QOTD: Do You Work on Your Own Car?

Auto Mechanics045

I was watching the auto news and found one story I’m not the least bit surprised to hear. Another enthusiast got his car to a dealership so they could fix some triviality only to have one of the service techs take it for a spin and crash it. It’s something that just seems to get more and more common, causing enthusiasts to turn away from dealerships and, in some cases, take matters into their own hands.

While the average modern car has enough electronics to have made NASA go green with envy a couple of decades ago, you can still do some simple jobs on your own. Changing your own oil, rotating tires, changing bulbs and general preventive maintenance are still within the reach of the average person, not to mention more intensive work that still doesn’t touch any electrics, i.e., changing a head gasket/spark plugs. Of course, more complex problems are perhaps best left to your trusty specialist.

Of course I say that, but I don’t actually do any work on my car. For one thing, I have found a trusty mechanic who’s not particularly inclined to go on a joyride (and even if he was, he certainly has better cars to do so in than mine). Second, it’s actually rather cheap to have it serviced there and they’ll work on absolutely anything I manage to push in into the shop. Third, and most importantly, I’m a bit of a klutz when it comes to technical work. When I say a bit, I mean less of a “Oh, I’ve scratched the finish while rebuilding it” and more “Oh no, Gerardo has done the touch of death on yet another innocent machine; may it rest in pieces.”


I’ve never taken apart and rebuilt anything without it being hopelessly broken afterwards–everything from laptops to a simple wind-up clock. If I take it apart, it is not going back together. A few bad experiences shouldn’t make me think that everything I touch will proceed to grenade itself in spectacular fashion, of course. But I still think It’s for the best I try and start with at least making sure things remain functional after I’ve taken them apart and put them back together before moving to the extremely complex machinery that makes my car move through the power of several thousand controlled explosions.

What about you? Do you approach repair and maintenance with an open wallet or an open toolbox? Is the maintenance of your car an incredibly complex task best left to somebody that obviously knows what they’re doing? Or is it something that if done by anyone else would simply mean that you’re being deprived of spending time with your pride and joy?

(PS: The Digital Millennium Act includes provisions that would make it illegal for owners and mechanics to access some of the codes of a car’s electronics for repair or customization. There is a movement/petition drive to exempt vehicle repair from its provisions. More info and a petition are here. – PN)