Not every maintenance item that needs performed on your vehicle needs to be taken to a certified professional technician. There are several maintenance items that need done on a regular basis that you yourself can perform; as a matter of fact, there are five that come to mind quickly. Some will require tools, others will simply require some time, but they can all be done safely in the comfort of your own driveway or garage. Just remember, any work being done to an automobile comes with certain hazards. Always make sure you secure your vehicle properly when putting it in the air, and follow all safety precautions explained in your owner’s manual no matter what type of job you’re doing. In other words, don’t get hurt. Now, on to the list.
1. PCV Valve
The positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve controls the air pressure inside the engine. Pressures change constantly inside an internal combustion engine. The PCV valve provides a way for it to escape and adjust in a safe manner. Typically the hardest part of changing one is finding it. Once you’ve found its location on your particular vehicle (some vehicles don’t have them), changing it usually involves simply pulling it out from the hose it’s connected to and then removing it from the housing (which usually resides in one of the valve covers or near the intake manifold). You can find its location in your owner’s manual, or a local auto parts store may be able to print out a diagram for you. Check it often. To do this, simply remove it and shake it. If it rattles freely, it’s still working. If it makes no noise or sounds clogged, it’s time for a replacement.
2. Air Filter
This is another part that is all about location. Once it’s found, it’s usually a fairly simple process to replace an air filter. Most air filter housings are sealed with clip fasteners. Once these fasteners are popped off, the filter should come out with little effort. The key to this job is knowing when to replace this particular filter. It doesn’t necessarily have a mileage limit, and your driving conditions have a lot to do with it. If you live in very dry, dusty conditions, you’re liable to be replacing your air filter more often. Many air filters today are accordion-style. To check these filters, spread them open while holding them up to the sun or a very bright light. If the light comes through the filter material, it is not clogged and can usually have the dirt and debris blown or knocked out. If all you see is darkness, its time for a new one. Either way, checking it often is a good idea.
3. Windshield Wiper Replacement
Windshield wipers are available everywhere for the simple reason that anyone can change them. Granted, there are a few styles of fastener clip that will give you fits on certain models, but all-in-all it’s a simple procedure. The key here is to not make things any more difficult than they have to be. Make sure you go with buying the whole blade as opposed to buying refills. Wiper refills are simply the rubber pieces with no metal or plastic housing. Wiper refills can be very tricky on certain models, and fighting with them is hardly worth the extra couple of dollars you’d save versus buying the whole blade. It’s not a bad idea to learn how its done on your particular model anyhow; you never know when a wiper clip could break and leave you without a wiper on the road.
4. Tire Rotation
If you can change a tire, you can perform a tire rotation. Rotating tires simply consists of moving them around from one spot (front or rear, passenger side or driver’s side) to another, so that they wear evenly. Most vehicles and tires have a recommended pattern and mileage for rotation, but that pattern can change if you happen to purchase directional tires for a vehicle that did not come from the manufacturer with directional tires. Since directional tires can only roll one way, they must be rotated simply from front to back, and vice versa. Driver’s side and passenger side must remain the same. Non-directional tires can often be cross-rotated.
5. Oil Change
Yes, this one may seem a little far-fetched to those people who’ve never held a wrench their hands. However, this job is not that difficult for most makes and models. It’s all a simple learning process for your particular vehicle. The best thing to do is to find someone who knows what he/she is doing, and have that person show you how the job is done once or twice. Once you see it, you’ll see how simple it is on many of the vehicles available today. The keys are to not strip the oil drain plug (meaning don’t over-tighten it), don’t over-tighten the new oil filter, and don’t leave either of these things loose upon completion either. In the world of Do-It-Yourself, this job would be listed more toward the moderate to advanced do-it-yourselfer, because there are several mistakes which can very easily be made; but that certainly doesn’t rule it out for everyone.