We’re always looking for ways to save and better stick to our budgets, and one of the major costs month to month is undoubtedly our car. Whether it’s the gas budget or routine maintenance, things can add up quick if you don’t take regular care of your vehicle. However, not everything requires a visit to the mechanic’s shop to fix up or replace. With a little bit of knowledge and a study-up on your model of car, there’s some easy methods of saving some money you can do from home to keep your car efficient and in tip top condition between maintenance appointments. Thanks to Akins Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (Winder, GA) for their assistance in crafting this article.
Of course, you should be checking your tires’ air pressure fairly regularly to ensure they’re properly inflated and you’re getting the maximum efficiency and longevity. Have you thought about replacing your own tires, though? As a general skill, knowing how to change a tire is handy for emergencies as well as to keep a few bucks in your pocket when changing into winter tires or when rotating your own tires! Nigh all vehicles come with the necessary tools you need to accomplish this task, including a jack, lug wrench, and the all important replacement tire. Wheel wedges, gloves, and a scrap piece of 2×4 wood to secure your jack are also good accessories to keep your vehicle stable and your hands clean from grease. Your owner’s manual provides a guide of how to change a tire, but we’ll go through the steps here as well!
- First, park in a paved, flat area and engage the parking brake. Apply the wheel wedges to the pair of tires you won’t be working with. For example, if working with a rear tire, apply them to both front wheels.
- Next, you’ll be removing the hubcap with the flat end of your lug wrench and loosening the lug nuts about a half of a turn. These tend to be well secured, so extra force is normal for initially breaking their resistance.
- The jack should then be placed under the vehicle atop the scrap wood, right beneath the frame alongside the tire you’re changing. Many vehicles’ frames are equipped with a molded plastic beneath with a square of exposed metal specifically to indicate where you should be aiming your jack. While raising your jack, the scrap wood is going to help provide a more firm grip to the ground compared to plain asphalt, preventing your vehicle from going off balance. You’re aiming to raise the tire about six inches up from the ground.
- Then, fully free the lug nuts and place them in a safe place while you remove the tire. You can gently grip the treads and tug the tire off the lug bolts, then set the tire on its side so it doesn’t roll away.
- Mount the new tire and push until the lug bolts show through the rim, then tighten the lug nuts on by hand. You’ll firmly secure them in place with the lug wrench once you’ve slightly lowered the vehicle so the tire has some friction against the ground. This prevents the wheel from turning as you tighten the nuts into place. After this, you can set the car’s full weight down and replace the hub cap!
These necessary components to ensure your engine is getting clean air typically only run about ten bucks to buy yourself, and it’s a pretty easy job once you know where to look. Air filters are connected to the engine’s intake manifold, and prevent debris and dirt from entering your engine’s combustion chambers. Fresh air filters changed once every twelve months or every 12,000 miles–whichever comes first–prolongs your engine life, reduce emissions, and improves on your efficiency.
- Air filters are pretty easy to come by, whether you shop at your favorite auto shop or simply at Walmart. Your owner’s manual details which model air filter you should buy, and stores usually have a universal listing on hand to look it up indoors.
- Under your hood next to or atop your engine you’ll see a black plastic box attached to a sizeable rubber hose. Several metal clips usually secure the top, and simply need to be popped open to remove the old air filter.
- Your new air filter should sit snugly within the box in the dirty one’s place. Clips snap back into place and that’s it! Sure is easy, right?
You know your battery is starting to fade if your lights are noticeably dimmer while the key is primed versus when the car is running. Sulfate buildup is a whiteish or blue substance around the terminals, and can also serve as a visual cue that your battery is on its way out. While cleaning this substance off with a wire brush and gloves can better your battery connection, its presence is inherent of a bad seal around the terminals. There’s nothing worse than turning the key only for nothing to happen, not even your gauge console lighting up to inform you to check your engine. Don’t be left out in the cold begging for a jump! Notice the warning signs and buy yourself a replacement at your auto shop or local Walmart. Again, you can look up the appropriate battery model with your owner’s manual or with the shop’s guide.
- Wear gloves when dealing with your old battery, and keep away flames and flammable substances. Batteries contain a sulfuric acid electrolyte solution, which is highly corrosive and produces hydrogen gas. Pop the hood and locate your battery’s terminal connections.
- Disconnect the battery’s negative terminal first, then the positive terminal. This is usually indicated by either a minus sign or by being color-coded black, while the positive will be marked with a plus or be colored red. It’s important to disconnect the negative cord first so that you don’t run the risk of short circuiting the positive terminal to a grounded part of the car.
- Unfasten the battery holder, remove any securing screws, clamps, or bars, and pull out the old battery. You can clean the area and cable clamps if you need to before installing the new battery. Any sulfate buildup can be removed with a wire brush and a baking soda-water mix to neutralize the acid. Ensure the area is dry before putting in your new battery.
- Now in reverse, connect the positive terminal, then the negative. Battery lithium grease applied on the terminals can be used to prevent corrosion. Then start your car to know the connection is secure! Most likely, your radio’s memory was wiped. You may even need to type in an unlocking pin into the radio before being able to program all your favorite channels again.
- Old batteries can be disposed of at your local service garage, auto store, or recycling center.
With these easy steps, you can have your car running a little more efficiently, reliably, and safely, and all with the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself! So get under the hood and get familiar with your vehicle’s mechanics. Not only is this a great money saver, these skills can potentially help you and others out in a pinch.