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posted on April 15, 2020

Take advantage of this downtime

With many of us staying home these days, our cars and trucks aren’t being driven as much as usual. While we may not be clocking many miles on the open road for commuting, it does give our vehicles a chance to rest. For those with some extra time on their hands, now is a great opportunity to catch up on some necessary maintenance for your car from the safety of your own driveway or garage.

Turo hosts with fewer trips can take advantage of this downtime to take care of projects that have been put off. If you have some basic hand tools, a floor jack, stands, and a DIY attitude, there are many simple jobs to help get your car running and driving like it was factory fresh.

1. Change your oil

Oil is one of the most important fluids for your vehicle’s engine. Over time and mileage, motor oil breaks down and becomes less effective at lubricating critical engine components. That’s why it’s important to change your engine’s oil on a regular basis. Oil should be replaced for most vehicles every 5,000 to 7,500 miles. The oil filter should also be replaced during the oil change.

Changing your oil can get a little messy but is easy for first-timers. Just remember to collect the old oil and drop it off at a collection center for free. Once you get the hang of it, changing your own oil will go quickly and save you a bunch of money over time.

2. Replace your belts

Virtually all cars nowadays use a serpentine belt to operate the engine accessories. In many cases, the belts can easily last 50,000 miles or more. But since belts lead a hard life in the engine bay, check yours for any signs of wear, such as cracking of the rubber. The good news is that a serpentine belt can usually be replaced with a simple wrench and socket, which relieves the tensioner to allow the old belt to be removed and the new one slipped into place.

3. Replace spark plugs

If your vehicle has higher mileage, it might be a good time to change the spark plugs. A fresh set of plugs will help your ignition system run optimally, and they have the added benefit of being very easy to change, and cheap to buy at your local auto parts store.

4. Swap your air filter

Before outside air can enter the engine, it needs to pass through the air filter. Over time, the filter element can become clogged with debris, causing the filter to lose efficiency. The filter is usually housed within the airbox and can often be inspected or replaced with few to no tools. If the filter looks extra dirty, then it’s worth the few bucks to replace it for having the peace of mind that your engine can breathe easier. While you’re at it, go ahead and swap your cabin air filter to keep your A/C blowing clean, uncontaminated air.

5. Rotate your tires

Acting like a set of shoes, your tires connect your vehicle to the road. To maximize their life and promote even wear, it’s a good idea to rotate your tires twice a year. You can do this at home with just some stands and the jack and wrench that come with your car. It should be noted that some tires are directional, meaning they can only be rotated on the same side of the vehicle. Also, some staggered wheel set ups may not allow you to rotate tires, so you may end up replacing one pair of tires earlier depending on your alignment settings.

6. Flush brake fluid

Brake fluid is often overlooked and yours may very well be due for a flush. Over time the fluid can develop moisture within the braking system. Not only does the performance of your brakes diminish, but your calipers and hard lines will be prone to developing corrosion. As a rule of thumb, it’s advised to flush your brake fluid every two years. A brake fluid flush may also restore the firm pedal for vehicles with mushy feeling brakes.

7. Flush gear oil

Does your car sound like it’s whining at high speeds? Or maybe your transmission has a tough time shifting between gears. Chances are your differential and transmission fluids are due for replacement. Since the differential and transmission are out of sight, many drivers forget to regularly service the fluids. Depending on the location of your transmission or differential, you may need a fluid pump to access the fill plugs. This job requires some care and sometimes a special tool or two, but handy DIY-ers with maintenance experience should be able to figure it out.

Just remember that every car is different, so it’s always a good idea to consult your owner’s manual or a professional mechanic when performing any maintenance or repairs on your car. Additionally, when working under a vehicle, be sure the vehicle is safely secured on jack stands.

Joey is usually thinking about one thing: cars, cars, and did we mention cars? If he’s not talking about cars, chances are he’s tinkering under the hood of his old E30 BMW.