There’s nothing more frustrating than getting all excited about being able to fix a problematic automobile all by yourself only to discover that the issue is well beyond your skills as a mechanic. In the past we’ve covered things like easy fixes anyone can do in their garage, a slew of inexpensive project cars for beginners, and simple tricks for DIY guys, but it’s also important to know when it’s time to back off and let the pros take over.
Getting in over your head with what seems like a straightforward fix is a humbling experience. What starts off with a bit of online research followed by some forum Q&A and the occasional part sourcing can quickly dissolve into a fiasco that leaves you and your car stranded at the house.
As with all things in life that break, there is a time where you must decide whether it is wiser to cough up the cash and have someone else do your repairs so it’s done right the first time, with a warranty, or attempt to save some greenbacks and attempt fixing it on your own. There really is no right or wrong answer here, it just depends on the task at hand and how confident you are that you can get it fixed properly the first time.
Nevertheless, there are times where the average DIY guy shouldn’t even begin to ponder particular automotive fixes, and instead leave the repairs to the professionals. Here are four prime examples of when it’s best to back-off in order to protect your vehicle and yourself.
1. Bodywork and paint
Repairing bodywork and paint is a messy, noxious, and time consuming process. Between all the fumes and required training, it’s one of those repairs best left to the professionals. It’s so easy to end up with a finished job that looks like crap, with bubbles and wet sanding gouges and other problems that can arise if you’re not equipped to do the job properly. Painting isn’t much better either; shoddy coverage, insufficient clear coats, and overspray issues are a dime a dozen if performed in someone’s makeshift paint shop. We know that this is an expensive fix, but so is realizing that it all needs to done over again.
2. ECU fixes and tuning
A good rule of thumb is to always leave automotive computer repairs alone. Unless you are a certified ASE master technician, there’s no reason for you to be fooling with air/fuel ratios, shift points, and redline limiters. Let an experienced tuner take over and fix whatever issues or fine tuning needs may be required to get your ride to the point where you can enjoy it once more.
3. Windshield replacement
This is one of those repairs that all drivers dread, and at around $200-300 a pop, it’s easy to understand why. While you can always carve a used one out of a donor car in the junkyard for next to nothing, by the time you pay for all the adhesive, fresh clips, and any required window trim pieces, that quote you got from the shop down the street doesn’t seem all that bad. Go ahead and spend the dough and get a certified windshield installed, because the last thing you need is a leaky piece of glass ruining your interior.
4. Electrical gremlins
Our final issue that we recommend you staying away from is the run-of-the-mill electrical gremlin. There are endless yards of electric wiring in a car (a new Bentley Bentayga uses a small adult’s weight in wiring), with lord knows how many connectors, sensors, and computers plugged into them, so we suggest leaving it be and letting a pro take over if replacing a fuse or two doesn’t solve your problems.