Fix Your Own Car

Less people are willing to get their hands dirty by fixing their own vehicle

More people take their vehicles to auto repair shops for simple repairs than fix them on their own.

Last weekend, I was at home and told my dad that my check engine light was on. I told him my water temperature gauge was not registering anything and he said he would look at it. Three hours later, he had changed the sensor and it was fixed.

Our generation has fewer and fewer people who are willing and able to make minor repairs to their own vehicles.

My ability to fix or change anything on a vehicle is limited. I can put air in the tires, add engine coolant or oil if need be, and even replace the air filter, but that is it. If I took the time to learn, I could probably change my own oil. Ultimately, I end up paying someone else to do the work for me rather than taking the time to learn to do it myself.

Therein lays the reason that most people today do not fix their own vehicles. It takes longer than two minutes to make any significant changes and people do not want to take that much time out of their day. Whether it is a matter of laziness or simple lack of know-how, young people do not take the time to fix their own vehicles.

With that said, there are people, especially students in automotive programs, that are capable and willing to fix their own vehicles. Those individuals enjoy working on cars and want to do that for their careers. The rest of us who do not enjoy it, however, do not take the time to learn and therefore pay someone else to do it.

Auto repair shops have become prominent fixtures of more recent times, since so many people take their vehicles in to be serviced. Quick-stop oil change businesses undoubtedly were founded during the transition from past times of mechanical aptitude to the way things are now. For something that only takes the average person about 20 to 30 minutes to complete, less people still take the time to do it themselves.

Though taking your car to a mechanic is the easy way to get it fixed, it is by far the most costly. Auto repair businesses, especially dealerships, charge $50-100 per hour just for labor. They realize that people are in a rush to get their cars fixed and charge ridiculous prices to work on them.

Some projects, such as overhauling a transmission, do take extra time and have to be done precisely or the vehicle will not run. There is a common adage that mechanics “fix” more than what is necessary and therefore charge more. It would seem to me that people would want to avoid mechanics so they do not get taken advantage of.

I am just as guilty as anyone else of not being able to fix my own vehicle. If the check engine light comes on, I take it to Auto Zone or have my dad look at it. The ability to fix simple problems on a vehicle seems like a skill of generations past. Though it might take significant time an effort, it might be worth the investment for me to learn a little more about my car. Along with having some extra change in my pocket, the pay-off would be the satisfaction of knowing that I can fix my car myself.