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View Poll Results: Do/Will you work on your own car(s)
Don't know how to do minor repairs - pretty much every issue goes to the shop 11 17.19%
Know how to do minor repairs - but refuse to do it myself anymore 11 17.19%
I'll do or attempt Whatever I can manage to diagnose that doesn't require special tools or electronics i.e. - routine maintenance, plugs, alternators, fuel pumps, belts, thermostats, switches, etc 32 50.00%
Can & do it all - rebuild/replace motors & trannys, etc 3 4.69%
Know how to do it all - but refuse to anymore 7 10.94%
Voters: 64. You may not vote on this poll

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Do you work on your own car(s)
Old 01-05-2009, 07:48 PM   #1
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Do you work on your own car(s)

The recent thread re: "how long do you keep your car" got me thinking.

There is certainly not a one-size-fits all answer to the question of how long one should keep a car - as this can be directly related to the cost of repairs as the car ages. It becomes much less cost efficient for someone who can't or won't work on their car to keep it as it ages.

I'm certainly no expert mechanic, but I can get around a motor a little bit. Some things I see others pay hundreds of dollars to have done at the shop I've fixed for tens of dollars at home.

(I'll also attempt just about anything in home remodeling & repair - save for my recent roof job, but only because the steepness of the pitch on my current house might have posed a hazard to my life or limb - a man's got to know his limitations! - but that's perhaps a subject for another poll)

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Old 01-05-2009, 07:53 PM   #2
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I do mostly everything myself. Some stuff I can't do because of lack of a lift in my garage. I did find a mechanic that I trust but he's not affraid to charge.

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Old 01-05-2009, 08:14 PM   #3
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I used to empty the ashtray but I quit smoking, so now everything goes to the shop.
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Old 01-05-2009, 08:17 PM   #4
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Used to do some stuff (exSO did quite a bit of stuff).

Last 10 years or so, don't do anything.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:03 PM   #5
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I was married for 23 years to the best mechanic I have ever known or heard about (even though that wasn't his occupation - - his hobby was racing). It didn't take me long to learn that we were better off if I stayed away from repairs and let him do it.

After we divorced, I really had neither the time nor inclination to mess with my car. It makes more sense for me to maintain a reliable car that doesn't need repairs, so I bought a Toyota. So far, so good.
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:17 PM   #6
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Growing up I learned to do all kinds of repairs and rebuilds, from my Dad and Grandad. Since I was the young, agile one, I got to do most of their maintenance and repairs. I didn't get paid for it, 'cause they said they were just teaching me how to do things. When I got my first car, I always had to do all the work on it, because I didn't have money for parts and labor...and labor ain't much good if ya ain't got the parts!

I've done body & fender work, rebuilt engines from the ground up, rebuilt a lot of carburetors for myself and friends, replaced exhaust systems, and have repaired or replaced just about everything else.....'cept I never messed with brake systems. I've done a lot of electrical many stereo systems I can't count them all, wiring in CB's and Ham radios and their antennas and what-not, all sorts of auxiliary lighting, even completely rewiring one of my Grandad's flatbed trucks....without the benefit of a pre-made wiring-harness. Did a couple of total van conversions...front to back & top to bottom. Even rebuilt and rewired a couple of boats for a friend. Plus various amounts of custom work on a lot of cars, trucks, vans, and boats.

I got tired of doing all of that, so these days I don't do anything other than normal maintenance checks....fluid levels, air pressure, installing new batteries, etc. My neighbor who is a mechanic has done a lot of my repairs and maintenance in the past. Currently both cars are under warranty, so I take them to the dealers for repairs and maintenance. Besides, I'm retired....I don't have time for all that stuff anymore...I'm too dang busy!!!
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:57 AM   #7
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I take it in. Not worth my time to do my own work. That and I have the money All the vehicles I have owned in the last 10 years rarely need to go to the shop for anything.
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:09 AM   #8
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When I bought the 03 GMC pickup I also bought the service manual, which came in FIVE VOLUMES! There is one entire book on just the electronics for the engine alone. After reading the manuals (I was retired, after all) I decided that I'd be over my head trying to do much more than change the oil and burnt-out light bulbs.

So if the weather's decent I'll change the oil/filter in the driveway but other than that it goes to the shop.
I heard the call to do nothing. So I answered it.
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:14 AM   #9
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I take it in if the repair is one that affects the car's ability to get from point a to point b. The only repair I've done recently is replace my door lock actuators in my Jeep
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:17 AM   #10
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Oil changes, tire rotations (all 5), and fluid levels is about the extent and level of my current "auto repairs" ability. Getting close to 70 and those SUV wheels get heavy and getting up and down (always forgetting some thing I need when I am down and have to get up to get it) is getting hard. Plan to downsize the car in about 2011 and at that time I think I will give up the "mechanic work".

