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Do Your Own Maintenance - Car Last Longer?

Is there any research or studies that suggest that if you do all of your own maintenance, the car lasts longer before it has some sort of failure mode that would make it financially questionable to make the repair because of the value of the car.

Basically I’m wondering if there’s proof that if you do all of your own maintenance the car lasts longer. I understand that some maintenance you can’t do own your own. I think that the tire alignment tools are like $14k, so it’s best to let someone else do that. But other than things like that where the tools to make the repair is way to costly, does the car last longer?

The value comes in having the work done well, regardless of who does it, as often or more often than the maker specifies.


Absolutely not . Maintenance is maintenance no matter who does it . Seriously , where did you get that idea ?


+1 to @texases. Doesn’t matter who does it, just that it is done well and often.

Alignment tools can be purchased for less than $200. I’ve been doing my own for 30 years. Results compare very well with a full blown Hunter alignment machine.

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Just search this site for the key words “jiffy lube”.


You do save quite a bit of money doing it yourself. You’d have to earn $200 to pay $100 to a shop for an hour’s labor that pays $25 to the mechanic.


If you want your oil plug, or more to the point, your oil pan threads to last forever, do it yourself. The plug is always too tight when a shop does it.


You got that right. I just changed the oil for the first time (in my ownership) on my truck, and I needed a breaker bar to unscrew the oil pan drain plug. It was that tight!
Fortunately, the plug and oil pan threads were still ok.

The drain plug on the transmission pan was so tight that even using the breaker bar, it just rounded off the plug. I ended up replacing the transmission pan, in order to have a functioning drain plug, what a pain!

There have been enough scandals about shops charging for maintenance they never performed that this rates slightly higher than conspiracy theory IMHO. Is there enough of such thievery to be statistically significant? Maybe, but there’s only one way to find out, and that’s to conduct research.

Clearly, this not the place to conduct such research.


Going on 200k miles no problems yet. Got a stat on that?

Every time I have had someone other than the car dealer change the oil (probably less than 10 times in my life), they have messed something up. Two chewed up drain plugs, one stripped oil pan, two air cleaner assemblies with broken clips, one loose and leaking oil filter, one loose and leaking drain plug and a filter put on so tight that neither a cap or band wrench would take it off and I had to chisel the base of it off.

I think if you do your own maintenance, you do it more frequently and the inspecting things cost you nothing at all.

You also get the parts, oil and filter you want and my town picks up the used oil any garbage day you set it out at the curb.

I have found that, generally (nearly always) nobody cares about my vehicles (or appliances, or central A/C, bicycles, or plumbing, or electrical, or even my health) as much as I do.

Professionals quite often cut corners in order to enhance their paychecks. I work carefully, precisely, and spend much more time on details than would most professionals. They’d go broke and starve should they be as meticulous as I am when maintaining/repairing my own vehicles and stuff.

Also, I have found that sometimes I know more than the professionals know when it comes to servicing my vehicles and stuff.

My wife has come to learn that I hate to have service performed on anything because I have demonstrated to her that whenever I’ve had service done by other people (because of warranty maintenance/repairs) there is usually some sort of collateral damage discovered (scratches, dents, missing parts and fasteners/hardware, too loose (or not tightened at all!) or too tight fasteners, etcetera).

Another thing is that I can schedule maintenance precisely when it is needed, on my schedule, not somebody else’s schedule. And of course I can do maintenance and repairs at a mere fraction of the cost professionals would charge.

There are exceptions to this (from my experience, very rarely) and I have found one. In the frozen north when I was there for frigid winters, I had occasions where is was just to cold to work outside. A GM mechanic of some 30 plus years, left a dealership and retired. He set up shop at his house out in the sticks near me. He has a newer, well equipped, clean and organized, beautiful shop with several bays and two hoists/lifts. He charges extremely reasonable rates and I can rest assured that he will care for my vehicles practically as much as I do. He is meticulous and (sigh) probably does better work than I do (if that’s possible :blush:)

Of course he is extremely popular with people who have discovered him. He’s busy all the time, cars lined up outside, with no advertising other than word-of mouth. The only drawback is that he doesn’t do drop-ins. You schedule your appointment and leave the vehicle for the day, but he’s worth it.

He’s a one-man-act and when you leave your car, you get him, every time, not some rookie helper or a guy who worked at 7-11 two days ago.
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:


Cashiering at a convenience store is honest work, and I wouldn’t begrudge a mechanic who took such a job to make ends meet between jobs in his field.

Can you try to not be such an elitist?

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Someone who does their own maintenance is likely to be more knowledgeable about how a car works and to be more vigilant about strange noises and other symptoms of things going wrong. Other than that, all other bets are off. It all depends on what the owner does with that knowledge.

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As long as it’s someone who has some mechanical ability already, and isn’t trying to gain some by working on his own car.

As a professional mechanic, you would be surprised at some of the routine maintenance and repair jobs I’ve seen butchered by someone who “didn’t need to pay high shop rates to do a simple job.” Oil filter housings broken. 1157 lamps jammed into 1156 sockets. Etc.

I’ve seen a brake job bungled by a guy who took the copper crush washers for the brake line banjo bolt and installed them under the caliper pin bolts. After installing the rear rotors on the front of his Explorer. He wondered why the fluid leaked out and the pads didn’t hit the rotor right.


I used to do a lot of my own maintenance, but not much any more. Bought some plugs for my car, said forget it when I did not even see them. Tools, knowledge and analysis equipment used these days make it a no brainer for me to use mechanics

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The value comes when the failure mode that it does have is fixable by you because you’ve learned how. If something breaks, and the shop wants $3,000 for the job, and you can do it for the price of the $600 part, then it’s a lot more likely to be worth doing the job.

But unless your mechanic sucks at car work (or you suck at it) it doesn’t really matter who does the maintenance, as @texases said.


I don’t blame you for changing your tune now that I’ve pushed back on what you actually said, which was:

Thank you for clarifying what you meant, because without your elaborate switch-tracking and gaslighting, it looks alarmingly like a flippant and insulting comment about convenience store workers, who happen to be essential workers in the current crisis.


As the moderator says the weekends are the worst, every day is a weekend day now for many of us.


I still go to work, regular hours

Can’t stay at home and fix the fleet vehicles at the same time