Frugal Friday- DIY Car Maintenance

frugalfriday  I got my oil changed yesterday. About 2 months and a few thousand miles behind schedule. I am totally not advocating not keeping up with your car’s oil changes cause you can ruin a car that way, but the 3 months, 3000 miles thing. Probably a little bit overkill. Most auto people (except for the people who run oil change places) will recommend every 5000 miles and I have seen people recommending up to 10,000. Check your owner’s manual and know that the older your car is, the possibility of burning through oil is a bit higher.

I really like and trust the place I go to get my oil changed. They have great people working there who ooh and aah over my kids. Side note: if you ooh and aah over my kids and/or pregnant belly OR tell me I look too young to have kids, you will have my customer loyalty for life. I am a major sucker like that. This place does a thorough job and makes recommendations, but never tries to push me towards expensive stuff or scam me into needing an air filter when I don’t.

That being said, there are a lot of things that they recommend that are definitely needed, but can be done really inexpensively by yourself. And by “by yourself” I mean, in my case, by my husband. First and foremost, changing your air filter. When they pull it out and show you that it is all black and nasty the temptation is to say, “heck ya, change that nasty thing.” But you can go to just about any auto store or for that matter big box store and get the correct kind. Here is a very easy tutorial on how to change it yourself.

Another easy one to do is replacing your windshield wipers. This is an obvious one to figure out when it is needed, but we usually discover it when it is pouring rain and we can’t see a thing. Here is another tutorial on doing it and again you can get wipers just about anywhere. Since you are saving money by not having someone else do the work, you would be better served by not buying bargain basement wipers that are going to frustrate the crap out of you when you are stuck in a rain storm. Trust me you will still save money even if you buy the mid to high range wipers and you will be thankful that they last longer and do a better job.

Another simple thing to do that will help you with your gas mileage and drivability of your car is keeping your tires inflated. Buy a simple tire gauge and look in your manual to see what your tires should be inflated to. Check it when you fill up with gas because most stations will have an air machine. Some cost a few quarters, but many are free. Even I can do this one so that is saying something.

This site is a great resource for DIY car repairs so if you are feeling bold try some and save yourself some bucks. Of course one of the most important things you can do is find a mechanic you can trust that tells you what you do and don’t need done when something is going wrong. Ours will literally say, “this isn’t working so great, but it isn’t really affecting much so if you need to put it off for a while, that shouldn’t be a problem.” So much better than a mechanic that gives you a list a mile long that includes a bunch of stuff that is just padding his wallet.

Are there any repairs you routinely do yourself? I am fascinated to know because this isn’t usually consider “women’s work.” I think it is very empowering to be educated about your car when you meet up with a man in a repair place who thinks you have sucker written all over you simply because you possess different “parts” than he does. It doesn’t take much knowledge to throw him off his game.

For more frugal tips, head over to Life As Mom.


  1. I love this post! My version of getting an oil change is going to a shop to have it done. My hubs is just too busy to do it. I do routinely make sure the tires have enough air and I have filled them up when they’ve been low. I do check the oil occasionally to make sure the level is ok. Maybe I should learn how to do more of this stuff myself. Thanks for the inspiration!
    .-= Myra´s last blog ..Our Wedding Reception =-.

  2. *I* don’t do them but DaHubby has done all the maintenance on “Goldilocks” since we got her in 2001 except for recall trips to the dealership.

    He SWEARS by Haynes manuals (for example, the one for Goldilocks: http://tinyurl.com/nm5gqh) and has changed oil, all the filters, 2-3 sets of brakes, and the serpentine belt.

    Fortunately, Goldilocks is the best car EVER and is now pushin’ 120K miles with no major repairs! That’s my girl! LOL

  3. Hey this is a great article! Love it!

    Thought you might like to know that I clicked on your ‘Contact Me’ link at the top of the page (next to ‘Home’) and it didn’t provide me with any contact details…

  4. My Daddy was service manager at a dealership when I was little and then went on to teach auto mechanics. All he ever taught me to do was check the oil! Thankfully my husband is pretty good with these things, with a Chilton’s manual, we’ve replaced batteries and an alternator together and he’s done the water pump, air filter, wipers, and this past weekend the blower motor.
    .-= Kristy´s last blog ..Gotcha =-.

  5. I have zero clue about cars. My husband has been into a “do it yourself faze” which is endearing so maybe I’ll show him the toutorials. I myself try to stay out of car stuff. In our household that’s considered a “man job” I don’t even know how to check my oil!
    .-= Jen-After the Alter´s last blog ..Celebrating The Good Things In Life =-.

  6. Did you know you can buy your windshield wipers and air filters from Walmart and they will put it on for you for free? Thats what I always do if I do not have any help around. By the way….love this article and I’m glad I found this website!!

  7. nice post, great advice, i know there are a lot of car maintenance that is easy enough for anyone to do.

  8. Gabrielle says:

    This is an awesome post. It’s funny you would ask “what we do ourselves?” Because my husband and I have somehow got our roles reversed in the last 20 years, haha. I’m the remodeler and fixer of all things broken and he love to play with the kids, and cook gourmet dinners. But he does keep the car in order since he drives it. we do the same sort of things you described, wipers, burned out lights or fuses, topping fluids. It’s more difficult to do things on new cars, but growing up with a 70’s truck , I could fix anything with my handy manual and a few tools, oh how I wish things stayed simple.
    .-= Gabrielle´s last blog ..Focus! Who Me? =-.

  9. I discovered our van needed new wiper blades when one snapped – in the middle of pouring rain, while I was driving at 70 mph on the interstate. I had to keep using them to, you know, SEE, but the sound of metal grating on the windshield on one side was NOT NICE.

    And since I was headed to my parents’ house, my Daddy replaced them for me.

  10. Christie says:

    Just a funny story-
    When I was just starting to drive, my dad gave me instructions for what to do in case I blew a tire.
    1. Stay in the car.
    2. Call AAA to come fix the tire.
    3. Start by calling him, and then any other boy I know, until I can find someone to come be with me so I’m not alone when the AAA guy comes.

    Thankfully, I’ve not needed to take that advice–but I always keep it in the back of my mind!

  11. Maintaining your own car is somewhat a little hard if you are not dedicated to do it. Am I right?
    Anyways, I must say that this is one of the pretty good post that I have read. Thanks for posting!

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