Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

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MikeZ
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Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by MikeZ » Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:20 pm

So some background. My knowledge of cars is limited to my weekly listening to CarTalk, which has actually gotten to where I am decent at guessing the hosts answer... :D When it comes to actually maintaining a car, after a two hour ordeal trying to change my headlight bulbs, i've limited my toolbox to two tools: a Credit Card and a road side emergency service.

That said, I've been toying with buying a higher mileage (maybe 150k Suburban) SUV to carry stuff around in and maybe tow a camper. I was wondering if this would be a decent skill to pick up. I have also heard that learning DIY maintenance actually makes owning a used German luxary car a reasonable thing to afford.

So, is this a worth while skill to try my hand at?

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whatusername?
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by whatusername? » Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:27 pm

There's general maintenance - like changing oil, filters, spark plugs, brake pads, and other wearable items - and repair. Everyone should know basic maintenance, with the caveat that unless you really know what you're doing, don't mess around with the brakes or airbag/steering column.

As far as DIY repair, it depends on the vehicle. Your ability to repair something that is computer-controlled is practically nil unless you have access to diagnostic equipment. Otherwise, YouTube, google, and vehicle forums can be a great resource.

FWIW, I don't do most of my own maintenance since my time is better spent elsewhere. But I will change my own lightbulbs unless it would require me to pull the dash.

hicabob
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by hicabob » Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:32 pm

MikeZ wrote:So some background. My knowledge of cars is limited to my weekly listening to CarTalk, which has actually gotten to where I am decent at guessing the caller's answer... :D When it comes to actually maintaining a car, after a two hour ordeal trying to change my headlight bulbs, i've limited my toolbox to two tools: a Credit Card and a road side emergency service.

That said, I've been toying with buying a higher mileage (maybe 150k Suburban) SUV to carry stuff around in and maybe tow a camper. I was wondering if this would decent skill to pick up. I have also heard that learning DIY maintenance actually makes owning a used German luxary car a reasonable thing to afford.

So, is this a worth while skill to try my hand at?

Depends - some people have a knack, others will promptly strip their oil drain threads. Youtube and the web are amazing for methods, tips and tricks. Not being able to change headlight bulbs and not owning any tools indicates you will have a big learning curve. Some communities have adult ed classes on basic car maintenance. That might be a good thing to try to see if it rings your bell or not.

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Svensk Anga
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by Svensk Anga » Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:25 pm

The auto parts stores will be glad to help by running their computerized diagnostics for you. They will also have the specialized tools you may need, either for rent or borrow.
You can buy a repair manual specific to your vehicle for reasonable $, so you can see what you are getting into before you start a job.
I don't do much of this work myself, but I did recently change an oxygen sensor. The parts store diagnostics told me which one and with their specialized wrench, it was a fairly easy job. The "check engine" light went out.

I've gotten to where I hate taking a car into the shop because they will find six other things that you ought to do. I decline, but there is some lingering doubt. There is some satisfaction in being able to handle these things yourself. (Well, you and the parts store that is.)

whomever
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by whomever » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:58 pm

My sense of DIY maintenance of modern vs. older cars is kind of good news/bad news. The good news is that A)you don't have as much maintenance to do (i.e., no setting points, 100K sparkplugs etc) and B)sometimes the ODB system will correctly tell you the problem. The bad news is C)there are complexities you didn't use to have, e.g. you want to steer clear of the airbag systems, D)some of the electronic widgets are expensive enough you don't want to swap in a new one as trial and error diagnostics, and E) things tend to be a lot more crowded than in days of yore; just getting to the gol dang bolt can be an issue.

As hicabob says, there is a knack, and a learning curve. If you're all thumbs it might not be your cup of tea.

I still do most of mine. You can save a lot of money, and make sure things are done right, because you care about the result - which isn't the case for all commercial places.

rwm
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by rwm » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:03 pm

Never underestimate the difficulty of working on used German luxury cars.

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Driver
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by Driver » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:07 pm

Or the cost of parts and specialty tools (or hassle of renting them).

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BigOil
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by BigOil » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:43 pm

I agree with the posters--- there is a lot less to do than before, but there're definitely some things you should avoid (airbags are a good example).

The best tactic I think for many folks so inclined ---just to do those things that save you money easily (cabin air filters, engine air filters, detailing, light bulbs, changing bits of trim that wear badly or malfunction, etc.)

There so much information on the Internet, and YouTube especially, for common models. Definitely money to be saved.

That said, if you don't enjoy these things or make a lot of money with your time...Forget about it.

To actually troubleshoot a mechanical concern you probably need real mechanical aptitude and some computer aptitude. And of course specialize software and/or tools is often required. If you're willing the Internet can provide shortcuts sometimes...

