Is it worth fixing your own car?

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Murff

Active Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2012
Messages
100
Location
Liverpool
Car
W211 E280 CDI Avantgarde
Hi all, I often wonder about the real ‘value’ in fixing and servicing your own car? The answer is may be an obvious yes if you are trained and have ALL the various tooling, test kits etc.

As someone with someone engineering background (aircraft not cars) I’d say I’m fairly confident to give most things a go and take a lot of pleasure in fixing things myself. However, when you consider things like not having a workshop, the cost of all tooling and then re-sale value by not having ‘full service history’ I’m always a bit torn as to whether pay a garage or do it myself?

Be interested to hear peoples thoughts?
 
I've been servicing my cars since I was a young lad, but gradually did less and less and stopped completely about ten years ago due to a combination of age, health, and order circumstances.

You'll be surprised how much you can get done on your drive, though some things will take longer and will be more awkward to get done without a lift and a full set of garage tools. But you can invest in some 'prosumer' tools and in a pair of ramps to make things easier, for example. And, safety, especially while working under the car, should be your number one priority. You should also get yourself a good proprietary scanner e.g. iCarsoft. Ultimately, the majority of tasks are doable DIY.

With regards resale value:

Firstly, keep in mind that buyers only check service history, not repair history. You can have the scheduled services done by a garage who will stamp the book (digital or physical), then do everything else yourself and the buying public will be none the wiser. This includes replacing discs and pads, dampers and suspension components, engine parts e.g. thermostat or sensors, the list is long.

So the question of resale value only applies to the bare minimum i.e. the manufacturer's scheduled services.

On a newish or high value car, personally I'd stick with dealer or indie service, keeping the official digital service book updated.

On older or mid-range value cars, I'd just keep the receipts for the service parts (oil, filters, etc) as proof, and keep a log of what was done to the car and when, most buyers at this tier will be happy with that.

If I was going to keep the car forever I wouldn't bother with any of it, but still keep a detailed log for my own records.

Good luck. Servicing and repairing your own car can be very rewarding at times (and frustrating at other times)...
 
I actually enjoy working on my cars (normally) and I consider it more of a hobby. But the Merc I take to an Indy so far. The problem with newer, more complex cars is that it becomes increasingly difficult and expensive to work on them yourself. The cars i do the work on myself I’m not worried about resale. For me I’ve found forums and YouTube are a godsend, and give a better idea of what a particular job might entail. For instance I just took our Abarth to get new rear wheel bearings because although a simple job it looked potentially awkward to get the hub nuts off without an impact driver (I should get one). But a service and replacement clutch master cylinder, break fluid flush and engine mount I was fine doing. So I pick my battles and normally enjoy it.
 
I actually enjoy working on my cars (normally) and I consider it more of a hobby. But the Merc I take to an Indy so far. The problem with newer, more complex cars is that it becomes increasingly difficult and expensive to work on them yourself. The cars i do the work on myself I’m not worried about resale. For me I’ve found forums and YouTube are a godsend, and give a better idea of what a particular job might entail. For instance I just took our Abarth to get new rear wheel bearings because although a simple job it looked potentially awkward to get the hub nuts off without an impact driver (I should get one). But a service and replacement clutch master cylinder, break fluid flush and engine mount I was fine doing. So I pick my battles and normally enjoy it.
Yeah makes sense, thank you
 
I've been servicing my cars since I was a young lad, but gradually did less and less and stopped completely about ten years ago due to a combination of age, health, and order circumstances.

You'll be surprised how much you can get done on your drive, though some things will take longer and will be more awkward to get done without a lift and a full set of garage tools. But you can invest in some 'prosumer' tools and in a pair of ramps to make things easier, for example. And, safety, especially while working under the car, should be your number one priority. You should also get yourself a good proprietary scanner e.g. iCarsoft. Ultimately, the majority of tasks are doable DIY.

With regards resale value:

Firstly, keep in mind that buyers only check service history, not repair history. You can have the scheduled services done by a garage who will stamp the book (digital or physical), then do everything else yourself and the buying public will be none the wiser. This includes replacing discs and pads, dampers and suspension components, engine parts e.g. thermostat or sensors, the list is long.

