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European car ownership is more than just looking and feeling good while driving down the road. Proper maintenance goes a long way toward extending the life and condition of any vehicle, and it’ll save you those precious dollars as the car ages. But that’s not the only way to save money. Performing diagnostics and maintenance yourself will also make your ownership much easier on your wallet, saving you thousands. We understand that better than most and are here to offer more than just the parts used to keep your vehicle running. Follow the guides below to get more involved in your everyday vehicle maintenance; from simple to involved, there’s one for everyone!

 

Low Lift Guides

This is the place to start if you’re new to the maintenance game. None of these require a technical skill set, and they’ll all help your ownership experience. From washing to diagnosing, here are a few easy lifts. 

5 Reasons Your Check Engine Light Is On & What To Do Next

A check engine light isn’t the end of the world, but it generally isn’t good either. At the very least, your engine computer has detected a potential problem somewhere in the vehicle that will or does need attention. The easiest way to determine your next steps is by reading the engine computer with a scan tool to find out where the problem lies. Follow along with this guide to learn what to do and how to handle the issue if/when it arises.

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How To Wash Your Car With The Two Bucket Method

Washing your car may be something everyone knows how to do in theory, but even some of the seemingly most experienced could be missing a crucial few of the best steps to follow. Most commonly, owners will use a single bucket to wash the car, choosing to soap and rinse a rag in it. However, any washing device will have dirt, grit, and grime after scrubbing the vehicle’s surface. Failing to use another bucket and a few other items can result in your clean soapy water being the cause for all of the scratches and swirl marks that have since appeared. Save your car’s paint finish by washing along with the steps in this guide. 

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How To Change The Battery In Your Key Fob

For the last couple of decades, physical keys have fallen out of favor as the rise of push-button starts has become the norm. In the key’s place is the fob, acting as the tool to get in and the electronic device that allows the car to be started. However, it only functions correctly when its battery has life. A dead fob battery renders the fob essentially useless, and that can leave you stranded. Although they may seem pretty complicated, fobs are meant to be split open for battery replacements. Stop ignoring the low-fob-battery warnings on your instrument cluster; read this guide and replace the battery in just a few minutes.

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Mid Lift Guides

If you’ve already mastered the quick stuff and are looking to get a little more involved in how your car operates, look at these guides. More-informed decisions and diagnoses will allow you to take better care of your car. 

How To Choose The Best Brake Pads For Your Car

Brake pads are far more involved than you may realize. Yes, every modern car uses them, but the plethora of materials, heat ranges, and levels of aggression can make choosing the right pad a daunting task. Instead of taking advice from a random stranger on the internet, read this guide thoroughly. With the help of our motorsport engineers, we’ve put together the basics and specifics of brake pads. By the end, you’ll have the confidence and correct information to choose your perfect pad.

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How To Diagnose A Failing Alternator v.s. A Failing Battery

Electrical issues are a hot topic these days. As our vehicles rely more and more on the power of electrons, the stronger the health of the battery and charging system needs to be. Unfortunately, electrical issues can be tricky to pinpoint without the proper diagnosis and can leave you replacing parts on a whim just to solve the issue. The most common are battery and alternator issues, but their partially overlapping symptoms will trip you up. Instead of throwing your wallet at the problem, use this guide to save yourself the headache and the cash.

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High Lift Guides

If you’ve tackled brake jobs and oil changes but want something more involved, these could be for you. Engine health is as essential as other areas, but because of their complexity, they aren’t as fiddled with by the DIY’er. Luckily, we have a few guides that are the perfect place to start. The two below will get you active and investing in your engine’s performance without any significant work. You’ll be able to learn about the engine as you move along, potentially improving your car in the process.

How To Clean The Carbon Off Your Intake Valve With A Walnut Blaster

Direct fuel injection has been the go-to for fuel systems in the last two decades. Its highly advanced design has allowed manufacturers to improve power and fuel efficiency without radical changes to the internal combustion engine's operation. However, it’s also created an issue not seen on older vehicles. Without fuel flowing over the intake valves, carbon builds up on them, eventually restricting airflow into the engine, which causes poor performance and fuel economy. Cleaning the valves isn’t a quick process, but it’s certainly doable in a DIY setting, and we’re here to provide the tools and show you how to do it. 

 

How To Perform A Compression And Leakdown Test

All engines are essentially air pumps. The more air in and out, the more fuel you can use and the bigger the bang you’ll get in the combustion chamber. A large part of that process is compressing the fuel/air mixture just before the spark plug ignites it. There needs to be a tight air seal inside the engine for it to work correctly, but that isn’t always the case. An engine could leak air for several reasons, causing lost power and poor fuel economy. While the repair process may be involved, the tests you can and should run to help you diagnose the issue aren’t. Click the link above, grab the few tools, and read along with the guide to perform some of the most telling tests you can run on an engine.

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With these seven guides, you’re all set to take on a more involved stance in your European ownership experience. If you manage to use them all or are looking for something else, head over to the DIY Blog and our YouTube channel for even more content geared toward helping you keep your ride in tip-top shape! 


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Written by :
Christian Schaefer

Car and motorsports-obsessed writer/editor for FCP Euro's DIY Blog. Constantly dreaming of competing behind the wheel or searching for another project. Owner of a turbo Subaru Forester and a ratty Porsche 914, neither of which are running.


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