When to Call a Mechanic Vs. When to Do It Yourself

There’s a line. But where is it? The fact is, it’s different for everyone.

            Like most of life’s big purchases, owning a vehicle comes with big responsibilities. Upkeep and roadworthiness should be at the top of the list for anyone who owns an automobile. The problems that occur with our cars often fill us with dread. We keep our fingers crossed that when we take our cars to a mechanic that the repairs won’t cost too much money, but more often than not, it does. Therefore, it can be a very important and maybe even painful decision to take our cars in for repair. With the price of autos and auto parts only expected to rise in the next few years, many people are opting to take on maintenance or small repair projects themselves.

            Some people who have no experience with auto repair will call on a mechanic for even the smallest problems. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this option if you have the money and don’t have the time. However, many people do like to at least try to solve the little problems themselves. Those who have experience successfully completing simple maintenance jobs on their car or truck might begin to think they can take on larger projects. The trick is to know your limits. Just because you changed a headlight or a windshield wiper blade, it doesn’t mean you should try replacing your right front axle shaft. You don’t want to get into something you can’t tinker your way out of that’ll end up costing you more money.

            Then there are the more accomplished DIY auto fixers. You’ll find them under the hood of a car on most weekends and they would sooner die than pay for an oil change. If you know someone like this, they can be a good ally to have. However, they will probably try to convince you that you can indeed replace both your right and left front axle shaft. Now, it’s one thing if they are going to take time out of their weekend to help you. It’s an entirely different one if they insist that you can do it and leave you to your own devices.

            Most people leave anything beyond an oil change or brake pads to a professional. And while there isn’t a specific line or a rule that governs when to take your car to a mechanic over a DIY fix, common sense should prevail. With the thousands of videos online, as well as so many great online parts retailers, at-home auto projects have never been easier to attempt. The question remains though, when should you attempt it? For starters, only try to fix what you know you can handle. This requires you to be honest with yourself. If you know you’re probably going to make the problem worse, call a mechanic.

            It’s one thing being able to change a tire in a pinch. It’s an entirely different one replacing a right front axle shaft. If you are confident in your abilities, have the right tools for the job and time to spare, you could go the do-it-yourself route. The key is planning. Make sure you have the right tools. If you know someone with more experience, ask them to help.  And finally, make sure you get the right parts. The difference between a job well done and a wasted weekend with a driveway full of car parts is a lack of proper planning.

            The best way to be certain you get the right part in time is to use an online auto parts store. Most neighborhood auto parts stores are simply a middleman, ordering parts online and having them shipped to the store at a markup. If you know you’ve got a project coming up, get the make and model of your vehicle and find the serial numbers of the parts you need. Then take this information to the internet. There are dozens of online retailers offering quality parts. You’ll find your right or left front axle shaft, pay for it and in seconds, it’ll be enroute to your house. Most of the better online retailers have different shipping options. So, if you’re getting it for next weekend or you need that part pronto, they can sort you out.

            Once you have the part or parts you need and a clear understanding of what you need to do, you should be able to conquer all. However, if something goes awry, call a mechanic. Having a professional you trust in your phone can bail you out of a jam. You might even save some money by having them install that part you bought online instead of buying one from their shop.

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