Tech Corner: 10 Basic Skills Every Owner Should Know About Vehicle Maintenance

Tech Corner - BeginnerOwning a car can be incredibly frustrating sometimes. With gas prices, parking, insurance, and the general stress of sharing the road, simple car trouble can put us at our wit’s end. That’s why basic maintenance skills are a must. Knowing some essential how-to’s can help you keep your cool when things get hot. Those skills can also help you save hundreds of dollars in repairs. If you’re interested in learning how to avoid and handle small blunders, then here is our vehicle maintenance must-do list.

Changing a Flat Tire

All too often are people caught on the side of the road with a busted tire. Calling on roadside assistance can take a while and leave you stranded in the meantime. (Sometimes in an area where you’d rather not be.) Changing your own tire can be a real lifesaver when AAA is 2 hours out or your cellphone reception is out of range.

Rotating Tires

Tires are an expensive investment and it’s extremely aggravating to have them wear out quickly. Rotating tires is a basic procedure and can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. It can be done right at home in the driveway and is one of many must-have skills when owning a car. If you can change a flat, you can rotate tires.

Changing Oil

Oil life is something we hear about often. And while many synthetic blends have extended the time between oil changes, it’s not quite as long as you think. Having to take the car in every 3,000-5,000 miles can be tedious (and pricey). Especially when you consider how easily it can be done on your own.

Changing Antifreeze

Coolant is often left untouched and forgotten. However, this is a great area for rust and corrosion to build up within the engine’s passages. And that can lead to larger problems down the road. Yes, this job requires a bit more containment practice but is still fairly simple and can be done by anyone.

Changing Light Bulbs

You’re waiting for a “How many dudes does it take to change a lightbulb” joke here, right?

Not only can a busted headlight or taillight get you in trouble with the law, it can be quite dangerous. Changing bulbs is easy to do and doesn’t require much more skill than common sense. The hardest part is identifying what kind of bulb you need for your specific year, make, and model. And that can usually be found in your owner’s manual or with an online bulb finder.

Using a Scan Tool

Back in the day, the only way to tell exactly what was wrong with a vehicle was by using gauges and troubleshooting. Since 1996, all vehicles sold in the United States are equipped with OBDII ports. With the use of a scan tool, this port allows us to quickly tap into the diagnostics system and pinpoint the exact problem. It’s super easy to do, once you have the appropriate tool. There are even phone apps designed to work in tandem with a scan tool so you can better understand the readings, as well as track performance and monitor your car’s activity. It makes vehicle maintenance so much easier!


Paying to have a vehicle detailed can run well over $100. About the same amount it’ll cost to pick up the basic tools you need to do the job yourself. And obviously, once you have the tools, they last for more than just one job so head out to your local auto shop and stock up on Turtle Wax, Meguiars, and Mothers. Detailing doesn’t require any serious skills, and with a keen eye and some patience you’ll be on your way to a car that feels shiny and new.

Changing Spark Plugs

Spark plugs play a major role in the engine’s operation. Proper vehicle maintenance with spark plugs helps maintain engine life, fuel economy, and performance levels at a peak. This job may require you to hone your auto skills a little more than some of the other tasks on the list, but really isn’t a brain buster. Plain and simple, if you own a vehicle then you really ought to know how to change out those E3 plugs.

Changing/Charging a Battery

Trying to start your car only to find a dead battery is the automotive equivalent to stubbing your toe on the way to the shower. If you’re unsure how to charge or change a dead battery, this can become a crisis situation pretty quickly. It’s literally one of the easiest items on the list and considering the battery is such an essential part of the operating system, this is one of those vehicle maintenance tasks that you really need to know how to do…

Changing Filters

The fuel system, oil system, and air system all use filters. When they get dirty, performance can suffer quite a bit. The jobs range in difficulty, but hardly go beyond novice level. If you know how to do the job, it’s hardly worth spending the money to have someone else do it for you.

Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments!

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