Auto Repairs: 3 You Can Do Yourself and 3 Only a Professional Should Do

A mechanic works on a car.

It does not take much before auto repairs start weighing heavily on your budget. Although you can save a lot of money working on the car yourself, there are certain auto repairs that should be left to the professionals. Here are three auto repairs you can do on your own and three that you should let the professionals handle.

Repairs You Can Do On Your Own

1. Belt Replacement

A car belt.

A squealing car is a telltale sign of a worn-out drive belt, but a closer inspection will determine whether you need a new belt. Things to look for are obvious cracks in the belt, signs of wear, and looseness. If the belt is loose but looks to be in good shape, it might just need a little tightening. Luckily, replacing a belt is relatively easy and can be done with a few simple tools and some patience.

2. Battery and Alternator Work

A car battery inside the hood of a car.

Few things are more frustrating than a vehicle that will not turn on. In most cases, the culprit for a non-cranking engine is either the battery or alternator. Start by having the battery tested. If the battery is good and just needs to be charged, you either left the lights on overnight, have a bad alternator (which charges the battery), or you have an electrical parasite in the system. Electrical issues are a little harder to pinpoint, but replacing the battery or alternator — which you can also have checked at your local auto parts store — is definitely within reach for the average DIYer.

3. Brake Pad Replacement

A break pad on a silver car.

Changing the brake pads in your car may seem like a daunting task at first, but it is usually a fairly straightforward process. You can usually determine if you need new brakes when you start hearing a squealing sound coming from the tires. If you hear a grinding noise instead, then you may need to replace the rotors as well. All you need for this job is a car jack, jack stands, tire iron, c-clamp, wrench set, brake pads, and lubricant. All you have to do is remove the tires, unscrew a few bolts, remove and install the new pads with lubricant, and pump the brakes when you are finished. No special tools are required.

Repairs You Should Leave To Professionals

1. Transmission Work

A man works on a car's transmission.

The transmission is one of the most complicated elements of an automobile. A transmission is made up of thousands of small parts, all of which can cause failure if not handled properly. Even cleaning a transmission and changing the fluid is tricky business, as a tiny bit of dirt can ruin the entire system. Although they are not cheap to replace, having a professional handle transmission work is recommended and will probably save you money in the long run.

2. Air Conditioning

AC inside of a car.

Driving around without air conditioning in the summer can be a real bummer. While air conditioning seems like it would be easy to fix on your own, it is actually a fairly complicated system that takes a lot of time to repair. Adding refrigerant to the system is a dangerous process that can cause serious health problems if not done in a properly vented environment. If cleaning out the vents does not solve your air conditioning woes, have a professional check it out.

3. Windshield Replacement

A mechanic replaces the windshield of a car.

Windshield replacement is another job that seems relatively straightforward, but it is not as easy as it looks. By the time you spend money getting the right tools, a replacement windshield, and everything else, you will end up spending just as much as you would having a professional replace it. And if you do not install it correctly, you can end up with leaks that could damage the interior of your vehicle. With windshield crack repairs being pretty affordable, it is better to play it safe and have the professionals handle even the smallest windshield issues.