Goonie: I was born and raised in Chicago and had a couple of friends that taught me all I know about cars too. Cars were a lot simpler (and there was a lot more you could do to them) back in the 50's. Some people today many not even know what a carburetor is.
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:58 AM   #11
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I used to do oil changes, tune ups, rebuild carburetors, etc. The problem is I'm a clutz with tools and break more things than I fix. I wouldn't know a clean right angle if it hit me in the head. I just replaced a leaky toilet water feed yesterday and now its leaking again. Speaking of which, is pipe dope something I should put on the threads or does that make a permanent seal?
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Old 01-06-2009, 06:47 AM   #12
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I went from rebuilding my own transmissions to not even doing my own oil changes. Now that I'm retired, I am back doing the oil changes, but only because I don't trust the grease monkeys mechanics with my hybrid.
Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:18 AM   #13
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I've done a lot and continue to do so. I have saved hundreds of dollars, probably thousands. Biggest job was replacing a chamshaft in my old 79 Trans Am.

Now I do all oil changes, diff/trans fluid changes, brake jobs, gaskets, etc. The good thing is that I have access to an auto hobby shop at work and they charge $6 an hour for use of a bay, tools and a lift.
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:26 AM   #14
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This is dh2b's department. He is a very skilled amateur auto mechanic, all self taught over the years.
I would classify myself as an assistant mechanic. I know my way around the basics for auto repair. I excel at small engine troubleshooting and repair. I continue to learn from dh2b and he is learning small engine techniques from me.
I usually serve as the 2nd opinion for his overall approach and am the designated tool fetcher and repair manual reader.
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:27 AM   #15
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My SO takes good care of me by tending to the minor car repairs and if he can not do it he'll take it to the mechanic .
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:46 AM   #16
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I don't do much at all. Dad showed me how to tuneup a car but that was with points and carburetors........

I don't change my own oil. I used to, but the local quick change places are always having price wars, so I usually get it done for about $15-$16. For that, it doesn;t make sense to buy the stuff anf do it myself........
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Old 01-06-2009, 08:23 AM   #17
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I can change lights, replace air filters and windshield wipers, and check and top off fluid levels, maybe add some air to the tires. I even replaced the in cabin air conditioner filter in DW's accord. $5 part and $130 labor at the shop apparently. Tearing half the dash off to get to the filter wasn't fun though. Things that I could actually screw up, I don't do. I take it to the dealer or a local independent instead. Usually no more than a few hundred bucks per car per year for the recommended maintenance and minor repairs (knock on wood).

I did read a few books on auto maintenance and how cars work so I wouldn't get ripped off at the dealer. I can now look under the hood and understand what just about everything does and how the different systems interact, so I kind of know what is going on when a weird noise starts or the car won't start or something. And then take it to the shop!

Having well oiled machines that consistently run is important to me, and I don't mind paying up a bit for it. I grew up in a DIY auto maintenance house, and our cars didn't half run half the time. Inconvenient.
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Old 01-06-2009, 08:41 AM   #18
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About a month ago, I made the final step of getting myself out of the 'car work' mode. I had a very nice, and rather expensive creeper...a top-notch, well-padded, adjustable thing.......I took it over to the neighbor's one day to give it to him, just to get rid of it, no strings attached....and he gave me a bunch of venison sausage in exchange!!!

I'm gonna hafta dig around the garage and see if I can scrounge up anymore automotive tools for him.....I like his idea of a fair exchange!!!
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Old 01-06-2009, 08:43 AM   #19
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Part of the problem is that working on today's cars isn't like working on a 40-year-old car. Today's cars need so much special (and expensive) equipment to service. Plus there's so much crammed in under the hood that even stuff like oil filters can be really tough to get to in some models, so it's even hard to change your own oil sometimes.

I think as a result, being your own grease monkey is doomed to become a lost art.
"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:10 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
Part of the problem is that working on today's cars isn't like working on a 40-year-old car.
Nor like the world was 40 years ago when you could just take that old oil and filter and dump them in the trash. Try that today and the fine (c)would equal the price of a new car. Same with old tires.

Anyway, many years ago I misspent a hunk of time (was it really 16 years? Yikes!) in the Aftermarket Car Parts business. During that time I devoted my spare time to working on my vehicles... and those of everyone that knew me. Since the early 80's, most of that type of exercise became more and more difficult... primarily because of electronics. (not to mention the EPA.) In any event, I no longer can fit under the dash so the question is mute.

"It's tough to make predictions, especially when it involves the future." ~Attributed to many
"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." ~(perhaps by) Yogi Berra
"Those who have knowledge, don't predict. Those who predict, don't have knowledge."~ Lau tzu
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