Maintaining a car can sometimes be expensive. According to data collected by mechanics, the cost of maintaining a car over the course of its ten-year life ranges between a modest $5,500 for a Toyota to a staggering $17,800 for a BMW. Many car owners, however, don’t realize there’s often no need to spend high mechanic charges; there are many repairs that they can quite happily handle themselves, avoiding high labor costs in the process.


The following are some of the repair work we at Citi Auto Group feel many of our customers are able to do themselves, without the help of a mechanic.


Repair A Chipped Windshield

There’s nothing more annoying than driving along, only to hear that characteristic “click” noise as the vehicle in front of you chips up a stone which strikes your windshield. A chipped windshield is a liability. That chip can soon develop into a crack which means replacing the windshield itself, and that can be quite costly.


Most people automatically go to one of those windshield repair companies; you know, the ones that say that the chip in your windscreen needs fixing right now, all paid for by your insurer. There’s only one problem with this; once your insurance company gets charged by the repair company, they may increase your premium, meaning that you could end up paying more indirectly than you would have if you’d just gone to the windshield repair company without the insurance company involved.


The good news is that you can buy and use your own windshield repair kit for under $15. Some kits cost under $10, which is a lot less than you’d pay if you went to a window repair company. The kits themselves are pretty self-explanatory. They come with a pin to dig out any loose glass, as well as a pump which pushes resin into the crack, forming a seamless repair. The whole process takes less than an hour, and before you know it, your windshield is back to normal.


Replace Your Air Filter

Many garages will suggest having your air filter replacing when you have the car in for an oil change. Drivers think that this is a complicated process, but all it usually involves is opening up the hood, finding the filter, taking out the old one and putting in a new one. No specialist skills required, usually all you need is a pair of pliers.


If you do go have a mechanic replace it, you can often pay well over $100, but if you do it yourself, the labor is free and the parts from a retailer usually costs around $25, depending on the manufacturer. To access the old air filter and replace it, all you need to do is open the hood, unscrew a few bolts, take out the old filter and replace it with the new one. The whole process is usually over in around 15 minutes, and pictures showing where the filter is located are usually in the manual, or you can easily find them online.


Change The Spark Plugs

If you’ve got a new car, it’s likely that you may never have to replace the spark plugs. If, however, you drive an older vehicle and it’s approaching the 100,000-mile mark, that would be a good time to replace them. If you go down the traditional maintenance shop route, this is something which can cost hundreds of dollars.


While changing the spark plugs might sound a little daunting, it’s not very hard to do, it’s actually surprisingly easy, and pretty much anyone who can handle a wrench can do it. To perform this repair, you’ll need a special tool called a spark plug wrench. Although this tool will last you a lifetime, it’s also relatively inexpensive - around $10 for a basic one. Spark plugs themselves are also quite cheap; a non-racing set shouldn’t set you back more than $30. Instructions are easy to follow, and readily available on the internet. Just make sure you replace them one at a time, so you don’t get the wires in the wrong sequence. So, if you replace the plugs yourself, you can expect to save a good amount of money.


Replace The Battery

Got a dead battery? There’s no need to call out your mechanic, and using your road service plan is fine if all you need is to get the car Jump started. Batteries usually last between four and six years, so there’s a good chance that at some point, yours will stop working and you’ll need to replace it. Service centers and the road service companies charge often charge as much as $200 to replace a battery, but given that batteries themselves are often only cost around $100 or so, you may be paying as much as $100, or more, for a service you could quite easily do yourself.


You’ll need a few tools to perform the replacement, which you probably already have. First, you’ll need the appropriate wrenches for undoing the mounting bolts. And secondly - and perhaps most importantly - you’ll need to be careful about the order in which you disconnect the cables running to the battery. You must remove the black, negative cable first when taking the battery out. And you must replace the same cable last when installing the new battery. If you don’t, you risk shorting out the electrics in your car.


Install New Brake Pads

If your brake pads have worn out, you’ll hear a whining or scraping sound every time you depress the brake pedal. Driving with worn brake pads will eventually cause wear to the brake rotor, something which is much more expensive to replace.


To replace worn brake pads, you’ll need a jack, some jack stands, a wheel lug wrench, a set of basic wrenches and some pliers. You should always replace both front or rear pads at the same time. First, jack up the car and place jack stands underneath it to prevent it from coming down on you. Then take one wheel off, pull out the caliper, remove the worn pads and replace them with the new ones. Then you replace the caliper, making sure that it’s connected to the mounting hardware correctly. Then repeat the process for the other front or back wheel.


A mechanic would usually charge around $250 or more for this job. However, new brake pads only cost around $30 - $50, meaning that you could easily save more than $200 if you do the work yourself. Your new pads should last about 50,000 miles, depending on how much hard braking you do.


We hope you find this information helpful, and that you can save money maintaining your new Citi Auto Group car.