DIY car maintenance: Is it best to do it yourself?

DIY car maintenance: Is it best to do it yourself? 3rd October 2014

DIY may be a concept that is more readily associated with the home, be it putting up shelves or fixing a leaky tap in the bathroom, but have you ever considered applying the same concept when it comes to maintaining your vehicle?

Many people do just this and try their best to keep their car in top condition, but there are many pitfalls that can occur when you're trying to carry out your own maintenance, and it can often be far better to seek expert help, even if you do feel like giving it a go yourself. 

So what are some of the common tasks people try, and what should you be aware can go wrong?

Wiper blades

Changing wiper blades is something that most people will feel like they might be able to do on their own, but it's potentially more challenging than you might think. 

While some cars will make it easy for you, other models will have double spring-loaded clips to release the blade from the wiper arm. Trying too hard to prise these open can lead to you damaging the wiper arm itself, and this is far more expensive to replace.

Other issues that can come from changing your own wiper blades include the potential for damage to your windscreen. If you don't fit the wiper blade properly, it can fall off while in use, and the arm itself can scratch the glass. 

ATS offers free wiper blade fitting to take away the potential for damage without added cost. 

Bulb fitting

In theory, changing a bulb is easy – we all do it at home after all – but even though it is something that can be done on your own, are you confident that you can do it in a way that won't cause issues with your vehicle?

The main problem will be finding out how to get to the headlight. When your bulbs need changing, it's easy enough to know what kind of replacement to buy, but fitting it can be another matter. The housing for lights is often situated behind the trim inside the car or under the bumper, and it can be really fiddly to reach. 

Removing the trim isn't all that easy either, and a great many people will try to force it off only to find they have damaged their car by snapping the plastic. It's frustrating and costs money to rectify if you get it all wrong. 

It's another job that, while it can often be done on your own, is better performed by the experts. Bulbs can be changed in a matter of minutes at an ATS Euromaster centre, and completely free of charge when you make a purchase of replacement bulbs.

Vehicle health check

The driving practical test teaches us all how to carry out a basic car health check, and while you might feel like you will be able to diagnose major problems with your own vehicle, is it best to ask the experts to make sure it's done to a safe standard? 

A free vehicle health check covers a number of important aspects of the car's wellbeing, including checking the tyre health, tread and air pressure, brakes, battery condition, exhaust and shock absorbers. 

Some of these are things that drivers will be confident of doing themselves, such as making sure the tyre pressure is right – all it takes is a cross reference with the car's manual and you can make use of a foot pump with a pressure gauge to check all is well. However, for aspects of the check that are more closely related to safety, motorists are far better served by letting the experts carry it out. 

Brakes for example, can be difficult to diagnose problems with, and if you're not knowledgeable, you can be driving around with dangerous brakes without even knowing it, which puts you at serious risk. 

The same goes for the likes of the exhaust and battery, and with these you also have the risk that you fail to spot an issue, only to later breakdown stranded somewhere when it becomes worse. 

And that's without even mentioning the fact that it can be a messy job to check your car's health. Messing around under the bonnet can be a greasy, oily job which is best given to someone else who's used to doing it. 

So while it is true that there are some car maintenance jobs that you'll feel you can possibly carry out yourself, the expertise of mechanics is priceless, and can save you from the hassle, expense and other issues that easily crop up when doing it yourself. 

Posted by Danielle Barge