My Car Quest

August 13, 2022

Car Servicing Yourself vs A Professional Mechanic: What’s Better?

Which is better, do it yourself car servicing or a professional mechanic? It’s the age-old debate amongst car enthusiasts.

While the answer might resoundingly be ‘mechanics’ for those who know nothing about cars. For those who have a passion for cars, there is often a school of thought that it is better for them to service their own vehicle themselves.

Outlining what types of car maintenance might be appropriate to do yourself, whether it is actually cheaper to service your own car and more to the point, worthwhile doing it too.

What car maintenance can you do yourself?

Here are some general car maintenance tips which will enable you to keep your motor in good condition and generally prolong the lifespan of its roadworthiness.

As well as significantly reducing your car’s risk of break down, these routine checks could save you money too. They include the following:

Check water and oil levels on a weekly basis. If you know how to change the oil, you can do that too every 6 months or so too. However, you will need a jack, ramps or stand to do so, and know where to put it. As well as where to dispose of the old oil properly.

Evaluate your tyre pressure every month, as well as their tread wear, depth and overall condition.

Ensure all exterior lights are fully operational and replace any light bulbs that are not.

Change windscreen wipers and washers as necessary, and top up the washer fluid for the windscreen.

Keep an eye out for coolant or oil leaks underneath your car, which could be indicative of a wider problem.

Fit a brand-new air cleaner element should you require one.

Regularly, and safely, test the handbrake to make sure the vehicle remains stationary when parked on a steep gradient.

What about more complex maintenance?

When it comes to some of the more complex aspects of car maintenance, it is advisable to leave it to a fully qualified, licensed and professional mechanic. This includes the likes of adjusting the brakes, suspension, car steering and safety systems. Which could result in you causing serious harm to yourself, or others, because you are tampering with the core mechanics of the vehicle.

If you don’t know 100% what you are doing, mistakes like fitting brake pads the wrong way, or accidentally draining the gearbox oil, as opposed to the engine oil, are easy to make.

Accordingly, it can end up costing you more than you would otherwise have had to pay if you had just taken the car to a regular service with an Enji mechanic in the first place.

The pros and cons of DIY vehicle maintenance

When it comes to DIY vehicle maintenance there are some pros and cons associated with doing it. Some of the pros are as follows:

Potentially Cheaper

With the average logbook car service being just under $400 in Australia, conducting some of the maintenance yourself could potentially save you some money. Although this average cost does take in a range of factors including the make and model of your vehicle, your mechanic, where you live, and the type of service performed on it.

Flexibility

One of the good things about servicing the car yourself is that you can do it at a time that suits you.

Unlike when booking into a car mechanic, where you sometimes need to get up early or take a bit of time off work to drop off/pick up the car from them, you can fit in the DIY car servicing around your own schedule. This is great for those who have busy lives that involve taking the kids to school, going food shopping, weekend sports activities, and of course employment commitments.

Better understanding of your car

One of the main advantages to servicing your own vehicle is that you get first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of your car. This will help you to understand exactly how it should be running and would even allow you to rule out smaller issues, should something go wrong with it.

Sense of achievement

Another advantage to servicing your own car is the sense of achievement you get from doing so. There is nothing like learning a new skill and applying it in a way that could be beneficial to you.

Some of the cons are as follows:

Risk of causing more damage

If you don’t know exactly what you are doing, or you make a critical mistake, the downside of DIY car servicing is that you could do significant damage or disrepair to the vehicle. This could result in major safety implications, as well as huge financial costs in trying to rectify the issue.

As cars are very complex in their design, they often require specialist tools, equipment and knowledge to diagnose and fix an issue. A misdiagnosis could result in expensive and unnecessary parts being fitted, or in some scenarios, potentially even make your vehicle unroadworthy until such time as it is fixed.

Car Warranty and Insurance issues

Something else to be mindful of when it comes to DIY car servicing is the potential effect it might have on your car warranty and insurance. Should you decide to do car repairs yourself to the vehicle, as opposed to getting them performed by a licensed mechanic, this has the potential to void your warranty. Especially if you use parts that have not been approved to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Furthermore, authorised service centres and licensed mechanics usually have access to specialist tools and testing equipment that can enable them to complete your car repairs to the safety and coding standards required. Doing basic car servicing to your vehicle should not have an impact on your car insurance. Unless of course it is deemed to have been directly responsible for the cause of an accident, or damage to your vehicle.

However, it is important to note that DIY modifications to things like your exhaust system, brakes, bodywork or wheels could well invalidate your car insurance.

Reduces car resale value

As well as the impact it might have on your car warranty and insurance, DIY car servicing can also affect the resale value of your vehicle, if the work has not been done to the required specifications.

Takes Time

While it might be tempting to do the maintenance work yourself, it is important to realise that DIY car servicing can be very costly in terms of time, resources and energy. Yes, your labour is free. But if you are time poor it could mean sacrificing valuable relaxation time at the weekend, as well as the chance to spend some quality time with your partner, children, family or friends. Sometimes a job you think will only take an hour, actually ends up taking you half a day, when you realise what is fully involved in doing it.

Conclusion

As you can see, DIY car servicing can have its pros and cons. While it might save you money, it may have serious consequences too in terms of your vehicle’s road safety, as well as your finances and even the risk of injury.

Although there are some general things you can do to keep your car in top-notch condition, when it comes to the more specialist aspects of car servicing, it is much more advisable to leave it to the professionals.

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