We take you step-by-step through a simple at-home car service.
1. Change your oil
The first step is draining the engine oil. This is stored in the sump at the bottom of the engine. Remove the sump plug and drain the oil into a tray. Most sump plugs use a washer to guarantee a tight seal; this needs to be replaced every time you remove the sump plug.Once the main gush of oil is over you can remove the oil filter; some motoring stores have a tool for this but pushing a screwdriver through the soft walls of the oil filter will give you the purchase you need to unscrew the oil filter. Let the oil drain while you go about the rest of the service. Once you have drained the oil you can throw away the filter.Make sure to dispose of old oil in an environmentally sensitive way; it is a criminal offence to dump old engine oil in any drainage system or to bury it. AutoZone has a recycling campaign for used engine oil.
2. Replace your filters
The in-line-fuel-filter (found under the vehicle near the fuel tank or in the fuel line under the hood) is easy to replace. Make sure you get the direction of the fuel right otherwise the car will not run properly. Use mechanical jubilee clips to secure the fuel line to each end of the filter rather than the spring steel clip types as these can sometimes failThe air filter is usually housed in a plastic box with clips and should be the easiest part to change. Again, you must check that it is installed in the right direction or your car won’t be able to “breathe” properly
3. Change spark plugs
Spark plugs need to be changed in a major service. Always get the exact spark plugs for the make and model of your car.The gap in your spark plug should be set by the manufacturer and needs adjustment, so treat spark plugs with the utmost care.It’s best to buy a spark plug spanner, especially one with a rubber insert that holds the spark plug in place while lowering it into the engine cavity.Do not over-tighten the spark plugs as this may break them.Be sure to replace the spark plug leads in the same order they were when you unplugged them.
4. Put it back together
Be sure to replace the oil filter, sump plug and washer before refilling the oil. Most cars use just over four litres of oil. As there are different grades of oil, you need to find out which one your car requires.Be careful not to overfill your car by checking the level regularly with the dipstick. Once you have achieved the correct level, run the motor for a few seconds before re-checking the oil level.Following this, check your brake fluid, windscreen washer fluid and the radiator reservoir levels.It’s also important to check with the manufacturer if you need to change any of the hydraulic oils and at what mileage. This is mainly for cars with power steering and other hydraulic equipment.It’s a good idea to let the professionals help with this one.
Credit: Originally written for RCS by Kasia Yok.