Is Taking Your Car To The Shop Worth It?
May 31, 2022
What To Consider When Doing Repairs On Your Car
Hello again, everyone! Today, we'll be seeing whether or not it's worth it to take your car to a shop when you need work done on it. How often do you hear someone say that their car is stuck in the shop or they need to take it to the shop, but they don't have the money to get it done? And how many times have you heard a weird noise and thought that you should take it to a shop to get it checked out but don't want to?
There are X amount of reasons that you don't want to take your car in - maybe you don't want to because you're scared of how much it'll cost, or maybe you don't want to because you know that they'll find 20 other things wrong with your car that you'll have to figure out. Whatever the reason, we want to help guide you down the path of taking your car to the shop vs. doing the repairs yourself, along with what to consider along the way. Let's jump in!
Taking Your Car To The Shop Vs. Doing Repairs Yourself
Let's start here by talking about working on your car by yourself, and this can seem like a really scary thing if you've never done it before. Cars seem like they're really complicated and super intricate machines that are hard to work on, when the reality is often quite different. All cars share common systems and ways to get things done, and your Mustang has some similarities to someone else's 240. Even a Civic has some things in common with that Mustang, so if you can work on one car, you can pretty much figure out what to do on another one.
Everyone starts from somewhere, and that somewhere is "not knowing anything" in every situation. Luckily, there are a ton of resources out there to help get you going, and YouTube has plenty of high-quality tutorials that can help DIYers just starting out on their journey to building cars solo. However, there are still some considerations you need to take into account when you're weighing whether to do repairs yourself or just take them into a mechanic.
Consideration 1: How Much Time Will The Repairs Take?
Let's talk about time a little bit - if you've never changed the brake pads and rotors in your car before, it'll take a lot longer the first time you do it than the third time you do it. You need to take that into account when you're figuring out whether or not to take your car in - it might suck to have your car in the shop for a day or two, but it might take you longer than that to do it yourself.
Your time is valuable, so remember that the time you spend working on your car can't be spent doing other things. If you go to a reputable shop and they have access to parts or let you bring your own, they should be able to knock most things out in a reasonable amount of time, usually faster than you can if you've never done the repair in question before.
Consideration 2: Do You Have the Right Tools For The Job?
So let's say that you have the time to do your repair and you know how to do your repair. You'll need some tools to do the job, and preferably the right ones. Don't, say, use a flathead screwdriver as a pry bar and a chisel also - be nice to your tools.
Tools also aren't cheap, so let's make that clear - even if you go to Harbor Freight and buy the cheapest versions of whatever you need, it still won't be cheap to just do the job that you need to do. With that said, once you have your tools you can use them over and over, which justifies the cost over time. The more you use them, the less the overall cost of the product is with time and usage.
The only exception here is for some weird, specific tools that you might only use once, like an exhaust hanger removal tool - you might only use it once or twice, but it's super helpful to have.
Consideration 3: How Much Work Will Be Required To Do The Job?
So let's say you have the time, you know what you're doing, and you have the tools to get the job done. Now we have to take into account how complex the work is going to be, and if it's possible to negatively impact your car in any way if something goes wrong.
Doing a job like changing your cat-back exhaust will be much easier than putting a turbo kit on your naturally-aspirated motor - if you screw up the exhaust install, your car will probably just sound like crap for a while. But if you screw up that turbo kit install, you could blow your motor up, which we don't recommend.
If you do the work on your car yourself, the liability is on you. But if you have a shop do the work, there's a certain amount of responsibility that it has to do a good job, and they'll do it right, and probably not blow up your car. As the complexity of a job goes up, so does the amount of variables that can go wrong or things you'll have to replace to get through the work. Sometimes you'll never anticipate the amount of broken or worn out parts you'll have to replace until you tear into something a bit more complex.
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Consideration 4: How Much Will It Cost To Make The Repairs?
Now let's talk about cost - doing things yourself can save you money, but can also end up costing you far more than you thought it would. One reason for this would be when you start working on something and you over-torqued a bolt. If that bolt snaps, then you have to go buy a whole new part, which sucks. When you're doing stuff for the first time and you screw up, you have to buy the replacement - you'll learn from it, but it's an expensive mistake.
A shop is going to charge you an hourly rate and a pretty decent markup for any work that needs to be done, and the parts sometimes as well. The hours will stack up and it'll get expensive the longer it takes to do something - remember, shops are in the business of making money, so you can bet that they'll try to make some money.
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Should You Take Your Car To The Shop Or Do It Yourself?
So, all this leads us to today's question - is it worth it to bring your car to a shop? The answer here is a bit wishy washy, but it really depends on the situation. It can be worth bringing your car to a shop, but there are a lot of variables at play that we've gone through. So let's break the answer down a little.
If you don't have experience doing something to your car and messing it up will have some majorly adverse effects, then you should absolutely take it in. Also, if you need something specifically dialed in (like an alignment), you should bring it in.
What we want to leave you with, though, is that you should absolutely learn how to work on your car yourself, and invest in the tools and time to help you do so. The internet is a fantastic resource and you'll learn a new set of skills that'll save you thousands of dollars in the long run, and you'll also meet some people through that journey that can become really good friends. You'll be amazed at how your skill set will progress in a different set of work, and you'll be more comfortable taking on new challenges as those skills build - eventually, you'll be doing all those repairs on your own, not needing any help.