Do you repair your own car to save money?

This post is from Ollie Geiger, a personal finance writer who contributes to MoneyRates.com.

As a former auto mechanic and service manager, my dad's car expertise has saved our family from countless binds.

Over the years, he's done everything from replacing my wife's broken timing belt in the parking lot of her apartment complex to rebuilding our truck's toasted alternator at a motel high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A master of seeing mechanical possibilities, he replaced the alternator's seized bearing with a wheel bearing from a motorcycle we happened to be carrying.

Growing up in his shadow, I acquired three insights that guide my thinking on mechanical things today:

  1. Understanding how machines work is a virtue.
  2. Even simple repairs come with high costs at repair shops.
  3. Not every shop is dishonest, but some definitely are.

As a result, I try to avoid taking my truck – a 1998 Toyota Tacoma with 192,000 miles – to the garage. When the ol' Taco fails in a way that appears simple to fix, I'll usually try to repair it myself. While I lack the proficiency of my dad, I like mechanical things and the satisfaction that comes from making them work again.

My rule of thumb is that I will only tackle a repair job if I understand at the onset how all of the parts work and fit together. For example, I understand how a valve cover gasket works, so when one starts to seep, I can change it. But I'm less sure how all the parts work in my transmission. If it fails, I'm probably going to seek help.

OK Computer

Unfortunately, newer cars are generally harder for home mechanics to work on. Computer technology has made modern cars far more complex than the drag-race Oldsmobiles my dad built as a teenager. While a mechanically inclined person can easily examine and understand a carburetor, an electronic fuel injection system hides its secrets in silicon chips. Unraveling a new car's issues is often a matter of acquiring specialized diagnostic equipment or manufacturer training – or both.

This puts mechanically minded consumers in a lamentable position today. When something fails on a modern vehicle, taking it to a shop is the only sensible approach if you lack the tools and knowledge to address the problem. For those who don't want to pay someone else to fix their machine, family car out of the shop.

Your Money or Your Time

When done properly, performing your own repairs can save you a lot of money. I can't estimate how much we would have spent over the years on auto fixes if my dad hadn't performed them, but I'm sure the figure is staggering. This is another reason I find taking my car to the shop so unpleasant today: I'm just not used to paying for that sort of thing.

Still, working on your own vehicle has its own price. You may spend considerable time diagnosing and fixing any car issues you tackle, and mistakes can cost you too – possibly at the repair shop you avoided in the first place. Frustration is another likely expense. While I appreciate the feeling of completing a task on my Tacoma, that feeling is often preceded by frequent curses on my decision to ever lift the hood.

Do you ever perform your car's repairs or maintenance to save money? If not, would you ever consider it? If so, how much have you saved? How do you determine whether to take on a job yourself or bring it to a professional?

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Stephen
Stephen
7 years ago

Best thing about doing the repairs yourself is its fun. Lots of the smaller jobs, like changing the oil, can be done really quickly and easily, especially with an oil pump.
It’s also much quicker to spend an hour or two outside, then leaving the car into a garage for half a day.

Reading the computers can also be done easily enough these days through the odb2 interface and a laptop. I’ve a bluetooth connector that talks back to my phone and only cost ~20 from ebay.

Joe @ Retire By 40
Joe @ Retire By 40
7 years ago
Reply to  Stephen

I like doing small repair and maintenance myself. I changed spark plugs, fuel filter, and a few other things and it was mostly fun. I don’t have a garage anymore though so I can’t do my own maintenance anymore. 🙁

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago

Good post! There are many things I DIY, but repairing my car isn’t one of them. I’d love to learn some basic repairs, but I’ve got a good mechanic who has the expertise, tools and workspace that I lack.

I have a question though: are there any apartment dwellers out there who repair their own cars? My building has an outdoor parking lot with no shelter, electricity, water or access to safe disposal for chemicals. I’m wondering if this is an imagined barrier on my part. Would love to hear your tips!

Brian
Brian
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Apartment dwelling and auto repair can be done but it can be painful. I have lived in some complexes that allowed me to work in the parking area for relatively short times and I’ve lived in places that really frowned on any car in the parking lot appearing to be “under repair”. So I would recommend checking with the complex rules before starting a task. Secondly, when doing auto repair in a parking lot, consider what you would do if something goes wrong. What happens if you got the wrong replacement part from the parts store, something breaks, etc… Yes,… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Brian

We fall into the “frowned upon” category 😉 I’ve never seen anyone in my area do anything more than jump start a car. Concerns about spills, damage, etc, are an issue.

