Check Your Tire Pressure Yourself
Image via Flickr by First Stop – Bridgestone UK’s Tyre Retail Network

The high cost of routine car maintenance can tempt many Americans to skip their scheduled services. However, this can be a costly mistake, as the annual bill for accidents resulting from poorly maintained vehicles tops two billion dollars. You can stay safe and save your money with these easy and essential DIY jobs for car owners.

1. Check Your Tire Pressure

Your tires are your contact with the road, so it’s vital that they’re in good shape. However, they lose at least one or two pounds of air every month. Because of this, you should check their air pressure every other time you fill your car to ensure your tires are handling well and wearing evenly. Maintaining the correct pressure will make your car safer and improve your gas mileage.

A cheap tire air pressure gauge will tell you whether your levels match those recommended in your owner’s manual. Remember to check the pressure cold for the most accurate reading. If your tires are underinflated, you can add more air at the gas station.

When you’re checking the tires on your vehicle, don’t forget about the spare. You’ll want it pumped up in an emergency.

2. Examine Your Tire Tread

Every time you check your tires’ air pressure, it’s a good opportunity to also assess their tread. You can do this easily by putting a penny in the tread. Insert it into the grooves, with Lincoln’s head pointed down. Your tread should obscure the president’s head to adequately grip the road.

Remember to test every tire in several places to ensure your tires aren’t wearing unevenly.

3. Look at the Fluid Levels

Even if you don’t feel confident changing the fluids, you can check them to see whether they need attention. Consult your owner’s manual to learn where you’ll find your fluids and how often you should check them.

Most fluids have gauges or dipsticks, which allow you to see whether they’re at the correct level. You should check the levels when the engine is cold, and your car is parked on a level surface.

If your fluid levels are low, you can simply top them up to ensure they can do their job. Driving your car with low fluids can damage your vehicle and affect your safety.

4. Assess the Fluid Colors

While you’re assessing the fluid levels, it’s worth examining their color. Your engine oil should be clear and golden, rather than a dirty brown or black. Transmission fluid should be reddish-brown and not burnt looking.

If your fluids are the wrong color, they’ll need to be changed. Driving your car with old fluids can damage your vehicle. If you’re feeling ambitious you could change the fluids yourselves, but an auto mechanic will happily to do the job for you.

5. Look for Leaks

While you’re under the hood, remember to also look for leaks. Antifreeze and oil leaks can cause engine damage, while gas leaks can turn your car into a fireball. So if you find any excess fluid, make sure you get the problem fixed promptly.

Why fork out hundreds at your local auto repair shop when you can take care of the maintenance yourself? It’s much easier than think to perform these routine procedures.

Essential DIY Jobs for Car Owners

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