Is it worth fixing your own car?

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Hmmm, I do hold a City & Guilds certificate in Car Mechanics, and used to always work on my own cars, mainly because i had no money, family to support, mortgage etc - I have worked on Triumph Stags, Datsun Skyline 240K GT, Pontiac Firebird, Chevrolet Camaro, Daimler Double Six ( That one was a challenge! ) and various other cars that i have owned over the years..... All of them were no newer than 1994.

Move on a couple of decades and i lift the bonnet and think to myself 'Huh!'

My first experience of the 'HUH' moment was when i tried to carry out a service on my Mitsubishi Shogun 3.0L V6 ...... Where the hell are the plugs? Apparently you need a special tool and i was quoted £450 ...... So, they lasted another 80k ....

Now i am a lot older, i do most of my own repairs on vintage HiFi, my motorcycles and the house, But i leave the cars ( Currently Honda CR-V Diesel and the SL500 ) to the independent experts. Especially as i am older and do not have the expertise nor the correct tooling, but do have slightly more disposable income and hate the stress of the electronics giving a wobbly it makes sense to do so.

I am one of those that has enough knowledge to make a bad error of judgement! :cool:
 
I still do bits and pieces and certainly all the consumables (wipers, bulbs, lenses, batteries and some filters). I am fully qualified (and rusty), but less inclined these days to take any major tasks that are time stealers or overly messy. However, I take advantage of any garages that are offering free vehicle health checks, as I can usually also go under the car (supervised), so I can do a few quick visual inspections every year. Also, I enjoy discussing the opinions of the inspectors/mechanics.

Finally, my local Merc dealer in Guildford does a vehicle health check for £29.99 which includes an OBD scan (I ask specifically) and they also give lady a decent clean inside and out, what’s not to like.
 
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Finally, my local Merc dealer in Guildford does a vehicle health check for £29.99 which includes an OBD scan (I ask specifically) and they also give lady a decent clean inside and out, what’s not to like.
That’s a good deal if it includes a scan.
 
Finally, my local Merc dealer in Guildford does a vehicle health check for £29.99 which includes an OBD scan (I ask specifically) and they also give lady a decent clean inside and out, what’s not to like.
Cripes ! My car wash charges £20 for an inside and out, so that a tenner extra for a vehicle health check and OBD scan.
 
I still do bits and pieces and certainly all the consumables (wipers, bulbs, lenses, batteries and some filters). I am fully qualified (and rusty), but less inclined these days to take any major tasks that are time stealers or overly messy. However, I take advantage of any garages that are offering free vehicle health checks, as I can usually also go under the car (supervised), so I can do a few quick visual inspections every year. Also, I enjoy discussing the opinions of the inspectors/mechanics.

Finally, my local Merc dealer in Guildford does a vehicle health check for £29.99 which includes an OBD scan (I ask specifically) and they also give lady a decent clean inside and out, what’s not to like.
Yes Guildford can offer epic value

 
I know, to be honest when I booked the health check, I didn't ask the price I just assumed it would be around £50ish, I waited for the check etc., and in all about maybe 70 minutes. When the bill was presented it was £29.99. I also managed to have a chat with the man who did the check and he was a CLK fan. I asked him what did the OBD throw up and he said "no faults". Mind you I do look after the my lady.
 
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 haven't used main dealers in a very long time , but at one point did use what I thought were trusted local garages or independent specialists .

I have to say that of various places I've gone the ONLY one I would have 100% confidence is Merparts in Port Glasgow , but they are not exactly cheap . With all other places I always leave my cars with some misgivings and a degree of mistrust , having experienced some horrible bodges at the hands of garages at one time or another . One notable instance was when I put one of my W124s in for an MOT ; this was a car maybe 5 or 6 years old at the time and which I'd bought as a 3 year old used car from a main dealer not so very long before . Anyway I was told the brake pipe front to rear was corroded near the back , so told them to go ahead ; after picking the car up and getting home , I noticed the four lights in the cargo area were on , and they wouldn't turn off with the switch ; then I discovered the tailgate closure wasn't working either . Knowing what had been worked on , I got down on my knees and looked under the car : instead of the original fasteners , which are plastic nuts run onto metal studs coming out of the bottom , the pipe clamps had been rescued by a row of shiny self tapping screws , on removing these the fault cleared ; lifting the carpet in the rear floor area , it was evident that the screws had been driven right into the wording harness . As is my way with such things , I never go back to complain , which is only stressful for me , and having had my car bodged once I'd never be confident it was fixed properly ; instead I went to the dealership ( in one of my other cars ) bought the correct fasteners and fixed the problem myself ; I also cleaned up around the unwanted holes , undersealed and put in some small rubber grommets . When something like that happens I just make a note and never visit the establishment again .

My main point is that if I want a job done right , I do it myself - this is the strongest argument for doing your own servicing and repairs , workshop manuals are easy enough to come by and for most routine jobs it is easy to service cars yourself , and even repairs like replacing brake pipes , which I now always make up and flare myself out of CuNiFer pipe ; I also have a vacuum solo bleeding kit which runs off my air compressor and I can do this without needing help ; although with my son now being 15 it is about time I started to teach him some vehicle mechanics since he is starting to show an interest .

DIY servicing CAN save you money , and I also take the notion that I grudge paying someone else to do a job that I can do perfectly well , and probably better , myself ; but the main reason is not financial , it is primarily that I want to know my cars haven't been bodged and that all jobs have been done correctly .