Apartment dwelling does have it’s limits. No carpentry or refinishing furniture for me either 😉

Dave
Dave
7 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

When I was in college in downtown Boston I was young, stupid, and broke. I subsequently did all manner of repairs in the alley behind my building or parallel parked on the street (at least it was a dead end). Off the top of my head I know I did a dozen oil changes, a brake master cylinder, a clutch hose, spark plugs, coolant flushes, muffler replacements, even rust repair and painting. It was certainly more difficult than it could have been, but it is entirely possible.

scott
scott
7 years ago

Unfortunately I dont have the skill to do this but I still enjoy fully investigating/researching an issue to understand. There are a million great DIY videos that show a repair on Youtube – even if I dont do it myself, I have a much better understanding of what’s going on. I’m limited to the filters, bulbs and oil myself. I’ve also gotten a “Check Engine Light” diagnostic software program for my laptop which is absolutely awesome. I can plug it in to the car, run the system scan and I get a list of all the car’s computer errors kicked… Read more »

Peach
Peach
7 years ago
Reply to  scott

I’ve got to check that out. In the past I’ve taken my car to Auto Zone and they’ve done a system check for me but I would much rather do it myself.

scott
scott
7 years ago
Reply to  Peach

They have packages online (eBay etc) of software along with the connector cable. Not totally official, but it certainly does the job.

Peach
Peach
7 years ago
Reply to  scott

Thanks much!

SAHMama
SAHMama
7 years ago

You won’t save any money on this if you don’t know anything about cars!

My husband can replace belts and filters and change the oil and change a tire.

Peach
Peach
7 years ago
Reply to  SAHMama

I agree. For me, the wisest thing is to realize my limits. Sometimes I wish I could do more, usually when I get a repair bill I wish I didn’t have to pay.

Jim
Jim
7 years ago

Yes, yes I do repair my own cars. You can too if you spend just a little time learning and invest in basic tools. You can by law get access (for a small fee) to all the info and electronic tools the dealer has for any emissions or OBD related system on the road model year 1996 and newer. A new Massachusetts law opens that up to everything on the car. Start here for info: http://nastf.org/ Read about the right to repair laws here: http://www.righttorepair.org/ Like everything else, Google is your friend. You can tap into worldwide knowledge about symptoms… Read more »

Justin@TheFrugalPath
7 years ago

Even learning just the basics can save you a ton of money. Having to pay someone to change a battery, tire, oil and breaks can really add up over the life of a car. And learning to do these tasks isn’t very hard.

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
7 years ago

That’s exacty the truth man! Learn some of these skills and learn more over your lifetime and you’ll save TONS of money. Mechanics charge a lot for labor. I almost always fix my own car, and maybe my time is “worth more” sometimes, but I love fixing cars so much that I’d much rather do it myself!

Carole
Carole
7 years ago

My husband was very mechanical and could fix most things. However, not everyone can do this. I think it’s better to accept one’s limitations and get professional help when needed. Usually people are good at something and it’s better to do what you do best and let someone else do the rest. That said, it’s possible to learn to do new things, if one has the interest.

John
John
7 years ago

Luckily for me I am extremely handy with everything mechanical. I replaced our AC unit last summer. I replaced our boiler 5 years ago. I have replaced the roof, remodeled the kitchen and bathroom and I have replaced engines in vehicles. However, I hate working on cars and I am fortunate enough to make the kind of income that allows me to have others deal with the things I hate, so one of my few guilty and costly pleasures is to have someone else do any and all auto repairs on my vehicles, including changing the oil. There comes a… Read more »

Marcy
Marcy
7 years ago
Reply to  John

Until recently, my husband made most of the repairs on our cars. Now, due to health reasons, he’s unable to. I was always “chief tool hander and fetcher”, a job that I hated. But, my husband insisted he needed help. We always finished up the repairs (which I am thankful that he could do), then I would have to clean the house. How I wished I had “I Dream of Jeanie’s” ability to clean the house with a nod and a blink! While I certainly do miss my husband’s good health, I don’t miss being chief mechanic’s assistant! Luckily, I… Read more »

Trolly McTrollster
Trolly McTrollster
7 years ago
Reply to  Marcy

You’re thinking of Samantha from Bewitched.

