DIY Car Maintenance Tips for Students: Keeping Your Vehicle in Shape on a Budget

By August 9, 2023Auto News, General

Returning to school brings a plethora of challenges, from juggling course loads to managing tight budgets. For many students, having a reliable vehicle is essential to navigate between home, school, and part-time jobs. However, car maintenance can be a strain on a student’s wallet. Fear not, for with a little bit of hands-on work and some knowledge, you can keep your vehicle running smoothly without depleting your savings. Here are some DIY car maintenance tips tailored for students.

  1. Regular Oil Checks and Changes

One of the fundamental aspects of car maintenance is monitoring and changing the oil. Regular oil changes prevent the engine from premature wear and keep it running efficiently. While mechanics might charge a good amount for this service, doing it yourself can save a considerable sum. Purchase the correct grade of oil and a quality filter, then follow a trusted tutorial to get the job done.

  1. Air Filter Replacement

Replacing the car’s air filter is one of the simplest and most effective ways to enhance fuel efficiency and performance. A clogged filter can lead to decreased gas mileage, so it’s best to change it every 12,000 miles or once a year. Pick up a replacement filter from an auto parts store, pop the hood, and swap it out in minutes.

  1. Keep an Eye on Tire Pressure

Tire pressure plays a crucial role in fuel efficiency, tire longevity, and safety. Invest in an affordable tire pressure gauge and check the pressure at least once a month. Fill up with air for free at most gas stations if needed. This simple step can save you from the expenses of replacing worn-out tires prematurely.

  1. Battery Maintenance

A dead battery on the morning of an important exam is a nightmare scenario. To avoid this, regularly check the battery terminals for corrosion. A simple mixture of baking soda and water can clean off any build-up. Additionally, ensure that the battery connections are secure. If your battery is more than four years old, consider testing its health or replacing it as a preventive measure.

  1. Check and Replace Brake Pads

Brakes are a vital safety feature. If you start hearing a squealing sound or the car takes longer to stop, it might be time to check the brake pads. While this task is a bit more involved, with the right tools and guidance, it’s feasible for a determined DIYer. It’s also considerably cheaper than paying for a professional replacement.

  1. Regularly Clean and Wax Your Car

Not only does a clean car look better, but regular cleaning also preserves the car’s paint and finish. Using a proper car wash soap, clean your car once every couple of weeks and consider applying a wax coat every few months. This will protect the paint from sun damage, bird droppings, and other potential hazards.

  1. Keep Up with Fluid Levels

Apart from engine oil, a car relies on various other fluids like coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and transmission fluid. Periodically, pop the hood and check these levels using the dipsticks or reservoir indicators. Top off any that are low, and if you notice a consistent drop in a particular fluid, it might indicate a leak that needs attention.

  1. Familiarize Yourself with the Owner’s Manual

Your car’s owner’s manual is a treasure trove of information. Familiarize yourself with its contents to understand your vehicle’s specific maintenance needs and timelines. This will also help you diagnose and troubleshoot minor issues before they escalate.


Being a student comes with its own set of financial challenges. However, with a proactive approach and the willingness to get your hands a little dirty, car maintenance doesn’t have to be a significant burden. By following the above DIY tips, students can ensure their vehicle remains a reliable mode of transportation throughout their academic journey. Remember, investing a bit of time and effort now can prevent hefty repair bills in the future.

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