Many of us have been there: a friend or family member has complained about a car repair quote, they don’t want to bother bringing their car in for a particular service, or there is something wrong with their car that they think is it not worth a shop’s time. Or any other issue that keeps their ride from perfect health. But the idea of jumping into the world of DIY tinkering may not be appealing, possibly because they weren’t given the proper advice to do so.
“Just do it yourself” is what I’ve said to family and friends in the past in these situations. Especially if it’s something as simple as a piece of trim that has fallen or fell, or if they are tired of spending a lot of money on oil changes. I often get backlash in response, usually in the form of “yes, but I have to buy all these tools”, or “I don’t have the time or space”, or even “I don’t want to break anything in the process.”
Those are legitimate problems, but nothing is insurmountable. Tools can make your life easier for years to come and often pay for themselves over time. Space can usually be found with a little creativity. And as for breaking stuff, well, that’s just an opportunity to learn more!
I’m not advocating for a novice to replace a head gasket as their first foray into turning the wrench, bending and flaring new brake lines, or even replacing a clutch. But there are many automotive maintenance tasks, such as oil changes, air filter replacements, and braking tasks that can be accessed by anyone who can follow simple directions.
My go-to advice is usually a form of “visit Harbor Freight. You can buy some basic tools that cover a wide variety of tasks for really cheap, which will then pay off over the next few oil changes.” Then, the old “looks up the track on YouTube and watches it a few times, and as it approaches zero o’clock, take your time to complete it.” I should also add “search for it on TheDrive.com” to my regular recipe.
So what is your best advice for novice do-it-yourselfers? Let’s keep it general: it could be aimed at someone who might have a resistance to it at first, or someone who wants to dive in but needs a little guidance and, excuse the 90s reference, Chicken Soup For the Rookie Mechanic’s soul. Whatever the reasoning, what do they need to know and what to look out for?