Viola
Viola
7 years ago

Samantha wiggled her nose, silly.

Peach
Peach
7 years ago

LOL! Marcy’s right. I Dream of Jeannie trumps Samantha of Bewitched. She did indeed do housekeeping with a nod and a blink. And she did it more often than Samantha, who tried to do things like a mortal.

Instead of thinking about car repairs, I’m sitting at my laptop, trying NOT to watch the news (too sad), and trying to remember which show came on the air first.

Rail
Rail
7 years ago
Reply to  John

I grew up with an interest in mechanical things and I learned most of the basics of auto repair. Took all the shop classes I could in High School and still do a lot of my own stuff on cars and motorcycles, but will admit that I do take my cars to a buddies Shop for basic service jobs anymore. Its the conveniance of not having to hassel with used oil, filters etc. Also it works out that I change oil roughly twice a year and when I do that I rotate tires, its alot easier and faster to do… Read more »

Paul
Paul
7 years ago

I am not mechanically inclined, but I do have a basic understanding of how most of my car works. I think I know what I can handle and what I can’t when it comes to repairing my car. Recently I changed the headlight bulb on my wife’s VW Beetle. It was definitely more involved than I figured, having done the same with my BMW in a couple minutes with minimal tools a few months prior. I did have to purchase a few tools, but I think it cost around $25-30 for everything. It probably would have cost twice that if… Read more »

Mom of five
Mom of five
7 years ago

We don’t currently do most of our own repairs and maintenance on our cars. However, our oldest will be driving soon and we plan on getting an additional car. We will teach the teenagers (and our 14 year old has expressed an interest!) to change the oil and the brake pads.

Brett
Brett
7 years ago

There are some “open” garages around too. You rent a repair bay, usually with lifts, for about $15/hour and a set of mechanics tools are provided. They also have more advance tools to change tires off of rims, odb readers, etc. that you pay a few dollars for to use. There was one about 35 minutes from DC called “Do-It-Yourself Garage”. It was awesome to have when I lived down there and they had real mechanics on staff to help you out if you got stuck. Unfortunately I think they closed since i left. I think the business model is… Read more »

David C
David C
7 years ago

I have handled maintenance and light repairs for years on my 1997 4Runner (208,500 miles so far). This weekend I will be doing an oil and filter change, changing plugs and plug wires and maybe the oxygen sensors (keep throwing that darn code) if time permits. Next weekend, it’s new pads and rotors for the front. Some things I leave to the experts, like internal engine repairs and such. You do have to learn your limitations and either accept them or challenge and overcome them. I have saved quite a bit of labor cost over the years. Some of my… Read more »

Jacko
Jacko
7 years ago

Good topic Ollie,

I definitely take care of the scheduled maintenance on my own and basically anything that I can handle. I had to put an alternator on recently and a battery it’s all good.

No need to pay these ASE guys for work I can do on my own. Save money.

Babs
Babs
7 years ago

My husband and his friends work on their cars all the time. Sometimes individually sometimes they get together and work on one guys car. It’s a good bonding time for them. I did not know about the laptop solutions for reading computer codes but if your check engine light comes on you can stop at an auto parts store and they will read your computer for you. Youtube can be very helpful when it comes to repairs. One of our cars had a window out of whack and a new regulator wasn’t doing the trick, we found out what the… Read more »

Brian
Brian
7 years ago

I nearly always do my own repairs on my cars. I grew up learning to do the oil changes and developed an interest in cars. Over the years, it has saved me countless dollars (I replaced a clutch in college for 10% of what the mechanics wanted), opened some interesting doors (I worked maintaining nuclear propulsion systems on submarines for the US Navy) and certainly helped develop critical thinking (what symptoms am I seeing, what can cause them, what could not, are any expected symptoms missing…) I’m going to teach my daughter (who’s 11) to change oil, tires, batteries and… Read more »

Lyn
Lyn
7 years ago
Reply to  Brian

At our house, the standing joke is that “Remember to check the oil and get the tires rotated” is just another way to say I love you.