So the question of resale value only applies to the bare minimum i.e. the manufacturer's scheduled services.

On a newish or high value car, personally I'd stick with dealer or indie service, keeping the official digital service book updated.

On older or mid-range value cars, I'd just keep the receipts for the service parts (oil, filters, etc) as proof, and keep a log of what was done to the car and when, most buyers at this tier will be happy with that.

If I was going to keep the car forever I wouldn't bother with any of it, but still keep a detailed log for my own records.

Good luck. Servicing and repairing your own car can be very rewarding at times (and frustrating at other times)...
Yeah I agree with all the above and this forum is an excellent resource. The scanner is a great shout, I have a basic OBD2 one but doesn’t always give the level of detail I’d like
 
I've been servicing my cars since I was a young lad, but gradually did less and less and stopped completely about ten years ago due to a combination of age, health, and order circumstances.

You'll be surprised how much you can get done on your drive, though some things will take longer and will be more awkward to get done without a lift and a full set of garage tools. But you can invest in some 'prosumer' tools and in a pair of ramps to make things easier, for example. And, safety, especially while working under the car, should be your number one priority. You should also get yourself a good proprietary scanner e.g. iCarsoft. Ultimately, the majority of tasks are doable DIY.

With regards resale value:

Firstly, keep in mind that buyers only check service history, not repair history. You can have the scheduled services done by a garage who will stamp the book (digital or physical), then do everything else yourself and the buying public will be none the wiser. This includes replacing discs and pads, dampers and suspension components, engine parts e.g. thermostat or sensors, the list is long.

So the question of resale value only applies to the bare minimum i.e. the manufacturer's scheduled services.

On a newish or high value car, personally I'd stick with dealer or indie service, keeping the official digital service book updated.

On older or mid-range value cars, I'd just keep the receipts for the service parts (oil, filters, etc) as proof, and keep a log of what was done to the car and when, most buyers at this tier will be happy with that.

If I was going to keep the car forever I wouldn't bother with any of it, but still keep a detailed log for my own records.

Good luck. Servicing and repairing your own car can be very rewarding at times (and frustrating at other times)...
Would you also know a resource for getting workshop manuals? I tried one of the downloads off eBay but a complete faff and couldn’t get it working
 
I am not handy enough and specifically, don't trust me to cover safety aspects.

However, I changed the cabin filters, I fitted dash cams, changed a HU, do rudimentary trim fixes as well as maintain 'levels'.

The latter task, tyre pressure and perhaps coolant seems beyond many these days.

Oh and I look for garage serving. Apart from forum members here I don't trust anyone.
Once bitten......
 
I've been servicing my cars since I was a young lad, but gradually did less and less and stopped completely about ten years ago due to a combination of age, health, and order circumstances.

You'll be surprised how much you can get done on your drive, though some things will take longer and will be more awkward to get done without a lift and a full set of garage tools. But you can invest in some 'prosumer' tools and in a pair of ramps to make things easier, for example. And, safety, especially while working under the car, should be your number one priority. You should also get yourself a good proprietary scanner e.g. iCarsoft. Ultimately, the majority of tasks are doable DIY.

With regards resale value:

Firstly, keep in mind that buyers only check service history, not repair history. You can have the scheduled services done by a garage who will stamp the book (digital or physical), then do everything else yourself and the buying public will be none the wiser. This includes replacing discs and pads, dampers and suspension components, engine parts e.g. thermostat or sensors, the list is long.

So the question of resale value only applies to the bare minimum i.e. the manufacturer's scheduled services.

On a newish or high value car, personally I'd stick with dealer or indie service, keeping the official digital service book updated.

On older or mid-range value cars, I'd just keep the receipts for the service parts (oil, filters, etc) as proof, and keep a log of what was done to the car and when, most buyers at this tier will be happy with that.

If I was going to keep the car forever I wouldn't bother with any of it, but still keep a detailed log for my own records.

Good luck. Servicing and repairing your own car can be very rewarding at times (and frustrating at other times)...
+1 to Markjay's comments. As the son of an engineer who went into tech I started out fully hands on, but then moved to the space of doing the simple stuff, and trying to understand the complicated stuff, contracting out as necessary. I go slack jawed when I meet people who clearly have no idea what's going on when the lights on their dashboard go "Christmas tree," or who are surprised that their is playing up after being left unused for four months.

