Owning a set of wheels is a very liberating feeling because you get to travel far and wide.
No longer being limited by where you can go and relying on public transport, having a personal vehicle is a great thing. However, it hardly stops when you purchase it and become the owner. Just like anything else in your possession, the fact that you have a car means that you have to care for it. It is a responsibility just like everything else, perhaps even more so. There are numerous things that can go wrong with a car and that is just basic maintenance and cleaning, a reality that implies that every driver knows their way around their vehicle at least to a degree.
With that in mind, we are talking about basic maintenance that every person should be able to do completely on their own. More particularly, in this article we are focusing on one car manufacturer and how to properly take care of their models, the iconic Japanese giant Toyota.
As one of the most widespread and recognizable manufacturer of vehicles on the planet, their models can be found in all corners of the globe. This means that it is a good idea to spread the word on how best to perform all the little maintenance tasks that can be done by anyone willing enough to learn them. Read on to find out more about this. Once you learn this, you will be ready to perform larger fixes, even those that require the use of genuine Toyota parts.
1. Cleaning and Washing
The maintenance of any vehicle starts with proper washing and cleaning practices. No car will last you for over a decade and remain in mint condition unless you give it the basic care it needs. This means that you should wash its exterior and clean its interior regularly.
Your Toyota will appreciate it especially if you are using it every day and rely on it for everything from commuting and grocery shopping to weekend trips and leisure rides. If you have a car, it means you have somewhere to keep it. A parking space will do just fine as there is no need for a full driveway. Get some car soap, a gentle sponge, a hose, and a bucket. Wash the exterior until it is spotless and then cover the car with protective wax or another detailing product. Vacuum the inside including the trunk, use air fresheners in the cabin, and both you and the car will be better off. You will spend less than what you would pay a carwash in the long run.
2. Dealing with the Oil
It does not get more basic than performing your own oil changes on the Toyota you drive.
It is a dirty task, but one that will connect you more with the vehicle and allow you to spend less on mechanics. Knowing the machine you drive daily is important and this is the first step. Changing the oil every 3,000 is the general rule of thumb, but you could do it once every 5,000 miles if the car is in good shape and if the dipstick shows the quality is ok.
It goes without saying that you should buy the right oil for your Toyota. Regarding other tools, you will need an oil filter wrench, an oil pan, a ratchet, and a funnel. It takes around half an hour to do it. The car needs to be cool as you do not want to handle hot oil and risk damaging the tools or burning yourself. With every oil change, clean the oil filter with a cleaning kit.
3. Changing the Spark Plugs
If you learn how to replace the spark plugs on your Toyota completely by yourself, you will not only save a lot of money but become a better amateur mechanic in the process. The best thing about it is that it is quite easy to do. You need a spark plug for every cylinder your car has, so either 4, 6 or 8. They need replacing every 30,000 miles, which is important for those who drive hundreds of miles each day for work or pleasure.
Consult your official Toyota manual to learn the right gap size for the plug. The most important thing to make sure of is to never unhook all the spark plugs at once. Change one at a time and only move on when you completely finish the previous. Tools you will need include a ratchet, a 12-inch socket arm, and spark plug sockets. It will take you half an hour the first time, and around 20 minutes every other time. First time is always the hardest, but the very next time you will already be faster.
4. Maintaining the Battery
If there was the third thing to go along with the oil and the spark plugs that can round up a trio of basic Toyota care maintenance, it would have to be the battery. Nobody likes to handle electricity because it can harm us if we know not what needs doing. This fear prevents many a driver from ever touching their own car’s battery. But fear not since it can never harm you as long as you disconnect it properly. Always do the negative node first and you will be fine maintaining the battery on your trusty Toyota.
If your car is to run smoothly and handle the wear and tear of everyday use, the battery connection must remain strong. You can tell if it needs cleaning by simply visually inspecting it from time to time. The enemy is the crunchy white residue that tends to build up as you drive the car. It can prevent the car from starting right, reduce the overall lifetime of the battery, and cause other starting components to fail and require fixing.
Prepare a rag, a wire brush, a wrench and a corrosion removal solution. Cleaning should last about 20 minutes, less if you make a habit of it and never allow buildup.