by P Sanchez
Recently, a research conducted by IMR Inc. shows the top 10 repair jobs that vehicle owners and car repair shops do to cars.
Oil and oil filter changed*
Wiper blades replacement*
Replace air filter*
Quite a few of the items on the list (the ones with the asterisks) are very doable DIY jobs which is great especially if you are trying to save a couple of dollars in labor. Plus, you can’t beat the sense of fulfillment of attending to the needs of your car like a bonafide grease monkey.
But why have a professional do all the hard work for you? Aside from the huge convenience and the time saved on your part, I’ll present other notable reasons why DIY is not always the best way to go.
Oil and Oil Filter Change.
There are probably more than a dozen videos on Youtube showing how to change your car’s oil and oil filter on your own but here are some practical reason why you should let your auto shop mechanic do it for you
You’ll need special equipment. Unless your vehicle is a lifted off-road truck, getting under the engine bay where the oil plug is will be a challenge. Using the jacks that came with your car is great if you’re just changing a tire but it won’t cut it if you want to create enough room to work under your low slung sedan. You’ll need special jacks to raise the car and two jack-stands to safely hold the car high. Alternatively, you can also use a pair of wheel ramps.
You’ll also need something like a very large oil pan to catch the dirty spent oil and containers to keep all of it. You’ll also probably need a special wrench specifically made to pry open the oil filter canister from the engine. Unless you’re a real automobile nut, it’s unlikely that you have jack-stands, wheel ramps or an oil filter wrench just lying around your garage. Sure, you can rent those types of equipment from specialty places, but that becomes a separate undertaking altogether.
Underbody inspections. Having your oil changed at the shop brings a rare opportunity for you to view the undercarriage of your car which is very difficult to do when the car is to the ground. Although most shop’s policy will disallow you from getting directly under your car when its raised high on the hydraulic lift, you’ll probably be allowed to do a cursory inspection from the sidelines. A quick look can reveal issues like leaks from the engine, transmission, shock absorbers or brake lines. It can also show the condition of the underbody, like corrosion or rust formation.
Not having to deal with the mess is the last practical reason why you should have your oil changed at the auto repair shop . Sure, you’re up to getting your hands and clothes dirty doing-it-yourself but what will you do with the waste oil? You can stock-pile them temporarily but you’ll have to eventually get rid of them and there are laws how you should dispose of used oil. Places that do oil changes can dispose of the used oil for you but if you’re planning to make the trip to the shop anyways, why not have them do the oil change in the first place?
(Note: The same can be said about having your radiator flushed and antifreeze changed: the pros have the equipment to do the procedure and the know-how to dispose of the used fluid. )
Wiper Blades Replacement
Something as easy as replacing your wiper blades should be done totally DIY, right? Just read the instructions on the manual and the process usually takes less than a minute with no tools necessary. So why go through the hassle of having a mechanic do it for you? For one, the place you bought the wipers from may actually do it for you for free as part of their customer service. Also, a reputable car repair service or a trusted mechanic can make your visit worth its while by providing a free check of your car’s other safety features such as the washer fluid level, tire pressure and thread condition, and the brakes. It’s not often that you’ll have to have your wipers replaced so why not have a mechanic have a go at your other safety systems?
(Note: The same reasoning goes for replacing the air filter. Sure, swapping air filters is easy to do: just make sure the new filter fits your car’s make and model and it’s just a drop-in procedure. But since a mechanic will be fiddling away in your car’s engine bay replacing the filter, he can also do quick checks with the other engine vitals like fluids and battery voltage. These checking services are offered free in most places. And if you're in doubt about unsolicited repair recommendations, you can always go for a second opinion from a car repair shop or mechanic that you do trust.)
The biggest caveat here is finding a car repair service or mechanic that you can count on. The reality is that there will always be unscrupulous individuals who'll pounce on the chance to make a quick buck from unnecessary car repairs. But there are also people and places who take car repair as an honest vocation. So do your research, ask around, see which auto repair shop you can trust, whether it's for a complex undertaking such as an engine rebuild, or something seemingly mundane like replacing your windshield wiper blades.