If you’re a fan of Strutmasters or a regular reader of the blog, we don’t need to tell you how much we love DIYers. In fact, our entire business model is based around saving customers money. We do this by making a product you can safely and easily install at home without being a professional mechanic.
However, there are simply just some car jobs that should always be left to the professionals. Many problems require specific machines to diagnose or repair. Many simply require a professional lift and shop-grade tools. Some jobs require a kind of technical knowledge of “under the hood” that you won’t have unless you are a trained mechanic.
Here are some of those items.
1. Tire rotate and balance
You can absolutely put your car up on a jack and rotate your wheels. If you know how to change a tire, you can do this part with relative ease. However, one of the most important parts of this service is the balancing, which requires special equipment to do.
Unbalanced tires can lead to all sorts of problems from reduced gas mileage to additional wear and tear on the suspension to reduced maneuverability and handling. Add to that the fact that a tire mechanic can do the same job in a fraction of the time and it clearly makes more sense to just take it in.
Many companies offer free rotations and balances for the lifetime of the tires if you bought them from that company. Others offer lifetime balance and rotation plans for less than $100. This is a good investment.
2. Inside the engine repairs
The old saying that “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” probably applies to cars more than almost anything else. It wasn’t that long ago that some basic mechanical knowledge would allow one to pop the hood, take an engine apart and fix whatever was wrong.
Nowadays, however, engines have gotten more sophisticated and more computer-driven. It takes a mechanic with intricate knowledge of systems and very expensive diagnostic equipment to fix.
When you try to fix internal issues yourself, you run the risk of tripping or accidentally disabling a number of sensors that help diagnose issues with your vehicle. This could lead to expensive false positives or problems going unrecognized in your car.
3. Filling up the A/C
Your air conditioner is acting up again. Just grab a can of freon and go to work, right? Wrong.
Your car’s A/C unit is a closed system, which means if you’re low on freon you have a leak. At the very best, adding freon to the system will just mean you’ll need to add more soon. At worst, your A/C unit’s compressor may also be leaking lube and a jump start of the compressor would burn it out very quickly.
Take your car to your mechanic to examine your A/C and repair it properly.
4. “Check Engine” light
More than likely, the problem is not simply with the light itself (although, if it is, celebrate cause you got lucky!). Though it may be tempting to reach under the hood and pull a few wires to turn off the light, resist the urge. A check engine light is no joke.
Modern auto shops have precise diagnostic tools that can read the codes coming out of your car’s computer and find the exact problem. Whereas in the past you may have had to pay for a mechanic to dig around and find a problem, that diagnostic can now be done with precision in a matter of minutes.
Your car will not pass an inspection with the check engine light on, nor will it pass an inspection if the light has been disabled. The earlier you get your check engine problem worked on, the cheaper it will be to fix it.
5. Air suspensions
Air suspensions, as we’ve covered, ride great until they don’t. Then they’re a hotbed of mechanical issues.
Air ride suspensions are complex systems that rely on computers to get the job done. Though the most common problem in an air suspension is a leaky air bag, even those are very difficult to repair or replace well.
Your car’s suspension is one of its primary safety features. You don’t want to risk driving on an improperly mounted or aligned suspension.
This is one of the many, many reasons we do what we do here at Strutmasters. Not only are standard coilover suspensions more reliable than air suspensions, they are also simple enough to work on and install at home.
If you’re experiencing problems with your air suspension and are handy with a wrench, a Strutmasters conversion kit is the best possible move you can make. You’ll save yourself thousands of dollars and countless headaches.
At Strutmasters, we’re from the old school. We like to change our own oil and do the basic car maintenance many folks leave up to their dealer or mechanic. But it’s important to recognize when you’re doing more harm than good tooling around under the hood of your car. Know when to hand a job off to a professional and you’ll enjoy the DIY repairs you DO choose to do much more.
For more car care advice and tips, check the always-useful Strutmasters blog.