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Do It Yourself Auto Repair

Is the nostalgia of do it yourself auto repair going away? From father-son restoration projects, to oil changes in your driveway, to the neighborhood backyard mechanic advice is there a value to lifting the hood yourself?

With the changes in technology and the need for powerful computers to diagnose your late model car I would say fewer and fewer DIY projects are available on your car. While we do believe there is still value to DIY projects, we offer words of caution. A mistaken well-intended do it yourselfer project, some out of date advice from an old timer back yard mechanic can cost you dearly if you’re not careful.

First you need to identify the purpose of your DIY project. Is it to save money, satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself or a bonding moment with your 16-year-old son that you are after?

Let’s start with the “project car”. We hear a lot about these, the typical 68′ Mustang or an old VW Bug. This is a great experience for a father-son or even daughter to bond and spend weekends in the garage tinkering, trips to the parts store and learning what dad knows about cars. There is a great sense of satisfaction when you and your child get that learners permit hot off the press and go for a spin in your new pride for the first time.

Next we’ll talk about a weekend in the garage with your Monday-Friday transportation. Whether it’s a “simple” oil change, a belt replacement or a brake job, you need to be prepared and equipped with the right tools and experience to do the repair safely and properly. If you want the satisfaction of doing it yourself, just know your limitations. If you are trying to save money, be careful. A little bad advice from a neighbor who has a friend that knows someone who used to mechanic who slept at a Holiday Inn last night can cost you dearly. And remember, you need this car to get to work on Monday!

Here are a couple examples:
A listener wrote to tell us about needing to pay $3,500 for a transmission because a well-intentioned neighbor said to go ahead and add stop slip to the transmission. The neighbor thought it was a transmission problem. Guess what, it wasn’t, it had an engine misfire that gave a symptom similar to a transmission failure. The additive that this listener added turned out to be poison to their transmission. The additive may have been helpful as a last ditch effort on your dads 77′ Buick but the death blow to what was a perfectly fine transmission. In this instance, a bad spark plug ended up costing $3,500 more than some diagnosis and a handful of spark plugs.

Another listener just knew he had a bad fuel pump on the family mini van. After shopping around for the best deal on a fuel pump and buying a service manual he went for it! Well, after a few hours with the car on a jack (with jack stands, I hope) and a little gas dripping down his sleeve the fuel pump was installed. Oh no! The van did not start; the fuel pump was not bad! After having the car towed to the shop and spending a little money on diagnosis and testing it turned out to be a relay. The car was fixed for less than $200.

Tune in to Bumper to Bumper Radio Saturdays from 11:00 until noon right here on 92 3 KTAR. Host’s Matt Allen and Dave Riccio talk about anything related to cars. Call in with your questions 602-277-5827