How To Maintain Your Car at Home

man pouring oil into a car engine with a funnel
  • 2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 120
What You'll Need
Car jack
Tire gauge
Tire patch
Jumper cables
Cracker boxes
Hot glue
Essential oil

When cars aren't seeing much action, they can get out of shape, just like people. Make sure you’re keeping up on vehicular maintenance and tackling few basics in order to keep everything moving smoothly. Taking your car for a spin at least once a week and keeping your tank at least half full.

The Basics

Even when the world is running in slow motion, it’s important to make sure you car is getting the care it needs. If you’re due for an oil change and your local shops are closed, don’t worry—an oil change is an easy DIY. You’ll need to purchase six quarts of good oil, have a funnel on hand, and have access to a car jack. Use this handy oil changing guide to knock it out in an afternoon.

If you have a hole in your tire and need to tide yourself over until a shop opens up, you can patch or plug your tires in a few quick steps. You’ll need a tire gauge, a patch or plug, a jack and—of course—this super simple patching guide.

car tire with screw in it and patch kit

You can also use this time to get prepared for other basic car care needs by creating a car care kit. These kits are full of car basics and can be easily assembled and kept in the trunk of a car in case of an emergency.

It never hurts to boost your self-reliance, because you never know when you’ll end up a creek without a paddle—or up a road without your jumper cables.

The Details

While you and your car are getting a little R&R, it can be a good time to go in for the deep clean. Even if your local carwashes aren't operational, you can still give the wheels a good washing in your driveway.

To wash your car windows, make a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water. Apply liberally to the glass, and use a microfiber cloth to scrub away dirt, dust, and streaks. Let the solution dry and soak up any remaining streaks with the rag.

This same solution can be used to clean the interior of the car. If you have lots of little fingerprints to scrub though, you may want to add a tablespoon of dish soap to the concoction to give it extra cleaning power.

vacuuming the interior of a car

Other great interior cleaning hacks include skipping the gas station and using a shop vac to detail the inside of your car, washing the floor rugs with Fels Naptha soap, and using an old toothbrush and some baking soda to get the grime off of your console and dash. You can also use the time to organize your car and clean out your trunk.

The Extra Mile

After you’ve detailed your car and taken a spin or two around the block, go the extra DIY mile with a few simple hacks to keep your wheels happy.

For an almost effortless car air freshener, you’ll need essential oils and clothespins. Take a clothespin and add three to five drops of oil to the end. Then clip it on your vent so the smells circulate as you drive.

Take this from effortless to effortful by mixing up your own scent concoction with the oils or painting a fun design on your clothespin. The smell will wear off after a few days, so keep the oils in your car so you can add a few more drops on your next drive.

essential oil jar hanging in a car

You can keep the good times rolling with a simple car organization DIY that will help you keep your vehicle tidy when you finally hit the road again. Gather up old cracker boxes from around the house and find one that would easily work as storage in a trunk or a trashcan in a car. Even small boxes are handy for storing all the little things that go clunk and bump in the trunk.

Start by painting the inside of the box. Then take the boxes and use rope and hot glue to cover the outside of the box. Start at a bottom corner and make a small trail of hot glue along the bottom of the box. Place the rope in the glue and continue the process, wrapping the rope around the entire box. These reinforced boxes are a durable addition to any car's stuff containment system.