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DIY Auto Repair: Money-Saver or Time Waster?

Changing the oil isn’t a wildly difficult thing to do. Just like checking the air in the tires, changing an air filter or swapping out windshield wipers—these are simple things that every car owner should know how to do for themselves.

But what about more extensive DIY auto maintenance and repair? You may be able to change the bulb in your taillight without taking your car in, but locating the short in the wire that’s causing it to burn bulbs on a weekly basis is more time-consuming and difficult than most car owners can handle. When is it going to be more cost-effective to head to a shop than to attempt a repair on your own?

Questions to Ask Yourself

If you’ve never replaced a radiator, it can take an entire day to accomplish the task. Even if you have years of experience in handling minor repairs, trying to identify the source of a knocking sound your engine is making can take more equipment than you have in your garage. Diagnosing a problem for your vehicle is a task in and of itself. After that, the problem has to be addressed and repairs done.

And if you don’t have the right tools at hand, repairs can be incredibly difficult or even impossible. Specialized equipment exists to make auto diagnosis and repair easier; without that equipment, even a skilled amateur can’t complete the repairs.

Before deciding to jump into a repair, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you possess the knowledge to diagnose and repair your car? If not, can you gain it?
  • Will you enjoy working on your car, even if it takes up entire weekends?
  • Do you have the time available to work on your car?
  • Do you have the budget for tools and parts?
  • Do you have space to work on your car?
  • Is there someone you can call for help if you get stuck on a repair?

Why Professional Help Matters

Many cars now have electronic components that control things like fuel injection. It can be a computer chip that’s causing an issue with your engine, and not a clog in a fuel line. Discovering that, however, takes diagnostic equipment that professionals have and amateurs don’t.

Without this equipment, many mechanical problems can be overlooked and misdiagnosed, leading to wasted time and money by the car’s owner as they try to fix a simple issue themselves. A professional can diagnose and repair a problem in the same location, often in the same day, as opposed to spending a weekend figuring out what’s wrong and another weekend trying to fix it. For minor tasks you’ve done before, a DIY isn’t going to hurt. But avoid wasting hours of your time and additional money for parts and tools you don’t need and take your car in to a professional for everything else!