Should You DIY Repair or Take Your Car to a Mechanic?

If you were to pinpoint the perfect example of rain on a metaphorical parade, you could nod toward finding an issue with your vehicle. Walking out to your car, turning the key, and hearing the emotionally-rattling sound of a mechanical complication is a backbreaking affair. No one wants to have to take their car to a mechanic. No one wants to have to pay hard-earned cash for fixes. Some of those that are stubborn (or mechanically knowledgable) may be quick to result in DIY (do it yourself) efforts and activities.

If a mechanic can do it, so can I!

Hold on there, MacGyver. Not everyone is qualified to press play on a related Youtube video and follow the steps, fixing the vehicle with ease and vigor. Some of us (me included) are not built for DIY vehicle tasks. It’s not a character flaw, but a trait. Some are better at things than others. Welcome to the wonderful world of being a human being.

Say you aren’t mechanically inclined or a car expert; what DIY car repairs can you safely do at home? Which tasks could you handle with the help of the internet? Are you barking up the wrong tree, reaching for injury or further damage to your vehicle?

DIY – The Easy Stuff

At the end of the day, your ability to make DIY fixes all depends on your knowledge and willingness to learn. If you don’t believe you are ready to do any of these tasks, then don’t do them. It’s as simple as that. Don’t take chances with something as expensive as your personal vehicle. There are over 423 thousand mechanics in the country. It’s not worth the risk.

If you do believe you can do repairs on your own, these are the ones that are often the easiest and most accessible. Furthermore, these are the ones that pose the least amount of damage danger to your vehicle.

Windshield Wipers

There is nothing more dangerous than driving through a rain storm without working windshield wipers. Lack of visibility is always dangerous, but especially so during slick, wet days. If your wipers are breaking, old, or have fallen off, you need to get them repaired as soon as possible.

Luckily, changing your windshield wipers is one of the easiest repairs you can do on your vehicle. Furthermore, the wiper system doesn’t directly connect to any mechanics or electrical systems, so you are at no risk of hurting yourself through ignorance.

Changing your windshield wipers doesn’t even require any tools. You can do it right in the parking lot of the store you bought them from.

Air Filters

Air filters, like your engine and carbon air filters, are an easy and cheap fix. If you take your vehicle to a mechanic, you can often see air filter changes as a subtle and expensive note on the laundry list of fixes. They are notoriously added on to increase bills by unsavory mechanics (from personal experience).

This isn’t to say that your air filters weren’t dirty, but they are notoriously expensive to change, despite only costing around $30.

Air filters work to keep harmful contaminants out of your vehicle and passenger cabin. While they can be easily overlooked, they are extremely easy to change. All you need is the air filter and a guide on how to find it. There are tons of instructional videos out there for each vehicle. Because it’s just a filter, you won’t be touching any part of the car you could harm.


Changing tires is one of the first things all car owners should learn to do. Not only is it simple, but it’s necessary. You never know where you are going to be when your tire pops or deflates. If you are up in the Colorado mountains, you may have to rely on your ingenuity and available spare.

While it may take a bit of muscle to knock the lugs loose, it’s an easy process. So easy, in fact, that we broke it all down here.

Unless you are doing something more specific (i.e. aligning tires or changing wheels), you should have no problem changing a tire at home.


How many readers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Changing bulbs in your headlights, foglights, or taillights might take a bit of finagling, but it’s still a straightforward process. Make sure to have the correct bulbs and look up a guide on how to change them. Some cars are notorious for having bulbs tucked away behind tight spots. It may take getting your hands a little dirty, but it’s not an impossible or intelligence-bending task.


Fuses are as easy as plugging them in. The only difficulty surrounding fuses is the need to turn off the engine and disconnect the battery, making it the most intensive task on this part of the list.

There’s a bit of irony regarding this list item, though. It takes a bit of automotive prowess to notice that there is a fuse-related issue. It takes even more knowledge to find the correct fuse and notice a blown one. Therefore, if you are knowledgeable enough to know you need to replace a fuse, then you are probably knowledgeable enough to do it.

Regardless of your reasoning or intellect, replacing fuses is not that tough of an ask. Just make sure the battery is disconnected from the car. You don’t want an unpleasant zap.

Either Or – The Difficult Stuff

Here are the tasks that are a bit more advanced. These are fixes that may take someone with at least a little bit of mechanical knowledge. Even so, you can probably find a plethora of Youtube tutorials to walk you through each individual step.

These fixes will require tools, time, and a place to complete them. They are intermediate repairs, but can easily damage your vehicle if done incorrectly.

