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Car maintenance you can do yourself

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Let's face it: cars break down a lot. Unfortunately, even the most minor of car troubles leave us stranded, forced to pay expensive mechanic bills. It may surprise you to learn that, with a little know-how, even the most inexperienced of handymen can fix some of the most common auto complaints. So the next time your car encounters any of these problems, you tackle them yourself.

Replace the battery
Next time your old or worn car battery gives up the ghost, you needn't call the mechanic. Changing a car battery requires a few key tools, including a replacement battery, wrench, and a pair of sturdy gloves. After ensuring that your keys are removed from the ignition, loosen the bolts affixing the two terminals to the battery, making sure to disconnect the negative terminal first. Once both terminals have been detached, remove any other bolts or clamps holding the battery in place and take it out. Finally, replace it with fresh battery and reconnect the bolts, clamps and terminals.

Oil change
Believe it or not, many drivers don't know how to perform an oil change -- the simplest of all car maintenance tasks. Regular oil changes are imperative to keeping your car running smoothly, with most car manufacturers recommending a change every 3,000 to 7,000 miles.

To perform an oil change, use a wrench to loosen the drain plug, which is usually located at the rear of the engine. Before you do, be sure to place a pan or newspaper underneath the drain plug to catch the draining oil. Next, use your car's manual to locate the filter, remove it from the engine and replace it with a new one if necessary. Finally, you can add new oil to the car at the fill hole, but be sure to check the owner's manual for the recommended oil capacity.

Headlights
Broken or malfunctioning headlights occur frequently. Thankfully, replacing headlight bulbs is usually an extremely simply procedure that requires no tools whatsoever. Prop the hood up and locate the bulb holder at the back of the headlight. You should find a plastic catch or metal clip, which can be removed by hand. Remove the bulb from its base, replace it with a fresh one and place the catch or clip back to its original position.