5 Free Maintenance Tasks You Should Never Hire a Mechanic to Do
Everyone loves free stuff. But not everyone knows there are many automotive maintenance jobs you might be able to have done for free. So before you fork your hard-earned cash over to a mechanic, check out our list of free car and truck maintenance tasks.
#5 – Check engine light diagnostics
So you were driving along the other day and your check engine light came on. You moaned out loud, thought I hope this won’t be expensive, and booked an appointment with your mechanic to check it out. Bad idea! Instead, pull into the nearest auto parts store and ask if they have a “check engine light reader” (also called an OBD scanner). They’ll probably be happy to walk out to your car and use a handheld computer to “read” your check engine light. Write down the “code” they give you, and go Google it yourself.
#4 – Installation of light bulbs, windshield wipers, batteries, etc.
That same parts store will do a lot of odd jobs for free–if you buy the parts from them. So if you have a headlight out, a battery dying, or dry and cracked windshield wiper blades, don’t go to your mechanic. Instead, try asking your local parts store if they do free installations. Once you buy the replacement parts you need, the salesperson will be happy to swap out your worn components for free. The Readers’ Digest points out that this is especially helpful with small tasks because many auto shops have a minimum labor rate when you bring your vehicle in.
#3 – Tire punctures
Here’s where you have to read the fine print. If you bought aftermarket tires for your car or truck, your tire shop may warranty your new rubber against blowouts–and even punctures. So if you do suffer tire damage, call your tire shop before your mechanic and see if you can’t get a patch or new tire for free. Do beware that certain less-than-honest shops have been caught recommending unnecessary suspension “repairs” when a customer comes in with a warrantied tire failure. It is never a bad idea to get a second opinion.
#2 – Recalled repairs
When a large number of vehicles malfunction, automakers must issue “recalls.” When owners bring affected cars into any dealership, the automaker will pay the dealer’s technicians to replace the faulty components. This can be as small a job as swapping a door latch that cracks over time, to replacing an entire truck frame that’s prone to rust. It’s wise to search your make and model to check for outstanding recalls. You can also call your local dealership and read them your VIN to see if your car or truck has already had said repairs completed.
#1 – Catalytic converter replacement
In certain instances, automakers are required to warranty emissions equipment for the lifetime of a vehicle. This is because the government does not want cars with faulty emissions equipment on the road. So if you are about to replace part of your exhaust, do a little research before you spend money on parts and labor: the dealership may complete this job for free.
Next, find out five “car hacks” using household items to repair your car.