Repairing your car can be a great way to save money, even if you only do basic maintenance by yourself.
While you might not be able to repair and replace everything by yourself without having the right tools and equipment, basic maintenance procedures can be done right on the street. Furthermore, you can also use intelligent automotive diagnostic devices such as OBDeleven to prevent huge maintenance bills in the future by showcasing potential faults on your car’s control units by fixing them now, saving you money in the long run.
Thus, here are some tips to help you save money on car maintenance:
1. Change your oil by yourself
Some of the most basic maintenance on a car includes changing the oil, the oil, and air filters, as well as brake pads to ensure that your engine runs healthily and lasts longer.
It is also fairly basic, in principle, and can be easily done by yourself with no specific tools required, except the fact that you have to have a hoist or a way to lift your car in order to get to the oil sump plug, which will drain oil. Furthermore, many countries, including the European Union, which has had a law since 1975 to ensure the proper handling of waste oil (Directive 75/439/EEC). Per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency overlooking environmental protection in the United States (US), “used oil from one oil change can contaminate one million gallons of fresh water — a years’ supply for 50 people,” and if you are someone who changes your engine yourself, you should check “with local automobile maintenance facilities, waste collectors, and government waste officials to see when and where you can drop off your used oil for recycling.”
Nevertheless, changing the oil is a fairly simple procedure: placing the car somewhere where you can safely and comfortably reach the oil sump plug, unscrew it and collect it in a container that you can transport the used oil in easily and most importantly, securely.
And to ensure the longevity of your engine, and avoid a hefty repair bill following an engine failure, you can reset your oil service lights with the help of OBDeleven and the already-developed Oil service reset function that you can find on the application.
2. Changing your oil, air, and cabin filters
Changing the oil filter is not an easy procedure but by far it is not a difficult one and can be made much easier with a special oil filter wrench that will make the process smoother. First, you have to locate the oil filter either somewhere near the oil sump, or under the hood of the car and unscrew it. If you are an owner of a second-hand vehicle doing this for the first time, be careful, because someone who has not been careful might have tightened the filter a bit too much, potentially causing issues for you to remove it.
Once you change out the oil filter, before putting it in, make sure to lubricate its gasket with a bit of oil to ensure its longevity and that it does not crack, stick too much, or even result in an oil leak. Install and tighten it with your hands, and again, make sure not to overdo it to ensure it remains a smooth process in the future.
Changing the engine air filter is probably the easiest of maintenance procedures there are – you only have to lift the bonnet of your car, find the air filter box, unclip the metal hinges that hold it, and take the filter out. Remember which side the air filter was up and insert the new filter, clipping the box, and make sure that it stays in place with a check with your hands – and that is it!
In terms of the cabin air filter, as much as with everything else, you first have to locate it. While the location of it differs by the manufacturer and the model, on the Volkswagen Golf MK5, for example, it is located just below the passenger-side glove box. Unscrew the two thumbscrews holding the foam panel, and remove the cabin air filter but once again, remember the way that the filter was up. Replace it, and reinstall the panel.
Whether you do these basic maintenance procedures yourself or even go to a local mechanic, spending a bit more on labor, it will save you money in the long run. That is because an engine that is running on older or low oil has a much higher chance of failing, potentially resulting in your car becoming worthless or leaving you with a very long maintenance bill that also has a hefty price tag at the end of it. Naturally, changing these items yourself will save you a lot of dough, however, you have to be mindful of the fact that it is better to ask your mechanic to replace your oil filter rather than your whole engine as well.
3. Replace your windshield blade
As much as it is a way to save money by doing it yourself, the windshield wiper blade is also a safety item, which ensures that you can see no matter how hazardous the weather outside is.
Even easier than renewing your engine air filter, replacing your windshield wiper blades requires no tools and can be done even in the parking lot of your local shopping mall. All you have to do is raise the wipers into a standing position. However, if you have a newer car, such as the Volkswagen Golf MK7, you might have to put them in service mode – and for the MK7, it is a two-step process: press the ignition button twice, and pull down the windshield wiper stock a single time, putting the wipers into service mode. Once again, this procedure can differ between car makes and models, so please refer to either the owner’s manual or a representative of the manufacturer if you are unsure of how to do it.
Once you put the wipers into a standing position, release the wiper blade if you are looking to replace only the part that touches the windshield. Releasing the blade from the wiper is done by locating a small tab on the blade, which once pressed in or pulled, allows you to “unhook” the blade from the stock. Line up your new blade with the stock, and put it into place until you hear a click sound, which will indicate that your blades are now in place.
