Frugal Friday: DIY Car Repair & Maintenance

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Learning how to repair and maintain your car yourself can save you a lot of money!

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Hubs and I have always been DIY kind of people. I do the cooking and schooling. He handles the handy-man/construction/garden/car stuff.

I think I got the better end of the deal!

I certainly am not going to change a tire. That’s what AAA is for, I tell him.

But, I know the value of being able to do car repairs and maintenance yourself. If it weren’t for him, I’d certainly start to learn how to read directions and do some of the things that he does to save us some coin.

In the recent heatwave, we decided we could no longer live without air conditioning in one of our vehicles. Driving through LA in 106 degree heat made me one sopping mess when I finally arrived at my destination!

The vehicle is old, a ’96 and going on 175,000 miles. We’ll probably run this car into the ground. But, a little elbow grease and a little cash made this baby golden in my mind. Cool wind on my face, yes, please. I can drive a clunker if I’m not sweating like a pig.

Hubby recharged the A/C himself. He did some online research, watched some how-to videos, shopped the AutoZone, and in less than an hour, had cool air pumping. Yeah!

I’m not sure how much a mechanic would have charged, but I’m guessing that we saved at least $100 having hubs do the work himself on all our vehicles. And $15K compared to buying a newer car!

There’s no end to the money you can save if you learn to do car repairs yourself. Some you might try:

  • oil and filter change
  • wash and detailing
  • change of brake pads
  • recharge of air conditioning
  • check and replenish all fluids

Obviously, I am no grease monkey. My hubby is the one who gets all the credit for saving us money on car repair. But, there’s no stopping anyone of us from learning. My college roommate Kristin could do almost any car repair by the time we were 20, so I know it’s doable.


There’s no shortage of online tutorials for car repair. You may also have a friend or relative willing to teach you. Your local community college or recreation center may also offer basic classes.

Hubs has always made sure to buy the repair manual for every vehicle we’ve ever owned. It’s been harder to find old ones since all our cars are old, but you can usually find them on eBay.


Since hubby makes a practice of taking care of the brakes, oil changes, and other regular maintenance, we’ve invested in the right jacks and equipment. Sure, it was an initial investment, but it’s more than paid for itself. And it keeps him safe in the process and us safe on the road.

Know your limits.

If you don’t have the time or physical capabilities to do the work yourself, don’t do it. You want the job to be done correctly and safely, so don’t go beyond what you can realistically do. Getting hurt (during the repair or on the road) is not worth the money you might save in the short term.

Hubs doesn’t change the tires himself when we replace the tires, but he has been able to order Michelins online for a steal and then have a local shop put them on for a small fee. There are ways to save money, even when you don’t do it all yourself.

DIY car repair and maintenance can be a great way for you to keep a few more dollars in your wallet.

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  1. My favorite way to save money on car repairs is to push out my oil changes. The last several times i’ve been to the oil change place i’ve sort of interviewed the guys working there on how often you should change your oil. I now have unanimous consent to push it out to at least 4,000 mi. plus. It has to do with the new engines are more durable and my car is a 2006 so its not that new but I’m good with 4,000 maybe even 5,000 mi. I do spend the extra money for the best oil? I am still researching that…..

  2. I learned how to fix my first car…the only problem? It was a 79. So what I learned hasn’t applied to anything else that I’ve owned. Time to brush up!

  3. I haven’t attempted changing the oil or anything like that, but I did replace our engine filter yesterday. It saved us about $30 to do a 5 min job. The biggest frustration was that our manual didn’t even have a diagram to show where it was! I found this awesome site with lots of videos for specific cars for basic maintenance.
    Also, we have replaced our battery and windshield wipers at autozone. Their prices might not be the absolute lowest, but they will install those for you at no charge. Much cheaper than the auto repair place, and we got higher quality than what our dealer was offering us.

  4. I definitely need to find a manual for our Honda Odyssey. One of the doors needs new rollers, and my handy dh thinks he can fix it which would be great. I had the dealership fix the other side which cost us about $300. Even if we can’t do it ourselves, I’m sure having the manual will help us figure out other stuff.

    My dad was/is a mechanic and never took the time to teach me or my sister how to check the oil or do really minor stuff on our cars. I so wish he had.

    I also have AAA. Before I had it, I got a flat tire while driving to my neice’s school concert. Fortunately, my bil was with us, and was able to take care of changing out the tire for me. I got AAA after that just in case I was someplace where I couldn’t do anything.

  5. Thank you for this post. I’d also like to second your recommendation to “invest”. If you have the right tool a miserable job can be a snap. And depending on the job, you can often cover the cost of the tool in one use.

    One reason that we do our own work (yes, I’m under the car as well), is because sometimes it’s important to know that the job was done correctly…

    When we first bought our current car we couldn’t get the lug nuts off to rotate the tires (we had to get someone with a compresser to do the job) — this meant someone had overtightened the lug nuts which can be bad as undertightened. A little distressing since the car had previously been the dealer rental with all of its service handled on site!

  6. (I won’t repeat my (too long) comment again. I might have just posted it 10 times without it showing up yet.)

    This week I shared instructions to make string cheese. A half gallon of milk will net a half pound of cheese, which is much, much cheaper than buying the little packets.

    Thank you for hosting, and have a great week!

  7. I also can not see the usual link up. Just FYI.

    Blessings from the LORD to you and your family today.

    1. The linky is working. Come share your post or browse the other ways to save money!

  8. I don’t know how to do all of the above, but I should learn. On more than one occasion, I’ve been glad that I know how to jump start a car and check/fill the tires because I’ve been solo with the kids and have had to do it. I have friends who don’t know how!

    Also, link-up not appearing . . .

  9. My husband does a lot of car repairs himself. He watches an online tutorial and figures it out. It’s saved us a ton of money over the years.

  10. Yep, my hubby too! And he learns a lot from online resources too. What a blessing to have resourceful husbands!

    But on the topic of DIY, did you ever read The Millionaire Mind and other books in the series? These guys are not DIY people, but focus on what they’re good at, as the author noted explicitly. That’s bothered me, but I think they must have been DIY types at first. Any thoughts on that?