaning and reusing it can really save a lot of money. MAF monitors weight and amount and flow of air entering your engine. You can clean the MAF sensor while changing the air filter with a MAF cleaner.
Replace a pickup bumper
A rusty or dented bumper can take down the entire appearance of the car. All you have to do is buy a new bumper. Remove the accessories and bumper bolts and install the new one.
Free up the hood latch
If it's stuck there is a high chance it's corroded. All you have to do is spray a bit of wd40 and then lubricate it with grease. Motor oil works great in such situations.
Replace gas lifts
It's as easy as anything. You just have to unscrew the broken gas lifts and install new once. Most just have a nut and bolt arrangement so it should be easy enough. Make sure you get a helper to hold the hood up while you fix the gas lifts.
If your car runs rough while idling, the culprit may be a dirty throttle body. The throttle body is a part that controls the amount of air your engine takes in. Cleaning it with a spray can and some tissues will help.
Doing all these DIY projects is pretty easy and cheap but time-consuming. So plan out the exact time and day when you take this project on hand. Search more about the repairing project you want to take in, that can help you get the process go faster.
Jobs like paint job sometimes take a whole day or at times a few days so make sure you have enough spare time on your hand. And if you are not confident about something you can always seek professional help.
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