I think a really good example is repairing braking systems... They're actually quite simple. Even today.
As long as you don't need to cycle the ABS unit to bleed with a specialized software package on specialized laptop, through the OBD port. (If you know what I'm saying...you probably can do your own brake job, if it's Greek beware).
Would you trust YOUR "craftsmanship" to reliably stop your family & loved ones in traffic? For many people the answer is yeah. But it's pretty reasonable to want to delegate that worked out to someone more experienced. Can you elevate the vehicle and safely work on it without losing any fingers or busting a foot as the vehicle falls??? I bet EmerDoc has tales to tell of DIY folks...

Swapping out some rotors(if not rusted on---a BIG if) and slipping in pads is pretty ez really. If you're comfortable with basic tools.

So it's really a matter of knowing when to play, and knowing when to punt.

And be honest, if you have no mechanical aptitude or interest ... stick to the really basic stuff if any. We all have different gifts.

My advice to OP. If you can get a 150K Suburban without rust that had basic maintenance performed. Go for it.
I cannot in good faith recommend a neophyte attempt high mileage German cars. That can be one very expensive hobby!

barnaclebob
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by barnaclebob » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:20 pm

Most fluids, shocks, brakes, and a fair amount of sensors are super easy to replace. Spark plugs really depend on the car but shouldnt be to bad for a suburban. If the suburban has drum brakes those can be a little more tricky but probably still doable.

The main traps are stuck drain plugs, always undo the fill plug first so you don't drain the thing and then can't get the fill plug out. My process to get stuck ones has been try the impact gun, apply PB blaster, try impact gun after it soaks in, hit it with the propane torch, try again, hit it for longer, try again, then if that fails get out the breaker bar and have at it.

Most specialty tools can be borrowed for free from auto parts stores.

Alto Astral
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by Alto Astral » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:11 pm

Don't do it. I would stick to changing lights, filters and wipers. Anything above that, go to a local mechanic. Highly recommend a lower maintenance vehicle.

Freddy
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by Freddy » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:18 pm

A Suburban that you are not going to use as a daily driver might be one that you want to have serviced at a trusted shop or dealer because you probably won't spend much on maintenance, yearly. As long as it is not a daily needed car, you could also try doing repairs you think you are capable of. When it comes to German Luxury vehicles, definitely, you do not want to experiment on that type of car. Parts are expensive and lots of special knowledge and equipment to have access to. What I'm saying is that only you know your capabilities and limitations. Before you buy, look at YouTube for general maintenance on the specific vehicle you want to get, then decide if you want to tackle it.

FWIW, my son was a former dealer mechanic and brings his cars into the dealer for oil changes. The big and expensive repairs he does himself, if he has the time.

boffalora
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by boffalora » Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:01 pm

I tend to straddle this question by becoming technically knowledgeable of my cars (online user groups are the greatest!) and then deciding on a job-by-job basis whether to do it myself or bring it to a nearby independent garage with whom I have a very good working relationship. The garage gets my oil change business (more than reasonably priced at $25 with a filter and a bumper-to-bumper visual inspection) and allows me to walk underneath the car while it's on the rack to do my own inspection.

This shop, operated by two retired Air Force mechanics, uses mil-spec quality lubricants and fluids, most procured in bulk from military contractor Smitty's Supply (smittysinc.net). Best of all, since one of my cars is a 20-year-old BMW model rarely seen in the US, the owners allow me to procure my own parts. This is the big payoff of giving them the oil changes, cooling system flushes and brake jobs. This relationship is well worth nourishing.

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ClevrChico
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by ClevrChico » Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:09 pm

There's a lot of resources available, so it's easier than it's ever been.

Murphy's Law still makes regular visits, so start small, and don't be afraid to ask for help.

Ostentatious
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by Ostentatious » Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:11 pm

I think it is worth it. I do all I can do with a little help from YouTube and other care forums. You can find the best help from forums dedicated to the type of car you own. You can find easy step by step instructions with pictures and videos about many repairs. I have changed my oil, changed my brakes and bled the brakes, replaced rear differential oil, topped up and replaced power steering oil, transmission oil etc all by following step by step instructions. I understand that it is not for everyone but you have a little knowledge about cars or if you're willing to learn, you can do it.

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bottlecap
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by bottlecap » Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:17 am

You might not be a candidate for this if you seriously had a problem changing out headlight bulbs.... Just find a mechanic you trust.

Transmissions on many Suburbans and Tahoes only last about 150,000 miles. If that's the mileage of Suburbans you're looking at, make sure the transmission was recently replaced. A new one is $3,000 to $5,000 depending upon where you live. Don't ask how I know....

