Air Filter Replacement
Duration: 15 minutes
How often: Every 15,000 miles
Changing the air filter should be part of any tune-up. Change it every 15,000 miles or once a year. If you live in an especially dusty or dirty area, change it more often.
Air filter test:
Shine a flashlight from the inside out of your air filter. If you can't see any light or very little light, it needs to be replaced. Change the breather filter and check the PCV at the same time. On most cars, this is a fairly simple procedure.
Things you'll need from your garage or your local NAPA AUTO PARTS Store:
Adjustable or open-end wrench
New air filter
New breather filter (if so equipped)
Step 1Look under the hood and find the air filter housing.
It will likely be square (on fuel-injected engines) or round (on older carbureted engines) and about 12 in. (30 cm.) in diameter. On older vehicles, it will be in a large round housing on the top of the engine. On newer vehicles, it will be on the end of the large black intake hose opposite the engine mounted on one of the fender wells.
Step 2Remove screws or clamps.
Use a screwdriver to remove the screws or clamps that hold on the top of the housing. If you have an older vehicle with the round air filter housing, remove the wing nut holding the air filter cover and any other clips.
Step 3Remove the old air filter.
Take out the old air filter and clean any dirt and debris from the housing with a clean rag. Be careful that none falls into the carburetor or the intake. Remove the breather filter.
Step 4Install the new air and breather filters.
Replace the air cleaner top. Reinstall the attaching hardware and air intake hose (if applicable).
When the air filter is out, you should replace the PCV filter as well. It should only take 5 minutes.
Duration: 10–30 minutes
How often: Every 3–5 years
If you need to jump start your car in the morning, it might be time for a new battery. You can bring your car to a NAPA AutoCare Center for a new battery or you can change it yourself.
Changing a car battery is a relatively easy job that can be accomplished with only a few tools. However, some vehicles’ batteries are located in tough-to-service areas such as under the front fender, under the rear seat or in the trunk. If this is the case, consider having it changed at your local NAPA AutoCare Center.
Your battery supplies the electrical current necessary to start the engine. It also provides necessary power to the electrical components and accessories even when the vehicle's engine isn't running. The battery also acts as voltage stabilizer for the whole electrical system.
Things you’ll need from your garage or your local NAPA AUTO PARTS Store:
Battery terminal cleaning brush
Proper tools to remove the battery terminals and hold-down
Step 1Buy a replacement battery for your car.
You must know the make and model of your car to make the correct purchase. It also helps to know your battery’s BCI number. Car batteries come in different sizes, construction types, CCA (cold cranking AMPS) and ampere hour ratings. You want the replacement battery to match the original battery as closely as possible.
Step 2Open the hood of your car, using the prop rod to hold it in place.
Locate the car battery and identify the positive and negative terminals. Positive terminals are labeled with a “+” or color-coded red. Negative terminals are labeled with a “-” or color-coded black. Loosen the bolt that holds the negative terminal and remove the negative cable first. Next, remove the positive cable.
Step 3Unscrew the battery hold down clamp.
Lift the battery and remove it from the car. Inspect the battery terminal clamps. Clean and replace them if necessary.
Step 4Clean the battery tray.
Use plenty of fresh water or a mixture of baking soda and water. Wait for the terminal clamps and the battery tray to dry before installing the new battery.
Step 5Clean all corrosion from your battery.
Corrosion can be cleaned off using a stiff brush and a baking soda/water solution. After removing the corrosion, rinse off the battery with water. Clean the battery tray by wiping it out with moist paper towels and mild detergent. NAPA AUTO PARTS stores carry anti-corrosive battery spray. Use this to prevent future corrosion.
Step 6Place the new battery into the battery tray.
Make sure the positive and negative terminals are on the correct sides, and then install the battery hold-down. Reattach and tighten the positive cable first before reattaching the negative cable.
Step 7Start your car.
Verify that the installation is complete and the cables are securely attached to the battery posts. Release the prop rod and close the hood of your car securely.
Step 8Dispose of the old battery properly.
Car batteries contain highly toxic material and cannot be thrown out with your garbage. You can dispose car batteries at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store or NAPA AutoCare Center.
