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3 Basic Car Maintenance Skills You Should Know: Part 1

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3 Basic Car Maintenance Skills You Should Know: Part 1

January 21, 2021 by The Parrish Law Firm

If you’re living in northern Virginia, you most likely own a car. It’s no secret that vehicles are quite expensive to maintain. Aside from the cost of the vehicle itself, you have to worry about gas, insurance, maintenance, etc., and with the cost of almost everything going up, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on a few easy “do-it-yourself” routine car maintenance ideas that will save you a pretty penny!

Air Filter

Changing your air filter will directly impact your vehicle’s power and gas mileage. Air filters are designed to keep all dust, debris, bugs, etc. out of your engine so your vehicle can run more smoothly and last longer. 

Difficulty: Easy

How Often: You should replace your engine air filter every 15,000 – 30,000 miles. 

Time: Less than 10 minutes

Cost: ~$15 – $25

Step-by-Step:

  1. Open the hood of your vehicle and locate your air filter. The air filter is often found in a black casing. 
  2. Open the black casing, remove the air filter and assess if it needs replacing. Pay special attention to how the filter has been taken out of the black casing so it’s easy for you to put back in. 
  3. Install the new filter, close the black casing, seal it back up with the pins and you’re all done!

Windshield Wipers

Are you beginning to confuse the sound of your windshield wipers with the sound of a disgruntled family of ducks? Well, it may be time to replace them. It is important to stay on top of replacing your wipers when needed because driving in a rainstorm with bad wipers is extremely dangerous for you and others on the road. 

Difficulty: Easy

How Often: Assess your windshield wipers at least every 6 months. You will likely need new wipers annually. 

Time: Less than 20 minutes

Cost: ~$20 – $50

Step-by-Step:

  1. All wipers are not made equal. First, you must determine the size and type of windshield wipers your vehicle takes. Our friends at AutoZone have a handy tool which allows you to look up wipers by vehicle here.
  2. Take a look at the base of your wipers. You should be able to identify a latch that you are able to undo to remove your old wipers. Different car makers use various hook-style designs to secure wipers in place, but most of them are fairly simple to unbuckle. If you are finding unbuckling your old wipers challenging, we suggest finding a quick YouTube video based on the make and model of your car (there are plenty out there!). 
  3. Once the old wipers are removed, replace them with your new wipers and snap your wiper securing latch shut and you’re good to go! 

Unsure which wipers are the best for your weather conditions/climate? Be on the lookout for our Quick & Easy Guide to Windshield Wipers.

Battery

Replacing your car battery might seem like the most frightening task. After all, a faulty air filter or windshield wiper installation is unlikely to cause an accident or damage your car, but it feels like a poorly installed car battery just might. Don’t fret! If your car battery is not installed properly, your vehicle most likely will just not turn on. 

Consider this: Installing a car battery is easy enough that auto shop employees often provide the service free of charge alongside your battery purchase. And let’s be real…whose going to provide a free service if it isn’t easy? 

Difficulty: Easy

How Often: Typically every 3 to 5 years

Time: Less than 30 minutes

Cost: ~$50 – $200

Note: Rubber gloves can provide additional safety when replacing a battery. 

Step-by-Step:

  1. Our friends at Advanced AutoParts have a handy tool which allows you to look up which battery type your vehicle requires here. When purchasing a new battery, you may be charged a core charge, or a deposit which is refunded once you return your old battery to where you bought your battery from. This is to help promote the proper recycling of car batteries. 
  2. Next step is to remove your old battery. Identify where the battery is housed. If there are any obstacles such as filters secured above or on the battery casing, look for screws or pins and remove these obstacles, paying special attention to how they are secured so you can put them back on later. 
  3. Remove the negative cable (minus sign) from the battery and then the positive cable (plus sign). Depending on your vehicle, you may need a wrench to remove these cables. 
  4. Ensure everything else is removed from the battery. Slowly and carefully lift the battery from its location. Clean the battery housing in preparation for your new battery. 
  5. Time to install your new battery! Clean the clamps of your new battery thoroughly and slowly lower the battery into its place. If there is any buildup on your battery clamps, you can use baking soda to remove it.
  6. Reconnect all components. When connecting the terminal cables, start with positive then negative. 
  7. Start your car. If everything powers up as expected, you’re ready to take your vehicle back out on the town!

We hope these simple tips will save you some money in the long run while making you more knowledgeable on how your vehicle works.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of another person, contact us at (571) 364 – 6307 for a free legal consultation. 

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