Make us your home page

Some auto maintenance tasks are still DIY

There's no argument: Cars and trucks are getting more complicated. It's to the point where any professional mechanic who doesn't want to fall behind has to undergo frequent training, not only on general procedures, but on repairs that are specific to certain makes and models. That makes it increasingly tough to do your own maintenance. But a novice can still handle several tasks. Here are a few, and some sources for helpful how-to information:

Changing oil: Even this isn't as easy as it used to be. I changed my own oil for years, but we now own a car that requires a special tool to reach the filter. It's so much trouble that I've admitted defeat and let the dealer do it. On most vehicles, though, it still comes under a do-it-yourself heading.

At, there's a video that takes four minutes to watch, but if you can do a complete, proper oil change that quickly, you could get a job on a NASCAR crew. Watch it here: change-own-oil.html. Also, has an eight-page tutorial here:

Changing a car battery: This one isn't as easy as it used to be (though it took a search party to find the battery in my old Chevrolet Corvette). Batteries can be located in several different places, as designers search for optimum weight placement, cooling and the best use of available space.

Your owner's manual should help you locate it, if it isn't in plain sight, like batteries used to be. Keep in mind, if you are buying a new battery, many sales outlets offer free installation. Keep in mind, too, that with some vehicles, disconnecting the battery can cause the radio to lose its "code," which is an antitheft measure. The code must be programmed back into the radio after the change, discouraging a thief who presumably knows that your radio is coded before he steals it.

If you still want to change your own battery — or at least know how it's done — has a tutorial here: Another good one is at 6003187.

As with any mechanical undertaking, be careful, and if you think you're getting in over your head, get some help.

Tires: Of all the minor maintenance you do on your vehicle, at the absolute top of your list should be checking, and maintaining, your tire pressure. Proper pressure recommendations are found in the owner's manual or on the driver's doorjamb of the car, not on the tire, which typically just lists the maximum allowable pressure. The wrong pressure can severely shorten tire life, can cause excessive heat buildup — which can result in a blowout — and can cut fuel mileage.

Check your tires' pressure at least once a month, and while you are down there, look for wear — both normal (the tire is wearing evenly across the tread) and abnormal (certain parts of the tire seem to be wearing more than others. If you see that, consult a professional.). You'll need a gauge, preferably a good digital one, available from an auto parts store.

The website has a tutorial: The site also has a link to a video that helps walk you through the process. Over time, all tires lose air, so you can't afford to put this off for long.

Some auto maintenance tasks are still DIY 08/26/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 26, 2010 2:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Orlando Sentinel.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate


    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Seminole Heights restaurants face struggles amid killings, post-Irma

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The neighborhood's hip circle of popular, well-regarded restaurants is feeling the squeeze in the wake of a recent killing spree. And the timing is rough.

    Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe has been taking precautions in light of the Seminole Heights killings: keeping the lights on all night and having employees walk to their cars in groups.
  3. St. Pete-Clearwater holding food, supply drive for hurricane refugees


    CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are holding a food and supply drive for the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pinellas County. The event, which will benefit refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria, will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the airport at 14700 Terminal Blvd.

    St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are hosting a food and supplies drive Tuesday for refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria. | [Times file photo]
  4. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]
  5. Estuary wins pier design contest for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — And the winner is… Estuary.

    Voters overwhelmingly supported a pier design called Estuary for the $200-million extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.
[Courtesy of AECOM]