Wear gloves whenever working with batteries and follow all safety precautions listed in your owner’s manual.
Your battery and charging system or alternator should be inspected at least once a year at your local NAPA AutoCare Center.
Neutralize any electrolyte spills or corrosion with a solution of baking soda and water.
Always remove the negative terminal first.
Protect your eyes with safety glasses when changing a car battery.
Never touch a metal tool across the battery terminal or from the positive post to any other metal on the car. Heeding this advice will help prevent large sparks and damage.
Extinguish all smoking materials and open flames. Be cautious about creating any electrical sparks around the battery.
Difficulty: Moderately difficult
Duration: May take several hours
How often: Every 60,000–100,000 miles, check owner’s manual
One out of every five vehicles on the road needs a new belt. Our NAPA Know How guide helps you through the steps necessary for proper diagnosis.
The introduction of the Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) belts in the late 1990's have made wear detection harder than when the Neoprene belts were used. Still, there are indicators to look for that signal it’s time for a new belt.
Step 1Perform preventative maintenance.
One way to make sure your belts are up to par is to schedule a belt replacement during a routine checkup. If a belt has 65,000 to 70,000 miles on it and your vehicle is already in the shop, go ahead and replace the belts. The technician should also check the condition of the automatic belt tensioner to ensure that the new belt is properly tensioned.
Step 2Look for visual signs.
Some of the visual signs that indicate it’s time for belt replacement are abrasion/misalignment, cracking, glazing or pilling.
Abrasion/misalignment: The nylon on your belt is essential. If there are any tears, they may cause misalignment and your belt won’t work properly. If the belt is misaligned and slipping, you will hear unusual noise or feel vibrations.
Cracking: With Neoprene belts, it was common to look for three cracks in three inches, as a rule that the belt's life was over and it needed to be replaced.
The new EPDM belts are built to resist cracking, making it harder to notice wear at first glance. With EPDM belts, look for rubber loss that’s similar to how a tire wears out over time. The loss of just 5% of the belt material can cause the ribs of the belt to "bottom out" on the pulley(s). This accelerates belt wear and causes it to slip, which may affect the water pump, alternator or air conditioning compressor performance.
Glazing: The belt is hard at work bending and flexing against a pulley, producing heat that causes its rubber to harden over time. If the belt gets loose, the added friction makes it hotter. This causes glazing and makes the belt slip more.
Pilling: As your belt ages, it loses material that can build up in the belt grooves. This can contribute to a lack of tension, misalignment and worn pulleys.
Step 3Make smart repair decisions.
If your vehicle is in the shop for another repair such as a water pump, alternator, or other belt drive accessory component, be sure to have the belt replaced. Depending on the vehicle, you can often save money, as the labor for belt replacement may be included in the labor for accessory.
Step 4Know that two major causes of belt failure are improper tension and misalignment.
Vehicles using a single serpentine belt often use an automatic belt tensioning system. This system is designed to apply a constant force on a belt. The tensioner compensates for belt length changes due to wear or load changes within the system.
The tensioner and associated pulleys should always be checked for wear when changing the belt. Tensioners normally fail at the same rate as belts fail.
Replacing your belts
If you would like to replace your car belt or belts yourself, follow these steps:
1. Mark the rotation direction on the belt.
2. Unload the belt from the tensioner by rotating the tensioner.
3. Remove the old tensioner from the engine (if the tensioner is being replaced).
4. Install the new tensioner.
5. Torque the mounting bolts to 1/3 installation torque in a star pattern.
6. Retighten the bolts to 2/3 torque, then to full torque.
7. Install the belt in the same direction as the old belt.
8. Load the belt on the tensioner by rotating the tensioner as indicated (see rotate to load pointer).
9. Tighten the belt until the pointer falls between the two marks.
10. The gauge window, showing the maximum and minimum marks, is located on an area between the base and arm of the tensioner assembly.
The performance of your accessories is directly affected by the condition of your belts. Just a 5% loss of material can affect component performance.
Never use belt dressing or any type of substance to coat the belt. Contamination from applying a substance on the belt will adversely affect belt life.
There are no serviceable parts inside a tensioner. The entire assembly must be replaced.