JT

blink32
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by blink32 » Thu Nov 05, 2015 5:19 am

Get into DIY car maintenance (really any DIY) for fun, desire and the knowledge that you can do it. Don't look at it as saving money because unless you can keep it strictly to the light maintenance wear items (filters, fluids, wipers, bulbs) and the like you will spend more time and money on tools, literature and the actual tasks then it would cost you to farm it out.

Disclaimer: I do all of my own maintenance except Tires/Alignment. Factory Service Manuals are a blessing.

FRANK2009
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by FRANK2009 » Thu Nov 05, 2015 5:30 am

While I was at the dealer for recall work, I casually asked the service writer to change a burned out headlight. That was $75. When the other side went out, a few years later, I did it myself for around $10. That said, you've got to want to do this stuff. My method is to read the procedure, watch on U-tube, and make sure I have the tools to do the job. I may watch and read several times if I'm unsure. It can be difficult to learn what you can do and what you want to farm out but that skill is essential. Good luck; it sounds like a new hobby for you.

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wander
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by wander » Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:21 am

Alto Astral wrote:Don't do it. I would stick to changing lights, filters and wipers. Anything above that, go to a local mechanic. Highly recommend a lower maintenance vehicle.
15 years ago, I would agree with you. And then my car ran into issues that dealer could not find to fix (or they knew but try not to fix when it was under warranty), so I became weekend mechanic. I haven't seen a mechanic since, but I do buy parts from dealers from time to time (parts are expensive at dealers but I get good parts. The real cost is labor which is zero in my case). I took care of all my cars from oil change to replace timing belt, water pump, power steering pump, rack and pinion, ... you name it. I've saved the labor money and drive my old cars with confidence that they are not going to break down somewhere.

Alto Astral
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by Alto Astral » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:21 am

wander wrote:
Alto Astral wrote:Don't do it. I would stick to changing lights, filters and wipers. Anything above that, go to a local mechanic. Highly recommend a lower maintenance vehicle.
15 years ago, I would agree with you. And then my car ran into issues that dealer could not find to fix (or they knew but try not to fix when it was under warranty), so I became weekend mechanic. I haven't seen a mechanic since, but I do buy parts from dealers from time to time (parts are expensive at dealers but I get good parts. The real cost is labor which is zero in my case). I took care of all my cars from oil change to replace timing belt, water pump, power steering pump, rack and pinion, ... you name it. I've saved the labor money and drive my old cars with confidence that they are not going to break down somewhere.
Its amazing that you picked it up over weekends!

While the opportunity presented itself to you, the OP seems to be going out of his way to do this. If changing headlights takes 2 hours, the rest may not keep the initial enthusiasm? I have changed headlights, tail-lights, wipers and cabin filter. While not trivial, they are do-able with youtube videos.

clutchied
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by clutchied » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:25 am

MikeZ wrote:So some background. My knowledge of cars is limited to my weekly listening to CarTalk, which has actually gotten to where I am decent at guessing the hosts answer... :D When it comes to actually maintaining a car, after a two hour ordeal trying to change my headlight bulbs, i've limited my toolbox to two tools: a Credit Card and a road side emergency service.

That said, I've been toying with buying a higher mileage (maybe 150k Suburban) SUV to carry stuff around in and maybe tow a camper. I was wondering if this would be a decent skill to pick up. I have also heard that learning DIY maintenance actually makes owning a used German luxary car a reasonable thing to afford.

So, is this a worth while skill to try my hand at?

So I can do a lot of DIY on my 2002 530i. I could not afford the car otherwise.

In parts alone (174,000 mile vehicle) I've spend about $2000 this year. That's at discount places that supply quality at reasonable prices.


if I had not had DIY skills for the water pump, alternator, belts, PCV valve, vanos sensors and cooling system it would have cost me close to $6k or more.


hopefully I'm over the hump at this point... but there's just something about driving a car that doesn't have electric steering and everything is still quality and heavy... I love this car.



one other point I'd like to mention. Different makes of cars have different maintenance schedules and they can be put together slightly differently. It took me awhile going from a honda/nissan weekend DIY guy to a BMW diy guy. It's just different and definitely more frustrating. The beemer packs everything in tighter... It can take some time to get used to. Youtube is generally an amazing resource and most people can do most maintenance now with that at their finger tips.

takeshi
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by takeshi » Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:00 am

MikeZ wrote:Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?
Depends on the person, the vehicle, what you mean by "maintenance" and what tools and space you have available to work with. The basics are usually relatively easy for most cars but, again, it depends on the vehicle. I've done oil changes on most of my vehicles with no issues but I did have one vehicle that had a very cramped engine bay with a transverse V6 with the oil filter tightly wedged between the block and the firewall so oil changes were a pain with that vehicle. I rarely worked on that one and usually took it to a shop.

