Marty and I have always both been DIY guys. One reason is because we’re
cheap frugal. Another reason is that we want things done right. But mostly because we’re cheap.
The fine folks at Purolator know how cheap we are so they tossed us some greenbacks and asked us to share some of our tips and tricks with our readers.
This isn’t a how-to post, this is just some of our DIY car maintenance tips and tricks that you might find useful. Some people might call them “life hacks” or some other hipster terminology. I’m also not putting obvious stuff, like “Set the parking brake”, “use wheel chocks”, or “don’t lean over your hot exhaust manifold if you’re naked”, because DUH, and also because if you don’t know that stuff already then you’re probably paying $85 for an oil change that you could do yourself for $25.
DIY car maintenance tips and tricks.
- Get a Dickies-type mechanic jumpsuit and wear it. You look like you know what you’re doing, and you always have a place to wipe your hands. And you’ll feel a little bit like a Beastie Boy. RIP MCA. (PS. I was wearing these as everyday attire back in college WAY before the boys did.)
- Open the jar of pumice hand cleanser and put it by the sink BEFORE you start. You’re most likely going to get very dirty working on any part of your car, you might as well have the jar open so you’re not fumbling with a lid with greasy hands. Better yet, buy the kind with a pump.
- Keep large pieces of cardboard around for something to lay on. Yes, we really do this. Everything comes in boxes, so break them down or cut the largest areas out for flat storage and keep them in the basement. If we have to shimmy under the car the cardboard serves a couple purposes.
- It’s slidey-er. If you don’t have a mechanic’s creeper, or your driveway or garage isn’t condusive to a creeper, it lets you slide in and out easier.
- It’s insulative. Driveway is frozen? It keeps you off the ground. Driveway is hot enough to fry an egg on? Throw down some cardboard so you don’t fry your eggs.
- It’s absorbant. OOPS, the oil wasn’t quite done dripping before you got your purolator filter tightened on? The oil goes on the cardboard and not in the driveway or garage floor.
- Mentally go through the entire process in your head. It’s a good way to make sure you have every tool and part needed to finish the job. Especially if you’re doing something that will render your car inoperable, you want to know you won’t find yourself stuck walking to the parts store. Still plan for a back-up ride though.
- When changing your air filter, vacuum or use compressed air to clean around the outside of the housing. You’ll ensure no dirt or sand gets into the compartment. Also, replace the cabin air filter at the same time you replace the air filter.
- When changing oil start up the engine and let it run for 2-3 minutes at idle before you start. That warms the oil just enough to flow better when draining. Be careful to not get it too hot or you can get seriously burned. See a tutorial by Marty here.
- Always wear eye protection no matter what. You never know what will break, spill or fall into your eyes. Even then stuff finds its way around your glasses.
- Always have one of those wire grabby things. You never know when you are going to drop a bolt. And don’t bother with a magnet since some of the fasteners for engine panels are plastic.
- Change other stuff while you’re in there. If we you something that involves quite a bit of labor, plan to check other systems, even replace them. Rotate the tires? While you’re down there check the brakes, brake hoses, and fluid. If you change a timing belt, change all of the belts and the oil pump, since access to the oil pump requires about the same amount of tear-down, and oil pumps usually aren’t very expensive—good insurance.
- Take photos before you start. It can’t hurt to see just how that thing lined up, or where those hoses were connected, or how the belt serpentines through the pulleys. It’s good for reference at the parts store, too.
- Use common sense. Common sense is free. Most things like body panels snap together, or are held together using little plastic rivets. Don’t just rip stuff apart, poke around a little. lift a little, pry a little. You’ll usually uncover how something comes apart so you don’t go snapping off tabs that will bring up rattles later on.
- Headlights are easy to change. Save money, change them yourself. Check out a quick how-to here.
- Tire plug kits RULE. I have a tire plug kit in each car. I’ve been using them for 20 years and have never had a problem running on the tires I’ve fixed with them. They’re super easy to use and will save you tons of cash if you have a flat in the morning or in a parking lot. Simple. Pull out the nail or offending item. Jam in the raspy bit and pull it out. Jam in the plug. Inflate. Done.
This will be an ever-growing list I’m sure.
Chime in with your tips in the comments if you have some good ones.
Disclosure: Dadand received compensation and/or products to test. We believe in every product and service we review at Dadand, and promise to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Product or service placement in our posts helps us to do what we love—doing things yourself (DIY) and showing you how to do it yourself.