Three Auto Repairs You Can Do at Home
Three Auto Repairs You Can Do at Home
Many drivers avoid working on their own vehicles out of fear that they don’t have the expertise or the time. Some vehicle owners imagine a sizable garage full of tools is required for a standard repair. But investing yourself in an at-home vehicle repair is rewarding and can ultimately save you time and money in the long run. You don’t need a bunch of fancy tools or a big garage to complete routine maintenance. All you need is NAPA.
The experts at NAPA Auto Parts can help you perform three straightforward vehicle repairs at home as part of your regular vehicle upkeep: replacing worn or dead spark plugs, rotating tires and changing your wiper blades. With the right tools and tips, adhering to a routine maintenance schedule prevents critical failures and expensive repairs plus keeps your ride on the road longer.
Find Your Spark: How to Change Spark Plugs
Replacing aging spark plugs is a critical part of vehicle maintenance as they are responsible for igniting the fuel that powers your engine. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend changing your spark plugs every 30,000 miles or so, depending on your year, make and model. If you notice your fuel efficiency decreasing or your vehicle is starting or idling rough, then it possibly time to replace your spark plugs.
First, do your research. Refer to your vehicle’s manual for the information you need about the kind of spark plugs required and where they are located. Make sure you’re wearing gloves and eye protection to avoid injury. Clear any debris from around the plug with a brush and small vacuum to ensure no particulates get into the engine through the plug hole. Then, remove the old plugs (always pull from the wire boot, never pull the wire itself). Once you remove the plug, inspect it carefully for blistering or an abundance of soot. This could indicate your fuel mixture is incorrect or there are deeper issues in the engine.
Before you install the new plugs, refer to your owner’s manual for the proper spark plug gap measurement. Using a spark plug gap tool or a feeler gauge, set the gap by gently lifting or lowering the electrode to the proper width.
When installing the new plugs, make sure not to use anti-seize on the threads. Check the manufacturer’s recommended torque specs and tighten the plugs with a socket and ratchet accordingly. Simply reinstall your plugs in the proper order and that’s it! You’re officially a home mechanic.
A Good Rotation: How to Rotate Tires
Rotating your vehicle’s tires is another important part of vehicle maintenance, but an easy one you can do at home. As you drive, the rubber composite of your tires naturally wears down. When you steer your car, the front and back wheels move differently, so the tires wear down at different rates. To extend the life of your tires and maintain proper alignment, you should rotate your tires at least once a year. If you live in a colder climate, consider rotating them twice a year.
Before getting started, familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s drivetrain (Front Wheel Drive, Rear Wheel Drive, 4 Wheel Drive) and the kind of tires your vehicle uses (directional or non-directional). These factors affect the pattern in which you rotate your tires. Once you’ve established the rotation pattern that works for your vehicle, put on your gloves and goggles and get to wrenching.
To perform a successful tire rotation, you’ll need a jack, jack stands and a lug nut wrench. Make sure your vehicle’s parking brake is engaged, then:
- Loosen the lug nuts on each wheel before lifting your vehicle
- Use the jack and jack stands to lift your vehicle
- Remove the tires and reinstall them according to your vehicle’s ideal rotational pattern
- Hand-tighten lug nuts, and you’re done
No More Losing Streaks: How to Change Wiper Blades
You may not consider your windshield wiper blades a very important part of your routine vehicle maintenance. It’s easy to forget that these essential components can wear down, and no one wants to get caught in a rainstorm with windshield wipers that can’t do the job. If your wipers are leaving behind streaks or jumping and squealing over the glass, it’s time to replace your wiper blades.
Do your research and figure out the correct length of wiper blades for your vehicle. Using the incorrect blade size can put undue strain on the wiper arms and wiper motor, which could mean they wear out faster. Consider the climate you in which you live and the time of year you use your wipers the most. In the winter, make sure your windshield is always deiced before engaging your wipers. Avoid engaging your wipers in the summer without moisture present on the windshield. NAPA Auto Parts carries a vast range of replacement windshield wiper blades for hundreds of vehicles and any weather condition. Shop all the best brands: NAPA Exact Fit, Proformer, Rain-X, Bosch and many more.
Once you have the correct blades for your vehicle, turn off the engine, then lift and secure the wiper arms. If your wiper arms are spring-loaded, lay a towel over your windshield while replacing the blades to avoid cracking your windshield if the arm springs back into place. Once replaced, test the wipers to make sure they work using a hose or your windshield washer function. While you’re replacing your wiper blades, check that the arms aren’t warped or cracked and clear out any leaves and debris that can collect in the air intake at the base of your windshield.
While acting as your own mechanic is a great way to give a little love back to your ride, it’s not always easy to get under the hood yourself. Whether your baby is a premium SUV, a reliable sedan or a beloved old jalopy, you can always trust the ASE-certified technicians at your local NAPA Auto Care to get the job done right. Now, you can use our handy repair estimator tool so you can budget for a repair job and know what to expect before you bring in your vehicle.
Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.
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More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA Auto Parts Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.
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