Windshield wipers, headlamps or brake pads – in the course of a car’s life span, many spare & wear parts need replacement. In addition to the purchase price of the spare parts, many car owners try to avoid the costs of a visit to the garage. With some manual dexterity, you can easily perform certain car repairs yourself. We’ll show you when your own initiative is worthwhile and when it is better to rely on a professional.
DIY car repair – common facts
Only one or two decennia ago, DIY replacement of many car parts in model series of all current manufacturers were very common. A skilled survey of the engine and a private car hoist sufficed to perform a DIY replacement of brakes, shock absorbers and even gearboxes. Although this is still possible, over the years it has become increasingly difficult due to the growing proportion of car electronics. More and more car components are equipped with sensors and electronically controlled.
Even though DIY replacement of minor car parts is still possible, their number is shrinking. Particularly electronic car components are not for laymen. Faulty configuration can in the worst case prevent the car from starting or lead to unsafe interpretation of the driver’s data. The most important touchstone for DIY car repair is the observation if it concerns mechanical repair or whether intervention in the car electronics is required.
The car parts you can repair yourself without any trouble!
|1. Lighting: in case of lighting malfunction, the replacement bulbs can easily be screwed in and so a garage visit be avoided. This applies to all car models with the traditional light bulbs. A xenon headlight lasts considerably longer, but its replacement requires a visit to the garage. DIY cleaning and polishing of headlights is a also possible.|
|2. Windshield wipers: If wipers are worn, preventing a clear view in case of rain and snow, they must be replaced as soon as possible. Pulling off and sliding on new wipers is a very simple replacement procedure for every layman to perform.|
|3. Paintwork and bodywork: by removing minor scratches or repairing dents the car’s appearance can considerably be improved. If this is a feasible DIY job depends on the extent of the bodywork damage. It is important to choose the right colour when touching up cracks and rust spots.|
|4. Tyres: DIY tyre change is still possible, although in modern cars it is necessary to pay attention to the electronic air pressure sensors. In this respect it is useful to observe the procedure in the garage to enable you to change your tyres yourself in future.|
You need a professional for the following car parts!
Even with the best of skills you should keep your hands off the car in certain areas. The most important areas for professional car repair are:
|1. Car electronics. Most car components are nowadays controlled electronically. In case of error notification on the dashboard or physical damage to the cables and parts, you risk making the situation worse by DIY interference.|
|2. Cooling system and air conditioning. If the cooling system of your car is malfunctioning, all system components must be checked on leakages and new coolant, a delicate chemical substance, added. These operations are best left to the professional.|
|3. Engine and transmission. Both components are the heart of your car when it comes to drive and the maximum performance. Even replacement of the smallest spare parts can lead to serious engine damage or untimely wear in the gearbox. Even if the replacement appears to be technically successful, very often the car loses performance potential.|
Car repair, when model and individual situation are decisive
|– Replacement of brakes and shock absorbers: Both parts are essential for traffic safety and require replacement if wear has been noticed. In older cars these are purely mechanical parts. Especially the amount of work and the necessary time speak against DIY repair. In modern cars, professional repair (SACHS) is inevitable.
|–Spark plugs: Spark plugs are vital for the ignition of the fuel mix and they are the easiest accessible components in the engine. DIY unscrewing and installing new spark plugs is possible with some car expertise. This must be done safely and carefully to prevent engine damage. In case of doubt, it is better to visit the garage.|
|– Oil change and oil filter replacement: Adding oil presents no problem for laymen. A complete oil change with removal of the oil carter and replacement of the oil filter or gaskets is considerably more complicated. In essence it is a case of the proper tools, a car hoist and the required skill.|
Further practical tips for car repair
The initiative for DIY car repair is almost always financially motivated. It is therefore important to know how expensive car repair by a professional garage would turn out to be. DEKRA offers services such as repair cost calculation, providing concrete information on repair costs for minor damage.
Many garages are aware of car owners considering DIY repair for financial reasons and provide special offers. Services like Smart Repair for minor damage such as dents and scratches can be found nationwide. Research by the AA suggests informing yourself about the provider first. Services and costs vary greatly. It might be worthwhile asking for an estimate at different similar repair services.
Ultimately, equipment is a decisive factor for DIY repair. In addition to classics such as wheel spanner and jack you need an extensive set of torque spanners, screwdrivers, ratchet and other spanners as well as many other tools. If you are not equipped with a large tool box, you should consider again. The purchase of tools for a once-off repair might turn out to be more expensive than the alternative of visiting a garage.
Our conclusion on DIY car repair
The possibilities of DIY car repair have decreased considerably over the past decennium. If it concerns the engine performance or car electronics, absolute professional knowledge is required and a visit to the garage recommended. Nowadays, only the replacement of simple wear parts can be done by every car owner.