Should You Try Do‐It‐Yourself Auto Repair

With as many moving parts and as many systems as a car has, there are hundreds of different repairs that may be needed over the life of your car. Some are complicated or require specialized tools and equipment. For these repairs, a trained and certified professional is probably your best option. Other issues are a little easier, people who know what they are doing can fix them at home. Here are a few tips for do-it-yourself auto repair.

Do-it-yourself auto repair starts with keeping accurate service records. Oil changes are recommended every 3000-4000 miles. If you are going to do them yourself, make sure you are doing them when they are needed. Waiting too long between oil changes can put unnecessary stress on your engine and lead to severe problems.

Another part of maintaining your own auto service records is knowing when you’ve replaced certain parts. Your vehicle owner’s manual will tell you how often to replace the oil filter and air filter. They don’t need to be replaced every time, so keep track of when you replace them. Replacing parts too often will needlessly increase your expenses and defeat the purpose of making your own auto repairs.

Another thing to keep in mind for DIY auto repair is using the right replacement parts for your vehicle. This includes getting the right oil. Most vehicles use 10W-30, but trucks may use a different oil weight. If you do a lot of stop-and-go driving in severe weather conditions, you may need a different oil weight.

Finally, a car repair manual is a must-have for DIY auto repair. A repair manual will be specific to your make, model and year. It will have instructions and diagrams to help you locate the parts you need and make the appropriate changes and replacements. If you choose to make your own auto repairs, be sure to have the right manual for your vehicle, because manufacturers can make radical changes to models in even a single year.

There is nothing wrong with taking your vehicle to a certified technician for auto repairs and maintenance, especially for major repairs. But you can also save money with do-it-yourself auto repair if you take care to do everything correctly and on time.
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Auto Repair Advice for Saving Money

Seeking out quality auto repair advice is essential to maintaining the long-term health of your vehicle. Without routine servicing and repair, your car will run inefficiently and, eventually, unsafely. Of course, when that “check engine” light comes on, visions of dollar signs immediately begin to dance in your head. Learn how to save on auto repairs without skimping on the essentials with the following auto repair advice tips:

Be Aware of Hourly Labor Costs

The biggest difference in pricing at many auto repair shops is the hourly labor rate. As such, it is recommended that you inquire about hourly labor rates at several different shops prior to settling on a particular place to take your repair. Typically, labor rates should be listed along with parts costs in a written estimate. If the hourly rate is not specifically itemized, ask the shop to clarify their labor rates.

In general, dealerships pay higher labor rates, so more affordable repairs may be available at independent shops. Of course, more experienced mechanics typically earn higher wages, so be sure to verify the reliability of a particular shop by getting recommendations and checking previous customer complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.

Ask for Aftermarket Auto Parts

Many auto shops recommend the use of original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) products. These components are the same that were installed at the factory when the vehicle was new. However, many parts manufacturers offer comparable aftermarket components at a discount price. In general, these products provide adequate performance and may save you plenty of money in the long run. Keep in mind, however, that some of these products come with shorter warranties and may not last as long as OEM parts.

Do Routine Maintenance

While routine maintenance costs money in the short-term, it can also save thousands of dollars in the long-term. Skimping on such repairs as oil changes, air filter replacements and tire rotations can all lead to more serious car repairs in the future. Of course, auto repair advice experts know how to score deals on these routine repairs as well. For oil changes and brake servicing, look for discount coupons and advertised price cuts in newspapers or the mail. For tire rotations, the shop you bought your tires from may offer free tire rotations for the life of your tires.
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Auto Body Repairs ‐ Things to Consider

Even the safest of drivers has had to deal with auto body repairs at one point or another. Unfortunately, fender benders and parking lot dings happen far too frequently. If a recent collision has left you dealing with auto body damage, then it’s time to contact your insurer and get those repairs taken care of. To minimize your risk for inferior repairs or an inflated price, keep these following things in mind:

Insurance-Approved Repair Shops

When filing your insurance claim, your provider will probably suggest that you have the auto body repairs completed at one of their pre-approved collision centers. The service and pricing at these body shops has met a certain standard, which will likely result in a quick and reliable repair. Additionally, thanks to partnership contracts with the insurance company, these shops often turn out to be the most affordable option. However, due to these discounts, it should be noted that insurance-approved repair shops may be tempted to do nothing more than the bare minimum necessary to complete your repair.

Receive Several Estimates

It is a common fear that auto mechanics take advantage of naive drivers by jacking up the price of car repairs. To eliminate this possibility, it is recommended you receive estimates from several different body shops. A thorough estimate will come in written form and outline the specific cost totals for both parts and labor. If your car is inoperable, and requires towing to the body shop, then you might consider contacting a couple collision centers after receiving an initial estimate. By reviewing the estimated fees listed by a particular shop, a competing shop may be willing to verify whether or not the total estimate sounds fair.

Keep Customer Service in Mind

A body shop should not be picked on price alone. Just as important, is the level of customer service and goodwill offered by a particular shop. Before completing auto body repairs, you might consider using the Better Business Bureau to review a body shop’s credibility. The Better Business Bureau is a trustworthy organization that documents customer complaints and shares a company’s history of complaints with the public. If excessive complaints have been reported for a particular collision center, then it may be best to choose a different location to have your repairs completed.
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Auto Interior Repair

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The right course of action for an auto interior repair depends largely on the type of damage and type of material affected. Scrapes, tears, stains and cracking all require different approaches to ensure adequate results. Depending on the type of damage, one of these common auto repair options may be available to you:

Auto Interior Repair Kits

Auto upholstery repair kits are often the least expensive option when it comes to fixing a rip or cigarette burn in car upholstery. Unfortunately, they are also the least effective option. In general, these kits include a plastic adhesive that is placed over the hole and allowed to dry. For effective results, the tear must be rather small. Additionally, great care must be taken when applying the liquid plastic to ensure seamless blending with the surround leather.

Even more difficult, is the fact that the plastic adhesive must be colored by the owner to perfectly match the original color of the seats. As such, unless you have some experience with upholstery repair, it is probably best to leave such repairs to the professionals.

Auto Upholstery Cleaners

For ink stains, foods stains and other types of discoloration, auto upholstery cleaners may be enough to remove the unsightly damage. The type of cleaner you should use depends on the type of fabric of your upholstery (for example, leather conditioning cleaner for leather seats). You might also try using a bit of household liquid detergent and warm water to wash out the stain.

For more stingy stains, it is best to leave the stain removal to a professional. More powerful cleaners may ultimately remove these stains, however the danger of discoloring surrounding and underlying upholstery is a possibility.

Replacing Auto Interior Seats

When auto interior repair is not possible, then it may be necessary to replace the existing component with a new one. In some cases, simply swapping out the upholstery encasement is a possible solution. Otherwise, the entire seat may need to be replaced. Both of these repair processes are fairly straightforward and not very difficult for the experienced auto technician. As a result, the majority of cost associated with such a repair stems from paying for the new parts.
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