Vehicle maintenance expenses can quickly add up to thousands of dollars over the lifespan of your car. However, taking the time to perform a few simple maintenance tasks at home can cut these bills substantially. They are simple enough to be completed by almost anyone, regardless of their mechanical proficiency.

Air filter

Changing your air filter is one of the most simple car maintenance steps you can do at home and it costs next to nothing. Lift up the bonnet of your car and you should find the air filter encased in a rectangular box with metal clips or screws holding it shut. If you can’t find it initially, refer to your vehicle’s owner manual.

Once you’ve found it, open the air filter box, take note which way the filter is facing, then remove it and replace it with your new filter, ensuring it sits the same way as the previous one. This task should be repeated each year, or after every 20,000 kilometers travelled, to reduce emissions, increase fuel efficiency and prolong your engine life.

Windscreen wipers

It’s easy to identify when your car needs some new windscreen wiper blades by simply turning on your wipers and seeing if they clean the glass properly. If your blades leave streaks, it is time to replace them.

You can buy a new pair of windscreen wiper blades from your local automotive shop, where you can choose between standard economy blades and better quality brand name blades. Both will do the job adequately, but consider choosing a brand name wiper as their higher quality components will provide a better clean and last longer.

As there is a wide variety of windscreen wiper blades on the market, you should follow the installation instructions on the packaging of your chosen blades. However, here are a few essential tips to follow:

  • Before removing your old blades have a good look at them and pay attention to how they connect to your wiper arms.
  • Keep a firm hold of the wiper arm once you have removed the old blade as it can whip back and crack your windscreen if you let go of it accidentally.
  • Be careful to not bend your wiper arms when attaching the new blades.

Battery maintenance

Regular battery maintenance is an easy and important DIY step that can make the difference between your car starting perfectly or sputtering to a halt when you turn the ignition. Modern batteries are mostly sealed, so topping up with distilled water is not generally required any longer. However, battery connections and cables will need regular attention.

Be careful when doing battery maintenance, as battery acid is caustic and corrosive and can lead to accidental injuries. Because of this wearing gloves and protective eyewear is advised.

First, lift the bonnet of your car and remove the negative cable from your battery terminal and then remove the positive cable. The negative cable is black and indicated with a minus symbol, while the positive cable is red and indicated with a plus.

Once you’ve removed the terminals you can now clean the battery posts, ideally using a purchased battery cleaning product. You can, however, use home cleaning products or homemade solutions (for example, baking soda and water).

Apply your cleaning solution generously to the battery posts and scrub away any corrosion using a wire brush or another firm brush. After this, rinse off the cleaning solution with a small amount of water and dry the posts with a rag. Finally, re-attach your battery terminals.

Battery issues can literally cause your car to grind to a halt, so check every few months to identify and remove corrosion on your terminals.