Formal servicing, in my case, is always an independent or a specialist such as an electrician. Because i try to understand what they're doing and engage with the people doing it, I hopefully don't get ripped off. My vehicles are low mileage / low owner so I don't get many repairs myself, but I do end up resolving issues for family and friends.

I came across a dodgy stat recently that 40% of a car's production cost is electronics. It's worth bearing in mind - you need to understand what codes are being thrown and why. There's more to maintenance than fluids and brakes.

If you do need kit to repair, you'll find friends who will lend kit and expertise, and you can usually buy bits from EBay or wherever and then sell them on afterwards.

Good luck
 
On the Mondeo I do all the servicing and other jobs, brakes suspension etc whereas on the SL it has full Mercedes service history, and I do mean full in that every job that has been required has been done in time. From now on though it'll be independently serviced with someone who has access to the digital service record and I'll do other non service jobs like belt and pulley change, brakes etc. Reason being the Mondeo will be run into the ground so cheap and regular servicing is important for costs and, if I ever decided to sell the SL, I think a good service history on an expensive car is a must.
 
I do everything myself, with the exception of paint and tyre balancing...I do FIT my own tyres though. I'm ex motor trade and ex short term mechanic (until I realised there was more money in selling them than fixing them!)...so I largely know what I'm doing....but I'm getting out of my depth on some of the very latest electronics...so if I have to deal with that, research is required....but generally the knowledge is out there to be found. Which is why I prefer older cars to own.
As far as resale is concerned.....well personally I think a lot of nonsense is spoken in the subject. I never used to chip a car much for patchy service history as long as records were kept (I keep all my receipts for parts etc)....as long as the car passed muster on a ramp inspection...and it never really affected resale except to the most fussy of buyers (there would be a few on here I suspect!). Not to mention that any reduction in px price would be far lower than the thousands that would need to be spent keeping a perfect and full SH at a main Mercedes dealer. Personally I think anyone who still goes to a Marc dealer for work after the warranty period probably has more money than sense. From my experience many main dealer fitters are no better than I good indie....and often worse. So I would say that if you are not a good DIYer then use a good indie. YMMV!
 
On my 06 Polo I tried to fix everything myself like servicing, engine mounts, brake pipes but after immobilising the car for more than a week and working in the rain, I've realised some fixes are better left to trusty garages.

On my C-Class I still check fluid levels, any new leaks and tyre pressure and condition.
For servicing and repairs I am going to a specialist which can do a mot and a service at the same time.
 
Hi all, I often wonder about the real ‘value’ in fixing and servicing your own car? The answer is may be an obvious yes if you are trained and have ALL the various tooling, test kits etc.

As someone with someone engineering background (aircraft not cars) I’d say I’m fairly confident to give most things a go and take a lot of pleasure in fixing things myself. However, when you consider things like not having a workshop, the cost of all tooling and then re-sale value by not having ‘full service history’ I’m always a bit torn as to whether pay a garage or do it myself?

Be interested to hear peoples thoughts?
on a car older than 7 years old or after 60k miles, i dont think its worth retaining the stealership servicing history. Even with indies, pricing is stupid for trivial stuff like an oil change that literaly takes 10 miuntes.
 
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Would you also know a resource for getting workshop manuals? I tried one of the downloads off eBay but a complete faff and couldn’t get it working
Not a workshop manual as such but this online VIN checker has lots of useful diagrams complete with part numbers. Very handy when contemplating doing some work on your car.

 
Hi all, I often wonder about the real ‘value’ in fixing and servicing your own car? The answer is may be an obvious yes if you are trained and have ALL the various tooling, test kits etc.

As someone with someone engineering background (aircraft not cars) I’d say I’m fairly confident to give most things a go and take a lot of pleasure in fixing things myself. However, when you consider things like not having a workshop, the cost of all tooling and then re-sale value by not having ‘full service history’ I’m always a bit torn as to whether pay a garage or do it myself?

