5 Easy Car DIY Jobs That'll Save You Money

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1. Brake pads and discs

Here's a relatively easy job to do yourself that will save you a hell of a lot of money in labour charges. Most cars won't require any special tools and many will have how-to guides online.

The difficulty you may come across is when working on older cars, with bolts being impossible to undo or even sheering off. This can be avoided a lot of the time by using a good penetrating oil and some patience! Also remember to have some grease handy to lube up any moving parts prone to seizing. Some callipers will have pins that can often get so stuck that they will never come out, so it's often a good idea to buy and fit new calliper pins at the same time as fitting pads and discs. It can often be easier to cut them in the middle and push them out at either end if you're particularly struggling to remove them!
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2. Oil + filter change

Many garages, especially main dealers, will charge ridiculous fees on servicing cars, and on minor services there's often little else on the menu other than an oil and filter change. This is a job that can be done very easily at home.

You will need to invest in a jack, the price of which will depend on how much work you intend to do in the future. You'll also need some axle stands. You could work under without them, but only if you stupid enough to be happy with the risk of getting squashed by your car...

You will also need motor oil, the specification of which you should be able to find in your manual or online,  plus an oil filter and a suitable wrench to remove the old one. You'll of course be wanting something to catch the old oil in once you take out the sump plug - there are proper drip pans around, but you can use anything that's large enough to hold all that liquid.

A little cheat you can use is an oil suction pump. These pumps send a pipe all the way down your dipstick to the bottom of the sump to 'hoover' out the oil. Many people are sceptical of these as they don't remove all of the dirt and any other bits that may be sitting at the bottom. A solution with the suction pump could be to still do regular services with 'proper' oil changes, using the pump in between - this way you change your oil a lot more often, with half the effort!  

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3. Changing bulbs

Changing bulbs is a very easy job on most cars. Many people think it will be far too difficult to access the bulb or it'll just be too complicated. In truth, some cars do have difficult-to-access bulbs, but nothing so difficult it needs a professional to look at!

Bulbs are cheap, so when changing them yourself you will save a lot of money over time. Most of the time you will need nothing more than a phillips or flat head screwdriver to access the bulb. Some cars will be different, such as some needing to have the whole headlight cluster removed to access the bulb.
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4. General check up

A lot of people will pay no attention to what's under the bonnet of their car until something goes wrong or until the mechanic has a look during a service. General maintenance is the single easiest thing you can do to prevent any unwanted repair bills.

First, we have to think about oil. It's one of the lifelines of a car: it needs oil for lubrication, and the right amount of it to work to the levels it needs to. The dipstick will have a min and max mark to show you what the level is. The best time to do this is after it has been sitting for a while, so in the morning after it's been sitting overnight is a good time. Also make sure the car is level or you could get a false reading on the dipstick. Simply pull the dipstick out, wipe it clean, put it back in, and when you pull it back out that will give you the reading of your oil level. It is always useful to have a small bottle of oil to be able to top up when you need to. Also check your coolant level, this will also have a min/max level on the tank itself, so it's easy to see when it's low. Again, this is a job best done when the car has been sitting for a while.  

Checking tyres is always a good idea, both to check your tyre condition and also suspension, as a lot of the time, uneven tyre wear is caused by a faulty or worn out suspension component. The wear should be even across the tyre - look out for the inside or outside edges going bald faster than everywhere else. Acquire a tyre tread depth gauge and you can always make sure you know exactly how much tread you have left.  
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5. Changing Spark Plugs

Different cars will have different recommended intervals to change spark plugs, although most of the time it will be near 100,000 miles. Once you have access to the spark plugs, they're very easy to remove: they simply unscrew and pull out with a good spark plug removal tool. The main problem will be the access to the spark plug - with most cars you will need to remove the inlet manifold, but most of the time this isn't too difficult to do. Some (mainly older) cars require a specific gap in the spark plug, therefore it's a good idea to use a plug gap tool to set this gap, you'll find the plug gap in the manual or online.

WRITTEN BY:  carthrottle
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