Responsible car owners should know how to do some basic repairs, such as jumping a dead battery or replacing a tire. However, many vehicle owners may prefer to do all of their repairs themselves, even those that are potentially dangerous or that are best left to professionals. Here is the list of three services that you should leave to a professional mechanic, no matter how handy you are with a torque wrench.
Brakes are the most important safety feature on your car, so it’s important to make sure they’re functioning properly at all times. Unusual noises (such as grinding or squealing), pulling, and lack of response time when you press the petal can all indicate issues with the brake line, the calipers, or the brake pads. Because brakes are so vital to driving safety, you should have them inspected as soon as you notice a problem. Unless you’re a professional mechanic, it’s also best not to try to diagnose a brake problem yourself: the risk of not getting it right far outweighs the cost of taking your vehicle to the auto shop.
Windshields go through a lot of wear and tear on the road, and over half of all windshield cracks are anywhere from seven to twelve inches long. Some surface pits can be fixed with a standard windshield repair, but a complete windshield replacement should be left to a professional. Removing a windshield involves prying the windshield from a pinch weld and cutting the urethane binding, and is at best a two-person job. Not all vehicles have a mounting block for the windshield, so you run the risk of dropping, slipping, or misapplying the windshield. In addition, dirt and oils from your hands can contaminate the activated glass and damage the adhesive that holds the windshield in place. You’ll end up saving time and, frankly, money by hiring a professional to do the glass replacement for you.
The radiator is the engine cooling device in your vehicle. If the radiator isn’t functioning properly or has a leak, the engine can overheat. Many of us have heard horror stories of people driving with their heater on high on a hot day to prevent the engine from overheating. You may need a radiator service because of a collapsed hose, a coolant leak, or just general lack of preventative maintenance. Like brake repairs, radiator repairs are serious: if you drive on an overheated engine, you could potentially need a full engine replacement. With that said, trying to repair a radiator while your car is overheating can potentially be dangerous. The radiator cap is pressurized, and if removed, you can sustain serious steam burns. Your best bet is always to call roadside assistance and to not try to cool your engine yourself.
Building a good relationship with a mechanic and taking your vehicle in for regular maintenance will help you avoid serious problems and can keep your car on the road longer. The occasional oil change or radiator service may seem expensive upfront, but it’s a small sum compared to the damage that may occur if you do a faulty repair or, worse, do nothing at all.