When to take your car to a mechanic
We all want to avoid certain things such as doctors’ trips, dentist visits or taking the car to the mechanic. While the cost and time of going to the garage might be something we want to steer clear of, it’s sometimes necessary, and could save you a lot of money in the long-term.
Recently, with the rise in popularity of YouTube tutorials and online guides, many people are choosing to take on some DIY car maintenance jobs for their car, with varying results. There are times when it’s safe to do this, but occasionally you need to visit a professional. We spoke to Shane Martin of Panic Mechanic, a Mobile Mechanic in Petersfield and Kurt Schleier of car repair marketplace ClickMechanic, to find out what you can do yourself, and when you should visit a professional.
Things you can fix yourself
Even if you’re not a trained mechanic, there are a few things you can do yourself with the help of your car manual and the right tools.
One of the easiest things you can do for your car’s upkeep is replacing your wiper blades. If your wipers are leaving streaks on the windows when it rains, they’ve probably lost their grip. As well as this, Schleier states “if they’re really worn down, they can cause scratches on the windscreen” which will be much more costly in the long run. Head down to your local auto supplies shop, where most replacement wipers will include instructions on how to fit them.
Coolant prevents the metal components of your car overheating, so it needs to be checked and topped up regularly. This can be easily done. Antifreeze diluted with distilled water is available from most hardware and auto shops, and where your reservoir is located will be in your car’s manual.
Schleier says, “Keeping your coolant topped up is super important. If your engine is low on coolant it will overheat, which can cause catastrophic engine damage.” Martin also warns to keep an eye on your coolant levels: “It's really important to monitor the temperature gauge on your dashboard as an indicator of the car overheating. A car that overheats could be due to coolant leaking”.
Engine oil top-up
Martin’s advice is that “a regular oil level check not only ensures that the oil is at a safe/optimum level, but it could also prevent other problems from developing. A low oil level could indicate a sump or rocker cover leakage or blown turbo seals." Find out how to top up your engine oil now.
According to Martin, “Tyre pressures can be checked at most petrol stations using the air compressor and noting the correct inflation limit written on the tyre. If you are driving around on tyres with incorrect air pressure, you risk damaging the tyres because of uneven tyre wear, which might even result in a tyre blow-out!” Read our guide on how to take care of your tyres here.
When to go to the mechanic
While there are ways to maintain your car yourself, when bigger problems arise, putting off getting your car fixed by a professional can be an expensive mistake. Martin says:
Over and above obvious repair or warnings, that need a professional to take care of, vehicle owners could try to be more diligent. If their car starts to do something out of the ordinary; make a strange noise or vibration, it's always best to get it checked by a professional. It's much easier to fix a problem if it is identified at an early stage, before it becomes a major issue.
Signs to look out for are the obvious warnings like dashboard lights, noises, and irregular movements in the car. Martin adds, "Any warning lights on the dashboard should be addressed quickly! An Engine Management Light could be indicative of a serious component failure and the car should not be driven until it is checked by a mechanic."
Mechanics have specialist diagnostic tools and software to get to the bottom of what’s wrong with your car, so if you notice something is wrong get it checked out sooner rather than later. Martin concludes by emphasising the importance of timely repairs:
"If issues are not caught early they could lead to catastrophic failure and large repair bills for the customer, and a more difficult repair for the mechanic."