If you have ever had to take your car to the mechanic, you know the scariest part of the whole visit is finding out how much you are going to owe for whatever work is being done. It turns out there are some things you can do in order to make sure that the work that is being done is going to be quite a bit less expensive. Some people steer away from these things because they just don’t know how to do them. Lucky for you, we’ve got the step-by-step ways in which you can take better care of your car and know that you are going to be saving yourself hundreds of dollars in the long run.

Change the oil by yourself

Oil is quite literally the lifeblood of your car. Without it, the heart (the engine) is simply not going to operate. Even worse, much like a real heart, once it gives out from a lack of blood, there really isn’t a way to bring it back to life. These days, oil changes can cost quite a bit of money, but they’re going to be much cheaper if you can do them yourself. Here’s all you need to know to handle the job at home.

  1. Warm up your engine for a few minutes to clear out the sludge and gunk. Make sure you aren’t doing it for too long or you will burn yourself
  2. Find your drain plug. The plug is going to look like a large nut or bolt on the bottom of the engine. Put a container underneath it and unscrew it and draining should start.
  3. Empty your oil filter. This is at the top of engine where you actually pour your oil in. It should come off if you screw counterclockwise.
  4. Put in a new oil filter by putting it where the old one was and screwing it in. If you have to use the old one, make sure you’ve cleaned it thoroughly.
  5. Screw the drain plug at the bottom of the engine back in once it has fulled drained.
  6. Pour in the new oil where you installed the oil filter.
  7. Check your oil level by turning on the engine and letting it run for about one minute. Then check where the dipstick says the oil level is and add oil as needed.

Keep your cooling system up to date

The next thing you can do in order to make sure that your car is staying in peak condition is to work on your own cooling system. This is important in the summer when it comes to overheating and in the winter in order to keep from freezing up.

  1. Find your cooling system which is usually transparent plastic so you can see the coolant in it.
  2. Check the coolant level and make sure the level is in between the “minimum and maximum”. If it’s closer to maximum, that won’t be much of a problem. If it’s close to or below minimum, you do indeed have yourself an issue.
  3. Check for leaks. Most cooling systems are meant to cycle through and not lose coolant quickly. If the level seems off, see if you can find a spot where it might be leaking. If there is a leak, you’ll need a mechanic rather than dealing with it yourself.
  4. If there is a leak, you can add some coolant, filling it to the max line before you drive it to the mechanic. There should be a cap you can take off to fill it. You should use a 50/50 mix of water and coolant.

Checking your coolant should be a weekly occurrence in order to make sure nothing is going seriously wrong. Checking weekly will also help you notice if there appears to be a leak that you aren’t spotting if the level is going down every time you check.

Keep a good tire pressure

The third thing you can do to make sure your car is running in tip top shape is to make sure your tire pressure is good. If you don’t have enough tire pressure, a blowout could be on the horizon. If that does happen you can damage your wheels and your axles.

  1. Find out the recommended tire pressure by checking your owner’s manual, or looking inside the driver’s side door. Different vehicles are going to have different tire pressures, don’t just go off what you’ve heard is ideal or what you did for your last car.
  2. Get yourself a tire pressure gauge you trust and you can read easily. There are plenty of digital tire pressure gauges out there in case you don’t want to mess with squinting at a line on the more traditional stick.
  3. Find the nozzle on your tire that gives you access to the air in the tire and use your gauge. If it’s below the advised limit, use a hose gas station, or a mobile air pump you can buy at most car parts stores. Keep checking the pressure and stop when you’ve hit the desired level
  4. Get all four tires as even as you possibly can. If the tires are uneven as you drive, this can add unneeded wear and tear to your car as it attempts to compensate.
  5. You’re also going to want to make sure you don’t overfill as this can have the same sort of problems as being too low. A tire that has too much air in it can also blow out and cause the same kind of damage.
  6. Some cars have digital sensors inside the tire that will tell you when they are low. Either way, a weekly or biweekly check of your tire pressure is going to help you avoid problems down the road.

All of these things will help keep you and your car on the road and hopefully save you some money in the long run.