6 Car Repairs You Should Never Do Yourself
Taking care of basic repairs and maintenance tasks yourself is a great personal finance hack. With a little time and elbow grease, you can save quite a bit of cash.
But certain tasks are well beyond what the average person should be tackling themselves. Taking on tasks well outside your skill level is actually the opposite of smart personal finance, as it can end up costing you significantly more in the long run.
One of the areas rife with these sorts of experts-only problems is auto repairs. Modern cars require so much specialized know-how and equipment that trying to DIY your way through anything but basic repairs is asking for trouble. Here are a few examples of car repairs to leave to the pros.
1. Computer / sensor issues
A couple decades ago, cars were much simpler machines. These days, however, most automobiles are complicated computerized electronics on wheels. In other words, just about everything in your vehicle is controlled by a computer.
As anyone who has accidentally set their phone to the wrong language can attest, it doesn’t take much to mess up a computerized system. This can have serious safety consequences, not to mention cause cascading failures throughout the vehicle. If your car needs any kind of work on its computers, sensors, or major electrical systems, let a professional handle it.
2. Anything that requires removing multiple parts
There are some basic car repairs that most of us can manage. Some of these repairs even require removing the occasional part for access to something else. But if your car needs a repair that will require you to remove multiple parts — that might be the time to turn to an expert.
For one thing, many parts in your vehicle require specialized tools to remove. These tools can get expensive quickly. Even affordable tools don’t make sense to buy if you’re only going to use them once.
And, of course, the more items you remove, the more you have to put back. If you’ve ever disassembled something for cleaning, only to wind up with extra parts once you put it back together…well, let’s just say you wouldn’t want to find out after the fact that you suddenly have a “spare” bolt.
3. Electric vehicle repairs
The modern gas-powered car is about as close to older combustion engines as a high-speed rail is to the model train under your Christmas tree. Similarly, electric vehicles are about as close to modern gas-powered cars as they are to those little electric remote-controlled cars they sell to children.
That is to say, even experienced mechanics avoid electric cars if they haven’t specifically trained on them.
The best YouTube video out there isn’t going to give you the specialized education necessary to do anything but the most basic maintenance on an electric vehicle. If you have an EV, make sure you also have a qualified mechanic. This isn’t DIY territory.
4. Windshield repairs
Your windshield is the only thing standing between you and thousands of insects. Not to mention rocks, dirt, and other debris on the road. But all windshields eventually wind up with chips and cracks.
That’s when you call a pro. No matter how easy the commercials make it look, repairing or replacing a windshield isn’t easy. Not only does it require specialized tools, but it also takes actual training, too.
If your windshield isn’t properly fitted and secured, it could quite literally be ripped off at high speeds. And a poorly repaired chip could easily turn into a crack — or worse. I can imagine having your windshield shatter at 70 mph on the highway isn’t particularly pleasant.
5. Recall-related repairs
You’d be hard-pressed to find a vehicle on the market that hasn’t had something recalled at some point. Manufacturers (or the NHTSA) put out recalls for everything from airbags to door latches.
While it’s absolutely a great idea to address a recall-related issue as soon as possible, you shouldn’t do it yourself. There are a few reasons for this, starting with the fact that recalls generally only happen when there is a safety issue. And when it comes to your vehicle’s safety, it’s probably best to let a professional handle the issue.
But, perhaps more importantly, it’s not even going to save you any money. That’s because repairs due to recalls are always paid for by the manufacturer. All you need to do is contact them to schedule the repair and show up. They should handle the rest free of charge.
6. Anything that could void your warranty
Most new cars nowadays come with fairly long warranties. At the long end, you could qualify for up to 10 years of full coverage. Even manufacturers with short, three-year bumper-to-bumper warranties still include much longer warranties to cover the drivetrain.
These warranties can be worth their weight in saffron (the world’s most expensive spice; it’s worth more, per pound, than gold). That is, unless you mess up a DIY repair and manage to void that warranty.
What is — and isn’t — allowed will vary by manufacturer and, perhaps, by the model. While most should allow basic repairs and maintenance, many will likely require major repairs to be handled by a competent mechanic.
For the DIYer, it’s always tempting to try to shave some cost off whatever car issues crop up. But sometimes the smartest thing you can do is know when to call in the expert’s car and truck batteries to deliver the performance you deserve