DIY car checks you should do regularly

While cars require less maintenance these days, there are still a few checks required to ensure yours stays in good condition.

You don’t need to be a mechanic to help make sure your car stays on the road.

A few simple checks will keep your vehicle running efficiently, without spending lots of money. You just need some basic tools and a little bit of time.

Check your air filter

You need a new air filter for your car about every 12 months or 20,000km, whichever comes first. They’re easy to replace, just check your owner manual to find where it is in your car.

  1. First, find the filter under the hood of your car. It’s in a black rectangular box with metal clips on the side.
  2. Open the casing, and check out how the air filter fits inside it. Make a note of which way the filter faces.
  3. Remove the old air filter, and insert the new one exactly how the old one sat.
  4. Remember to close the metal clips when you’re done.

Change wiper blades

Wiper blades vary from car to car, so you may have to follow your owner’s manual, but here are the basic steps:

  1. Lift the blades, as if you were washing your windshield by hand, and remove the old blades.
  2. Pay attention to how the old blades connect to the metal arms.
  3. On most models, you’ll see a tab on the underside of the wiper. Push the tab to remove the old blade.
  4. Attach the new blades, being careful not to bend the wiper arms or scratch your windshield. Line everything up and make sure the new ones are secure and tight.

Swap spark plugs

Most spark plugs last longer than air filters or wiper blades, usually about 50,000km. You’ll need to install them in a specific order.

  1. You’ll find either four, six, or eight plugs, depending on how many cylinders in your car.
  2. Remove the wire to the first spark plug only. Do not remove all of the wires at once. Your spark plugs are installed in a certain order, which you need to maintain.
  3. Use your spark plug socket and extension on your ratchet to remove the first one.
  4. Install the new spark plug, screwing it in by hand first and then tightening it with a wrench for a snug fit. Remember not to over-tighten.
  5. Re-attach the spark plug wire.
  6. Follow these steps for each spark plug.

Battery maintenance

A simple visual check of the condition of your battery will tell you when it needs attention.

  1. Remove the battery terminals, which should be a fairly straightforward process. Make sure you always remove the negative cable first. If the terminals are stuck, use a flathead screwdriver to pry them loose.
  2. Use a wire brush to clean the posts with a solution from your local auto aftermarket store, or you can use baking soda mixed with water.
  3. Rinse the cleaning fluid with a little water.
  4. Dry the posts with rags.
  5. Replace battery terminals.

If you do experience a vehicle breakdown, follow the advice in the video below.