Car mechanics are like doctors – wherever they go, people ask them for free advice. Here are some of their best maintenance tips to keep your car running smoothly.
Cabin air filter
- A clogged cabin air filter puts an added load on your car’s A/C system and reduces heat in winter.
- Replace your filter at least once a year.
- Change coolant every 38,000 kilometres (24,000 miles) for green coolant, or 161,000 kilometres (100,000 miles) for extended-life coolant.
- If you keep driving on worn coolant, expect to replace your car’s radiator, heater core and water pump.
- To test your coolant set your digital voltmeter on the lowest DC setting reading and dip the positive probe right into the coolant.
- Touch the negative probe to the negative battery terminal and rev the engine to 2,000 rpm.
- If the reading is 0.4 volts or more, your coolant is toast.
- Transfer case fluid and differential oil changes
- Replacing these components will cost you about $1,500 each.
Shocks and struts
- Shocks and struts aren’t just for comfort — they help stop your car!
- If you’ve already clocked 129,000 kilometres (80,000 miles) and want to keep driving on your shocks and struts, stay well behind other vehicles on the freeway.
- You’ll need an additional 6.7 metres (22 feet) of stopping distance until they’re replaced.
Cloudy headlight lenses
- To repair cloudy headlight lenses buy a headlight restoration kit at any auto parts store and follow the sanding and buffing instructions.
Sticking or slow power windows
- Give each window channel a shot of dry Teflon or silicone spray lubricant.
- Then run the window up and down a few times to spread the lubricant.
Avoid iced-up wipers
- Install winter wiper blades.
- A rubber boot that prevents ice from building up in the wiper and that provides streak-free wiping covers these wipers.
Defroster grid out of action
- Yes, you can fix this yourself.
- Pick up a window defogger repair kit at any auto parts store.
- Follow the instructions and you’ll be defrosting in no time.
Clogged radiator fins
- Disconnect the electrical connectors to your electric cooling fans and remove the fasteners.
- Lift out the entire fan assembly.
- Then use a garden hose and nozzle to spray the back of the radiator.
- That will dislodge the gunk stuck to the front side and provide better cooling.
- Reinstall the fan assembly.
Squeaky door hinges
- Rusty hinges wear faster, causing the door to sag and not close properly.
- A quick spray of white lithium grease is all you need to keep them from wearing out.
Prevent false ABS trouble codes
- Anti-lock brake (ABS) sensors contain a magnet that can pick up metallic road debris and set off a false “trouble code.”
- Use a rag to wipe the debris off the sensor any time you have your wheels off.
Corroded battery terminals
- Corrosion puts added strain on your charging system and can mess with computer-controlled systems.
- Cleaning is your cheapest insurance against electrical problems.
Rattling exhaust pipe
- Replace exhaust clamps and brackets at the first sign of rust-through or rattling.
- They’re cheap and easy to install, and they protect other exhaust components from vibration damage.
Two things to avoid during your car DIY
1. Mixing different types of coolant
- Green, yellow, red, orange and blue coolants create cool “mud” when mixed.
- Cost of a new heater core: $400 to $1,000.
2. Putting E-85 in a “non-flex-fuel” car
- This little mistake will cost you the price of a tow, a fuel tank and fuel line flush, a new fuel filter and a new tank of gas.
- Expect to pay about $400 for this “oops.”
Remember these auto care tips when you’re working on your car to help make the job easier and to save some money.