Every individual that owns a vehicle knows the importance of regular servicing. However, if you just got hold of your first car and have no prior experience of vehicle ownership, you might want to understand the basics of car maintenance, in order to prevent an unexpected breakdown or worse, in the long run.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Servicing Your Vehicle at Home:
Getting your vehicle serviced by the professionals is recommended at all times. However, if you plan on saving a few bucks, here is a simple checklist that will help you cover the basics, without damaging the car.
- The primary objective of servicing a vehicle is to check for wear and tear and replace the parts that have worn out. Check the brake fluid, oil filters, air filter, wheel alignment and balance, tyre pressure, spark plugs and battery fluid levels, etc. while you’re at it.
- You need to get hold of a proper tool kit and your vehicle’s User Manual before you proceed.
- It helps if you have a ramp at home, which most people don’t, so you’ll have to manage with a jack screw. Check for any damage on the underbody, but be careful not to disturb the jack supporting the vehicle.
- You need to change your vehicle’s engine oil periodically. The duration varies from one manufacturer to the next and you will find the drain interval in the User Manual. Make sure you do not cross the recommended level while pouring, as it takes a while to drain out. Wait for the oil levels to settle down.
- Never keep the engine running while inspecting the oil levels in your car. In order to replace the oil, you need to loosen the bolt and allow the oil to drain out of the engine compartment. Allow the oil to flow out evenly before you tighten the nut. You might need to change the oil filter periodically and it is usually present in the adjacent chamber. Install the correct make and model, as mentioned in the User Manual.
- Next, unscrew the spark plugs from the engine and clean up with a clean cloth. The plug points need to be cleaned with sand paper. Clean till the two points shine, then put them back in.
- The air filter comes next. This is a relatively easy process and you can use a vacuum cleaner to get the job done.
- The suspension is an important part of your vehicle and it is necessary to keep them in proper working condition at all times. Bump the car from one side and check how long it takes for the vehicle to settle down. Ideally, the vehicle should settle down after three consecutive bumps. Check for the suspension fluid levels and signs of leakage in the shock absorbers.
- Check the brake fluids next and top up till the recommended level. Check the brake shoe by removing the assembly and get a replacement if the current ones are worn out.
I would still recommend you get your vehicle serviced by the professionals. However, with sufficient experience, you could work on the basics occasionally and save a few bucks. Never bite off more than you can chew!