The auto repair industry brings in approximately $880 billion annually. In many cases, car repairs are well worth the money spent — especially if a car owner does not have a great deal of time or energy to learn how to perform a repair on his or her own. However, many car repairs are simple to learn, especially with help from the internet. In other cases, the cost of parts exceeds the cost of labor, so a driver may end up spending the same amount of money on repairs either way. For this reason, the experts at DriversServices.org have put together a list of tips to help car owners determine whether they can complete a vehicle fix on their own, or if they need to hire a mechanic.
Get Basic Tools
According to the group of experts at DriversServices.org, many car repairs can be performed using several basic tools — regardless of whether the car is old, new or foreign. If a car owner has access to several basic tools, he or she can likely complete a vehicle fix without the need for a mechanic. These basic tools include the following: an adjustable wrench, a torque wrench, a socket and ratchet set, pliers, Philips and flat head screwdrivers, and a jack.
Before a car owner even thinks about bringing a vehicle in for repairs, the team at DriversServices.org highly recommends starting with a Google search. Doing so helps car owners to determine whether a car repair is a quick and easy fix, or if they are better off hiring a mechanic to perform the job. Online resources such as Vehicle Fixer use videos to walk drivers through how to perform simple car repairs. If a motorist can find a simple how-to video online, he or she can likely perform the fix on his or her own.
Get a Cost Estimate
Once you know which types of repairs need to be performed, the team at DriversServices.org recommends compiling car repair estimates to weigh the pros and cons of hiring a mechanic vs. fixing the vehicle on your own. Websites such as DriverSide, RepairPal and AutoMD allow you to search for the make, model and year of the vehicle to get local car repair estimates for your specific vehicle.
Consider the Cost of Parts vs. Labor
Once you have a cost estimate, the team at DriversServices.org recommends looking into the cost of the parts needed and the cost of the labor required. For instance, a 2010 Nissan Sentra in need of a fuel pump replacement will cost the vehicle owner approximately $568. However, the cost of parts makes up 71 percent of the total (at $400) compared to the cost of labor, which makes up 29 percent of the total (at $168). In this case, the car owner may be better off taking the vehicle in for repairs. A mechanic can perform the repair in just over an hour, but it may take an amateur several hours to complete the fix. On the other hand, the estimated cost of a drive belt replacement for a 2010 Nissan Sentra is $167. To perform this repair, the parts would cost only $21, while labor would cost $145. In this case, a driver would be better off completing the fix on his or her own.
Determine If the Fix Is Minor
In many cases, even the most inexperienced driver can learn how to perform basic car repairs. For instance, you can do all of the following without the help of a professional mechanic:
- Replace or tighten a drive belt
- Replace an alternator and/or battery
- Replace the vehicle’s brake pads, rotor and calipers
- Fix coolant leaks (if the driver can locate the leak)
- Replace the vehicle’s air filter and/or fuel filter
- Replace spark plugs and wires
- Perform an oil change
- Replace the vehicle’s distributor cap and rotor
In many cases, motorists can learn how to perform these fixes by completing a simple internet search. However, if the cost of parts exceeds the cost of labor by a great deal, or if the car owner does not have time to learn how to complete the fix, he or she may be better off bringing the vehicle in to a mechanic.