Mechanically Speaking

Mechanically Speaking: Attempting repairs yourself is admirable but sometimes questionable

"Doing your own repairs also requires tools. Unfortunately there is not a library of tools."

Fewer and fewer people do their own car repairs. Some still do though. That is the way I started. Without “Google” I might add. The public library supplied most of my reference material. There weren’t any filmstrips showing me how to change my brake shoes on my VW Beetle. There was a Clymer manual at the public library though.

Doing your own repairs also requires tools. Unfortunately there is not a library of tools. Automotive tools are very specialized. More so than ever. As I always thought I wanted to fix cars for a living I bought tools as I needed them. It increased my repair costs but it meant one day I could fix something else with those tools and maybe make a few dollars in the process. I am roughly 45 years in and I guess it has sort of worked out as I planned. I still have and use Craftsmen sockets and wrenches that I bought when I was 16.

I am always excited by someone who wants to learn to fix their own vehicles. One thing for sure, you can probably find a “YouTube” to show you how. I am not saying it will always show you the correct way though.

Occasionally a customer will bring their vehicle to us after attempting, unsuccessfully, to solve a vehicle problem. They will state the problem followed by a litany of parts they have replaced. They will likely iterate the amount of money they have already put into their attempted solution and qualify it with not wanting to spend significantly more money.

In most cases the parts replacement process is much more costly than professional diagnostics. The parts replacement approach placates the perpetrator though. “It would eventually have needed a new radiator anyways, even though it still overheats. I got a good deal on the radiator on Ebay.”

Diagnosing and repairing a problem that was already unsuccessfully worked on usually requires significant backtracking. Just because any given part was changed does not preclude testing that part over again. Does that part meet the manufacturer’s specifications? Does it even work? The market is rife with substandard parts.

Was the part installed correctly? It is easy to make a mistake installing a part. It is even easier to make a mistake when you lack the correct tools, accurate information and experience.

If you want to fix your own vehicle I applaud your efforts. Do not be discouraged by failure. Remember though that when your mechanic takes over he will likely check your work.

Just Posted

Trail military exercises provide crucial training

Exercise Sapper Crucible: ‘The nuts and bolts of what a soldier is’

VIDEO: SPCA ushers in new era with Castlegar facility

$2.69-million project had ribbon cutting on Friday

Thrums, Riondel, and Slocan, revisited

Place Names: Scottish author delighted by Thrums name origin

Last stand for Silver City summer

Fall officially arrives in Trail at 6:54 p.m. on Saturday

Tell the Times

Web Poll: Will you be attending a candidates forum in the Trail area?

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only seven of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

B.C. wildfires burned large areas affected by mountain pine beetles: Experts

The mountain pine beetle epidemic affected more than 180,000 square kilometres in B.C.

Tens of thousands without power following tornado in Ottawa region

Hydro Ottawa says more than 170,000 customers were without power early this morning

BALONEY METER: Do Liberal policies mean a typical family is $2,000 richer?

MPs took to Twitter to talk how ‘typical’ Canadian families have more money due to Liberal policies

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Most Read