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APF

Car parts you should replace yourself rather than paying a mechanic to handle

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There are certain items on a car that can easily be replaced without taking the car to a garage to be fixed.

This is great for a handful of reasons. First, you can avoid unwanted bills and keep the money for something else. Secondly, keeping your car running efficiently all by yourself is very satisfying.

Some jobs are too large and require the eye of a qualified, professional mechanic, but there are other basic jobs that take minimal time and only a little know-how and can be done at home with a few basic tools.

Here are some easy ways to look after your car without the help of a mechanic, to ensure it stays on the road for as long as possible.

Windshield-wiper blades

After a while, windshield-wiper blades can start to leave smear marks on the window, as the rubber strips that push rainwater away can degrade. Often this leads to squeaking noises and the rain or snow is not cleared effectively, causing buildup and distorting forward vision.

Windshield wipers are a simple, off-the-shelf part. They only cost $20 to $40 and can be purchased online for your exact automobile make and model. You can simply unclip the old windshield wipers and clip the new ones on. The same can be done for the rear window-wiper blades too, if your car has them. Mechanics may charge an additional $30-$100 in labor fees to replace them.

Oil change

Oil changes should be made on a regular basis. Manufacturers recommend changing the oil of your car every 7,500 to 10,000 miles as an approximation. Each car is slightly different, so check the guide for your specific car model. 

The average price for a bottle of oil is $25-50, with synthetic engine oil averaging $45 to $70. Here's a straightforward guide on how to perform an oil change.

It's a really easy job to complete on a driveway or home garage with only a few tools.

Oil filter

Since the oil filter is usually accessed from inside the oil tank, it is great practice to change the oil filter at the same time you change your oil..

The job of the oil filter is to ensure contaminants don't accumulate in the engine oil, which can cause internal damage to the engine surfaces. Through the oil filter, unwanted particles are removed from the oil tank before circulating and lubricating the engine. 

Changing the oil filter as regularly as changing your oil ensures the engine will operate optimally.

Air filter

The air filter is a simple, inexpensive part to change and forms an important role in the car engine. 

The air filter prevents dust, dirt and debris getting into the engine via the air intake, ensuring only clean, filtered air passes through. 

This part should be changed at certain intervals, usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles, depending on where your car is driven. Lift up the hood, and there is a rectangular cold air collector box. Inside is the spongy, foam material. Swap it out for a new one. It takes 10 minutes, tops.

Headlight and taillight bulbs

On older cars that don't have LED lights, headlight and taillight bulbs can easily be replaced by hand in very little time for minimal cost. The cost of new bulbs is a couple of dollars and avoids having to take your car into the garage.

Bulbs often stop working over time and it is a legal requirement that the correct lights are visible on a car. 

They can be bought for a couple of dollars from an auto-repair store or online. To access the housing of the lights, open the hood to get to the headlights or the trunk for the rear taillights. This will allow you to find the housing and switch out the faulty bulb with the new, working ones.

On some vehicles, you may need to remove additional parts (and in some cases, the entire bumper) in order to have an unimpeded view of the headlight or taillight housings.

Spark plugs

Changing the spark plugs will save you around $100 in labor costs and should be done every 30,000 miles. The spark plugs will only cost you $16 to $100, depending on how many you have to change. 

For a four-cylinder engine, you will have four spark plugs to replace, for a V6 engine; you will have six, and so on.

Battery

Similar to phones and laptops, car batteries degrade over time. Most car batteries last between two and five years, depending on the condition. It is recommended to change your car battery after three years. A car battery that is five years or older won't function properly and may start to cause problems in the future. 

The average price of a new battery is between $50 and $200 and is a straightforward plug-and-play swap with the old one.

Brake pads

Over time, the brake pads become worn down through regular use and require replacing to ensure your car continues to stop safely and effectively when you want it to. There should be a minimum of 6.4 millimeters of brake pad remaining as a general rule of thumb.

The brake pads are accessed by removing the wheels from the car and are straightforward to replace. You can see instructions on how to change brake pads here.

Changing brake pads requires a bit more work than the previously mentioned parts but are well worth doing yourself. A set of four brake pads only start at around $30 to $50 for budget vehicles and can cost a few hundred dollars for premium cars and sports cars.

Brake discs

The brake discs can be changed at home, too. It's another straightforward part and is usually completed in pairs, because properly functioning front brakes will wear evenly on the left and right and the rear brakes will do the same on the left and right. Depending on your vehicle, the front brakes and rear brakes will wear down at a varying rates.

Roughly $100 to $500 is the average cost for a pair of brakes, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Being able to switch them out yourself will save you a lot of money over the lifetime of a car, removing some associated labor costs.

 

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