Don’t DIY: Five Car Maintenance Repairs That Require a Mechanic

February 10th, 2016 by

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There are car owners who are relatively handy with a wrench, and it doesn’t take them much to fix up any project, including a vehicle. However, there are several significant car repairs that shouldn’t be done yourself. As we’re about to cover, you’ll want an actual professional mechanic to handle several of your car’s major repairs.

Why can’t you do it yourself? Well, if you’re knowledgeable enough about the workings of your car’s mechanics, then have at it. However, if you only have general knowledge of car repair, you may find yourself in a larger financial hole if you end up making a mistake.

“One of the things that separates great mechanics from weekend-project disaster is knowing exactly what’s involved, and being able to figure out any other problem that happens along the way,” Brett Bodas, an ASET Master Technician, told Bengt Halvorson of TheCarConnection.com.

For example, the technician told of an owner who detached the vacuum line when replacing their air filter, or an owner who broke several lights as they attempted to fix their brakes. Often times, what seemed like an affordable car repair is now significantly pricier.

To be clear, this sentiment doesn’t necessarily apply to classic cars, as these vehicles practically required the owner to do all of the repairs.

“If you drive a ’64 Chevy, then sure, you can save money and do nearly all the repairs yourself,” says Bodas. “But on modern cars it’s more like, maybe you save $50, or maybe you do $500 in damage.”

Furthermore, the writer notes that code readers often give owners a false sense of security. Since the technology has pointed to a particular issue, the owner believes they can simply hone in and fix up their beloved vehicle. However, these readers can often be unreliable, and there’s no certainty that they’re actually pinpointing the legitimate cause of your car’s issues.

Either way, it’s important to understand the car repairs that you should be leaving to a mechanic. We’ll guide you through the process of recognizing which fixes can be done yourself, and you’ll have a better grasp of when you should be pursuing car maintenance.

Timing Belt

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If you’ve driven the same vehicle and compiled anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 miles on the odometer, you’ve probably had to dish out some extra cash to repair that timing belt. This particular part is one of the pricier repairs you’ll come across during the life of your car, as Halvorson projects that the fixes can cost anywhere from $450 to $1,000.

Still, despite the fact that the repair may set you back financially, you shouldn’t attempt to save some money by fixing this aging part yourself. Damaging the belt is rather easy, and you’ll be eying a much costlier repair if you end up compromising the part. Bodas told of a customer who damaged their timing belt, resulting in a $3,500 repair.

Transmission Repair

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You wouldn’t know it, but your car’s transmission includes thousands of tiny parts, meaning one wrong move could send the entire unit into turmoil. Transmission repairs aren’t usually too expensive, so the risk certainly doesn’t outweigh the reward in this situation.

You’re better off letting an actual mechanic fix up any transmission issues, even if it’s simply a fluid change or a flush. It’s important that these technicians are professional and dependable. Halvorson notes that “improper cleaning around connectors or gaskets” could end up hurting the entire system, as one tiny little spec of dirt could set you back thousands of dollars.

Cooling System

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You understand that your vehicle will get rather hot every now and again, so it’s only logical that the respective, responsible parts should be monitored and taken care of. If any aspect of the cooling system, including the hoses and thermostat, show signs of wear, we suggest taking your vehicle into a mechanic.

These types of fixes are for only the most “advanced” mechanics, so a simple guide from the internet certainly won’t help you in this situation. This is especially true if you’ve already noticed some overheating of the unit, as the issue will require immediate attention. It may be relatively hard to point to any one part when it comes to these kinds of issues, so leave it up to the professional to diagnose the problem.

Error Messages

You’ve probably been in this scenario before: your car is refusing to operate (Halvorson says stalling, hesitating, or surging are common issues) and then you see it, that dreaded ‘check engine’ light. There’s no telling what this issue may be, and even if you know a whole lot about automobiles, there’s a good chance that you’ll still be unable to diagnose this issue.

“It’s very common for people to just start replacing things and maybe create new problems in the process,” said Bodas.

Furthermore, when a code reader points to one particular issue, it’s not accounting for all of the necessary accompanying fixes. That’s why visiting a trusted and knowledgeable mechanic is essential. These technicians won’t only be able to recognize the issue, but they’ll also realize that fixing the one faulty part isn’t the end of the process.

Suspension

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As Halvorson points out, many aspects of a vehicle’s suspension may look relatively easy to fix. Whether you’re checking out the struts, arms or bushings, it appears to be relatively easy to replace these thin pieces of metal.

Not so fast, as a single miscue could end up ruining your car’s entire suspension. There’s a certain rhyme and order to fixing up this aspect of your vehicle, so it’d be easy for a non-professional to screw up the process. Furthermore, these repairs require specialized equipment to repair the system, technology that certainly can’t be acquired by your everyday do-it-yourself-mechanic. Assure that the job is done right by visiting an actual professional.

As Halvorson wrote, there are several repairs that you can certainly do yourself, and you won’t be risking further damage by fixing these issues. Repairs that can easily be done at home include replacing air filters and wiper blades, as well as performing a variety of “routine checks and minor maintenance items” like checking your vehicle’s fluids.

“In my opinion, owners should not attempt to do the majority of repairs on a modern automobile,” said Michael Calkins, the manager of AAA’s Approved Auto Repair program. “There are just too many things you can damage in today’s cars, and it’s not worth the risk.”

 

That’s what it ultimately comes down to. Several of these repairs may be a bit pricey, but you’ll be eyeing an even larger financial hole if you attempt to fix the issue yourself (and subsequently damage another part in the process). These professional mechanics and technicians actually understand what it takes to repair these units, and they’re also aware of any faulty accompanying parts. Whether you’re looking to replace your timing belt, repair your transmission or suspension, or investigating a curious ‘check engine’ light, you know the job will be done correctly if you visit a professional.

Unless you’re an expert, you certainly don’t possess this knowledge, meaning a visit to the mechanic is the most logical route.