I always tell people, I’m quite sure I could fix that problem with my car, but I just don’t want to. We’ve always lucked out, having friends at each duty station who enjoyed tinkering with their cars, and would work with my husband as he fixed things on his Mustang or changed the oil. I would gladly make some cookies or pour some lemonade as they worked hard, anything to cut down the cost of those vehicle repairs.
So what ways can you save some money while doing your own vehicle maintenance?
Air National Guardsman Christopher Bernard shares how he got to the point of being comfortable doing his own maintenance.
“The first big project I did on my own was replacing the brake pads and rotors on our SUV,” he said. “As someone who didn’t have any experience in making vehicle repairs, I learned some important lessons.”
Watch the whole YouTube video, read the whole tutorial. In fact, watch a few videos and read the online guide. Don’t cut corners here!
Preparation is the most important part — you don’t want to take apart the car and then discover you need to go buy another part.
Bernard continues with some advice. “Effectively diagnosing a mysterious sound or other issue is also an important starting point for deciding if you will attempt a repair, or take it to a professional. Sites such as www.automd.com can help identify an issue, and provide guidance on making repairs or getting a fair price with a mechanic.”
Of course there are some people who are willing to jump in with both feet and start by repairing something complicated. And then there are those who will want to start with something simpler.
Auto mechanics exist for a reason, so if you are at all hesitant about whether you can complete the task yourself, you should get a second opinion.
With all things on the first attempt, a backup plan is going to be your best friend. Do you have a second family car in case the repair takes longer than expected? Or in case you need another piece to finish the repair job? What if you totally blow it and need to then get your car to a mechanic, can you afford that? Think about the whole process before getting started.
Having a backup plan for how you will handle a problem is another important factor. Can you get a ride to an auto parts store if you are missing a critical item? If you accidentally render your vehicle undriveable, do you have access to an affordable towing program, like AAA, that can help you get your vehicle to a mechanic? Sometimes do-it-yourself projects are fun, and sometimes they are a disaster, and DIY vehicle maintenance can be the same.
Here are eight ways to start saving some money on vehicle repairs that Bernard shared:
- Keep spare bulbs (for headlights and brake lights) in your car.
- Use quality fuel and motor oil as a preventative tool.
- Keep an eye on areas that wear regularly, so you can plan for the replacement costs.
- Rotate your tires regularly and check the air pressure to prevent accidents and early replacement.• If you hear cracking or squeaking, have your serpentine belt checked.
- Make sure your wiper blades are in good shape, before you need them. Check them with the change of season.
- Changing your own oil and spark plugs may be a good way for you to start out and save some money.
- Remember that the first time may be more expensive, as you have to buy tools, but over the long run, it will save you money.