When re-installing a belt, clean the pulley groves. Dirt or paint on the pulleys may cause belt noise.
A belt failure affects the driveability of the vehicle, leaving the passengers stranded until a new belt is installed.
Check Fluid Levels
Duration: 5-10 minutes
How often: See each case below
To keep your vehicle running smoothly, it’s important to check fluid levels regularly. It only takes a few minutes to check each one. Follow the steps below, but if you have any questions, please contact your nearest NAPA AutoCare Center.
Coolant should be changed every 30,000 miles or every two years as a general rule. Check your owner’s manual to see what is recommended for your vehicle.
Step 1Locate the coolant reservoir under the hood of the car. See your owner’s manual for the exact location. Some cars only have an exposed cap.
Step 2Check the fluid level. On the side of the reservoir, there are markings that show fluid levels. If the level of the liquid is low, add more of the proper coolant mix.
Checking Battery Level:
Most batteries have a three-to-five-year life span, but they can last longer with maintenance, including checking their fluid level.
Step 1Look for the battery’s condition indicator, a visible window on the top of the battery that changes color.
Red: Add distilled water
White: Needs charge
Check your owner’s manual or label on the battery for further information. The condition indicator should not be the only test done to determine if the battery is serviceable.
Step 2If the battery needs more fluid, pour in a little at a time until the level reaches the top of the battery grids. Do not overfill. Always use distilled water, not tap or filtered water, to avoid contamination.
Certain batteries (maintenance-free) are sealed, and it is not possible to add fluid to them.
Not all batteries are in the same place. Some batteries are located under the rear seat, in the trunk or in the front inner fender.
Any time a battery is serviced, safety gloves, eye protection and fender protection should be used to prevent injury and paint from being damaged.
Under normal driving conditions, you should change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Consult your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s specific needs.
Step 1Park your car on level ground, turn the engine off and remove the keys.
Step 2Open the hood of your car and secure it with the prop rod. Locate the dipstick; it’s usually labeled “Oil.”
Step 3Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean. Return the dipstick to the tube, then remove it again and check the level of motor oil on the stick. If the level is below the minimum indicator, you need to add oil to your car.
Step 4Check the color of the oil on the dipstick. Motor oil is usually a light clear fluid but will darken under normal conditions. If the oil is black, it should be changed along with the oil filter. If the oil is light brown and milky, this could indicate a coolant leak into the crank case.
Step 5Feel the oil on the dipstick. If the oil feels gritty, change the oil.
Step 6Smell the dipstick. If the oil has an odor of gas, it could indicate that the engine, fuel system or ignition system needs to be serviced.
Checking Brake Fluid
Check your owner’s manual to determine how often you should check your brake fluid. Once a year is usually sufficient.
Step 1Find your brake fluid reservoir. They are normally located on top of the engine and are labeled.
Step 2Clean the area around the cap with an approved aerosol cleaner before removing the cap. Any particles of dirt that fall in the fluid may result in a costly service.
Step 3Open the cap and check the fluid level on the dipstick that is attached to the underside of the cap. If the fluid level is low, have the car serviced at a NAPA AutoCare Center soon because it could mean a larger problem. Never used old steering or brake fluids. Once opened and exposed to air and moisture, these fluids cannot perform the required functions and can harm the system.
Note: In some older vehicles, you need to check the master cylinder to check the fluid level. The master cylinder is a small metal box with a removable lid.
Checking Transmission Fluid:
Step 1Follow these steps to check the level of your automatic transmission fluid. Pull out the transmission fluid dipstick located at the back of the engine near the firewall. Wipe it off, replace it and pull it out again. Check the level against the markings at the bottom of the dipstick. A low level should be addressed immediately with a transmission specialist.
Step 2Check the color of the fluid; it should be clear pink. Any darkness warrants a fluid and filter change. Manual transmissions’ oil levels should be checked by a NAPA AutoCare Center when the engine oil is changed. Some vehicles no longer have a transmission dipstick and need to be checked by an automotive professional. Check your owner’s manual for details.
Caution: Always be sure you are using the correct transmission fluid. Using the wrong fluid can severely damage the unit.
Your car should be running when you check the transmission fluid level. Set the emergency brake and put the car in park when checking under the hood.