Brake Pads

There is something to be said about the importance of your brakes and brake pads. Without them, you are in critical danger. Therefore, making sure they are correctly applied and are in great condition is crucial for your driving experience. Simply put: don’t drive around with bad breaks.

Overall, brakes aren’t something you should play around with. If you understand vehicles and how they should work, replacing them is a fairly easy task. It really is just taking the wheel off, unscrewing some things, and replacing the brake pad.

We are downplaying the complexity, but it isn’t that complicated.


Removing and changing your shocks improves the ride of your vehicle. Bad shocks not only cause an uncomfortable riding experience, but they can hinder your stopping and control.

Luckily, for those that have a bit of auto mechanic experience under their belt, changing your shocks isn’t an impossible task. There are even Wikihow articles on how to do it. That’s how you know it’s an easy process.


Alternators and alternator belts are some of the most common issues in vehicles. Knowing this, automotive companies have made the alternator a pretty accessible part of the vehicle.

Though some vehicles have notoriously tucked-away alternators.

Being such a common cause of issues, alternator repairs have tons of information on the web. Furthermore, disassembly of any major vehicle components isn’t necessary to work on the alternator, making it one of the safer repairs under the hood.


Ultimately, having a radio issue isn’t the end of the world (or the end of the drive) for your vehicle. It’s more of an extracurricular issue. That doesn’t mean it isn’t important, though. Imagine driving your daily commute in silence. Yuck!

The defining factor here is that the radio is an electrical part of your vehicle. Depending on your vehicle and radio head, you may have to do a bit of wiring or soldering. If you are knowledgeable about electronics and electrical systems, you will be able to install or fix a radio without knowing too much about automobiles. It’s a DIY project that ranges from easy to extremely difficult.

Regardless, if you have radio or sound issues you can’t fix yourself, you will have to take it to someone other than a normal auto mechanic.

Mechanic – The Hard Stuff

These are the tasks we wouldn’t recommend doing as a DIY project. They either involve a plethora of knowledge, a wide working area, an array of tools, and important parts of your vehicle. If you mess these parts up, you could do irreparable damage to your vehicle (or yourself). Only enthusiasts with a well of knowledge and tools should try these fixes.

Seatbelts and Airbags

There are always recalls for airbags and seatbelts. Ultimately, there’s a reason for these precautions. These two components are the most important in regard to your overall safety. You never want to get into an accident. You never want to get into an accident without a seatbelt and airbag.

At the end of the day, you want a trained and professional eye to oversee the integrity and installation of these critical components. While doing the specific repair may be easy, the chance of malfunction isn’t worth the money you would save.

Timing Belt

Timing belts are crucial for the normal operation of a vehicle’s engine. Though they are worked on frequently, repairing them isn’t a simple process. Oftentimes, fixing a timing belt involves taking apart a specific area of an engine. If all parts are not put back together properly and at the same time, your engine can fail permanently.

The engine is the last part of the vehicle you want to ruin through stubbornness (duh).

Repairing or replacing a timing belt is an arduous process that takes an extreme amount of mechanical knowledge. Don’t try this at home.


A vehicle’s transmission is as important for operation as the engine. It involves the clutch, gear shaft, drivetrain, and much more.

The transmission is often referred to as the most complex part of the vehicle. There are a plethora of important and different pieces, and some of them go by different names depending on the manufacturer.

It’s the most intricate puzzle in the entire vehicle. Don’t lay hands on it unless you are an expert.


The radiator and cooling system are used to make sure your engine doesn’t overheat while operating. If your car is overheating, it can quickly cause a colossal amount of damage.

Though working on a radiator may not be as hard to comprehend and fix as a transmission or engine, it has just as much danger. If you mess up a radiator and don’t realize it, you can damage your car to expensive extents.

It’s not the worst on this list, but it’s one of the most crucial. If you don’t have professional knowledge about radiators or cooling systems, don’t attempt to fix them.

If You Are Uncomfortable, Don’t Try It

At the end of the day, we can tell you all of a car’s mechanics and how hard they are to fix, but what you do with it is on you. If you want to take on the project and go the DIY route, that’s your decision. Just know the potential repercussions. Messing up one DIY project can be significantly worse than another.

It’s all dependent on your comfort level. Though we placed tires as one of the easiest things to fix, if you are not comfortable, don’t do it. There are thousands of private mechanics for a reason. You are not required to do your own maintenance on your car. You are not any less of an intelligent person for not doing it yourself.

Do what you are comfortable with and do what you are willing to learn. DIY projects should be used for learning, after all.