Also , none of my cars have OBD , although I have learned to read blink codes and clear stored codes simply using some bits of wire and my trusty AVO meter 8 , on which I can count the kicks of the needle ; but you don't have to go that far back not to have the OBD2 sockets - none of my W140 , R129 , W124 , W201 or W126 cars had it ; it was all blink codes and I don't think of them as old cars in the way that I thought about my Ponton and Fintail .

While I don't yet have a driveway at my new house , although I've taken down the front wall to create one - next year - I have built up a reasonable collection of decent tools and equipment down the years and can tackle most things . I currently have a list of jobs for my recently bought S124 : fit tow bar , retrofit cruise control and OTG ; put in better audio system ( still looking for rear door cards with optional speakers in the rear armrests , then get rid of ones in the tailgate put there by previous owner ) , fix electric sunroof ( I have already determined that one of the lift arms has broken - easy job ) and since I have found a donor car with air-con , I'm contemplating retrofitting A/C using most of the system from the donor car but some new components as required ( I plan to strip what I need from the donor car and keep until I have a drive to work on ) .
 
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
If you join the official club you get access to WIS ( workshop information system ) and EPC ( electronic parts catalogue ) , while you can subscribe yourself , it is not cheap , but club members get to log in as part of their membership . This is what dealerrs and approved workshops use .

For anything but the newest cars , there are other manuals , like the well known Haynes ones which are generally pretty good , and a few other published elsewhere , as well as resources like Mercedes Source ( Kent Bergasma ) who has a lot of useful guides on You Tube , amongst a multitude of others , some good some bad .

For those with properly older cars , there is another option - in days gone by dealers and approved workshops ( and if you look in the Europa directory that comes in the handbook pack in your car you will see that there were quite a lot of official MB workshops that just serviced and repaired but did not sell vehicles ; these have tended to fade away now as the main push by M-B is to sell vehicles , not look after existing ones - how times have changed ) . Anyway , a lot of these workshops also had all the same printed service manuals as the dealer workshops , and one time I was at an autojumble and saw a cardboard box under a table containing what I recognised as some M-B workshop manuals and parts catalogues - on asking , the vendor told me he had acquired them from a place that had closed down , but they weren't selling because hardly anyone had these cars - as well as the Pontons and Fintails , there were manuals and parts catalogues for Adenauers , 190SL , 300SL , Pagodas , W108 etc etc , so I asked what he wanted for the box , and got the lot for £50 ! These were semi hardback books the size and thickness of telephone directories ; I sold some on but kept the ones that were relevant to me . These books do come up on eBay , but tend now to be very expensive , when I bought them around £40 years ago the price I paid was a not insignificant amount , but still a bargain for me .

After the hardback books , M-B dealers and workshops moved over to microfiche , and many of us will remember leaning over the parts counter while the partsman pulled drawings up on the microfiche reader - these do also come up on ebay from time to time , both complete sets of M-B microfiches , and these were extant certainly up to the era of the W123 but I think into the mid 80s before they went over to computers ; you also see the microfiche readers on eBay and sometimes the two together .

It all depends what cars you have , but there are various resources out there .
 
Hmmm, I do hold a City & Guilds certificate in Car Mechanics, and used to always work on my own cars, mainly because i had no money, family to support, mortgage etc - I have worked on Triumph Stags, Datsun Skyline 240K GT, Pontiac Firebird, Chevrolet Camaro, Daimler Double Six ( That one was a challenge! ) and various other cars that i have owned over the years..... All of them were no newer than 1994.

Move on a couple of decades and i lift the bonnet and think to myself 'Huh!'

My first experience of the 'HUH' moment was when i tried to carry out a service on my Mitsubishi Shogun 3.0L V6 ...... Where the hell are the plugs? Apparently you need a special tool and i was quoted £450 ...... So, they lasted another 80k ....

Now i am a lot older, i do most of my own repairs on vintage HiFi, my motorcycles and the house, But i leave the cars ( Currently Honda CR-V Diesel and the SL500 ) to the independent experts. Especially as i am older and do not have the expertise nor the correct tooling, but do have slightly more disposable income and hate the stress of the electronics giving a wobbly it makes sense to do so.

I am one of those that has enough knowledge to make a bad error of judgement! :cool:
I still work on my cars in preference to handing them to others I'm not sure of .

Re hi-fi , I worked in the trade back in the seventies and eighties , got to meet many of the greats , like Peter Walker , John Michell , Ivor Tiefenbrun , Laurie Fincham and many others . I suppose age has a lot to do with what you consider 'vintage' ; to me that largely means it has valves and down the years I've had things like Quad 22/IIs , Revox G36 HS , HH Scott electronics and ESL 57s ; these days , besides my Gyrodec , owned from new , and my suite of Quad 77/707 , I have ESL 63s , just factory rebuilt earlier this year , rebuilt my B77 HS and currently working on my A77 1/4tr ; also have Uher 4000 and 4200 in the queue , along with two Nakamichi 700 tri Tracers , Technics RS 276 and 279 , oh and a Grundig Satellit 6001 multi band receiver . Because I used and sold these things when they were new , I don't think of them as old or vintage , they are just some quality items I always liked and I do my best to keep them running and give me enjoyment . I have a storage container full of stuff as well .
 

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