Never open the radiator cap on a hot engine. Allow it to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before opening.
Only dispose of used motor oil and filters at authorized locations.
If you prefer, bring your car to your local NAPA AutoCare Center and they can change your oil for you.
Duration: 30 minutes
How often: Every 3,000 - 5,000 miles or every 3 months
Things you'll need from your garage or your local NAPA AUTO PARTS Store:
Oil filter wrench set*
Oil catch/recycle container
New NAPA GOLD oil filter
4-5 qt. new oil**
Mechanics work gloves
*If you plan to change your oil regularly, consider investing in a small tool set, an oil filter wrench set and a quality floor jack and stands.
**Always check your owner's manual. Some vehicles take up to 15 quarts!
Step 1Park your car on a level surface and apply parking brake.
Run your engine for 5 minutes before draining oil, as warm oil drains faster than cold. Do NOT drain oil that is at full operating temperature. It will be way too hot! Remove your keys from the ignition, as some hybrid models can auto-start. To be safe, always check your owner’s manual before working on a specialty vehicle.
Step 2Jack your car up and place it on jack stands.
A jack alone will not safely support the full weight of your car. Consult your manual for the proper jacking points. The placement of a jack stand is just as important as the jack placement. The wrong placement can damage your car’s suspension or body parts.
Step 3Locate the oil drain plug and place the drain pan below.
The oil drain plug is usually near the front center of the engine, but some vehicles have more than one plug. Check your manual for the exact location. Then, loosen the plug with a socket wrench. Make sure that the drain pan is large enough to hold 4-5 quarts of oil or more. The oil drains at an angle, so position your pan to catch it.
Step 4Unscrew the plug by hand.
Remove the plug by hand. While unscrewing the plug, push it back towards the pan. This prevents oil from rushing out until you are ready to remove the plug from the hole.
Step 5Drain all oil.
To speed up the draining process, remove the filter cap located on the top of the engine and allow air to enter from the top. Check your owner’s manual for the exact location.
Step 6Replace oil plug.
Tighten the oil plug by hand so it is not cross-threaded. Once the plug is tight, finish tightening with a wrench or by hand. Always use a new drain plug gasket and never over-tighten the drain plug.
Step 7Remove existing oil filter.
Place the oil pan underneath the old filter to catch any remaining oil while unscrewing it, using an oil filter wrench. Use a rag to clean the mounting surface. Make sure that the sealing O-ring from the old filter is not stuck to the mounting surface on the engine.
Note: Some vehicles use remote mounted oil filters that may be on top or on the side of the engine.
Step 8Lubricate new filter and screw into place by hand.
Lightly coat the rubber seal of the new filter with fresh oil. It's usually not necessary to tighten the oil filter with the wrench. Refer to the filter’s instructions. Once the filter is installed, lower the car.
Step 9Clean the oil filter neck and pour in the new oil using a funnel.
Typically, you will use 4 to 5 quarts of oil, but check your manual for your vehicle’s oil capacity. Fill to three-quarters of the engine’s capacity to avoid overfilling, as there is always oil that does not drain. Then replace the cap.
Step 10Run the engine for a few minutes to make sure there are no leaks.
Check the area around the oil drain plug and the filter for any leaks. If you notice a leak, shut the engine off immediately and correct it or them. Check the dipstick afterward, and add more oil, if necessary.
Step 11Dispose of the used oil properly.
Bring your used oil to a recycling center or a NAPA AUTO PARTS store to recycle it for you. These are the only acceptable methods for oil disposal.
Read your owner's manual or see your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store specialists to ensure you are using the correct type of oil and oil filter.
You'll need to know the year, make, model and mileage of your car when you buy supplies at a NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Make sure your car is securely supported. You will need two jack stands to support the front of your car after jacking it up.
Record the date and mileage after you change the oil so you will know when your car is due for another oil change. It helps to put a small sticker on your windshield to remind you.
Handle hot motor oil with extreme caution.
Use mechanic’s gloves to keep your hands protected and clean.
Only dispose of used motor oil and filters at authorized locations.
You can always bring your car to your local NAPA AutoCare Center and they will change your oil for you.