DIY – Auto Repairs

The LIST of repairs

My car is quickly approaching the dreaded 100,000 miles. Duh duh duuhh… the check engine light came on just before I took it for an oil change the other day.  $600.00 later I got a new thermostat and a list of some other repairs requiring attention in the very very near future.  Said repairs are general maintenance things, but to have the dealership do then will cost me a small fortune (like $1,700). I am by no means a mechanic, but I know enough to get by. I also know enough that I can get a new battery and install it myself (and/or get help from the AutoZone employee) for much less than $170.00.

Please do not mistake me, the gentleman at our dealership is very kind and not condescending or pushy. I simply know that the items on the list can be fixed for much less than what they would charge and can be done relatively easily. The internet has a wealth of how-to videos available in addition to car manuals and forums. You may also know someone who has mechanical experience or be brave and ask the store employees.

Who's idea was this?
Who’s idea was this?

Case in point: I borrowed my mom’s tools to change the spark plugs I purchased for $25.00. When I went to change them out I found that I needed an additional socket because my spark plug hoods are screwed closed. She brought them to me on Thanksgiving and my brother-in-law (who used to be a mechanic) changed them out for me while I held the flashlight. It took fifteen minutes, if that. I would have paid the dealership a whopping $200.00. I saved $75.00 just on this one repair.

Although not mentioned on the list, my passenger side headlight was out. I followed the online videos to change it out. I had to stop after taking off the bumper (yes, the bumper) because I did not have the right socket (note to self – buy sockets!!). Then the husband got home, reached his freakishly long fingers in, undid the cap thing, and changed the light. I then reattached the bumper, somewhat defeated. I am nothing if not good at following directions though. I have no idea what it would have cost us to have the light changed at the dealership or a service shop but I paid less than $10.00 for the light bulb. Even better, I got to take pictures of my boys “working” on the car – fun times!

Hard at Work
Hard at work on the repairs!

Auto repairs can be intimidating and costly – they do not have to be. Know what you think your limits are, like changing an air filter for instance, and do a little research. Chances are you are more than capable of doing the repair yourself and you will in turn save yourself some money.