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DIY or Mechanic? Evaluating Your Car Maintenance and Repair Options

BY: Keith Benline
Auto mechanic holding a jug of motor oil

Being a car owner can be an incredibly rewarding experience, especially if you take pride in your vehicle’s condition and performance. Cars that are well taken care of will generally give their owners many more years of trouble-free service than vehicles that are not, and all it takes is a dedication to staying on top of scheduled maintenance.

Even with things like regular oil changes and wheel alignments, cars will sometimes develop problems that require a little more work than a simple tire pressure check. If you want to get your vehicle up and running again as soon as possible after a breakdown, you might wonder whether you should take it to the mechanic or if it will be worth trying to make the repair yourself.

Choosing between a DIY or professional car repair can be difficult, especially if you feel fairly confident in your mechanical abilities. Though many factors are involved in making the decision, most go beyond whether you are mechanically inclined. It is important to understand your different options when it comes to getting maintenance and repairs done, as well as what each one has to offer.

By evaluating your choices, you can make the best decision for yourself, your car, and your wallet.

Pros of DIY Maintenance

One of the first things that will come to mind when deciding whether to repair yourself or bring your car to a shop is the cost. Undoubtedly, taking your vehicle to a professional mechanic will be more expensive than fixing it in your driveway.

Even if the job requires tools you don’t already have, it will almost always be cheaper to purchase them and repair them, especially if it’s something simple like an air filter replacement. Plus, you will already have them in your garage if another issue comes up that requires them further down the line.

Taking your vehicle to a shop can also be a hassle if you have a tight, busy schedule that you adhere to. Since most shops are only open during regular business hours, you may have to take time off work to get your vehicle there and pick it up.

When working on your car yourself, you can get the work done and visit the auto parts store at your convenience. This can make the whole process much less stressful and take some pressure off you to get your vehicle back on the road.

One of the most important advantages of DIY car maintenance or repairs is the personal satisfaction you can get from accomplishing something that is a challenge. Overcoming obstacles and using your hands to do something concrete can give you a welcome self-confidence boost.

If you are someone who loves to meet challenges head-on and come up with solutions while learning a new skill at the same time, DIY maintenance and repairs could be a great opportunity for you to do so.

Challenges of DIY Maintenance

While DIY maintenance and service can be a fulfilling endeavor, it can also have its own set of disadvantages. One of the biggest obstacles you might face is the possibility of doing more damage than good. If you do not have any auto repair experience, attempting to fix an issue or do a maintenance procedure on your own can end up costing you more money and time in the long run.

Things like adding the wrong fluid, forgetting to tighten a bolt, or installing incompatible parts can all have disastrous consequences. Plus, many maintenance and repair procedures require specialized tools or equipment such as lifts or compressors, and if you don’t know how to use them properly, they could be serious safety hazards.

On top of the potential financial and safety issues involved, fixing and maintaining your vehicle is time-consuming. Not everyone has the energy or the room in their schedule to make the necessary repairs, especially if you are just learning how to work on your own car.

If you are looking to make your repair as quickly and easily as possible, it will be well worth it to pay the extra money and take it to a shop. This way, you can not only rest easy knowing it will be done correctly, but you can also take one more task off your plate.

Advantages of Professional Mechanic Services

Taking your vehicle into the shop has a lot of advantages, especially if you are concerned about keeping it in the best possible condition. When you bring your car to a reputable, experienced mechanic, you can be certain that the job will be done correctly and that your car will be in top shape when you get it back.

A professional shop with auto certifications will have all the necessary tools and equipment to do the job safely and efficiently. Things like lifts, pneumatic tools, and diagnostic equipment will help them accurately diagnose the issue and get it fixed much quicker than you would be able to in your driveway. This can give you some excellent peace of mind, knowing that everything has been done to the highest standard.

When you go to a professional auto repair shop, you also benefit from any guarantees and warranties they offer on their work. This means that if the issue isn’t fixed the first time, you can bring your vehicle back and have them work on it again without worrying about the financial repercussions.

This is why it is so important to go to a shop with a good reputation and that stands behind their work. A shop guarantee to fall back on can help you rest easy knowing your vehicle is being taken care of.

The Limitations of Professional Mechanic Services

Taking your vehicle to a professional shop is not without its disadvantages. One of the biggest barriers to getting a mechanic to work on your car is the repair bill. The average cost of labor for a professional mechanic is $142.66.