Mapf82
Mapf82
7 years ago

Yes, I have fixed and repaired my cars as well as the cars of my friends and family every since I started to drive about 15 years ago. I find myself constantly having to clean out all the gunk and grim from underneath my fingernails do to my exploits under the hood.

Everything from basic maintenance to major overhauls. What works out the best is that for the usual cost of getting a repair shop to fix or install low quality parts I can install high quality parts that will often last much longer and perform better.

Daria
Daria
7 years ago

My dad taught me how to change my tires, but while I can get the tire off, I don’t have the upper body strength anymore to lift the tire back on. My husband changes our oil, batteries, and other minor repairs. Spark plugs are another matter when some of them are under the engine.

TEB
TEB
7 years ago
Reply to  Daria

There are tools for that,Daria. Kind of like a crow bar but with a handle grip. Not too expensive-certainly less than a tow truck. I am not sure about putting up links, but I have nothing to gain so maybe this one will pass.
http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00915722000P?sid=IDx01192011x000001&kispla=00915722000P&srccode=cii_17588969&cpncode=30-97458843-2

Daria
Daria
7 years ago
Reply to  TEB

Thank you for the information, Ted.

Talley
Talley
7 years ago

I do pretty much all of the maintenance and repairs on my daily driver.
But, we bought a new family car this year that I take to get worked on professionally. I got 20 oil changes when I bought it, and have a lifetime warranty on the car. To simplify keeping that warranty satisfied, I just take it to the dealer.

David S
David S
7 years ago

I do all the repairs on our cars (just changed the alternator on the van last week). One resource that is very helpful (besides the Chilton manual) is YouTube. The auto part places will sometimes put up a video of the repair (for which they are selling the parts) step by step.
I still find it somewhat funny that people consider $20 for an cheap oil change a bargain as I can change the oil and filter in usually 20-30 mins.

Sara
Sara
7 years ago

I replaced the cabin air filter in my car recently! I’d heard that it was really easy to do, and when the guys at Jiffy Lube showed it to me and told me how much it would cost to change it ($44.99 + tax) I said, “No thanks, I’m going to do that myself!” The first four steps on WikiHow were about removing the glovebox, which I am an unintentional expert in already. (My glovebox fell off one rainy night when I was lost in a city I didn’t know well and was frantically trying to get into my glovebox… Read more »

Holly
Holly
7 years ago

No.

My dad was a tradesman, and he taught me how to do many things around the house. That’s how I save… did my own insulation, floor tiles, kitchen backsplash tiles, painting & spackling, etc.

LauraElle
LauraElle
7 years ago

My husband fixes his car, a 97 Subaru at home. He’s replaced the head gasket, struts, brakes, changes the oil, and rpelaced the radiator.

I have a 2010 model car, purchased new. We had three free oil changes from the dealer. After those ran out, he started changing the oil at home. He’s also fixed the brakes. He did say that anything more than that would require a trip to the mechanic as he doesn’t have the expertise to work on that car.

Kelly@Financial-Lessons
7 years ago

Its regrettable to admit but very true that more people are dishonest than we’d like to acknowledge. Its a lot better to do small repairs yourself (or have someone like your dad, brother, cousin-whoever) than to take it to a shop that jacks up the prices. If a bigger repair is needed, its a good idea to get quotes from at least three different places though.

Mij
Mij
7 years ago

As a teenager, when cars were simpler, I had no choice but to learn to fix the basics. The more I learned, the more I could fix, the more I learned. I saved a ton of money over the years by fixing the small things and having the knowledge to know how not to get ripped off if I had to go to a mechanic.

Learning the basics for anything in life will save you lots of money over the years and provide confidence in all you do.

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

Always! Always! Always! Think about how much a simple brake job costs – $400-$800! I can pound that out in 2 hours, no sweat. Hell, I even tell my friends that I’ll work for the cost of parts and a bottle or two of whiskey! One of the best things to do and advice I give everyone is to find a vehicle make or model that has a large following. I have had cars like a Taurus SHO, Jetta TDI, Passat W8, all of which had great web forums (www.v8sho.com, tdiclub.com, vwvortex.com, http://www.w8forum.dk). If you don’t know how to do… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Matt

Good point about what you buy! I purchased a car I knew would be reliable and had a lower total cost of ownership overall. The cheapest repairs are the ones you don’t have to make at all.