Be careful, however, that the stocks without the blade would not fall on the window of the car, possibly scratching or even cracking the windshield, which would result in a costly repair bill. You can prevent this from happening by wrapping a rag around the wiper when you are in the middle of the replacement of the windshield blade.
4. Inspecting and replacing engine spark plugs/glow plugs
Spark plugs or glow plugs, which are found in gasoline or diesel engines, respectively, help your car once you turn the ignition key. While spark plugs provide a spark, hence the name, to ignite the fuel/air mixture in the combustion chamber, glow plugs heat the air in the same chamber on a diesel engine to facilitate it reaching the necessary temperature to start the engine.
Even if their roles differ, they share the same rule of thumb – you have to replace them at certain intervals to ensure the well-being of your engine, as well as your starter motor. The intervals, as always, differ between the engines, the spark/glow plugs, and manufacturers’ recommendations. On a new Audi Q7, for example, the recommended interval to replace the spark plugs is 65,000 kilometers (40,000 miles), and around 100,000 kilometers (60,000 miles) for the glow plugs. While the engine control unit, following a scan with an intelligent automotive diagnostic device such as OBDeleven, should showcase a faulty plug, you can also feel a spark or glow plug that needs to be replaced with a variety of symptoms, including difficulties in starting, worsening fuel economy (on a gasoline engine), or even misfires, among others.
Replacing the spark plugs or glow plugs will require you to have some tools, namely a torque wrench, a plug socket, and an extension, and if your plugs are placed in a difficult-to-reach place, you can also grab a universal joint extender to make the task much easier. Of course, you will also have to grab yourself either three, four, five, six, eight, or more spark/glow plugs, depending on how many cylinders your engine has. To find out which plugs to use, refer to your owner’s manual or a representative of your car’s manufacturer. You might also have to buy some anti-seize lubricant to prevent them from seizing up in your engine compartment, as well as dielectric grease to protect the plugs from any outside elements, such as dirt or corrosion. The anti-seize lubricant might not be needed – as always, the owner’s manual, as well as the information from the plug manufacturer is your best friend here.
First things first, to ensure your own and your spark/glow plugs’ safety, be sure that your engine is cool before you remove the old plugs. Remove the wiring harness connecting the plugs to the Engine Control Unit (ECU) carefully, especially if you will use the harness going forward. If you are having issues removing the harness, you can use a pair of pliers to make it easier. Following that, use your torque wrench with an extension, and if needs be, a universal joint extender, to remove the plug discreetly, by pushing the torque wrench into the plug hole and loosening the sparkplug. Then, remove the torque wrench and unhinge the plug with your extension, removing the plug once it is fully loose.
Subsequently, before you insert a new plug, apply some anti-seize lubricant (if needed) and/or dielectric grease on the ceramic part of the spark or glow plug, inserting it into the engine bay. Begin by tightening it in with your extender and finish the job off with a torque wrench and insert back the wiring harness. Repeat the process for all of your spark plugs or glow plugs and be on your way, as you saved a possibly expensive trip to a workshop!
5. Saving money with OBDeleven, a smart diagnostic device
Although you might question how an intelligent diagnostic device like OBDeleven could save you cash, there is a multitude of ways it can do so.
For starters, even the basic diagnostic function will help you determine the exact issue that you are having with your car, which might not be visible to the naked eye. For example, it can determine that your glow plug is malfunctioning following a check engine light, meaning you do not have to go to a workshop to determine the source of the error found on the dashboard and, using the tip above, do the change yourself. Following a full scan of your car’s control units, you can also see non-critical faults that you can address immediately and avoid having to deal with a potentially cash-burning ordeal at a garage later down the line.
Furthermore, with OBDeleven One-Click Apps, you can also enable or disable certain comfort functions, which can improve the experience of driving your car. Examples are plentiful and can range from disabling the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system, enabling the video in motion function while driving, or turning on mirror dip as soon as you put your car into reverse. One-Click Apps can help you unlock your car’s potential, and while not necessarily a money-saver, they act as an addition to the diagnostic function of the device, as well as other features provided to the users once you get your hands on an OBDeleven device.
With inflation running rampant, and other economic factors squeezing the wallets of everyone globally, there are ways that you can reduce the amount of money you spend on your car’s maintenance, mainly by doing it yourself. However, OBD-II scanners that also act as intelligent diagnostic devices can help you save even more by pinpointing the exact issue, or hinting towards a potential issue, allowing you to avoid the guessing game on your driveway or at a workshop.