DIY Car servicing

I’m just starting this to see if anyone else does their own car service. And to potentially exchange money saving tips for repairs and maintainence.

I recently started doing this as I had to change my oil and filter and realised that it is quite a simple job and I could save a good bit by just doing it myself. After a bit of research I discovered that you can prettymuch do your own car service and maintenance for the cost of whatever tools and parts you need.

I’m not a qualified mechanic or anything like that but I’ve always had a penchant for tinkering around and fixing computers, plumbing etc. (now cars apparently)

Basically just wondering does anyone else do this and have you got any advice or tips?

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I don’t, but my husband has been gradually learning to do what he can for our small car.

Edited to add: I’m talking about really simple maintenance. He wouldn’t take on anything major that a mechanic would do, but I’m talking about doing things like replacing bulbs and filters and adding fluids, and things like that.

He’ll get the genuine parts on-line, and then just do it himself for some of these things.

We have a small Hyundai that’s a few years old.

He has learned how to replace some of the filters with it, and as some of the maintenance comes due, he is trying to see what he can do himself.

He’ll look instructional information up on-line and also look at YouTube videos to see what to do.


That’s basically what I started doing. It all started when the engine started sounding a bit off and someone asked me had I changed the oil since I bought it. (It’s my first car)
I started looking up the price of an oil change and it seems to be about €100 to get a garage to do it. So, not being made of money, I started looking up if it was an easy job to do.

Turns out the most difficult part is actually opening the sump drain and filter cap after the last person jammed them on super tight!

My car is a 2005 VW Polo so it has a pretty standard engine and parts are readily available from scrap yards.

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It’s the same for us, Adam. We live off of a budget. That’s one of the reasons that when we needed a car again, we went with a small car. It’s more economical on gas/petrol.

That’s great that you can do it yourself, especially regarding the oil changes and other preventative maintenance. :slightly_smiling_face:

Some of these things can cost quite a bit at a mechanic or dealership, but if you can learn how to do them, you can save quite a bit of money just by doing them yourself.

I know with the filters, it was quite expensive for the Air and Cabin filters to be replaced at the dealer, and with my husband ordering them and learning how to replace them, we saved quite a bit of money.

Those Cabin filters filter out the air inside of the car and help to keep it smelling nice and fresh and clean and you’d be surprised at how dirty those things can become.

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Yeah…I opened up the air filter case to see if it was difficult to access. It looks clean still, but now I know for next time where that is.
I was looking at the error code readers that mechanics use to help diagnose problems. There are apps you can get that tell you exactly the problem from the car computer. They charge €25 at the local machanic just to read the code and tell you what the problem is.

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Yes, you’re right. There’s that, too.

We have auto parts stores here that will do that for free for you, too, where they’ll plug a little computer into your car’s computer to help you find out what’s going on with your car…

They’ll also help you too, if you buy something from them, and then need help with installing the product/putting it on/in your car, like a head lamp/light bulb, for example, or a windshield wiper blade, or something like that.

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My father got me started maintaining machinery of various sorts. I do some (but certainly not all) auto, bicycle, home appliances, electrical, plumbing, and computer maintenance.

For auto maintenance, I have found YouTube to be a great resource, almost as good as the printed maintenance manuals you used to be able to get. I don’t have all the tools and experience to do a lot, like exhaust, timing belt, or even more readily accessible stuff like brake pads.

I have replaced wipers, air filters, lamp bulbs, spark plugs, spark plug cables, cracked turn signal and tail light assemblies, batteries, the multi-function stick that controls headlights and turn signals, interior door handle, rear seat belt retractor, engine coolant thermostats, and probably a few other things I forgot. To save money, I purchase the more unusual parts online, which are sometimes gently used parts taken from junk cars.

I used to change the oil and filter, but it’s dirty work and after a while I decided to pay someone else to do it. With coupons or discounts it comes to $30 to 40 at a shop I somewhat trust. Many shops will do it for $20 but they give me such a hard time with their complimentary inspection and long list of service recommendations. The shops recommend oil change every 3000 miles but I follow the Owner’s Manual which says 5000 to 8000 is okay.

I have also in the past replaced the engine coolant, but not in recent years.


One other idea: When plastic headlight lenses get cloudy, they can be polished pretty good with toothpaste, water, and clean cloths. I use clear gel type toothpastes because I believe they have a gentler abrasive, but I haven’t compared other toothpastes. This restores the lenses not quite to their original clarity, but close. That saves a lot in comparison to replacement.


Those are good suggestions @RandomAlias

I definitely will be looking at what other stuff I can do. I might even get a ramp so I can do stuff under the car safety.

To be honest, I would’nt mind the dirty work. I actually enjoy that stuff. And the saviings make it well worth it.

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That’s a great idea, and good to know. :slightly_smiling_face:

I never would have thought of doing something like that!

Thanks for sharing that tip with us.

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I used to do basics, but you need a good driveway or garage. Harbor Freight is great for getting affordable but essential tools for occasional use. Get a floor jack and jack stands.


I do the vast majority of my own vehicle maintenance. I have had good luck with Haynes brand manuals, which are great for getting the proper torque specs and other useful tips that are not obvious to me (the exception is the Honda odyssey manual, which did not cover my model year despite saying so on the cover). Youtube can be a great help for tips too. I recently had to change the alternator in my van and got a tip on how to get it out easier since it was quite a tight fit. online forums are a great place to look for troubleshooting help. Chances are someone else has already had the problem you are experiencing and found the fix. Let somebody else do the leg work or pay the dealer to find the issue so you just have to pay for the proper parts and do the work yourself. I will not even consider taking my car to a shop until i have exhausted my abilities to find and fix the problem. with two different cars, after a bit of research i found technical service bulletins from the manufacturer covering the exact problem and just had to print out the builtin and bring it to a dealer for service free of charge.

edit to add: auto parts stores like Autozone will read your “check engine light” trouble codes for free. Autozone even prints out a paper with common problems associated with that particular code.


Buying a ScanGauge was an excellent buy IMHO.

Initially I needed it to reset regular false warning about an oxygen sensor. On my current car I leave it plugged in to read some of the gauge figures as I’m driving


YouTube is a great source of info, as already mentioned. I have replaced 2 side view mirrors with
their help. Easy!

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I actually Got one of these for my Polo today. My friend works in a second hand department in a bookshop in Dublin and he saw it and picked it up for me. It looks great…I look forward to discovering all the different DIY repairs/servicing I can do.

Yeah…I did the oil and filter by following a youtube video.

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I’m thinking of getting a code scanner myself. It’d be handier than running to the Motor Factors whenever something is up. There seem to be a few on amazon for cheap enough.

Where can you get the index of codes for your make and model though?

I had to google the codes for my car, but it’s so infrequent that I’ve forgotten where they are sited.

The Haynes manual you picked up should have the most common ones listed, atleast all of mine did. Haynes also has a manual specifically on OBD codes but i have never used it. If you google something like " 2005 VW Polo P0302" or whatever your code is, you will get tons of information.

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Ok. I haven’t had a good look at it yet. But I’ll check it out.


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