Be interested to hear peoples thoughts?
If your cars value is anything like mine now , it’s not worth anything anyway so you might as well do what you fancy doing on the car .
As far as full service history , if it’s had an oil change every year that’s more than most cars have at ours cars ages . Just keep the receipts.
Mines an E320cdi with 125k on a 2009 plate . DIY service these last 8 years now .
The forums,YouTube,Haynes manuals pretty much have all you need to know about the om642 engines
 
Remain in awe of some of the folk on here who strip back newish cars to undertake enhancements themselves.

As someone who
  1. would like to demonstrate to my children that getting your hands dirty is fine.
  2. has an issue with paying the equivalent of £1000+/day for a technician (local MB is £180/hour)
  3. likes problem solving and learning new skills.
  4. hate the faff with time wasted at the dealership..... "Customer service experience"
  5. ironically find it a stress reliever from my day-job
Tackle of a few of the things that do not require super specialist facilities or tools on cars out of warranty e
  • fluid and filter changes
  • wring in dash cameras
  • ABS sensors
  • batteries
  • swapping out failed light units (the central tailgate one on a ML/W164 is fun)
  • wheel swaps
  • brake pads
The diagnosis is generally the hardest part - a decent scanner is essentially the same cost as a single fault check at MB.
 
I do everything myself, with the exception of paint and tyre balancing...I do FIT my own tyres though. I'm ex motor trade and ex short term mechanic (until I realised there was more money in selling them than fixing them!)...so I largely know what I'm doing....but I'm getting out of my depth on some of the very latest electronics...so if I have to deal with that, research is required....but generally the knowledge is out there to be found. Which is why I prefer older cars to own.
As far as resale is concerned.....well personally I think a lot of nonsense is spoken in the subject. I never used to chip a car much for patchy service history as long as records were kept (I keep all my receipts for parts etc)....as long as the car passed muster on a ramp inspection...and it never really affected resale except to the most fussy of buyers (there would be a few on here I suspect!). Not to mention that any reduction in px price would be far lower than the thousands that would need to be spent keeping a perfect and full SH at a main Mercedes dealer. Personally I think anyone who still goes to a Marc dealer for work after the warranty period probably has more money than sense. From my experience many main dealer fitters are no better than I good indie....and often worse. So I would say that if you are not a good DIYer then use a good indie. YMMV!
I am new to Mercedes but I am exactly the same. A big thing for me is finding a good, reputable garage and waiting times to get an appointment.

I just got a fault on my S204 C220, the fault code was for "air intake leak detected" or something along those lines. Over the weekend I cleared the codes, read live data, checked turbo waste gate actuation, vacuum lines, ordered a smoke machine (£143), found no significant leaks on the system (a tiny one on EGR actuator linkage) so I traced the problem to what I think it's a defective boost sensor (5v on signal pin at atmospheric pressure) I am buying the sensor tomorrow and take it from there.

There's no big difference between the cost of the smoke machine and paying for a smoke leak test, but now I have a smoke machine for the next time. That's the way I build my tools collection and I didn't have to wait until someone had an open appointment to check my car.

I honestly can think of anything else a garage could have done differently.
 
.....I did not mention in my post above (someone else touched on it above) that I find it relaxing and very satisfying to do the job yourself. And of course, as I have have a much time as I need to fix the car within reason...I have two other vehicles) I can do the job "properly"......by that I don't necessarily mean better that a fully qualified fitter, but with much more attention to detail. Example.....when I replaced all four springs on my car after one failed I took the opportunity to jet wash behind the arch liners, clean the calipers and re black untidy looking suspension parts.....no dealer would do that.....in fact you are lucky if he puts all the fixing back in as he's half looking at the job and half looking at the clock to get the job done in Mercedes book time!!
 
I've serviced my W204 from 5 years old to it's present near 14 years old. On my previous 190e I serviced from 10 years old to 26 years old I consider the money spent on servicing in the earlier years as wasted. For me the decision to DIY isn't just about money though. I find a visit to the dealer is a stressful experience. Odds on they will do something wrong or lie to me about when the car will be ready. I can't tell you how angry I was at the last visit for the airbag recall. Frankly it's just too much grief, I can have basic servicing work done at home in a fraction of the time it takes to use the dealer approach. The real bonus is I won't get wound up in the process because everything is under my control.
 

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