My car’s overdue for a service, but I don’t want to take it in ‘coz I know they’re going to charge me some ridiculous sum of money for what probably amounts to having an apprentice do an oil change and checking that stuff is working OK. If I’m unlucky, they’ll find something wrong with the brakes, shocks or whatever, and I’ll be up for kidney on top of the arm-and-a-leg.
There are clever folks I know who can do their own minor services, but I’m not brave enough to do this myself, so I won’t recommend it to you (go and find yourself a trustworthy mechanic!) Instead, here are some ridiculously simple things that you can (and should) do yourself:
Changing light bulbs
If you find that one of the lights on your car has stopped working, it’s an easy fix. Have a look at your car’s manual if you have it (you can easily Google it if you don’t). There should be instructions that tell you how to replace the bulb. Use that to figure out how to remove the blown bulb, and then go down to your nearest car store and ask them for another one of the same. You should get change from a $20 for the average car, unless have some fancy BMW with Xenon lights (in which case what do you care about cost!)
Now the most important thing is: don’t touch the glass part of the bulb! The oils from your hands (even if your hands are completely clean) will cause the bulb to weaken and crack from the heat when it’s on.
Pop that in according to the instructions, and if you’re good, you won’t even get your hands dirty.
Topping up the windscreen wiper fluid
No, I’m not being daft. When was the last time you topped up your wiper fluid? Maybe it’s just me then, but it’s an unpleasant experience not having enough water, when you’re cruising down the freeway and the biggest, ugliest bug in God’s creation splats on your windscreen.
You can also buy additives such as Rainex, which claims to make your windscreen less sticky so that water runs off it or something, but it’s all bollocks from my experience. There’s also special detergent for car windscreens – don’t just use the Morning Fresh from the kitchen, ‘coz that’ll froth up coming out of the nozzle and stuff you up real good when you can’t see.
Changing windscreen wiper blades
You can buy these from KMart, but don’t get the cheapest rubber no-brand crap ones. Invest in some decent silicone ones, which won’t dry up and make the sound like an elephant’s fart when it stutters its way across the glass.
Most supermarkets will have a book or computer which tells you which size suits your car, but just in case, measure your old ones just in case. Most cars will use one of the standard sizes: 6mm or 8mm. If you’re stuck, you can get ones which will fit both. Installing the blades is usually a simple matter of unclipping the ends and sliding it out.
Three very easy car maintenance tasks, don’t you think? If there’s anything else that you regularly do yourself, or if you have a funny story about DIY car maintenance, leave a comment!