Finding ways to avoid costs when maintaining your car, truck, or SUV shouldn’t be rocket science. Yet, so often people throw money down the drain when it comes to taking care of their own vehicle. There is no need to pay others to do what you can simply do yourself. There are ways to save money by performing DIY vehicle maintenance. Consider the following five avoidable maintenance costs if you’re looking to save a buck or two and more easily be able to afford the expert care larger automotive services require.

Windshield wipers

Replacing your windshield wipers is a very simple task. It usually involves a simple pop-off, pop-on method that doesn’t require any tools other than your own two hands.

Replacing your windshield wipers should take you no more than 10 minutes and buying them at your local auto parts store will cost you around $15. Some service centers will charge somewhere in the range of $80 (including the cost of the blades) to replace the wiper blades for you. Save that money and do it yourself.

Cabin air filter

Changing your vehicle’s air filter is another simple job you can do yourself with a little preparation. New air filters, like wiper blades, cost about $15.

To change your cabin air filter, check your vehicle manual first to locate the air filter. This is often in the interior of the car, underneath the passenger’s side of the dashboard. Open the casing, take out the old, dirty filter, and pop in the new one. Close the air filter casing and you’ll be breathing a little easier knowing you saved yourself anywhere between $25 and $100 depending on vehicle’s make and model.

Oil change

Changing your oil is the quintessential DIY vehicle maintenance job. It is also one of the most important maintenance jobs you can perform on your vehicle. It is so important, in fact, that auto experts are split on whether it is a job for an expert or the advanced do-it-yourselfer.

The prices for an oil change are continuing to climb, so it makes sense that you may be inclined to tackle this task at home. Doing it yourself can save you big on what is normally between $25 and $70. If you decide to save the dough, make sure you know exactly what you are doing or that you’re getting help from someone who has an expertise in the area. It’s not impossible DIY vehicle maintenance, but it is one that you should be particularly careful with.

There are plenty of websites out there that give tips on how to change your oil, so don’t be worried. They will walk you through it step-by-step.

Spark plugs

Spark plug installation is another DIY job that is simple enough for you to do on your own, and expensive enough to be worth doing it on your own. However, like an oil change, it’s essential that you know exactly what you are doing or that you are working with someone who has an expertise in the area.

For the price of new spark plugs (around $15), you can have these under your hood in less than half an hour. If you took your car to a shop to change your spark plugs, you’d be looking at a $200 to $300 bill at the end of the service.

Similar to changing your oil, there are plenty of websites out there that can help you change your spark plugs.

Headlights

Changing your headlights can be a pain, but that’s not due to the task involved with installing new ones. The pain is the price, as new headlights could cost you somewhere in the triple digits. Depending on the type of bulb you have, some headlight repairs can easily go into the hundreds. Xenon bulbs often cost around $100 or more themselves, before the cost of labor. This is why many choose to DIY as much of the repair as possible.

Depending on the model of your vehicle and the year it was made, there could be some minor differences in how to install the bulb.

It all adds up

These five tips should help you save money on the maintenance of your vehicle. A little bit of savings goes a long way, so don’t be scared to DIY. However, be smart if you do decide to DIY. Vehicles are complex and while some repairs may sound or seem simple, they can easily become complicated if you aren’t clear on how to do them. Invest in a good auto repair manual and really take the time and energy required to carefully learn how to perform each task before you try it.

If you have a friend who knows how to do some of these tasks, or better yet, a local class that will teach you how to do these repairs, take advantage of those resources. A few hours of instruction can save you a ton of money in the long run. On the flip side, rushing to do a repair or maintenance without understanding the tasks involved could end up costing you big if you do them incorrectly.

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