Even though most of us spend hours in our cars each day, we seem to know little about how they actually work. There are, however, a few ways to maintain or replace parts of your car by yourself without it costing a fortune. Here is a guide to the basics.
1. Changing Your Wiper Blades
If you have noticed that your wiper blades just seem to be pushing the rain from one side of the windscreen to another, it might be time for new ones. Many people immediately take their car in for them to be fitted. This is, however, definitely something you can easily do yourself! Not only will it be cheaper, it will also be somewhat quicker. You will need to do some research on your car though to determine which blades you need to buy. The blades come in various sizes and your right blade might be a different length from the left. Click here for a comprehensive guide.
You can buy blades from most home, garden, or car stores. Outlets like Game and Builders Warehouse should stock all blade sizes.
The blades will have diagrams to assist you in replacing them, but the process is fairly simple:
- Lift the old blade off the windscreen and depress the small tab on the blade. Slide the blade away and off the arm. Most arms have hooks that you will have to manoeuvre the blade over to get it off.
- The new wiper will simply slide onto the same end that you pulled the old wiper away from. Pivot the wiper until it snaps into place. You might find the first one tricky, but it will get easier the more you do it.
2. Changing a Blown Light Bulb
Whether it is your headlights, brakes or indicators, changing a bulb is easy to do by yourself. Light bulbs are cheap and easy to find at DIY stores or Builders Warehouses. Should you be changing your headlights, you will only be able to access the bulb through your bonnet.
- Lift the hood of the car and find the affected headlight. (Make sure your car is switched off at this point). You will find a bulb holder and power connector with three wires leading to the bulb.
- Remove the old bulb by unclipping the clip. There may be a plastic or metal screw cap holding the wires in place. Either push it down or pull up the metal clip and pull it away gently. Hold onto the base of the lightbulb and gently remove it.
- Install the new bulb by placing it into the base of the plug, and ensuring it is secure. Try and keep it as clean as possible by using alcohol to clean it. Test the light once it is secure.
- Should you be dealing with a brake light, you will need to unscrew the holding from either the outside or inside of the boot, depending on your car. You might also need to use a screwdriver to unscrew the holding. There should not be any electrical wiring to remove, and you should simply be able to unscrew the bulb and replace it with the new one.
3. Checking Your Fluid Levels
Checking your oil at home is easy enough. It is best to check the oil after driving, but it should be left long enough for the engine to cool down. Open the bonnet of the car, locate the dipstick, and pull it out. You will have to do a first clean of the dipstick, even before checking it, as it will already have oil on it and you will get an inaccurate reading. Dip it back in until it is fully submerged and then remove it to check the levels. The dipstick will have marks on it to show the levels, whether they be dots or a shaded area.
This is also fairly simple, although you will have to keep in mind that coolant is antifreeze and not water. Make sure the engine has cooled down, otherwise there could be a spray of boiling liquid. Antifreeze is a mixture with a lower freezing and higher boiling point than water. Locate the plastic reservoir and, should you need to top up, make sure which antifreeze you have chosen. Some can be mixed with water, while others can be poured in straight as is.
Window Washer Fluid
Although not detrimental to your car, this could affect you ridding your windscreen of any dirt that could impede your vision. This is a small plastic holder that can easily be topped up with water or a fluid to clean the windshield properly.