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Servicing Your Own Vehicle? 7 Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Let’s face it, we’re not all natural mechanics.

Some of us don’t know a wrench from a spanner, let alone a spark plug from the ignition switch. 

It is something we can learn though. 

With the right research, perseverance and a hands on approach, you may be surprised about what you can achieve.

To prolong the life of your vehicle, it is recommended that it is serviced at least once a year. This will ensure the safe operation of your car, and keep the mechanics in good working order. 

So if you are trying to keep costs down, it may be beneficial for you to perform a basic car service yourself

Doing this will ensure that the service has been done thoroughly, and you have used the best quality components.  

We have highlighted seven mistakes that are often made, and how to avoid them.

1. Research – What Research?

Skills are often learnt, not a birthright. 

The first hurdle people often face is not doing their research in the first place! 

What parts of my car do I need to service? 

What tools do I require?

Is there any equipment I need to buy? 

2. I Haven’t Read My Car’s Service Manual

This is one of the greatest pieces of information you have for your car. 

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It is written by the people who created your car – you should listen to them!

Reading your car’s service manual should tell you:

  • How often you should service your car
  • When regular maintenance should be carried out – e.g. oil changes
  • How often to check on your car’s replaceable parts, and when they may need changing

Great news, You now have servicing knowledge to work with!

3. I Don’t Have All The Tools

Having the correct tools may sound obvious, but this is where services performed at home often go wrong. 

There are a few key factors you need in place before you even begin to attempt a service solo. 

Ideally you will need a socket set, an oil catch tray, Allen keys, a decent screwdriver set, ramps, an old rag, and a good brew. 

It may be worth getting your hands on an oil filter remover and a spark plug removal socket. Investing in a decent socket set will last indefinitely, so it is worth it.

Getting the essential tools in place before you begin, will set you up for  successful home servicing.

4. Oil, Spark Plugs and an Air Filter…

It’s important that you find out the exact oil your car requires before even attempting an oil change. 

Nowadays this is often on the oil can itself, but speaking to your local car part experts will give you the right answer. 

In fact, a good chat with a parts dealership can help all around. 

For example, finding out what the correct oil filter, spark plug and air filter is can easily be done; Simply give your vehicle’s registration number to your local car part shop, and they can identify the correct parts needed. 

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5. My Car Has Lost Its Value

Save yourself money in the long run by first checking how old your car is, and seeing what state its current service history is.  

If your car is relatively new – less than a decade old – and has a fully up to date, stamped service history it may not be worth even considering servicing it yourself. Even the best home mechanic in the world, may end up causing more harm than good. Especially, due to modern complex electronics hidden under the bonnet!

Older wagon on your driveway? The service history is going to be less affected if you have a tinker yourself – saving you money every time. 

6. Space is Pretty Limited

Trying to service your vehicle in a tight space is not only going to constrict what you do, but could also lead to a bigger expense in the end.

A garage is going to be your best bet. 

Make sure you have enough room to maneuver your car and get into the tighter spaces. If you have driveway space, just make sure you can cover your vehicle if it is raining. 

No work can be carried out on the road – this could net you a hefty fine!

7. I Didn’t Really Know What I Was Doing

If at any point you don’t feel confident in what you are doing – stop. 

Save yourself time and stress, and give the experts a shout!

Have confidence in your skills

Remember, no service job is impossible at home when you have done enough research, and have given yourself the best environment and tools to work with.

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