I don't bother with maintenance on our Boxster but engine access isn't easy since it's midengined and it's worth it to me to just have the dealer or a shop handle any work on it. In general I'm finding that I'd rather have a shop take care of maintenance versus doing it myself but I'm making more these days than when I used to perform much more work on my vehicles so my valuation of time versus money has changed over the years.

I would expect working on a Suburban to be easier than with a smaller vehicle with cramped space but that isn't based on any first hand experience with the generation of Suburban that you're considering so take it with a grain of salt.
MikeZ wrote:So, is this a worth while skill to try my hand at?
Worth is always highly subjective. I'd recommend that you start by researching the vehicle you're thinking of working on and what it would take to do the type of work that you have in mind.

piperkub
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by piperkub » Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:20 am

I am doing exactly what you are proposing, I have a suburban with 158,000 and a Lexus as a Sunday car. I "was" very experienced with cars and mechanically inclined, but what I've found if they're maintained well they will go forever. I've also learned if something does go wrong, someone with experienced will save you money from your learning curve. I once challenged a tune up saying they had not checked the timing because of no chalk mark on the crank, the mechanic sheepishly said they don't do it that way anymore. Changing the fuel pump on the Suburban? It's in the fuel tank, not a job I would tackle. Find a cheap basic mechanic for the Suburban and buy a used German car with a CPO warranty. You've earned it !

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lthenderson
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by lthenderson » Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:35 am

Armed with Youtube, Google and an OBD II code reader, you can save yourself quite a bit of money whether or not you do the repairs yourself. Just becoming familiar with your car and what is wrong will allow you to negotiate with confidence at a repair shop to prevent getting robbed. It seems so many these days try to upsell you more than you actually need.

I have found cars have gotten easier to work on because most parts now last the life of the car and rarely go bad. Those that do are fairly easy to swap out with a few bolts. However, things have gotten more complex as well but the OBD II code reader will really help you identify what has gone wrong it is electrical in nature. The last one I bought was about $120 and has saved me that in money many many times over. Most auto stores will let you borrow them for free to use in their parking lot.

cjcerny
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by cjcerny » Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:38 am

I do the basics on my Toyota--oil change, coolant flush, air filters, brake pads, etc. If you catch a sale on these services, it isn't any less expensive to do them yourself. IMO, main advantage of doing them yourself is that you know they got done right and you can do them when you have the time, not when the shop is open and without having to arrange for a ride.

NHRATA01
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by NHRATA01 » Thu Nov 05, 2015 1:55 pm

A used Suburban, with a non-Displacement on Demand/Active Fuel Management (aka cylinder deactivation) 5.3 LS-based V8 is actually a fairly straightfoward and reliable vehicle. Most of the routine maintenance and wear items - spark plugs included - are quite easy to do on that platform (or any of what are known as the GMT800 or GMT900 trucks, suburban/tahoe/yukon/silverado/sierra). Plenty of forum support and youtube videos out there to show you the basics. Only thing I might pass up doing on a truck at that mileage, is farming out any front end work - ball joints/busings/control arms - to a shop since you'll need a press.

A used German luxury car OTOH, heck no. Generally too many bells and whistles to break and when they do parts are expensive. For instance you'll be a few grand into parts to replace an Airmatic suspension on an 00's Benz. A straight 6 BMW 3-series (E36/E46 years) and 5-series (E90) you will probably be alright on as they are surprisingly simplistic. But when you start moving past the entry level modes (C/3/A4) they start getting real expensive to maintain.

theunknowntech
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by theunknowntech » Thu Nov 05, 2015 2:10 pm

lthenderson wrote:However, things have gotten more complex as well but the OBD II code reader will really help you identify what has gone wrong it is electrical in nature. The last one I bought was about $120 and has saved me that in money many many times over. Most auto stores will let you borrow them for free to use in their parking lot.
You can buy a software/cable kit for your laptop for $20-30 that will let you interface with the OBD II system on the car, read codes, clear them etc and do basic diagnostics, in the privacy of your own garage.

kazper
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by kazper » Thu Nov 05, 2015 2:21 pm

Alto Astral wrote:Don't do it. I would stick to changing lights, filters and wipers. Anything above that, go to a local mechanic. Highly recommend a lower maintenance vehicle.
+1

I'm a total car noob as well. Over the last few years I have dabbled with a few things- changed my radio, upgraded the speakers, swapped out spark plugs, and replaced a worn out headlight for a friend.

I recently borrowed the Haynes guide for my specific vehicle thinking maybe I'd dabble a little more. Taking a look at some of the pictures and reading the descriptions made me realize, I don't have what it takes to do a lot of what was described. Sure I could take it apart, but putting it back on would be extremely iffy, perhaps even impossible.

Better to do the things you can and save a few dollars and leave the rest of it to the pros.

