How to Maintain a Vehicle

Lack of time is often cited as the main excuse for neglecting vehicle maintenance. Between work, family, and various obligations, we often forget to spare a few minutes for simple maintenance tasks that don’t necessarily require a mechanic’s expertise.

But What if Time Weren’t an Issue?

You don’t need to be a mechanic or electrician to take pleasure in maintaining your car. A little technical know-how is all that’s required. Additionally, there are strict legal limits set for hobbyists working on motor vehicles for safety reasons, which must not be exceeded. DO IT YOURSELF: yes, but not everything Each country has legal guidelines determining what work can be done on motor vehicles and by whom. In Germany, for instance, all repairs and servicing must be performed by certified workshops. Exempt from this rule are tasks like washing cars at designated places, refueling, changing oil, replacing air and oil filters, or topping up coolant, provided that air pollution control and waste disposal standards are followed. Besides these, there are still numerous ways to care for your vehicle’s body and interior, often with satisfying results.

Starting with Tires and Engine Oil :

To build confidence and interest in working on your car, start with the most basic and cost-effective checks. These can prevent serious and expensive damage. This includes checking tire pressure and ensuring all four tires (and the spare, if present) have sufficient tread.

It’s crucial to regularly top up certain fluids, starting with engine oil. Engine oil should be changed every 15,000 to 30,000 kilometers, or every 12 to 18 months for average drivers. A small red oil can light is among the most critical warning signals in a car. It illuminates when the oil needs changing. However, don’t wait for this sign; instead, adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended intervals. Many workshops place a sticker in the car indicating the mileage at which the next oil change is due, a reminder not to be overlooked, especially by those who primarily make short trips. Infrequent driving without reaching optimal operating temperatures places more strain on the oil, causing it to degrade faster.

Checking the Oil Level is Simple :

Adding engine oil is straightforward, as the cap is large, clearly visible, and easily accessible. However, it’s important not to overfill, as this could damage the engine, beginning with the blockage of the airbox, which stabilizes the engine’s intake air. There’s no need to fill to the brim; the ideal level is shown on the dipstick, which should be wiped, reinserted, and checked several times for accuracy.

Time for a Change :

Performing a complete oil change is slightly more complex. The oil pan’s plug is only easily accessible when the car is on a lift in a workshop. However, with some effort, you can unscrew the plug yourself by lying down under the vehicle. Essential for this are a high-quality wrench to avoid damaging the screw head and ensuring the car is on a level surface for complete drainage.

Warm up the car first. Then, place an oil drip pan underneath, open the engine compartment’s oil cap, crawl under the car, open the oil drain plug, and let the warm oil drain. Next, remove the oil filter and clean the sealing surface underneath with a cloth and some cleaner. Apply new grease to the oil filter’s contact surfaces and screw it back on, then tighten the oil drain screw. Finally, add new oil and let the engine run for about five minutes. After waiting two more minutes, check the oil level again.

Responsible Waste Disposal :

Remember, used motor oil is legally considered hazardous waste. If not disposed of correctly, it poses a significant environmental hazard. For instance, four kilos of motor oil can contaminate an area the size of a football field if poured into water. Generally, sellers and workshops that sell oil must accept the same quantity of used oil in return. Thus, when buying new oil, you can hand in the old oil directly. Keep the receipt if returning used oil later. Regardless of where it’s purchased, used oil can also be taken to local recycling centers, usually with a maximum delivery limit of five to seven liters. Those returning used oil without a purchase may be charged a fee, both in stores and at recycling centers, typically ranging from one to three euros per liter.

Used oil filters and other oil-containing waste should also be disposed of at stores or recycling centers.


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