Joanna @ Our Freaking Budget
Joanna @ Our Freaking Budget
7 years ago

I think it’s a great way to save money if you have the expertise. Neither I or my husband do, and since our car is our biggest purchase to date, we leave it to the professionals!

Megan
Megan
7 years ago

This is us, too. We would rather pay someone to change the oil, rotate tires, etc. While the car is in the shop, we can use that time to run errands with the other car, clean, or work on other projects. It’s obviously way more to pay someone to do it, but I look at it as getting two things done at once.

Laura Louise
Laura Louise
7 years ago

My last MOT cost me £600, but my boyfriend’s Dad is very mechanically-inclined and he saved my boyfriend £300 on his MOT. I do have quite an old car (13 years old), so its easier to tamper with but I’m probably going to hand my car over to him next year to fix 🙂

Another Kate
Another Kate
7 years ago

Even with all the computerized stuff in cars these days, my husband does most of our car repairs. I know he saves us a bundle of money, but I confess it is a frustrating process, in part, because we don’t take our cars in for preventive checks (his family doesn’t trust auto mechanics to be honest) and he doesn’t do much in the way of that himself (he does check oil levels and change the oil), so sometimes, things break down that I suspect might have been caught. Then he and his dad, a retired aircraft mechnanic will, if they… Read more »

Becky
Becky
7 years ago

I’m in the exact same boat as the writer. My dad is a fix anything kind of guy and tried his best to pass that along to me. Just by changing my own oil I have saved so much money over the years. The most satisfying part to me though is having a basic understanding so if I do need to visit the repair shop I can make an educated decision on what’s best for my car and pocketbook.

Bill
Bill
7 years ago

I have saved so much money over the years doing repairs on my car (and my sons’ cars). A few years ago, the bumper on my son’s BMW came loose and the dealer said it couldn’t be fixed; it had to be replaced for $3000. My son and I took the bumper off and the only thing wrong was a broken clip(which BMW doesn’t sell). I am an inveterate recycler and had taken apart a broken coffee maker; we took part of plastic body and made a clip. Net cost-$0 I still have the mechanics tool set I bought in… Read more »

Dave
Dave
7 years ago

I do almost all my own car work. Yes, you need some tools, some aptitude, and most importantly some INTEREST and willingness to learn. A second car or a friend with a second car for mid job runs to the parts store is also invaluable. That said, the long term savings in learning this sort of thing is incredible. Shops here in the northeast do not hesitate to charge in excess of $100 an hour, plus a markup on parts that you can order online for a fraction of the cost. My girlfriend was once quoted around $450 for a… Read more »

CincyCat
CincyCat
7 years ago

Back in the good ole days, the high school where Mr. CincyCat and I attended had a “practical automotives” class, where you could learn how to do everything from changing a tire to changing a serpentine belt. Mr. CincyCat took the class, and because of his experiences working on cars, he probably saved us hundreds of dollars on car repairs (which was invaluable to poor, college student newlyweds). Now, we will usually pay someone else to do these tasks for a few reasons: 1. Our time is now more valuable to us than the $19.99 it takes to change the… Read more »

karla
karla
7 years ago
Reply to  CincyCat

The price of installation was included in the last battery we bought.

Where do you all dump your used oil? If we change it at home we have to wait until we can make a run to the dump to get rid of it properly.

That, and keeping around the right tools…just not worth it.

stellamarina
stellamarina
7 years ago
Reply to  karla

You buy the oil change box which is like a small box full of cat litter, and pour the oil into it which soaks up all the oil. Then close it and put in in a plastic bag.It just goes into the regular house hold trash. At least that is it in Hawaii. Our islands household trash is burnt for electrical power. You can make your own box using sawdust.