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N1CKV
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by N1CKV » Thu Nov 05, 2015 2:41 pm

hicabob wrote:Depends - some people have a knack, others will promptly strip their oil drain threads. Youtube and the web are amazing for methods, tips and tricks. Not being able to change headlight bulbs and not owning any tools indicates you will have a big learning curve. Some communities have adult ed classes on basic car maintenance. That might be a good thing to try to see if it rings your bell or not.
You would be surprised at what the automotive engineers are throwing out there these days...

I worked on tools in a shop while in college and was a Service Manager briefly after college. I had a heck of a time changing headlight bulbs on my 2009 GMC Sierra - you have to remove the bumper cap and entire grille to get to them. Then I looked at my wife's 2012 Chevy Malibu, to access any of the bulbs on the front end you have to remove the front bumper/fascia. It's not a simple as it used to be.

In general, maintenance items are usually no more difficult than they have been in the past. I still change my own oil and perform most periodic maintenance because I can't stand to let a shop touch my vehicle unless absolutely necessary. I am coming due for a transmission fluid change, that's not something I want to tackle at home (to do a proper complete change it engine has to be running and you need the reservoir "machine" to feed and catch the fluid).

Just a note about a Suburban, especially high mileage and potential towing: Stay away from Pre-2009 models with the 4 speed transmission, the 6 speed is much more reliable and handles weight better.
I have met a lot of people that claim to love money, but they also seem to be the same people that are in the biggest hurry to get rid of it.

theunknowntech
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by theunknowntech » Thu Nov 05, 2015 2:46 pm

I had a heck of a time changing headlight bulbs on my 2009 GMC Sierra - you have to remove the bumper cap and entire grille to get to them. Then I looked at my wife's 2012 Chevy Malibu, to access any of the bulbs on the front end you have to remove the front bumper/fascia. It's not a simple as it used to be.
This is a feature, not a bug. It makes the lights more difficult to steal. I wish more manufacturers were so considerate. (I'm looking at you, Nissan.)

ShenziNation

Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by ShenziNation » Thu Nov 05, 2015 3:13 pm

Just a different perspective: I fix car issues using drawings. I like it. Don't give me too much wordy stuff, but I like arrows, sequenced steps using numbers/letter, and specs e.g. torque, turns, fluid volume, etc.
I think my approach stems from playing with Lego Technic sets as a 7 yo. That's why I love assembling IKEA and any flat-pack furniture. I'll do it for free for friends and family for beer and pizza. I like Japanese and European assembly drawings.
That's how I learnt to work on disc brakes, using the Honda Service Manual. And then more.

fareastwarriors
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by fareastwarriors » Thu Nov 05, 2015 3:27 pm

bad78andy wrote:Just a different perspective: I fix car issues using drawings. I like it. Don't give me too much wordy stuff, but I like arrows, sequenced steps using numbers/letter, and specs e.g. torque, turns, fluid volume, etc.
I think my approach stems from playing with Lego Technic sets as a 7 yo. That's why I love assembling IKEA and any flat-pack furniture. I'll do it for free for friends and family for beer and pizza. I like Japanese and European assembly drawings.
That's how I learnt to work on disc brakes, using the Honda Service Manual. And then more.
I wish you are my neighbor+friend. You can help me with the furniture assembly and car repairs and I will keep the pizza coming and beer flowing. :sharebeer
:happy

ShenziNation

Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by ShenziNation » Thu Nov 05, 2015 4:32 pm

fareastwarriors wrote:
bad78andy wrote:Just a different perspective: I fix car issues using drawings. I like it. Don't give me too much wordy stuff, but I like arrows, sequenced steps using numbers/letter, and specs e.g. torque, turns, fluid volume, etc.
I think my approach stems from playing with Lego Technic sets as a 7 yo. That's why I love assembling IKEA and any flat-pack furniture. I'll do it for free for friends and family for beer and pizza. I like Japanese and European assembly drawings.
That's how I learnt to work on disc brakes, using the Honda Service Manual. And then more.
I wish you are my neighbor+friend. You can help me with the furniture assembly and car repairs and I will keep the pizza coming and beer flowing. :sharebeer
:happy
Come on down to the promised land. Better now than later in retirement when you're old and frail and can't enjoy nature's bounty.
We have great local beers too! :beer

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N1CKV
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by N1CKV » Thu Nov 05, 2015 5:00 pm

theunknowntech wrote:
I had a heck of a time changing headlight bulbs on my 2009 GMC Sierra - you have to remove the bumper cap and entire grille to get to them. Then I looked at my wife's 2012 Chevy Malibu, to access any of the bulbs on the front end you have to remove the front bumper/fascia. It's not a simple as it used to be.
This is a feature, not a bug. It makes the lights more difficult to steal. I wish more manufacturers were so considerate. (I'm looking at you, Nissan.)
If that were the case then why start with protecting the headlights that are otherwise protected by the hood latch. They could start with protecting my tail lights that are protected by my non-locking tailgate and Phillips head screws. :oops:
I have met a lot of people that claim to love money, but they also seem to be the same people that are in the biggest hurry to get rid of it.

blgaarder
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by blgaarder » Thu Nov 05, 2015 5:39 pm

One last thing to consider is your location and garage space.

