TUESDAY, DEC. 18: In these tough economic times, more and more people are opting to do-it-yourself when it comes to basic automotive maintenance. As long as they know what they’re doing, it’s perfectly acceptable, and preferable to forgoing regular maintenance on your vehicle altogether.

With the holidays upon us, many people are financially stretched and the last thing they think about is putting money into their vehicle.

Still, there are some things you can handle yourself and inexpensively to make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. Regular maintenance will help keep your vehicle out of the shop later for expensive repairs.

Since it is the season for giving, why not forget about the same old boring socks and sweaters this Christmas?

Giving common, easy-to-use auto parts is both thoughtful and practical. Plus, they make for great stocking stuffers! All you need to know is the vehicle make and model.

Replacing wiper blades is probably the easiest thing you can do yourself. The instructions are right on the package. Visibility on the road in rain is critical to safety, which is why it’s so important to change your vehicle’s windshield wiper blades on a routine basis. It’s not a bad idea to keep a spare pair on hand in case you’re caught in one of Bermuda’s sudden downpours with worn-out blades.

Fuses protect all the electrical devices in your car and when there’s a power surge, a fuse will “blow” causing various electrical components of your car to stop working, including exterior or interior lights, power mirrors – even your radio. Fuses are fairly easy to change and it’s always a good idea to have extras handy.

Keeping your car tyres properly inflated is an easy maintenance chore that’s vital to car safety, as well as a contributing factor to fuel economy. The good news is that a simple, affordable tire-pressure gauge and a monthly check can keep the tyres in top condition. A tire pressure gauge is a great gift and any vehicle owner will get a lot of use out of it.

Do you know someone who would want improved vehicle engine life and performance for Christmas? If so, filters would be a perfect gift. Filters are responsible for removing harmful particles from the air or from fluids such as oils or fuels so it’s important to change the air, fuel and oil filters regularly to keep your vehicle running optimally.

While it might be a challenge to gift wrap, any car owner would love to receive fluids, such as oil, coolant and even windshield washing fluid. As the lifeblood of a vehicle, it’s important to routinely check and change the fluids when they’re dirty or running low.

Also, don’t forget about a vehicle’s exterior. A coat of good car wax can help protect the finish from the potential hazards of road grime and salt in the air, and a can of tire shine can really spruce up a vehicle.

The greatest gift you can give for the holidays is the gift of safety. So if you’re unsure about any of these maintenance procedures, please take your vehicle to a certified technician for assistance.

Krishna King has more than 20 years’ experience in the automotive industry, and chairs the Automotive Occupational Advisory Committee for the National Training Board. www.bermudamotors.bm.