Timo
Timo
7 years ago
Reply to  stellamarina

This might be legal and OK in Hawaii – as you said, the trash gets burnt, and incinerators can deal with oil, obviously – but I would strongly discourage anybody from trying to dispose of a full sump of oil this way if the trash is ending up in the landfill. Used engine oil is a pretty bad contaminant if it can get into the ground water (which can be a problem if it’s in a landfill), plus used oil can be and is recycled. I don’t drive to the dump after every oil change, but I keep a couple… Read more »

Juli
Juli
7 years ago

My dad was an expert at all that handyman type of stuff. I can’t even imagine how much money they saved by him doing all the things he did. My husband’s dad, however, was definitely of the “pay someone else to do it” attitude, and therefore my husband is not able to do anything remotely handy. It’s really frustrating sometimes.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
7 years ago

I tried self-repair this past year, and bought myself a case of oil to do my own changes, but things didn’t work out as expected. First, I found a shop that does oil changes for $20. Yes, it’s a loss leader to get you in the door, but you’re not forced to follow up with other work. So the case of oil I bought from Costco is waiting for the day when I finally buy ramps, wrenches, the right filter, etc. Maybe I’ll give it away for a Christmas present– ha! Second, the car shop gave me a list of… Read more »

Timo
Timo
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

You can’t really add up the cost of the tools required to do the oil change (or other fairly simple repairwork) yourself against the one-time fee someone else charges because the tools aren’t consumables. If you look after them and don’t buy the cheapest tools possible, they’ll last you years or even decades. Don’t forget that if you do any sort of repair work or maintenance yourself, you control the quality of the components you use, rather than the (mostly) cheapest component that the mechanic can find. Want better quality oil filters, oil or brake pads? Easy to do when… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
7 years ago
Reply to  Timo

Hey Timo, Yes, you’re right, the cost gets amortized over time, but the problem is that if you commit to the tools and then discover you don’t like it/ don’t have time/ suck at it, you’re then stuck with a few hundred bucks worth of useless tools plus the clutter that goes with it. Which is why I haven’t made a jump into it. Also, if I break something, it will cost me more to get it fixed by a pro afterwards. Which reminds me of this here sign I saw at a shop where I worked in college (I… Read more »

Raymond @ Car Care Coach
Raymond @ Car Care Coach
7 years ago

Well I enjoy working on my car when I get the chance. We have the benefit of driving an older 1996 toyota corolla so if something goes wrong and I can figure out how to fix it myself(with some help) then I do. It is always nice to avoid dealer’s marked up prices.

There are scenarios where I take it to someone else though. When I don’t know what I am doing or when I just don’t have the time or tools to perform the repair.

Zal
Zal
7 years ago

Last year my brakes went out in my truck while bringing supplies to a graduation party. I got out, saw it was a blown brake line. I limped into Midas and was willing to pay a premium for a quick fix. (I figured 100-200 dollars, parts are less than 20 bucks and it takes no time to do.) When they said 300 dollars I about flipped. I limped to the party by downshifting and using the e brake, unloaded everything and then borrowed a car to go get my tools and the 16 bucks in parts to fix it. Yeah… Read more »

thethriftyspendthrift
thethriftyspendthrift
7 years ago

I am completely spoiled in this area—my dad is a car mechanic and as much as I have heard him talk about cars over the years, I have absolutely no idea what he is talking about to this day. My maintenance is simply to hand over the car to him and have him drive it over to the shop where he works. However, I would like to learn how to do some things eventually. To be fair, I just got my license this year (we’ll ignore my age for now) so I didn’t really care anyway. I had a very… Read more »

Adam
Adam
7 years ago

I’m not sure why there is this myth that modern cars with electronics are more difficult to repair. I worked at a garage for many years and the cars that are easiest to repair are those with OBD and fault codes, way easier than cars from an earlier time where you may end up having to use guesswork to replace complex mechanical parts. At least with OBD it will get you very close to the problem and you can usually find a copy of the manufacturers repair guides on ebay which will have the full set of diagnostic procedures to… Read more »

Lonnie
Lonnie
7 years ago

I don’t own a car but digging the Radiohead reference in this post!

Poor to Rich a Day at a Time
Poor to Rich a Day at a Time
7 years ago

Me and hubby are not mechanically inclined when it comes to cars and trucks. Besides when the truck is down, we have no way to get to a junkyard to find parts anyways. Being in a rental also stops that as many of our rentals have it in the contract you can not do oil changes let alone any repairing of vehicles. We have been fortuante though where we stick to one trustworthy mechanic in town ( getting to know one in a new town if need be) This has always led us to fair charging ( sometimes even free… Read more »

