True story: My brotherâ€™s car broke down and we couldn’t get it to move. My husband, my brother, and I pushed it off the main road and called around to see what it could be done. We got the car towed to a local shop (our previous mechanic retired, so we just found someone nearby).
We learned the hard way
Shortly thereafter, we got a phone call from the shop. My brother needed to pay around $1, 200 to replace his clutch. The amount surprised us, and we asked if it would be possible to get it running so he could get home. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
We had the car towed back to my brotherâ€™s home thinking that itâ€™d be awhile before he had enough saved up for the repairs. Shortly thereafter, I received a call from my mom to let me know that the car was running again. She had an acquaintance who does car repairs, and she asked them for help. The total cost? Less than $20!
Do you know what they found? The car had no oil in it! They also replaced a missing hose. My brother is very fortunate that he didnâ€™t lose the car. He’s also fortunate that he didn’t spend $1, 200 on an unnecessary repair. He has now learned how to check and change his own oil, and we all learned a valuable lesson: Learning some of the basics of car repair can save you a lot of money.
Do-it-yourself isn’t hard
Maintaining a vehicle costs money, but just blindly trusting a mechanic can cost you even more money. In fact, typical labor rates range from $50-$120/hour. Being able to handle some basic car repairs can increase the life of your vehicle and keeping money in your pocket (some of which should be set aside for huge repairs).
If youâ€™ve never done this before, start small. Donâ€™t risk ruining your engine or transmission just to save a few bucks. Here are some relatively easy things you can do to keep your car in good condition:
- Check all fluids in your car (motor oil, washer fluid, and transmission fluid) and adjust their levels as needed
- Check, clean, and perhaps replace the air filter your car. When air filters are clogged, your gas mileage deteriorates.
- Check your tires to make sure the pressure is correct as determined by your ownerâ€™s manual. Keeping your tires at the proper inflation improves gas mileage and can extend the life of your tires.
- Check and maintain your car battery. Keep it clean by removing any deposits on the posts. They usually last around 5 years before needing to be replaced.
- Replace your windshield wiper blades if they are worn. Tell your local auto parts shop which car you need them for and theyâ€™ll find the match. You might also want to apply some Rain-X at the same time.
Look at your carâ€™s manual and follow that maintenance schedule given, some repair shops recommend more frequent maintenance schedules to increase their revenue.
DIY doesnâ€™t mean you canâ€™t have help
If it makes you feel more comfortable, help someone else with their do-it-yourself maintenance. This will give you a chance to ask questions and take notes. And once you’re ready to do your own maintenance, be sure to keep records of what you did and when.
If you need some sites to learn how to perform some of these maintenance checks, here are some helpful links that I found and used for the article:
- Change Your Own Oil
- Keep Your Battery Connections Clean
- Replace Your Fuel Filter
- Change Your Wiper Blades
If you doubt your abilities or want a professional to handle it, then by all means, find a good mechanic that you can trust.