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Know when to hand car repairs over to the experts

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DIY projects have never been easier thanks to the internet. Simple tutorials are easily accessible with step-by-step instructions on anything from building a braai to roof repairs and bathroom makeovers. You can even find “how to repair your own car without experience” on wikiHOW.

But, is DIY the right choice when it comes to your car?

The Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) says some maintenance and repairs can be done at home but it’s good to know when to hand things over to the experts.

“It’s good to have basic knowledge of your car and to be able to carry out repairs if necessary. However, there are certain car repairs you should leave to the experts at an accredited workshop,” says MIWA chairperson, Dewald Ranft.  Ranft warns that two of the most important considerations about taking on repairs beyond your ability are that this could jeopardise future insurance claims and your warranty.

“It is generally fine to carry out minor maintenance and repairs if you are mechanically inclined, but you should be careful that your DIY job on more serious repairs isn’t seen as a modification your insurer doesn’t allow.

“Also make sure that you check the repair rules on the original warranty or if you’ve taken out an extended warranty.”

He advises carefully accessing the repair and if in doubt contacting an accredited and experienced workshop.

MIWA’s top 6 repairs a workshop should do:

1.            Body  work and paint

This is definitely an area that requires the right expertise. Not only is panel beating and spray painting a time-consuming and expensive job, if it isn’t done properly the first time it will have to be redone – more money, more time, more frustration. We recommend you take your car to an accredited motor body repairer like SAMBRA for any bodywork repairs.

2.            Computer/electrical repairs

There are dozens of metres of electric wiring in a car, with many connectors, sensors and computers plugged into these wires. This is not territory the unexperienced should be exploring because one small mistake in any of the connected systems can compromise the safety of the car.

3.            Windscreen replacement

It is not worth trying to save a few bucks by doing this yourself. Windscreen fitment is a specialised job that needs to be done with the right tools and adhesives. A quality windscreen replacement ensures the safety of you and your passengers and protects your car from damage.

4.            The fuel system

It is highly dangerous to tinker with a fuel system on your car if you are not qualified to do so. At the risk of causing fire damage to your car and garage and suffering severe burns, anything to do with replacing a fuel pump, tank, injectors, rails or pressured lines must be left to an experienced motor mechanic.

5.            Brakes

Braking systems have become more complex. Special training is needed to replace brake pads and rotors on newer vehicles.

6.            Ignition

The risk of failure for this kind of job has increased with the advent of modern electronic ignition systems, because it’s no longer as simple as pulling a spark plug wire and looking for a spark. Electronic ignition repair lies beyond the abilities of most mechanics and if not done correctly, repairs can cause additional damage.

Ranft concludes that if you know your way around an engine it can be frustrating to realise the required repairs are beyond your skills as a mechanic.

“While fixing your car yourself can save you a bit of money it can also end up very costly if you try to do a repair that is beyond your capability. There are easy fixes anyone can do in their garage but you need to know when to hand things over to the experts,” he said.