When you add this labor cost to the price of any parts that might be involved in making a repair, you can expect to pay quite a bit for even a fairly routine visit. If you are someone who has a curiosity about your vehicle and wants to save money, DIY might be a better, less expensive option for you.

One of the downsides of taking your vehicle to a mechanic with a reputation for doing excellent work is the possibility of wait times. Depending on the complexity of your repair and the availability of replacement parts, you could find yourself without a car for a few days or more.

If you depend on your vehicle to go about your daily life, whether you commute or use it for commercial purposes like rideshare or delivery, this could be a major inconvenience. In some cases, you might be able to get the job done faster yourself with a little bit of ingenuity and research.

Choosing the right mechanic can also be a tricky process. Unfortunately, auto shops have a reputation for being less than honest, which might make you apprehensive about going to one for your auto repair needs. This is why it is so important that you seek out shops that are certified and have good standing with other drivers in your community.

Reading reviews by other people who have gone to them can be a good way to see how they treat customers and the quality of their work. People who have had a good experience with a shop will be more than happy to share that; the same goes for people who have had a bad experience.

Factors to Consider When Making Your Choice

Deciding whether to bring your vehicle into a shop or try a DIY repair or vehicle maintenance task is more than simply weighing the pros and cons. Every situation will be different and warrant a different decision every time. One of the biggest factors to consider is how complex the task is.

A simple engine oil change or tire rotation is easy to do at home and requires very little in the way of tools or experience. Something more complicated, like a fuel injection replacement, should most likely be done by a professional mechanic shop that can measure the engine’s compression and ensure everything is working as it should be. Knowing how complicated your repair or maintenance needs are will help you decide whether you should do it yourself.

Your personal mechanical knowledge and experience will also play a big part in making your decision. If you are mechanically inclined and good at solving problems, it could be well worth it to attempt a repair on your own, even if it is something you aren’t entirely familiar with.

All kinds of resources, including your owner’s manual, can guide you through almost any repair or maintenance procedure. If you are comfortable and confident in your abilities, it could be an excellent opportunity to learn something new and save a lot of money in the process.

Before you decide whether a repair is worth doing on your own, you should consider the entire cost of doing so. DIY repairs are not always the cheapest way to get your vehicle fixed, especially if they require special tools or equipment. Buying tools that you might not ever use again will not be a good investment, and you may be better off simply letting a certified shop that already has the tools and materials on hand take care of the repair.

If you enjoy the experience of working on your vehicle and expect to use the tools again, though, these expenses could eventually end up paying for themselves. Knowing the repair costs going in and weighing them against one another will help you decide which route will be best for you and your bank account.

Balance Costs, Time, and Quality With Endurance

While fixing your car yourself can certainly be a rewarding experience, it won’t always be the most cost-effective or convenient way to get your car back up and running. If you have any doubts about doing a DIY repair, a certified mechanic will be your best bet. Should you decide that bringing your vehicle to the shop is the right course of action for you when a repair comes up, it is important to have a protection plan that can help you pay for it.

An aftermarket warranty, also called a vehicle service contract (VSC), can help you get your car to the shop when needed and save you money in the process. Choosing a provider that offers top-notch service and coverage will take some of the weight of the decision-making off your shoulders.

Endurance has a wide variety of plans available, starting at just $99 per month – a lower price than many other competitors. Whether you want simple, basic powertrain coverage for a high-mileage car or protection for your high-end luxury vehicle, Endurance will customize a plan just for you.

Endurance will also cover vehicles other providers won’t, such as Canadian Gray Market vehicles, cars with a rebuilt or salvage title, and vehicles used for rideshare and delivery. Plus, you can choose from any certified mechanic or repair facility for your covered repairs to ensure that your car is getting the care it needs.

All Endurance customers get various standard benefits, including 24/7 roadside assistance, towing, lockout services, trip interruption reimbursement, and more. New customers can also take advantage of the Elite Benefits package for a small activation fee, which comes with bonus perks like up to $500 in collision discounts, key fob replacement, and more.

Contact our dedicated team at (800) 253-8203 in order to request a FREE quote. Alternatively, take advantage of our online store for an instant price preview so that you can shop with confidence.

You can also find more automotive expert resources on the Endurance blog. Explore FAQs, warranty provider comparisons, new car, truck, and SUV reviews, mechanical breakdown insurance guides for California drivers, DIY maintenance tips and tricks, and more.

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