Swapping tires in a sub-zero garage is no fun, nor is some other work.

Is there lots of space around the car?

ssquared87
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by ssquared87 » Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:41 pm

NHRATA01 wrote:A straight 6 BMW 3-series (E36/E46 years) and 5-series (E90) you will probably be alright on as they are surprisingly simplistic. But when you start moving past the entry level modes (C/3/A4) they start getting real expensive to maintain.
E90 is 3 series, 5 is E39, E60 and most recently F10

And I can attest to them being extremely simple. I've got a 2011 328 (e90) and routine maintenance is incredibly easy. Oil changes, filters, spark plugs, ignition coils, brake pads/rotors all very simple. I hardly ever do the oil changes myself though because BMW usually has specials that bring the cost down to the same price of the raw materials so it's not worth the effort.

Ironically changing the headlights is the most difficult thing to do. They're very hard to reach through the access door in the wheel well so I found it easier to just take the front wheels off and remove the cladding than to access the lights through the access panel. Changing the spark plugs and ignition coils was far easier.

I've also upgraded the audio system and that was incredibly easy.

theunknowntech
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by theunknowntech » Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:26 pm

N1CKV wrote:
theunknowntech wrote:
I had a heck of a time changing headlight bulbs on my 2009 GMC Sierra - you have to remove the bumper cap and entire grille to get to them. Then I looked at my wife's 2012 Chevy Malibu, to access any of the bulbs on the front end you have to remove the front bumper/fascia. It's not a simple as it used to be.
This is a feature, not a bug. It makes the lights more difficult to steal. I wish more manufacturers were so considerate. (I'm looking at you, Nissan.)
If that were the case then why start with protecting the headlights that are otherwise protected by the hood latch. They could start with protecting my tail lights that are protected by my non-locking tailgate and Phillips head screws. :oops:
It's just a fluke of automotive evolution. Nobody really cares about your taillights. :happy
Last edited by theunknowntech on Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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wander
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by wander » Fri Nov 06, 2015 6:50 am

theunknowntech wrote:
lthenderson wrote:However, things have gotten more complex as well but the OBD II code reader will really help you identify what has gone wrong it is electrical in nature. The last one I bought was about $120 and has saved me that in money many many times over. Most auto stores will let you borrow them for free to use in their parking lot.
You can buy a software/cable kit for your laptop for $20-30 that will let you interface with the OBD II system on the car, read codes, clear them etc and do basic diagnostics, in the privacy of your own garage.
If you have an android phone, you can buy ODB II bluetooth reader for less than $20. I bought mine sometime ago and it has been useful. I also bought an expensive ODB II device long time ago for $200 but I have not used it lately since my phone is always next to me, no-wire, and provides similar capabilities.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:25 am

As a guy with an 864 square foot garage with a lift and every air tool known to man...... the internet is full of really good information and also a TON of wrong information. If you have some mechanical ability and are able to make a reasonable plan to repair something without the internet, I'd say you could be in good shape doing it yourself.

2 cases in point. Both are for a 2005 Nissan 350Z manual.

1st problem: The clutch master cylinder is a known weak point in these cars. My son researched a replacement procedure on the web and it started out pulling the windshield plastic cover and the wiper motor. I took one look at the car and told him to look for another procedure as it was obvious by inspection that none of this needed to be done. In the end, we were able to change out the MC and get some good tips on websites, like the best way to bleed the unit while in the car.

2nd problem: The car would randomly shut off, then restart. Web search came up with the passenger side cam position sensor as being a part that commonly went bad. $36 later and maybe a half hour of work and it was easily replaced. The instructions pointed to it being extremely hard to get a bolt out holding the sensor in place, but I chalk that up to the writer not having the right tools. I have the right tools and was somewhat puzzled how anyone could think this was difficult.

So I would not recommend an old Suburban for practice. I'd recommend an old Civic. I've had both and will tell you why. Suburban parts are big and some are really expensive. It's way harder moving around wheels from a Suburban than for a Civic. Civic parts are cheap and if you want to buy used, they are a dime a dozen, including full engine/transmission swaps. Suburban can also have issues that are complex to fix. If you live in the rust belt (I live in New England), older ones (2000 vintage) are known to have brake hard lines rust completely through. There are tons of replacement kits available (because this problem is so common) but this is time consuming work. Certainly, if you want a project, it's possible to do. But for example....the line going from the ABS pump to the rear brakes requires that the body is lifted off of the frame to properly route it. The accessories can also all fail around the same time. We lost the AC and both front window controls within 1000 miles which was in the middle of brake lines popping.

