DIY Vs. Seeing A Mechanic

by | Feb 22, 2021 | advice, Car maintenance

DIY: A Man’s World

There’s nothing that seems more manly than fixing up your own car. Rolling up your sleeves, getting covered in grease, and then driving your car down the street shouting “Whoop!” at the top of your lungs, because you are man, here you hoot!  Or maybe that’s just me.

I don’t know why we think this way, because the reality is that fixing a car is like a lot of skills: it takes a lot of practice and study and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can really screw it up. Do the job poorly and you’ll end up spending a lot more money than you should have. Take this example:


A recent customer was driving their van through town when the Coolant temperature light turned on, then turned off a minute later. Thinking it might be the coolant, they pulled over in a store parking lot to check. It turned out the coolant was low, so they purchased some to refill it. On the way home, however, the same thing happened; the coolant temperature light came on and went off.

At first, they decide to fix it themselves. They took to Google and looked up possible problems that would cause this and found walkthroughs on three different solutions. Each fix would take about 2 hours to do, which was a decent amount of time to invest. If they picked the wrong solution, the problem would happen again and they’d need to do it again. What did they do? They came to us.

A good thing they did, too, because after we checked, we found that a couple of hoses in the coolant system had gone bad. The way they broke down was very rare and there were no videos online even suggesting this could be a problem. Had they not come to us, they’d have spent a lot of time trying solutions to the wrong problem and the constant overheating of the engine might have ruined it. It cost them about $1000 to come to us and have the hoses replaced. If we hadn’t gotten to it fast enough, it could have cost $15,000 to replace the whole car.

Do It Yourself

changing a tire, something you can DIY

Changing a tire is definitely something you can do yourself photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Not everything about a car is so complicated you need a mechanic. Some things are very easy, like replacing windshield wipers, spark plugs, flat tires, and replacing oil or coolant. Some other things like doing an oil change are also simple enough that you can do it yourself, as well. The question is, should you?

For the very simple things I listed first, absolutely do it yourself. It’ll save you some time and money, as long as you make sure to read the car owner’s manual first to make sure you understand the specifics of your car. Some other things, like oil changing, can be done yourself, but it’s so cheap and quick for a mechanic to do it, why not take it to them and save yourself needing to get all covered in grease and oil? Sometimes, the convenience is worth paying $20 or $30. You can do it yourself if you like, but there’s little benefit to doing so.

There are a couple of things that you absolutely must check with a professional however.

When to Check With A Mechanic:

1. Changing The Clutch

The clutch is a really finicky part and replacing it is tricky. Given the danger you put yourself in if you get it wrong, don’t risk it.

2. Air Conditioning

There are a lot of parts and the arrangement is pretty complex. You need to have some basis in thermodynamics and pressure to do it properly, so unless you’re a professional, don’t try to do it yourself.

3. Air Bags

Air bags contain small explosives. If you don’t know what you’re doing, these can literally explode in your face. If that doesn’t kill you, it could still leave you with thousands of dollars in reconstructive surgery to get your face back. Do not risk it.

4. Replacing the Windshield

This may seem easy at first, but the windshield is a large pane of plexiglass. It can be unwieldy to lift and move, and could break if you drop it. You might also misapply the glue, leaving it improperly set. There’s too many ways to mess this up, so leave it to a professional.

5. The Gears

Same as the clutch, these are a bunch of fiddly, complicated parts and if you do them wrong, you’re in serious danger. Don’t try it.

6. Electrical Components

Modern cars have so many electrical components and they’re all tied up with onboard computers and sensors. If you don’t do these right, you can end up with the sensors not working properly, which means you’ll have no way to know if something is going wrong with your car until it breaks down. Best to leave this to professionals.

7. You Don’t Have Experience or Tools

Unless it’s very simple, you’re going to need some experience and tools before you can fix things. If you’ve never done anything like this before, don’t have someone who knows how to walk you through it in practice, or don’t have the tools needed to do it, take it to a mechanic. Doing it yourself only saves you money if you know how. Do it wrong, and you could end up paying ten to fifteen times what you would have if you’d just brought it in in the first place.

8. You Don’t Have Time

Fixing up a car takes time. It can take two or three hours to fix a problem you come across. If you don’t have two or three hours to devote to fixing it up in one go, trying to do it yourself will mean stretching the repairs across several times. This ends up seriously extending the amount of time your car remains out of commission. The time you lose ends up outweighing the money you save.

Let Us Help You Out

SE Perfomance shop exterior with our dogs watching you through the windowHere at SE Performance, we’re experts at fixing cars. It’s what we do. We’re not going to tell you that you should never do it yourself, as there are some times when it’s clearly faster and cheaper to do so. Don’t think that just because you can DIY one aspect of your car repairs, you can do it all, though. Some things are easy, some are not. If there’s any ambiguity as to what the cause of the issue might be, bring it in. If you aren’t an expert, it can be difficult to work out the problem if there are multiple possible causes. We have many specialized tools specifically for this and are more likely to be able to diagnose the problem than someone doing it on their own.

If you’re having any car problems, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. If it is something you can do yourself, we won’t have a problem telling you, either, if you want to do it that way. There’s no reason not to bring the car in if you’re not sure what the problem is. If it is a problem you can’t solve, we’ll be able to get it taken care of, saving you time and most especially, saving you money!

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