Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Should you DIY repair your car?

Mechanics are expensive. We all know that; the feeling of worry the moment our car develops a fault and the mechanic comes to tell us what the damage is going to be. The slow realisation that just to get back on the road, we're going to need to kiss goodbye to a frankly staggering amount of money. Buying a car is expensive in and of itself, but then you factor in the maintenance costs and it all begins to feel insurmountable.

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Nevertheless, we persist. Cars might be expensive, but they're also hugely enjoyable, a passport to freedom and adventure on four wheels. If our budget doesn't stretch to repairs then, sometimes, it just doesn't happen. All of us have been behind someone in traffic and then noticed their fender appears to be attached with duct tape. If it'll go, it's all too tempting to conclude, then it'll do. Only when the car literally won't move will we consider running the expensive gauntlet of having a pro look it over.

The DIY method

In the meantime, a large number of people figure: "hey, mechanics can't be that hard? I'm going to give it a go myself. I'll figure it out. It's all online anyway, right - all the help guides I could need, and there's forums full of car enthusiasts who will guide me if I get it wrong..."

It's such a tempting thought; you, with grease on your hands, your head under the hood, putting your beloved vehicle back on the road. You convince yourself that you know what you're doing. You convince yourself that it must be possible for you to manage it; it's not rocket science! All you need to do is consult some of those friendly online guides, grab whatever supplies you need from Ateco Equipment, and then you'll be back motoring before you know it.

The danger of success

The first time most amateur mechanics tinker with their car, it tends to be in a fairly small way. Start small and build up. So you do a small repair for yourself; you fix a leak or solve a minor mechanical problem.

And it feels great.

You've done it! You think about the amount of money that you've saved and what you have learned from the experience. You're flush with confidence when everything is clearly working as it should be; when you return to the road with your car purring with contentment.

This is dangerous, because you're getting overconfident. You've yet to learn a harsh lesson. But if you continue down this train of thought, your comeuppance is going to come, especially if you take this early success as a sign you can handle bigger tasks.

Then the disaster happens

If you make the decision to delve deeper into your engine and take on bigger, more dramatic, tasks - then sure, you'll save yourself a lot of money by avoiding mechanics. You could also kill yourself, because the simple fact is you don't really know what you're doing. Using yourself as a crash test dummy is a very bad idea.

So play around with your understanding of how your car works and learn how to fix small problems, preferably with help from a qualified instructor. However, it's essential that for anything beyond a superficial repair, you think about safety and you take the plunge and take it to a mechanic. Any other choice than this could, very literally, be the last thing you do.


** This is a collaborative post

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