We’ve all felt the current recession’s sting in one way or another, and an honest reaction would be to try and save as much money as possible by doing things ourselves rather than paying someone else. Doing basic maintenance and repairs on your vehicle can be simple. However, they have become so complicated in recent years that you can get in a lot of trouble very easily if something goes wrong.
Gary Grant, service manager at Willowdale Subaru in Toronto, and an automotive expert who currently contributes to TheGarageBlog.com and DrivenWheels.com, advises: “Do a bit of research. Read the maintenance section of the owner’s manual. Understand what the manufacturer considers important. Because we live in Canada, follow the manufacturer’s ‘severe’ service schedule,” he said.
“I’m often asked, ‘Can’t I do that myself?’ My response is usually something along the lines of, ‘I don’t know. I’m not sure of what skills you have.’ For the most part, the basics like oil changes haven’t changed in terms of difficulty. However, oil changes are more important now than ever due to tighter build tolerances in engines. Do them on time. Don’t reach for the cheap filter, buy the good one. Don’t miss an interval, ever.”
Grant said that tire rotation could be a realistic task for those with proper equipment.
CarCareCanada.ca, a website that helps consumers understand more about their own vehicles, suggests other simple tasks that you can do yourself.
First, ensure that all your lights are functioning properly, including turn signals and brake lights. These are usually very easy to replace if they’re burnt out. Next, check all the fluid levels under your hood, including engine oil, windshield washer, anti-freeze/coolant and transmission fluid. Check the terminals on your vehicle’s battery for corrosion, and if you find some, have your technician clean them the next time your car’s in for service.
Wiper blades and the frames themselves are also very easy to change, and you can purchase replacements at any auto parts store.
CarCareCanada.ca also recommends keeping good tire pressure to ensure your vehicle performs as it’s supposed to, including fuel mileage.
Preventative maintenance is also vital to keeping your vehicle in top shape, and only a drop in the bucket compared to what you might pay if something goes horribly wrong.
“There are more than a few tales of consumers buying a new engine at 50,000 km because they missed a couple of oil changes and the engine failed,” Grant warned.
Educating yourself is key. “Learn the meaning behind some common automotive terms so you understand what the service adviser is telling you,” Grant recommends. “If you don’t understand what the service adviser is telling you, ask for more details. Don’t agree to something you don’t understand or feel skeptical about.”