Others, however, should be left to the professionals – no matter how many years of car care or kilometers on the dashboard a driver has accrued over the years.
There is a time to take the DIY route, and a time to take our trusty ride to the auto shop. From engine to radio to transition systems, take heed of these four car problems that you should not take care of yourself.
An Overheated Engine
If your vehicle’s engine has overheated, there’s no way around it – a trip to the repair shop is in order. While some skilled DIYers may be able to handle certain cooling-system maintenance tasks (such as replacing a hose) an engine that has fully overheated requires the expertise of a professional mechanic. Without the skills of a trained professional, a driver who attempts to DIY an overheated engine runs the risk of damaging their vehicle severely, which could cost them thousands of dollars.
A Worn-Out Timing Belt
Your vehicle’s timing belt is what keeps all the elements of the engine – including valves, crankshaft, cylinder heads, and pistons – working in sync. This belt wears down over time, requiring replacement multiple times throughout the lifespan of your vehicle – every 100,000 kilometers or 5 years, whichever comes first.
If your engine runs roughly and loses power frequently, and the timing belt begins to show signs of cracking, glazing, or general wear, then it’s time for a replacement.
Although it may be tempting to attempt replacing your own timing belt, the consensus from auto experts is clear – don’t try this at home! The risk of damaging your engine is very high, turning a $500 – $600 maintenance task into a $4000 engine repair job.
A Defective Transmission System
Your vehicle’s transmission system has a very important task – to circulate power from your car’s engine to its driveshaft. These various moving components create large amounts of friction and heat, which could result in transmission issues over time.
The most reliable method of checking for a problem with your transmission? If the warning light appears on your dashboard! However, there are a few other warning signs which could indicate that your transmission needs replacement or repair:
- You can feel shuddering or grinding as you drive.
- You can smell burning from the engine (a distinctive sweet smell.)
- You can hear a loud noise when your vehicle is in neutral.
- You are having difficulty getting into the proper gear (more commonly with manual transmissions.)
The best way to solve your transmission issue is to leave it in the hands of a trained professional at a specialized transmission shop. Regular maintenance, such as flushes and fluid changes, should be performed by skilled mechanics rather than your regular oil-change shop.
A Broken Radio
A broken radio can make a long roadtrip or commute seem much longer! If you have experience repairing broken electronics, you may be able to repair a broken car radio. However, most drivers simply do not have that level of skill, which means that radio repair or replacement is another car problem that you should entrust to a skilled automobile electrician.
Car radio issues range from the simple (such as lack of signal or a jammed CD) to the complex (like a complete lack of power to the stereo.) Either way, if you attempt to fix your car’s radio without the proper knowledge and tools, you run the risk of short-circuiting your vehicle’s whole electric system.
Remember: sometimes, even the most skilled DIYers are not properly equipped to take on a car repair job. That’s why it’s all the more important to choose the right mechanic, and communicate effectively with them. Whether you’re an at-home mechanic, or would rather leave the car problems to the pros, the proper car insurance is vital to give you peace of mind, no matter which roads you travel.