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5 Common DIY Mistakes to Avoid

Mechanic Under Car

When you go from casual automotive DIY like filling the tires or learning to check the oil and maybe add a little here and there to keep it topped off to the brave world of do-it-yourself mechanics, there are some common mistakes you're very likely to make. For your convenience, here are the five most common. If you make one of these mistakes after reading this then, well, don't say we didn't tell you so.

#1 Assuming you cannot do it.

This mistake is made the most often and is what usually separates the casual mechanic from the successful driveway DIYer. There are very few jobs that a competent home mechanic cannot do and most of those jobs are limited because they require special tools, including specific knowledge or access to it.

I've met completely inexperienced motorists who were able to change oil and check common maintenance points after just a couple of hours simply because they wanted to learn and found someone to show them. I've also met doctors, lawyers, accountants, and more who were some of the most brilliant home garage mechanics I'd ever seen. Don't assume.

#2 Being overconfident and making assumptions.

Speaking assumptions, don't assume that you can easily do a job either. Some jobs are, by themselves, extremely easy to do. Changing brake pads is something nearly anyone can learn to do, but it's the kind of job that, if you're doing the proper inspections while working at it, can lead to other jobs that are more time-consuming and expensive as repair items appear during your work.

Don't assume, for example, that you can definitely change out the brakes and that you'll have it done in fifteen minutes because that's what you were able to do last time. What if a rotor needs to be turned, you notice a leak in a brake line, etc? That job just got a little more time-consuming. Be ready for that.

Also be ready to run into a job that you just can't do without some expert help. It will happen. Suck up and use the opportunity to learn. This brings us to our next mistake.

#3 Ignorance of available resources to help

Quite often, you have access to a lot more than you realize. Your library may have a complete set of manuals for your vehicle. The corner shop may have a guy who's willing to come over and coach you after hours for a few bucks or beers. The corner parts store probably has plenty of tools to rent, diagnostics tests they'll run free of charge, and more.

Don't be afraid to ask a mechanic, a friend, the guy behind the counter.. You won't know until you do.

#4 Scrimping on replacement parts.

Buying the cheapest part available is not "getting a deal." Much of the time, it's getting the "cheapest part." Think about that phrase "cheap." Is that what you want on your car? Not if you aren't interested in replacing it again, soon.

Buy the best part you can afford, aiming for well-known and trusted brands of quality. These aren't always the most expensive, but they're usually not the lowest-priced either.

#5 Using the wrong tools for the job.

This is likely the most common DIY issue and it stems largely from a combination of numbers two and four on our list. Overconfidence and a tendency to "make do" too often often means using the wrong tools and that, eventually, leads to more problems than it solves. Spend the money on the right tool or find a way to borrow or rent it. You'll be glad you did as it will make the job go more smoothly and will greatly lower the risk of damaging your vehicle, the replacement parts you've purchased, and you.