Learning to work on your own car can be an awesome experience. Don't believe me? Check out these three reasons why you should consider it.
I've written quite a few blog posts about saving money now, so this point should come as no surprise.
The labour cost per hour for fixing your car can be as much as £100+VAT at main dealerships :O (although I'm pretty sure the people who can afford that won't be reading my blog) so learning to do a few simple things yourself can definitely be a good investment.
Not sure where to start? There's lots of useful stuff on the internet to get you started (including a few of my own tutorials) and picking up a Haynes manual for your car is always a good shout too.
But before you get too excited I'll add one word of caution: if you do want to work on your own car to save some money don't do a half-arsed job of it.
If you don't put in the effort to do a proper job and pick up bad habits it will actually end up costing you money, as a poorly maintained car will wear out much faster than a well looked after one.
In short, just remember that there's no such thing as a free lunch- the money that you save is a fair trade for the extra effort you'll put into working on your car.
Learn a (Physical) Skill
There's much to be said about the confidence boost you get from learning a physical skill. The internet has objectively improved our lives (Black Mirror-esqueness aside) but the skills you can learn with technology- like coding or graphic design- are not real and tangible, the way that working on your car is.
I don't expect you to become a professional mechanic (in fact, learning a skill that's very different from your day job has been shown to reduce work-related stress).
The sense of competence you get from fixing something that you use every day (assuming you use your car everyday) can't be beaten.
Competence breeds confidence, and if you're trusting in your abilities enough to drive around in the car you've worked on that's cause for celebration (and for this reason, please be sure you know what you're doing- take a class, get some advice from a trusted authority- over confident, under qualified people "having a go" can often be a recipe for disaster!)
Know Exactly What's Been Done to Your Car
Knowledge is power!
One of the worst things for us is getting a car in the workshop with running issues which we've never worked on before.
You'll spend twice as long diagnosing a fault when you don't know a car's history (read: whether or not it's been properly looked after) and customers aren't always very helpful because:
a) They don't have a clue about their car, besides how to drive it
b) They have an unshakeable faith in "Phil two doors down" who works on their car for beer money and won't hear the slightest insinuation against him (they're only here now because Phil went on holiday five weeks ago and never seems to be home when they come round any more)
c) They're cagey as hell and have this weird notion that if they downplay how bad the issue is the power of their story will magically fix the car and won't cost them any money
Yeah. Um, thankfully we get customers like this hardly ever.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the mechanics I know are awesome, professional, hard-working people but if you do choose to do a job on your car yourself at least you'll know exactly what's been done to it, making it much easier to diagnose faults- even if you do have to take it to a garage for professional help because the more information you can give them about a fault the less time they'll need to spend checking over different things, thereby saving you money.
Bonus Round! Two Reasons to NOT Work on Your Own Car...
I lurrve old cars so admittedly this isn't really my area, but I am aware that people who buy newish second-hand cars go crazy for a full service history and will pay more for a car with one- so if you're working on your own car that you want to one day sell on and the service book isn't getting stamped by a garage you might not be able to get as much for it.
Not Having the Right Equipment
There are loads of thing you can do on your own car with a very basic tool set, but sometimes without the right equipment a relatively easy job can be nearly bloody impossible to accomplish.
I'm all for doing jobs yourself, but if you know there's a much quicker and easier way to do something with the right tools you can feel like a bit of an idiot struggling on without them.
So if there's a job that will take you a very long and frustrating weekend to do without the right equipment but a garage can do it for you in a couple of hours or less, ask yourself if the money saved is really worth your time and effort.
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