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.
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!
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.