Mechanic Versus DIY: The Vehicle Fixes Best Left To Professionals
With an abundance of information available on the internet and auto maintenance costs rising, an increasing number of people are looking to DIY as a solution for their car issues. A plethora of YouTube videos, Pinterest tips, and self-declared ‘life-hacks’ have taken over social media, promising to save car owners time and money when repairing their vehicles.
For many people who are trying to save money during the cost-of-living crisis, this may seem an appealing alternative. But many of these tips are, in fact, unreliable, and may have been written by someone with little or even no formal mechanical training.
Following some of these tutorials may leave car owners in a worse position than they started in, making simple but expensive errors which may cost them hundreds or even thousands of pounds to have repaired.
Car owners also run the risk of misdiagnosing problems, leading to further mistakes when treating their car, and potentially running up a larger bill than necessary, which could have easily been avoided by bringing in professional help. Some car owners may even begin a repair job, only to find that they do not have the required tools or workspace to complete it.
DIY Repairs: Are They Ever Worth It?
DIY repair tutorials promise a lot, but can they keep these promises? Here, we go through the pros and cons of DIY car repairs.
The Pros Of DIY Repairs
- Save Money – Many car DIY tutorials promise large savings on car parts and labour. If you carry out your own repairs you will not need to pay for labour or markups on car parts, which could offer significant savings on repairs.
- Save Time – If you are experienced in performing repairs on your vehicle, and your local garage handles a large workload, you may find that simple repairs can be carried out more quickly from home.
- Learn From Experience – Working on your vehicle allows you to learn how your car functions, and how the parts work together to keep it running at optimal This will help you to quickly identify when there is a problem with your car, and more effectively diagnose any potential issues.
The Cons Of DIY Repairs
- A False Economy? – While it is true that if you do your own repairs you will not need to pay for labour or markups on car parts, you may end up paying significantly more if the issue is misdiagnosed or the repair is carried out incorrectly and requires fixing by a qualified mechanic.
- Wasted Time – If you are inexperienced at carrying out repairs or you have a new car that you are unfamiliar with, you could end up spending longer on your vehicle than you might expect. To complicate matters, each make and model of car is different, meaning that you may have to spend a lot of time extensively researching how to repair your car, and will need to start from scratch when you buy another model.
- Hassle – If you work a regular 9-5 job, you may find that you simply don’t have the time to research the design of your car and then carry out Taking your vehicle to a professional mechanic allows you to take the pressure off, and you can relax in the knowledge that your car is in safe and experienced hands.
- Safety Risks – Most drivers do not have the required equipment (such as floor jacks or engine hoists) needed to repair their cars in a safe manner. And on top of the physical risk, if you carry out your own repairs your vehicle warranty may become void under the manufacturer’s safety policies.
The Common Issues With DIY Repairs
There are several issues with DIY jobs that we commonly see when customers bring their cars in for repairs. And once one mistake is made, it can cause many additional problems for the vehicle, resulting in expensive bills and unnecessary stress for the customer.
The most frequent mistakes made by vehicle DIYers include:
- Misdiagnosis – When car issues are misdiagnosed, DIYers may carry out unnecessary repairs; these can run to hundreds of pounds that they did not need to spend. While many people think that they can follow the advice of a trusted friend or an online resource, car models vary a lot, and the advice you are given may not necessarily apply to your vehicle. So if you are unsure of any issues with your car, you should always ask the opinion of a professional before carrying out any repairs to your vehicle.
- Vehicle Damage – If a repair goes wrong, it may be even more costly to fix than if you had taken your vehicle to the garage in the first place. Many repairs, such as replacing bulbs, are more complicated than you might think, and professional mechanics are equipped with all the tools and equipment required to safely carry out repairs to a high standard. Doing these jobs yourself may lead to further complications, and it will often be safer to seek the advice of an experienced professional.
- Misinterpreting Complex Designs – Many car owners grew up with their parents showing them how to fix a car. While this is a useful skill to have, and a nostalgic memory for many people, modern cars are becoming increasingly complex, and what may have been achievable at the time may not work on modern vehicles.
- Safety Issues – It can be hard to tell what problems can be resolved at home, and which may be dangerous. Car owners should avoid fixing certain car elements – like for example, the braking and exhaust systems. A poorly repaired braking system can cause serious driving hazards, while a botched exhaust may leak poisonous carbon monoxide gas into the cabin, with potentially fatal consequences.
The Jobs You Should Definitely Leave To The Professionals
Many car repairs can be complex or hazardous tasks that should always be left to a professional mechanic. These include the work done on the following parts of the vehicle:
- Brakes – Brake repairs are difficult to carry out effectively, particularly on modern car models. And you will likely never know if a brake repair has been botched until you attempt to brake, thereby making it a highly risky repair to carry out from home.
- Exhaust – If an exhaust is repaired incorrectly, it can leak poisonous carbon monoxide gas into the cabin, creating a serious risk of death to driver and passengers alike.
- Engine – Engine problems can be difficult to diagnose, putting drivers at risk of misdiagnosing their vehicle and carrying out expensive and potentially unnecessary repairs. Calling in a professional will save you time, money, and hassle.
- Windscreens – Professional mechanics use specialist tools and adhesives to fit windscreens in a safe and reliable manner. Doing your windscreen from home could mean that it lasts as little as a year before you need to have it replaced, and if it is not safely attached to your vehicle, it could even collapse into the cabin, making it a serious risk in the event of an accident.
- Gearbox – The transmission system of a car is highly complex, and as such, only a qualified mechanic should diagnose and fix gearbox issues. These problems typically require specialist equipment to fix, so always take your car to a professional if your vehicle experiences gearbox
- Airbags – To replace an airbag, it is necessary to remove the whole dashboard using specialist equipment; you also will not know if the procedure has been carried out correctly until you get into a crash. To avoid potentially losing your own life, or the life of somebody close to you, you should always put safety first and rely on a qualified professional when fixing an airbag.
Now you know which vehicle fixes you should definitely leave to the professionals, you can save money, stay safe, and know your limits!