It is normal human instinct to panic as soon as our cars exhibit some form of malfunction. Too often the issue is far too complex for an average person to attempt to fix. At times like this a visit to your local mechanic is recommended.
However, some times the issue maybe far easier to repair than you think. If you are lucky, the fix maybe absolutely free, no cost to you at all – that cash stays in your pocket.
So before you call the tow truck because your car is won’t start or the CHECK ENGINE light comes on pops up on your dash. You may want must check some surprisingly good car repair sources that may save hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
WARNING: None of the following tips recommend you open any part of your car’s engine, transmission and electrical wiring. Please consult your provided warranty statement first before attempting any repairs. Attempting to repair any part of your vehicle yourself may void your warranty or cause you harm.
More complexity, more problems
As the modern car gets more and more complex, so too does the increasingly puzzling number of ways things can break. Now I am not telling to totally skip your mechanic especially for more serious alerts such as the check engine coming on.
That particular alert is usually – but not always – reserved for underlying transmission or engine issues beyond the scope of this article.
While we are on the CHECK ENGINE LIGHT topic
The check engine light for example may not necessarily be reporting a current transmission or engine fault. It maybe triggered to alert you to an issue that can lead to very expensive mandatory repairs later. The sooner you solve this issue, the better.
Even in more modern sedans and SUV’s, a check engine light may pop up for very solvable reasons, such as an improperly locked fuel door.
My Check Engine light turned on randomly a few months back, which was infuriating at best. I would later discovered that at my last oil change, a mechanic forgot to reset the oil life monitor (I found that solution on YouTube free of charge).
So after driving with no issues – weeks after my oil change and mechanic visit – eventually the car’s computer incorrectly believed my oil was bad. I reset the oil life monitor, that check engine light has not returned.
Something like an improperly locked fuel door may be reported on your driver dash console (especially on older base SUV and sedan models) with a Check Engine warning. There are some SUV and sedan models sold today that are more prone to sometimes experience simple issues disguised as something major.
There are three main sources to diagnose to your car issues before going to your local auto repair person or dealership, that if utilized can save you real cash. These are money saving aides right right before your eyes. Furthermore the main tip is hiding inside your SUV or sedan.
The first and most important money saving tip is. Read your included car User Manual
It is amazing just how many of us never browse through our included car manual, just causally or to help with emergency issues. All new or used car sold today must include a user manual by federal law.
The literature inside these booklets is a powerful source of information for the proper maintenance and care of your automobile. Just watch as your local mechanic is repairing your vehicle.
You may sometimes see them peruse this booklet (especially when they think you aren’t looking). They may use their own manual which contains almost the same information as the one collecting dust in your glove compartment.
The car’s user manual not only contain very important information about your warranty, but what service level you are owed at various mileage milestone. The trouble shooting sections of this booklet should be your first go to source for car diagnosis.
Your second best way to save money on car repairs is by using Google or Bing
Yes, the regular old search engine is really your second best way to save money on car repairs over time. You must know that even though your car troubles are very frustrating. More often than you may expect, that same car issue is not limited to just you.
The sad truth is that most common car annoyances will appear after a few years of trouble free use. Usually and coincidentally right after the warranty expires. The main beauty of the internet is you can always find someone who has experienced or is experiencing a similar issue like yours.
So if after consulting your car’s user manual didn’t resolve the issue, a search query on the net could be a way to save on repair cost – hopefully. A lot of people will post their issues and annoyances on vehicle Forums and blogging sites, with any luck, some solutions may appear too.
As with anything online, you may want to make sure that any proposed fixes, are first safe, and reproduceable. Meaning that any proposed fix did help more people who’ve had similar problems and tried those same solutions to resolution.
Can following the “the wisdom of the crowd” save you potentially hundreds in car repairs?
As a warning again though, only try repairs that are safe and simple. This means you must have little to no interaction with your car’s engine, powertrain or electrical components (wiring). Remember these tips are for fixing simple issues that can cost hundreds in car diagnostics and repairs over time.
Finally, the last but probably best money saving car repair source is YouTube
Yes another mention of YouTube university. The best thing about using YouTube to perform simple and routine car repairs is, you can watch how to proceed, and rewind over and over.
Side story: I once had a an older GE washing machine in my basement that stopped working mysteriously for no reason years ago. The machine just stopped midway while performing the rinse cycle (a function it has performed to completion probably thousand of time before).
Solution: First thing I did was check that included (but thin) user manual at the back of the machine, it was no help. So I went to YouTube in a last ditch effort, to find help for a washing machine that the manufacturer stopped producing years ago.
To say I had little hope of finding a solution was an understatement. The first video provided little help. But the second one, I thought for sure was some kind of YouTube practical joke.
The Youtuber’s recommended solution (which he said with a straight face) was to first, unplug the machine and wait two minutes. Then open and close the machine’s lid 10 times. I fell down on my sofa and doubled over in laughter as my wife got the local yellow pages ready to call an electrician.
After two minutes elapsed and my laughter subsided I followed the young guy’s solution. Re-plugged the washing machine into the outlet then to our stunned faces it chugged back to life and completed the load. That machine kept working for as long as I owned that house.
The only reason to use any of these last two repair sources – YouTube and the search engines – is to perform fixes that could otherwise cost you hundreds or more, for diagnosis and repair.
The cold reality is, most mechanics (even in 2022) will still charge you a hundred or more US dollars just to hook up your car’s system for a computer reading; that will take less than a minute. So if a non-invasive solution on YouTube can save you cash why not try it (but only if it is safe and practical to do so)?
What I love about most of these YouTube amateur mechanics is, they are regular folks with similar issues to what you maybe experiencing. They are sharing their experiences resolving their car problems – which sometimes are simple fixes.
I’ve seen videos where car starting problems on some SUV and sedan models were resolved by changing the key fob batteries, for example. The quality and variety of these how-to video guides on the platform does vary from creator to the next.
If you’re lucky, you may actually see real service people disseminating their own repair tips, for free!!
If the underlying car issue appears simple enough to attempt a repair yourself then these money saving tips can come in handy. However if doing minor repairs make you uncomfortable, your best is to see your mechanic for help.