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Should I Service My Own Car?

One of the things that you should always factor into your budget when you buy a new car is the maintenance of that vehicle. It would be nice to think that cars never run into trouble, but this notion would be far removed from reality.

A number of people wonder if they can save a few dollars on their car maintenance by doing their own car repairs. The answer to this question is yes and no. Some things can be done by a handyperson with a good set of tools and some video tutorials on YouTube – ahh, bless the internet!

However, some other things require an expert because not only do you need specialty equipment, but if you fudge something, you run the risk of causing more damage.

So which repair jobs can you tackle yourself? Let’s take a look.

  • Oil changes: Just make sure that you drain the oil out of the right compartment if you have an automatic transmission so you don’t leave the gear system without lubrication. Get this wrong and you wreck the engine. Also remember to put the plug back in the drain hole BEFORE you pour new oil in. Many a humble DIY’ers have missed that one!
  • Air filter change: Another fairly simple task that every driver can learn how to do. A quick fix too!
  • Replacing light bulbs: You probably shouldn’t do this with more modern LED units, but old-style lamps can be replaced with ease.
  • Replacing your windscreen wipers: wax on, wax off! You don’t need a mechanic for this one, easy peasy.
  • Changing the fuel filter: Another comparatively simple task.
  • Changing the spark plugs: a little more complicated that some of the other tasks above, but as long as you have the tools for the job, this one can be done on a weekend arvo!
  • Replacing the drive belt: This one is probably as complex a task as the novice might want to tackle, and you need to make sure you remember which way the belt is configured. Photos help, and you will likely need to remove a few bits to get access, so this isn’t one for those with limited tools in the garage.




What about the things that you shouldn’t touch? You should never attempt the following unless you REALLY know what you’re doing:

  • Anything to do with the electronics or computer componentry. If it involves wires or circuit boards, leave it alone. You never know what can go wrong.
  • If you don’t have the right tools for the job, don’t improvise. Borrow the tool from a mate, buy yourself one (although this could end up getting expensive) or bite the bullet and take the car down to the mechanics and grit your teeth for the repair bill.
  • Anything you don’t have the right spare parts for. Even if you have some doubts around whether a replacement part is the appropriate part, err on the side of caution.
  • Unless you’re very well-versed in all things cars and mechanical, don’t tinker around with the brakes, nor too much with the cooling system, or deep down in the engine bay.