How Much Can DIY Car Maintenance Save You?

Source|Contributor, Malte Luk

Each DIY maintenance task you undertake yourself will add up over time – especially with tasks you need to do on a regular basis – like oil changes. You don't have to be a master tech or have a garage full of tools to start the process.

When you go to a mechanic, you're paying for labor as well as parts. This makes sense, a professional needs to have his or her time covered. Shops typically use a rate chart to determine how many hours a typical car repair or maintenance project takes. Shops pay wholesale prices for parts and sell them to you at retail rates — which may be more than what you pay at your local Advance Auto Parts store — this gives you another opportunity to save.

While it's always recommended you take your vehicle to a professional when you need to, there's nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty on some of these DIY car maintenance tasks.

The prices below assume the local shop is charging somewhere between $75 and $130 per hour as a labor rate. Cost savings estimates come courtesy of RepairPal. There are several simple car repairs you can do yourself and save some cash, including the list below.


Change Your Air Filter

Changing an air filter is one of the simplest DIY car projects because it doesn't require any tools (most of the time, at least). Pop the hood and look for a circular or rectangular object on top of the engine, usually right in the middle. A wingnut or set of clips usually holds the top on. Spin the nut off or detach the clips, remove the top and there's the air filter. Buy a replacement filter at your local Advance Auto Parts store, put it back in the housing, put the top back on, and retighten whatever is holding it on.

Cost Savings: $27-$34


Change Your Wiper Blades

Source| Contributor, Matheus Bertelli

Here's another car fix that usually doesn't require tools. Wiper blades come in many different sizes and configurations that match the car's make, model, and year. Advance Auto Parts has an online tool to figure out what you need to make this repair for cars. New blades typically slide into place using bayonet-style clips that can be compressed with your fingers.

It's best to follow the directions on the package. It's often as simple as sliding the old blades out, then sliding the new ones in. At Advance Auto Parts, our team members will remove and replace your wiper blades when you purchase a new pair, at no charge.

Cost Savings: $25-$32


Change Your Oil

This do-it-yourself repair requires a wrench to remove the drain plug in the crankcase and if you are changing the oil filter, an oil filter wrench. Both these tools are available at your local Advance Auto Parts store. You'll also need a drip pan to catch any used oil.

Pro Tip: Oil flows better when it's warm but don't do this when the engine is hot or running.

Position the drip pan, remove the oil plug from the crankcase by unscrewing it and allow the oil to drain. Use the oil filter wrench to twist off the filter. Once all the used oil is out, replace the filter with the new one, replace the drain plug and refill with new oil. Use your owner's manual to select the right type of oil, correct viscosity, and the proper quantity.

Cost Savings: $41-$52


Change Your Headlights

Source| Contributor, Quintin Gellar

Headlight lenses are prone to yellowing, clouding, cracking, and eventually failing. Changing them out often requires no tools as the newer model cars use replaceable bulbs that twist out. Headlight lens yellowing and clouding can be reversed/restored with the use of a Headlight Restoration kit.

Older cars, however, use a sealed unit that includes a filament inside the lens. Consult the Advance Auto Parts website by typing in your make, model, and year of vehicle to find the right part and replace it as per the instructions. If one light has failed, It's usually smart and advisable to replace both at the same time as the next one usually fails around the same time.

Cost Savings: $43-$54


Replace the Battery

Pro Tip: Batteries are sold by ratings of how big an engine they will start and how long they will last — look out for this when shopping for a replacement.

If an engine doesn't turn over, the battery is the likely culprit. Once the correct size and desired lifetime have been decided, use a wrench to loosen the negative (black) cable clamp first and then the positive (red) cable. Lift the old battery out and put the new battery in, connect the positive cable clamp, tighten, then do the same with the negative.

You can take your old battery to your local Advance Auto Parts store where it'll be recycled properly for you. One of AAP's FREE SERVICES is Battery testing & installation. **Installation requires a purchase of a battery

Cost Savings: $37-$47

Car repairs you can do yourself can save you money, teach you about how the car works and give you the personal satisfaction of doing a job correctly. Advance Auto Parts is committed to DIY culture and stands ready as your own personal automotive experts and parts counter.

What kind of DIY project will you try next? Let us know in the comments.

Last updated January 10, 2023