Your Vehicle Repairs: when to DIY and when to Go to a Mechanic ...

There is a preconceived notion that women are docile and ignorant when it comes to the inner workings of a car. Unfortunately, this proves partially true since there is a good number of women who do not take an interest in this topic. This is why you can almost always expect a woman to have a list of roadside assistance companies on hand.

This fact leads to some mechanics charging higher prices or trying to force unneeded repairs on women clients. My father handled the logistics of hiring mechanics for service on my car, and after watching him throughout my teen years, I was able to navigate through the hoops of hiring a mechanic as an adult.

But then I began dating a man who was all about repairing his own cars. I went from being a pro negotiator and dismissing false concerns about my car to sitting back on the lawn and watching my boyfriend fix the things that needed fixing.

Eventually, I began to learn how to repair simple things in my car like changing the brakes or replacing a tire. I even learned how to change parts I was previously unaware of like the PCV valve and the ignition coil.

Now when faced with concerns with my car, I research what the problem and solution are before assuming I am unable to fix it myself. If the solution to the problem is beyond my capabilities, I use a mechanic while ignoring their attempts to convince me to unnecessarily spend money.

I’ve learned that sometimes I shouldn’t take things at face value, and I know I don’t always need a mechanic. Read on to learn how to not take auto-repair service at face value, too, and how to know when you may not need a mechanic.

1. Dealing with a Blown Tire

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As a woman, can you say that you know how to change a tire? If you can, that is amazing! For those of you who cannot, have you considered how you would respond to having a flat tire and not having anyone close enough to come to help you?

It would be truly awful to be stranded on the side of the road, stuck waiting for help for an extended amount of time. Especially when the task of changing a tire is pretty simple.

Cars are a necessity these days, so changing a tire is more of a survival skill instead of just a male skill. This repair is one of the easiest to learn and is one that you do not need a mechanic for.

2. Oil Changes and Routine Maintenance Needs

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Every car needs oil, so routine oil changes are a requirement unless you are intentionally trying to permanently damage your car. Since this needs to happen regularly, car manufacturers have made the task of changing your oil pretty straight forward.

An oil change is essentially just dirty, old oil draining out of your car and then newer oil is added. Of course, you need special car tracks to raise your car up a little, but if you are trying to live well on one income and save money, you can easily buy all the necessary tools.

Changing your own oil is perfectly acceptable, but not accepting unneeded service while getting an oil change from your mechanic is okay, too! There has never been a time when I have gone to get an oil change and I was not informed of an additional “urgent” issue with my car.

Granted, the concern may have been real, but it was never an immediate issue or I was overcharged for the fix. For example, I was once charged $60 to change a $10 air filter, despite the fact that the process was as simple as unlatching a compartment and sliding out the old filter and sliding the new filter in.

If your mechanic presents you with another problem during a routine oil change or maintenance check, do not give them an answer right away. Tell them you need a moment to do your own research, and call the men in your life or even use Google.

You should find out how much the part costs and how difficult it is to replace or repair it before giving approval to the mechanic. It’s easy to be ripped off by mechanics who think women don’t know anything about cars, so do some research and stay aware.

3. What to do with Signals Lights on Your Dashboard

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Have you ever had a light on your dashboard randomly turn on while you were driving? Here is a list of common dash light meanings and how to deal with them.

Tire Pressure Light
This light is usually in the shape of a tire, but your car manual will specify the actual design. There are usually three reasons this light is on.

It could be that your tire pressure is simply low. Put air in the tire at your local gas station and if it goes flat again, take it to a tire shop because it more than likely has a nail in it.

Your tires could be overinflated. Checking your tire pressure with a tire gauge or a digital air pump like those at RaceTrac is fairly straightforward. Let some air out if it's overinflated.

The tire pressure light could also mean that your tire pressure monitor is broken so you may have to check your tire pressure regularly by hand.

Oil Change Light
This light is a reminder that your oil change is due. As mentioned earlier, oil changes are easy to do at home. All you basically need is oil, a filter, and a bucket for the dirty oil.

Reference your car’s manual to know what kind of oil you need to put in the engine, as well as how many miles between oil changes you can go.

Check Engine Light
This light can mean close to hundreds of different reasons. You can have your car checked for free when this light comes on at most auto part stores, like AutoZone. Once you know the cause, you can make decisions on how to proceed based on the results.

Oil Pressure Light
If this light comes on, go get it checked immediately because it could mean your vehicle is burning oil or that you have a major oil leak. There are also a number of many other things that it could mean.

If your car is leaking oil, that is a major repair that you should not try to repair on your own.

4. Beware of Scare Tactics Mechanics Use to Get Your Service

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Falling for scare tactics that mechanics use to get service is an added bad money mistake that many couples and individuals make. Many mechanics are honest and love the work they do, but there are others who are solely interested in the money.

If you hear any lines similar to these, you should do your own research before agreeing to something. Or better yet, consider finding a new mechanic.

- "We had to use a different brand, but it works just as good."
- "We recommend doing this maintenance sooner, if not immediately."
- "I wouldn't drive that very far. Your car cannot handle it."
- "This part/repair cost more than we thought it would."
- "You have to bring the car back here for service."

There are different repairs that you are able to do without the help of a mechanic, but if your car is having major issues, take it into the professionals. However, it’s always a good idea to brush up on the basics of car maintenance to make sure you’re not taken advantage of.

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