Auto Repair Yourself
Auto Repair Yourself (DIY Auto Repair)
You can do auto repair yourself. Not all jobs are a good fit for diy auto repair, but there are many that are. If you have some mechanical knowledge and ability and some basic hand tools you can save a lot of money by working on your own car. Keep in mind however that there are a lot of repairs that are best left for the professionals. I've written many in-depth articles about some of the most common diy auto repair jobs and given my advice as to whether you should try to do it yourself or if you should just have your mechanic do them. Let's take a look at some common repairs and whether you should try them yourself or not.
Common DIY Auto Repairs
- Brake Repair. This is a very common repair that most car owners can usually do themselves. Since it is such a common diy repair I've written many different articles with lots of pictures. Take a look, then dive in!
- Car Maintenance. All cars and trucks need to be maintained properly to keep the warranty in effect and to keep the vehicle running reliably for as long as possible. Find out which repairs you can do yourself and check out all of my repair guides for this section.
- Radiator Repair. I just have to solder it, right? Read this first! Do it yourself radiator repair is not what it used to be! Back when automotive manufacturers used all metal radiators this would have been an easy job, but things have changed. They have changed how they make most car radiators and therefore you have to change the way you repair radiators when you do it yourself.
- Coolant flush. Isn't this just draining and re-filling my radiator?
It seems like there is so much misunderstanding about what a coolant flush actually is. It also depends on what advertisements you read. Learn more about this diy mechanic job here.
- Rotate tires. Just switch one tire with another, right? DIY mechanics need to know about rotating tires. Since so many cars are all wheel drive it is even more important that tires wear evenly. If they don't then you can be doing damage to various parts of your drivetrain.
- Headlight bulb replacement. This one must be really easy... how hard can it be to change a light bulb? It really is amazing how hard engineers can make jobs that should be simple. It used to be that any do it yourselfer could replace headlights in a matter of a couple of minutes. Things are much different now. Many times you actually will need to refer to an auto repair manual to replace a headlight bulb quickly.
- Spark plug replacement. I've done this before with another car. I'm sure it's about the same! Spark plug replacement has almost always been easy for anyone with some DIY auto repair knowledge. The hardest part used to be keeping track of all the spark plug wires and not getting them crossed. Now, since ignition components don't have to be changed nearly as often they are sometimes harder to replace.
- Check engine codes (Check engine light). I can clear my check engine light myself, right? Unfortunately do it yourself mechanics cannot just clear the codes and hope they don't come back anymore. Those days are long gone. If your check engine light is on it is because there is something wrong that needs to be diagnosed. Don't be one of those people who makes the mistake of thinking that just because the check engine light code has a part name in it that part needs to be replaced. This is not true. What needs to happen is the obd code needs to be diagnosed.
- Get better gas mileage. I just need a tune up to get better fuel economy, right? It is important for the do it yourself auto repairer to keep their car maintained and this will certainly help them get better gas mileage. There are some other things that will help just as much or more, and many of them are completely FREE!
- Car Won't Start I probably just need a jump start? Unless you left your lights on or left something else on and it drained your battery you need to assume that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. Read this article to find out some of the most common things that will cause a no start.
- Car Battery Problems. I can do this just take the old one out and put the new one in...it's easy! Replacing a battery is sometimes an easy job, but one that any do it yourself mechanic should read more about to make sure that is the problem, and make sure they don't erase the computers memory.
- Airbag Repair. Just take off the steering wheel right? If you are good at auto repair yourself then you might be able to repair your airbag, but I almost always recommend this job to the experts. There are so many things that can go wrong for the average backyard mechanic that it is just not a good idea. That being said, I have put together a few safety tips for those that insist. If you are going to try to repair your airbags yourself you should at least do it safely.
- Air Conditioner Repair. Can't I just get one of those refill kits from Walmart? That's what my friend did! Do it yourself air conditioner repair is one of the most mis-understood auto repair jobs. Unless you have an AC machine this job should be done by a mechanic or auto shop that has been trained in AC repair. Find out why by reading the article.
- How to Wash a Car. Can't I just put some dish soap and water in an old bucket? If you do auto repair yourself then you should know how to wash your car. Many people don't know how to do it correctly though.
- Fix a Blown Head Gasket. Just take off the cylinder head, and put the new gasket on...easy!!! Head gasket repairs are fairly common repairs. Many times do it yourself, shade tree mechanics try to save money on by doing it themselves. While it can be done, it is a very tough job. Head gasket repair costs are always quite large, but whether you do auto repair yourself (DIY auto repair) or take it to a mechanic you want to be sure it is done right. Here are some things to watch out for.
- Diagnose and Replace an Alternator. Isn't this the easiest repair job ever?! Most cars have computer controlled alternators. This sometimes makes for a tough diagnosis. If you like auto repair yourself, learn how you DIY alternators here.
- Automotive Troubleshooting. Can't I just replace the part I think it bad or should I actually troubleshoot it?
These are just some of the most common DIY auto repair jobs that you might be trying. Keep in mind when you are thinking about trying auto repair yourself sometimes it is actually cheaper to take your car to an auto repair shop. When you try to do a job like replacing wheel bearings in some cars you need some specialized equipment to do it correctly. This would take an automotive technician just a few minutes to do, but for you it would be impossible because you don't have the needed equipment (namely a shop press) to do this auto repair yourself.
You also have to remember that most mechanics have years of experience and education so if you have a car question that you can't figure out it might be worth it to take it to a good repair shop. You could spend hours and lots of money replacing parts when a good diagnostic technician could figure it out quickly and save you money buy accurately diagnosing the problem.
I don't say any of this to try to get your car into a repair shop, I simply want you to think about the fact that some repairs and diagnostics are worth taking it to a good, reputable repair shop. So do auto repair yourself, but don't rip yourself off!!!
Which Jobs Can I do Myself?
Air filter replacement
Washing and waxing
Detailing the inside
Replacing windshield wipers
Replacing cabin air filters
Replacing spark plugs
Replacing brake pads
Many other maintenance items.
Things to Leave to a Pro
Air conditioner repair
Head gasket repair
Major engine repair
Wheel bearing replacement
Many other major repairs.
This does not mean that there aren't exceptions. I've seen some backyard mechanics that can repair cars better than some mechanics that work in really nice repair shops. This is usually an exception however. I have also seen and heard about supposed diy mechanics that have caused more problems than they have fixed.
If you are determined to try auto repair yourself then make sure you have a good set of hand tools along with some diagnostic tools, a good repair manual, and plenty of time to learn about the repair you want to try. The last thing you want to do is break something or replace a part that isn't bad because you didn't know how to correctly diagnose the problem. Make sure that the auto repair that you want to DIY is within your skill level. If it isn't then find a friend that can help you out.
Doing auto repair yourself can be fun and can save you money, but doing auto repair yourself can also cost you money if you don't do it right.
Auto Repair Yourself