While the internet has given us a lot of DIY tutorials and information at our fingertips, some things are still better left to the professionals. Vehicle repair is one of those things. Of course, there are a few safe do-it-yourself auto maintenance jobs, such as:
- Checking battery and cleaning battery terminals
- Replacing windshield wipers and fluid
- Checking tire pressure and condition
- Checking and changing engine oil
While anyone can safely do the items above without requiring additional assistance or tools, many auto systems and components are so complex that you must entrust them to professional technicians.
Here are five DIY auto repairs you should avoid if you’re not a trained technician.
5 Systems and Components You Should Not Repair Yourself
1. Transmission Diagnostics/Repair
Did you ever have a chance to peek inside the bell casing of a vehicle’s transmission? It’s a galaxy of complex systems consisting of gears, tensioners, bearings, and many other parts that must fit in just so to work.
Even if you are mechanically inclined, here are four reasons not to fix your transmission yourself:
- An average transmission has 800 components. It weighs approximately 100 to 400 pounds, making it difficult to lift yourself without help or a special jack.
- Transmission repair is complex and requires special training and tools for proper diagnosis. Unless you have training and experience working on transmissions, you're likely to do more harm than good, which can cause more significant problems and more expensive fixes.
- Drivetrain components are under a lot of stress and must be in perfect alignment for everything to work correctly. If something isn't quite right, it can spiral into major problems.
- If your vehicle is still under warranty, attempted DIY repairs could void your coverage.
Due to all the complexities and high costs of a new transmission, it is best to avoid repairing or swapping it out yourself.
Signs of a transmission failure
Experiencing the following signs while driving could mean a transmission issue, requiring you to visit a transmission repair shop in Southern California immediately.
- Burning odor
- Noisy in neutral
- Check Engine Light (CEL) is on
- High RPMs when shifting gears/slipping gears
- Grinding sound or shaking
Related Article: 5 Main Symptoms of Transmission Failure
2. Engine Diagnostics/Repair
Like your transmission, your engine is a highly complex set of machinery, including pistons, gaskets, sensors, and many other parts, designed to generate the power your vehicle needs to drive. Only an expert can diagnose issues and repair them. Trying the repair yourself and incorrect installation of a component can cause damage to the vehicle and render it inoperable.
Signs of engine failure
Whenever you experience any of the following engine-related symptoms, head to your mechanic in Southern California.
- Engine misfires
- Vehicle fails to start
- Check Engine Light (CEL) is on
- Engine feels underpowered
- Rough engine idling
- Engine knocking
3. Brake & Tire Repairs
Brakes and tires are a vehicle's two most vital parts that help it move and stop quickly. While it could be tempting to replace brake pads or rotors yourself after seeing a TikTok video tutorial, we strongly suggest against it.
An incorrect brake pad replacement or line repair task can risk your safety and others on the road. Vehicles with electronic parking brakes have a more intricate mechanism, which only professional mechanics should handle.
Similarly, it is wise not to perform wheel alignment, tire balancing, or even tire rotation. Misaligned or unbalanced tires can wreak havoc while driving and lead to an accident. Moreover, improper tire fixing can easily cause flat tires. Therefore, you should always hit a tire shop for any task related to tire replacement and repair.
Signs of faulty brakes
- If you experience the following signs while braking, do not ignore them and visit an auto technician immediately.
- Car shaking while braking
- Soft feel as you push the brake pedal
- Brake, ABS, or Brake Pad light appears on the dash
- Squealing or grinding noise while braking
- Takes longer to come to a full stop
Related Article: Your Brake Questions: Answered
4. A/C Repairs
A malfunction in your A/C may entice you to check it out yourself. However, you should understand that an A/C repair is more than just refilling or topping off the refrigerant. Furthermore, mishandling and releasing refrigerant into the air is dangerous and unlawful. We have seen most experienced DIYers finding it tough to identify the exact issue in an air condition system.
Are you experiencing hot air or no air at all? Is your AC blowing cold air with poor airflow? Every A/C problem has different possibilities, such as a dirty air filter, compressor issue, or leak. Rather than blowing money on DIY repairs, allowing an expert A/C mechanic to handle it is better.
Signs to go for AC inspection
The following symptoms indicate your AC needs an inspection:
- The air conditioner blows hot air
- It makes an odd sound
- It only blows cold air when driving
Related Article: Vehicle A/C Maintenance and Repair: A Primer
5. Timing Belt
Replacing a timing belt or chain is a job best left to expert mechanics because even one tooth-off can break down your vehicle. Incorrect placement can also damage other engine parts, requiring you to change the whole machinery.
Signs you may need a timing belt replacement.
- Disturbing sound from the powerplant
- Powerplant misfires
- A malfunction sign appears with a timing error code
- The car doesn't start at all
Importance of Regular Maintenance
Regular maintenance and having your vehicle checked by an expert technician are vital for your vehicle’s health, performance, and longevity. Only an expert mechanic can diagnose a vehicle problem before it becomes too serious. More severe issues mean expensive repairs or replacements, potentially costing you thousands of dollars.
Alternatively, a regularly maintained vehicle is less likely to break down on the road, delivers optimal performance, and consumes less fuel.
Trust the Experts!
Our experience tells us that DIY vehicle repairs seldom save you money. Yes, they will probably cost a few bucks up front, but they typically cost more with regard to time, energy, and money if the repairs are inappropriate.
We firmly suggest you leave the abovementioned car repairs to only expert technicians. They are educated, trained, and equipped with the right tools to perform the repairs safely and successfully.
Contact a Southern California AAMCO Center near you for top-quality diagnostics, excellent warranty coverage, and reasonably priced auto repairs today to schedule an appointment.
AAMCO has more than 50 years of experience diagnosing, servicing, and repairing more than 20 million vehicles. Customers rely on us for:
- Quality repairs
- Expert technicians
- Superior customer experience
- Trustworthy, honest service
- Best warranty coverage available
AAMCO Centers of Southern California and surrounding areas represent trust, quality, and value.