Civics accept parts from Civics and similar year Acura Integra. Not only engine/transmissions but also brake parts (upgrades are bolt on and very easy) and even full interiors. There at lots of Civics running around with full Acura leather interiors. Honda is also totally open with parts, electronics and maint documents. Chevy isn't bad but companies like Subaru and BMW are notoriously closed with any information. Hondas are easy. Go to Honda-Tech.com and look in the tech section and everything is available.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

theunknowntech
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by theunknowntech » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:44 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:So I would not recommend an old Suburban for practice. I'd recommend an old Civic.
Civics are well supported re parts because of the ricer market, with very compliant manufacturer participation. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Ob Suburban, coming at this from a different direction, parts are a real issue. GM Parts among my compadres has the well-deserved nickname "Land of Broken Dreams". It's amazing what they can discontinue.

Whether it's a YuppieBastardMobile or a Civic, though, I'd recommend the Factory Service Manual if you're at all interested in what's going on, or even if you're not, because it provides deep insight into how a well-informed tech is approaching whatever problem.

leod
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by leod » Fri Nov 06, 2015 9:19 am

regular scheduled maintenance can be done by DIY, one reason to buy reliable vehicles like toyota/honda is you mostly just do the scheduled maintenance and easy to do.

swapping transmissions, other mechanical, electrical.. this getting harder to do since the spaces is getting tighter and more tech/gizmos are being added.

Greentree
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by Greentree » Fri Nov 06, 2015 9:32 am

I agree with others, you end up learning what things to do DIY and what to leave for someone else.

Changing brake pads and rotors are the biggest saver I have found that is easy to do. It is not a difficult job.

Fluid changes (oil, brake line flush, coolant, transmission) are easy and will keep the bigger jobs off for a while.

One thing that has been very helpful. Get a bottle of PB Blaster or Liquid Wrench. A lot of difficulty in working on cars is getting the various bolts unstuck. So a trick is just to spray all the bolts with PB blaster in the area you are going to work on. You don't even have to worry which ones they'll be exactly, just start spraying. Then, read the instructions again on what you are going to do. That gives the PB blaster about 10 minutes to unstick everything. Now you are ready to get going.

Places like Auto Zone will "rent" for free tools that are more expensive and you don't need as often. If you need a tool, check with them to see if they have it. They charge your credit card and then return it when you bring the tool back in 90 days. I have used bearing pullers and other tools from them.

Buying and maintaining a BMW or Mercedes is more of a badge of honor than logical in my opinion. I did it once and it was fun. But a used Lexus is pretty nice too and a lot less work. So it is more if you really want to do it and like a particular car.

NHRATA01
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by NHRATA01 » Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:14 am

ssquared87 wrote:
NHRATA01 wrote:A straight 6 BMW 3-series (E36/E46 years) and 5-series (E90) you will probably be alright on as they are surprisingly simplistic. But when you start moving past the entry level modes (C/3/A4) they start getting real expensive to maintain.
E90 is 3 series, 5 is E39, E60 and most recently F10

And I can attest to them being extremely simple. I've got a 2011 328 (e90) and routine maintenance is incredibly easy. Oil changes, filters, spark plugs, ignition coils, brake pads/rotors all very simple. I hardly ever do the oil changes myself though because BMW usually has specials that bring the cost down to the same price of the raw materials so it's not worth the effort.

Ironically changing the headlights is the most difficult thing to do. They're very hard to reach through the access door in the wheel well so I found it easier to just take the front wheels off and remove the cladding than to access the lights through the access panel. Changing the spark plugs and ignition coils was far easier.

I've also upgraded the audio system and that was incredibly easy.
Sorry, I always mix that up! E39 5-series (and basically IMO the best anyone has ever executed the sport sedan concept) was my intent. I still pine heavily for an E39 M5.

rs899
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by rs899 » Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:24 am

^^ me too. Actually, I am after an e34 535i stick to replace the rusty automatic version I have. I like that the old M30 burns regular.

ssquared87
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by ssquared87 » Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:41 pm

NHRATA01 wrote:
Sorry, I always mix that up! E39 5-series (and basically IMO the best anyone has ever executed the sport sedan concept) was my intent. I still pine heavily for an E39 M5.
Me too :D

Almost got a 2003 M5 but those cars are becoming increasingly rare and sought after. I didn't feel right using such a prized vehicle for daily driving and going skiing.

whomever
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by whomever » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:58 pm

"I'd recommend the Factory Service Manual"

I used to always get the factory manual, because it should be authoritative (although I've found errors in them), and also get a Chiltons/Haynes/whatever after the care had been out for a couple of years because they sometimes better procedures had been found with a couple of years experience, and for the $10 or $220 they cost, why not get a second viewpoint. I kept up that policy even when the manuals for our '07 Civic cost $400 or some such. But I confess I stopped for the '10 Toyota pickup. The factory manuals were well over $1000 - maybe $1500, I don't remember exactly. That's almost 10% of the cost of the car. I'm back to just Chiltons.

