Ben Franklin once said that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". He wasn't talking about automobile maintenance, most likely because there were no cars back then, but the principle is still the same. You don't have to go to an expensive garage to keep your car running in top shape. Here are a few simple tune-up procedures you can do in your own driveway. Your car will thank you.
The fuel filter should be changed every two years or 24,000 miles. The location and specifications vary for different models, but the general procedure is still the same. First, relieve the pressure in your fuel system. This is usually done by pulling out the fuel relay or fuse while the car is running. Next, remove the fuel filter with a standard set of tools. It's a good idea to replace any rubber washers or gaskets connected to the filter as well.
Oil and oil filter
Oil keeps everything in your engine lubricated and should be replaced every six months or 5,000 miles, depending on your car model. First, the oil should be drained from the engine though the oil plug, the big nut at the bottom of the oil pan. Once drained, the oil can be taken to a nearby auto shop to be recycled. To make this job easier, purchase an oil pan that features a drain on the side. Slide this under the car, drain the oil into it, then pop the top back on to transport the oil. Replace the plug and then change the oil filter. Auto supply shops and hardware stores sell special oil filter wrenches to make the job even easier. Screw the new filter on, making sure not to overtighten, and fill the engine up with the recommended amount of oil. Run the engine and check for leaks.
Changing spark plugs and wires
Sparkplugs should be changed about every 30,000 miles. The plug wires should be changed at the same time. First, pull the wires from the plugs and then the distributor. Make a note of which wire goes to which plug. If you don't, you'll mess up the engine timing. Once the wires are removed, take out the sparkplugs with a sparkplug wrench. These come in different sizes, so make sure you have the right one.
Change out the air filter every 12,000 miles or 12 months. This is probably the easiest of all the filters to change. Simply pop open the air intake, take out the old filter, put the new one in, and close the air intake. On some cars, the air intake is held closed by a wing nut, but on newer models it's most likely a series of clasps.
Change the wipers
Many people forget this simple procedure. A good set of wiper blades can give you the visibility you need to drive safely during the worst thunderstorms. Most sets install in just a few minutes. Pull off your old wiper blades and bring them to an auto store to get the exact match.
Make sure your radiator fluid, wiper fluid and brake fluid are at the required minimum levels. If you have a battery that uses distilled water, check that as well.
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