Even if you're not a car-geek, doing some simple, basic maintenance on your vehicle will keep it out of the shop and extend its life. Here's a collection of 10-minute fixes you can easily do to your car that will save you money immediately or prevent future repair bills.
Coolant doesn't last
forever. You have to change it every 24,000
miles (green coolant) or 100,000 miles
(extended-life coolant). If you keep driving
on worn coolant, expect to replace the
radiator, heater core and water pump.
Transfer case fluid and differential oil
changes are cheap and easy. Replacing these
cost you about $1,500 each—a high
price to pay for neglect.
A clogged cabin air filter
puts an added load on your car's A/C
system and reduces heat in winter. Replace it
at least once a year.
Test your coolant with a voltmeter. Set
your digital voltmeter on the lowest DC
setting reading and dip the positive
probe right into the coolant. Touch the
negative probe to the negative battery
terminal and rev the engine to 2,000
rpm. If the reading is .4 volts or more,
your coolant is toast.
If you have cloudy headlights, you don't
have to replace them or live with them. Clean them
with a specially designed kit.
Buy a headlight restoration kit
at any auto parts store ($20) and follow the
sanding and buffing instructions.
Corrosion puts added strain on your charging system
and can mess with computer-controlled
systems. Cleaning is your cheapest insurance
against electrical problems.
Yes, you can fix this yourself. Pick up a Permatex
Quick Grid repair kit ($13) at any auto
parts store. Follow the instructions and
you'll be defrosting in no time.
An easy avoidable “oops”
Green, yellow, red, orange and blue
coolants create cool “mud” when
mixed. Cost of a new heater core:
$400 to $1,000.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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