Do-It-Yourself Auto Repair: Sometimes Not A Fix

Andy Y
July 17, 2009

We hear a lot of stories and get a lot of questions from drivers all over the country who are looking to save money by performing a repair themselves on their car.  We've heard everything from changing oil, to brake work, to replacing an intake manifold or fixing a check engine light that's just turned on.

At RepairPal, we have spent a lot of time working with master technicians and with auto repair shop owners.  Getting to know the industry intimately is the best way that we can provide consumers with the information and advice that they need, when they need it.  One thing we learned immediately is that modern cars can be tough to fix, and even simple jobs can require specialized tools or special knowledge.  When it gets into emission control, which is what lights up that Check Engine Light or Service Engine Soon light, things can get extremely complicated, involving potentially dozens of computers and sensors.

It seems the news media is picking up on this, since the economy and high unemployment rates is shining a spotlight on ways to save money.  Do-it-yourself auto repair sounds like an obvious answer, but we strongly recommend investigating just what you are getting into before trying a repair, especially for the first time.

Check out this AP article; it makes some strong points:

Author's note: The above article has been moved.  If anyone has a suggestion, please let us know.


Andy Y

About the Author

Andy Y is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

4 User Comments

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By , September 25, 2009
I checked out your AP, unfortunately, the article is not already accessible.. can you post it again because im interested to the <a href=" ">auto parts</a> that you're repair
By , November 13, 2009
sometimes just because someone you know has repaired a similar component, doesn't mean it will be the same on your vehicle. Always do your research first
By , February 27, 2010
Sorry that the link is no longer working. Couldn't find a replacement.
By , May 23, 2014
I had water fill up 1/2 of my headlight, so when I drove the "light danced" swaying back and forth while I drove for a couple months...finally the headlight burnt out and I had the shop replace the whole headlight assembly. When I got the car back and started it , I could hardly hear the engine, it was too quiet...very low idle..drove fine on freeway, but when I began to do stop and go city driving the car would have low idle and stall @ stopsigns...when I put it in reverse...took car back to shop...they said they will test drive it and diagnose it....@ the same time I had them change the oil and the spark plugs for this 2006 Subaru Forester,.. mechanic said @ one point...over the phone...the car runs fine....he was doing freeway driving....when i finally picked up car 5 days later , mechanic said I could replace idle sensor....This would cost $1000.00 with parts and labor...he said he cleaned out the original idle sensor...but who knows how long it will last....acouple of weeks....months or years......(also, check engine light was on after headlamp change and before tune up_) but not was on before mechanic cleaned out idle sensor....I have been reading all the info about Subaru Foresters and their problems... I told mechanic...OK..let's put in the part for $1000.00....I don't want to stall again. It took him 2 weeks to order "idle sensor" so I decided to just wait till car breaks down and fix it then, because car seems to be running fine now...There was a $100.00 restocking fee for the "idle sensor" part that nobody had and took 2 weeks to order....Now I am noticing the driver's window doesn't go up as fast as it used to ....and maybe the airconditioner is not as strong as it used to be...and maybe the car idles very quietly...I just don't want it to stall.....I Paid $300 for oil change and spark plugs...I called mechanic said...take Subaru to Subaru dealer and let him diagnose the car... I called the dealer and he wand $300 just to hook it up to computer and give me a electrical test to see if the car has electrical problems....what should I do? I see alll these recalls for Subaru ...should I get dealer to do the recalls and see if I can fix car that way? or do you think the car has a short with electric problems now? I read the subaru manual...and with headlight replacement you have to move part of the windshield washer unit when you replace headlights...I just had filled it before I took to it's empty... What's your I need a Subaru specialist or are the all phony....should I get dealer to do the recalls? Please advise you know of any good subaru guys in bay area?