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car needing repairIf you have a warranty, I'd advise not even touching your own car. You'll likely void the warranty and cause yourself a bigger headache than whatever was wrong with the car in the first place.

If your warranty has expired, and you're on the hook for any parts and repairs, then you could save a lot of time and learn some new things by diagnosing and doing the work yourself.

According to Mark Gittelman, author of 'Diy Car Repair and Troubleshooting Car Problems', most people make the mistake of skipping stages in the diagnostic process. Here are the steps he advises when taking on DIY car repair:

  1. Get a good auto repair manual.
  2. Follow all the steps for diagnosing the problem.
  3. When you think you have found the problem, test the individual component.
  4. Replace the part only once you know that it is causing the problem.

You will save yourself high labor charges and marked-up parts by taking on some of your own car repair. Remember to focus on the diagnostics and not jump right into repair. Testing the suspect part first could save you a lot of time and money.

Here is another great list of How-to articles for diagnosing various car problems. Become your own best resource and know where to find the information you need. Even if you still end up at the mechanic, at least you'll be confident that you know what the problem is and you'll know what questions to ask.

What aspects of auto repair do you take on yourself and what do you turn over to a professional?

[via Digg]


  • Water4Gas

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    You can make your car run on water, save on gas and contribute to better environment.

  • Lisas

    Francesca you're right about the importance of focusing on diagnostics before jumping right into repair. Vehicle codes can help a lot with diagnostics. They are the FIRST diagnostic procedure that ALL vehicle manufacturers' recommend for a fast, accurate diagnostic direction for repair. The reality is you need to be using codes on a regular basis, to ensure you are keeping up with modern vehicle technology. For a free fault code website I recommend;
    This website makes it easy for anyone to access valuable car diagnostic information.

  • ken

    DIY Car Repair -- Focus on Diagnostics

    it's a better tool here
    world's most high quality and cheap diagnostics kit.


  • steve

    Do not even try to diagnose a problem with any car made since 1996 unless you have an OBDII diagnostic tool. They are available for about 75.00 and are well worth the price when you consider that most mechanics charge at least 90.00 for a diagnosis..and they probably use the same tool! Autozone will let you borrow one for free. Get the codes and go online to figure out what they mean. If your check engine light is on there will be a code. From there a good manual is helpful if you're not used to working on your own car. Most cars made between 1980 and 1996 have OBDI. (If there is a check engine light you have it.) There are tricks to getting codes out of these cars that usually involve a jumper wire and counting the number of times the check engine light blinks with the motor off but the ignition turned on. There are also plenty of DIY blogs online. It is worth the research because there are many minor problems that can be fixed easily if you know where to look. That said, you should always know a trustworthy mechanic just in case.

  • Mikey Bolts

    Francesca, this is a nice little article except for the first paragraph.

    "Void the warranty" is a legal term of art, not unlike irreconcilable differences or breach of contract. A car manufacturer cannot give a buyer a warranty in the U.S. and then just say, "It's void." Working on your own car does not, without more, have any effect on the warranty.

    To legally deny warranty coverage, the dealer has to show that what you did caused the failure that gave rise to the warranty claim. It may be someone's personal position that a given act or omission "voids the warranty" but it is not their determination to make -- it's the court's job in the U.S.

    Once you give someone a warranty in the U.S., you create a set of rights that is thereafter out of your control.

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