I confess that I'm a little ... peeved ... that a CD with the complete manuals isn't sold for $10 when you buy the car.

theunknowntech
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by theunknowntech » Sat Nov 07, 2015 4:15 pm

whomever wrote:"I'd recommend the Factory Service Manual"

I used to always get the factory manual, because it should be authoritative (although I've found errors in them), and also get a Chiltons/Haynes/whatever after the care had been out for a couple of years because they sometimes better procedures had been found with a couple of years experience, and for the $10 or $220 they cost, why not get a second viewpoint. I kept up that policy even when the manuals for our '07 Civic cost $400 or some such. But I confess I stopped for the '10 Toyota pickup. The factory manuals were well over $1000 - maybe $1500, I don't remember exactly. That's almost 10% of the cost of the car. I'm back to just Chiltons.

I confess that I'm a little ... peeved ... that a CD with the complete manuals isn't sold for $10 when you buy the car.
You can often find a CD for the car, that contains the full factory service manual. If the car has an enthusiast following, somebody on its message boards might point a link to it. The paper versions aren't used much any more, maybe that explains the price hikes you observed. The CD is a lot more useable, crosslinks etc.

Freddy
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by Freddy » Sat Nov 07, 2015 7:47 pm

theunknowntech wrote:
whomever wrote:"I'd recommend the Factory Service Manual"

I used to always get the factory manual, because it should be authoritative (although I've found errors in them), and also get a Chiltons/Haynes/whatever after the care had been out for a couple of years because they sometimes better procedures had been found with a couple of years experience, and for the $10 or $220 they cost, why not get a second viewpoint. I kept up that policy even when the manuals for our '07 Civic cost $400 or some such. But I confess I stopped for the '10 Toyota pickup. The factory manuals were well over $1000 - maybe $1500, I don't remember exactly. That's almost 10% of the cost of the car. I'm back to just Chiltons.

I confess that I'm a little ... peeved ... that a CD with the complete manuals isn't sold for $10 when you buy the car.
You can often find a CD for the car, that contains the full factory service manual. If the car has an enthusiast following, somebody on its message boards might point a link to it. The paper versions aren't used much any more, maybe that explains the price hikes you observed. The CD is a lot more useable, crosslinks etc.
They are also sold as a downloadable PDF.

whomever
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by whomever » Sat Nov 07, 2015 11:50 pm

Unknowntech, Freddy: thanks. I went a'googling trying to find one for a 2010 Toyota Tacoma. I found lots of sites saying they had all kinds of manuals, but none close to that except for one sketchy Russian sounding site that wanted registration. I didn't find anything that looked like a legit source. If you know of any places, I'd be very grateful.

Back in the old days of 2010, they didn't have electronic copies, or if they did they were the same price as paper. I complained a couple of layers up at Toyota USA w/o success.

theunknowntech
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by theunknowntech » Sun Nov 08, 2015 4:56 am

whomever wrote:Unknowntech, Freddy: thanks. I went a'googling trying to find one for a 2010 Toyota Tacoma. I found lots of sites saying they had all kinds of manuals, but none close to that except for one sketchy Russian sounding site that wanted registration. I didn't find anything that looked like a legit source. If you know of any places, I'd be very grateful.

Back in the old days of 2010, they didn't have electronic copies, or if they did they were the same price as paper. I complained a couple of layers up at Toyota USA w/o success.
You might have to ask on one of the sites dedicated to that type of vehicle.

In the meantime there is alldata.com, which is a highly regarded site that aftermarket shops use. It's not free, but it's not overly expensive. (Actually its dirt cheap IMO, for a subscription to service documentation for the DIY for a specific vehicle.)

pbearn
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Re: Is DIY Car maintenance that hard these days?

Post by pbearn » Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:01 am

One word of advice: get 2-3 torque wrenches (1/4", 3/8", 1/2"), checking the torque ranges before buying to make sure all likely torques needed are covered. You don't need to buy them all at once.

That will save you from stripped oil plugs. And you pretty much need them if you're working on aluminum, it's amazing how soft aluminum threads are and how easily they strip out.

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