JB
JB
7 years ago

I’ve done my own car repairs since I’ve been driving, about 10 years now. My father and grandfather taught me how to change oil and keep track of basic maintenance items. I’ve done everything from changing oil, brake pads & rotors, brake calipers, suspension, spark plugs, etc. When I was in college, I changed my water pump in the middle of the Alumni Association parking lot with borrowed tools and a bottle jack. In regards to the comments above about living in an apartment and doing work on autos, I live in an apartment now and don’t really care if… Read more »

Amy
Amy
7 years ago

Absolutely yes!!! I currently drive a 1986 Jeep Cherokee with about 135,000 miles on it that is still relatively simple, mechanically (read: has a carburetor). I purchased it about two and a half years ago, and have put a water pump, an alternator, a wheel bearing, a clutch cylinder and of course several oil changes and coolant flushes into it. I did pay to have some exhaust work done when I originally bought it as the studs were stripped at the manifold and I couldn’t do anything with them. I have had people make derisive comments about “nickle and dime”… Read more »

Ann
Ann
7 years ago

I’ll do things that are non-essential to actually driving the car and that I can do easily. So I switch wiper blades, add windshield wiper fluid, and change light bulbs, but that’s about it. I can’t afford to make a mistake, and the time it costs is worth too much to me right now.

Jerry
Jerry
7 years ago

I wish there was repair insurance for cars but it would be outrageous. It might lead to a lot of subscribers, though!

James
James
7 years ago
Reply to  Jerry

In the UK we have an insurance style service called warranty direct, not used them but like the idea.

Grayson @ Debt Roundup
Grayson @ Debt Roundup
7 years ago

I love fixing my cars. I have an old carbureted vehicle along with a new “computer” driven vehicle. I can fix anything on the old car, but I can only handle the maintenance and small fixes on the new one. The computer technology ruins all of the other repairs for me and it would cost upwards of $40k to get a machine that would read the codes in order to fix the car. No thanks!

James
James
7 years ago

Like many others if you car was manufactured after 1996, an OB2 diagnostic tool which connects to your laptop or mobile will read off the codes, for less than $100.

I bought my ob2 bluetooth reader from eBay for £30 and Tourque on my Android shows me the codes, tells me whats wrong.

I think modern cars are easier in most cases to fix, as they tell you what’s wrong.

George thompson
George thompson
4 years ago
Reply to  James

every used vehicle I buy I go online and buy the factory manual well worth the money forget about Chiltons on Haynes your wasting your money

Brian
Brian
7 years ago

The easy stuff is generally the preventative or routine maintenance. It is generally loosening bolts, then tightening bolts, or draining liquid and filling liquids. And if you do the routine maintenance, you’ll have much less of the unexpected.

Brakes are a good place to save a lot of money DIY. If you change oil, trans fluid, spark plugs, filters, brakes, then you’ll save a lot of money.

It is fun too for some of us.

Dave
Dave
7 years ago

I realized after I paid for a $500 brake job when I first started driving that I did not want to keep paying for car repairs, so even though my dad wasn’t big into car repairs, I learned most of it myself from forums online, repair manuals, and tinkering around. The wealth of information online is an incredible help to the amateur car mechanic, and stores like Advance Auto that offer free diagnostics if you have an engine light on make things really easy. I recommend to anyone who has the patience to get under the hood and learn a… Read more »

Raymond
Raymond
7 years ago

Yes, I do. If I didn’t I could not afford to drive a car 😀

Michael
Michael
7 years ago

I used to do all my auto repairs myself. This was pre-electronic, computer-controlled engines, but even that doesn’t preclude a lot of things easily done. I still sometimes change my own oil, but you also have to consider the opportunity cost of doing it yourself. If you could spend the same amount of time and make as much as or more than what the repairs would cost at the shop, it’s wise to consider carefully – great if you love getting your hands greasy, but not so good if you’re a freelancer whose project schedule would slip if you took… Read more »

Jamie
Jamie
7 years ago

I have a DIY kind of Dad, but he knew very little about car repair. When I was 20 and in college, I bought a Sebring– Great car, but it required the brake pads be changed EVERY SIX MONTHS. Totally ridiculous and TOTALLY expensive. I recruited a friend to teach me how to change the brake pads, and wrote out the step-by-step instructions so I’d remember for next time. I ended up changing that car’s brakepads about ten times at $30 each time instead of $200. Although mildly inconvenient (it turns out that auto repair is a seasonal sport, if… Read more »

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