DIY maintenance for a healthier bottom line

Updated Apr 18, 2023

While your free time is valuable, every maintenance job you can do yourself is a job you don’t have to pay someone else to do. Common do-it-yourself jobs include fluid and filter changes, as well as routine work on relatively simple components such as wipers, lights, belts and hoses.

The basic rules always apply:

  • Get expert advice for any new project and be sure you aren’t violating warranties.
  • If you’re not comfortable doing a job, take it to the shop.

Here are some cost breakdowns for a few common jobs. While parts prices are likely higher than they used to be on some of these jobs to do them yourself, so is the cost of labor at shops. 

  • GREASING. Greasing is simple and inexpensive. You can purchase a high-quality lever-action grease gun, grease and wipes for less than $50. Your cost for each job: About $10. Shop cost: $50 to $75 or more, but are usually included in an oil change. Time: 45 minutes.
  • CHANGING FUEL FILTERS. This doesn’t require many tools, but learning the proper technique is important, so consult your owner’s manual. You’ll need a band clamp of the appropriate diameter for fuel filters, a catch pan and a small container of fuel. Your cost: $20 per job. Shop cost: $40 to $50 or more. Time: 30 minutes.
  • CLEANING CONNECTIONS AND CABLES. Special battery terminal cleaners are inexpensive, and other connections can be cleaned with sandpaper or steel wool. Your cost: $10 per job. Shop cost: $80 to $100 in years past, well more these days, for an hour of shop time. 
  • INSPECTING COOLING SYSTEM. To check your system, buy test strips and measure antifreeze concentration and the level of anticorrosion additives. Your cost: About 20 cents per test for one test strip. Shop cost: $20. Time: 15 min.

The Partners in Business program is produced by Overdrive and the consultants at ATBS, the nation’s largest owner-operator business services firm. Download the comprehensive "Partners in Business" owner-operator business manual, covering topics from start-up to expansion with multiple trucks. There, find much more information about the ins and outs of safety, maintenance and business processes, among a myriad other topics. 

Find plenty more quick-hit tips like this one via the Partners in Business series home page.