Keeping your car in running order for longer periods of time means giving it the attention it needs whenever the time for service comes around, and doing it without delay. The upkeep of your car is an essential part of ensuring its safety and roadworthiness, but will also help you save a fortune in the long run on expensive replacements and repairs.
For most people, the best way to do this is to book your vehicle in with an experienced mechanic when the time arrives. But for many others, the idea of taking a stab at a DIY approach is also an appealing one. All you really need is time, a little practice and a car service kit that provides everything you need to conduct a general service yourself.
Make no mistake, however, servicing your car yourself is no joke, especially if your knowledge of mechanics is limited. But that doesn’t stop hobbyists, enthusiasts and car lovers all over the world from getting their own hands dirty when doing a service.
In this article, we will explore your two options of either having a mechanic look at it or using vehicle service kits to do it yourself.
We will do this by exploring why regular car services are so important, will compare the benefits of going DIY and taking your car to the shop, and will also give you a rundown of some of the most important car service components that you will need to familiarise yourself when trying to go DIY.
So, let’s get started by discussing the importance of regular, timely services.
Why are Regular Services Essential?
Every vehicle owner keeps a passive eye on their odometer, counting down the kilometers until their next service. We take it for granted that for the old girl to keep running, she needs to be looked after, and the more care, effort and love you put into it, the longer your car will serve your needs.
There are a number of essential reasons why you simply cannot ignore the need for regular services. Remember that you should look at doing it either every year or every 10 000 km, whichever comes first.
The reasons for this are relatively simple. Servicing will ensure that you and your passengers can use the car safely, that you can keep its running costs to a minimum, can keep its performance up to scratch, extend its lifespan and stay compliant with expectations with regards to roadworthiness.
Let’s take a detailed look at each of these points:
Ensuring Motorist Safety
The first and most important function of ensuring the ideal condition of your car, it to make sure that it is safe to use, not just for you as the driver, but for your passengers as well.
Many of the components that are inspected and replaced are related directly to motorist safety, such as the brakes, pads and handbrake. The tyres and suspension.
By regularly servicing your car and replacing these components, you will be in better control of your vehicle at all times, which makes for a safer and much more comfortable ride.
Reducing Vehicle Running Costs
As the components in your vehicle become worn and weathered, they begin to lose efficiency in terms of their performance.
If left unchecked for too long, this will eventually drastically increase the running costs of the vehicle.
It will start giving you less mileage from your petrol, which will see you filling up more frequently. You will likely have to top up on oil more frequently too.
Parts may also start to fail unexpectedly, which will have you in a constant state of catchup when replacing them; and as more and more components begin to fail as a result, you will be paying more and more for replacements.
Of course, this is all easily avoided by simply ensuring that you service your car properly, on time, every time you need to.
Assisting with Performance
As you use your car you will begin to notice a gradual drop in performance.
This is all but unavoidable since components in your vehicle will begin to wear down as they are used. Some are pretty much guaranteed to become less effective as time goes on, such as the oil filter, fuel filter and air filter, which need to be seen to each and every time you take your car for a service (or opt to do it yourself).
This highlights the importance of regular services, purely from a performance perspective.
If you want to keep her running just like she did the day you drove her out of the dealership, then you cannot afford to delay services.
Extending its Lifespan
When a car is properly looked after, it can retain its condition for pretty much an indeterminable amount of time. That’s why you still see a few pristine City Golfs and old Mercedes 280SL Pagodas driving around.
Of course, there is always the excuse of ‘they don’t make them like they used to’, and that’s true, but they, in fact, tend to make them even better.
By regularly servicing your car each time the need comes around, and by doing it without delay, you could still be getting the most out of it 30 years from now.
Compliance with Roadworthiness Regulations
The next important reason for ensuring that you stay on top of services is to ensure that your car is in line with roadworthiness expectations that have been set by the South African government.
There is an obligation placed on each and every motorist on the road to ensure that their car does not pose a risk of danger to any other motorists or pedestrians on the road.
This means that your car needs to consistently meet certain standards of quality and reliability.
But every single component in your vehicle will eventually wear down, which means that constant attention needs to be paid to the condition and roadworthiness of the car.
This also creates a very important reason why motorists simply cannot afford to miss a service when it is needed.
DIY or at the Shop?
Now for the important question for those who want to take a crack at getting their hands dirty and attempting to service their car themselves. It certainly isn’t the most common approach to upkeep, but it is one that many car enthusiasts find quite enticing.
So, armed with a vehicle service kit that contains everything you need to complete the service yourself, no small amount of patience, and hopefully an understanding of what goes on under the hood, you might think yourself ready to do it.
But before you get started, let’s compare the benefits of DIY car services to booking it in with an experienced mechanic:
The Benefits of DIY
Let’s start by looking at the benefits of going DIY. Granted, this approach is not for everyone. But for those with the aptitude, interest and patience to do it themselves, the experience can be quite rewarding, and can also build a better relationship between you and your vehicle.
The benefits of DIY include a more affordable approach when done correctly, improved convenience thanks to not having to travel or leave your car with a mechanic, finding enjoyment out of making it a hobby, being able to give your car personal attention, and getting to know it a little bit better.
A More Affordable Approach
If you take the time and care to conduct the service with as few errors as possible, and by doing ample research on how to treat your car in particular, you may find that the cost of doing it yourself is much cheaper than having a professional service it for you.
When going the DIY route, you will only need to spend money on a car service kit and won’t be paying for actual labour.
A cautionary note, however. If care isn’t taken, mistakes might lead to damages or a need to buy even more parts or components, which can actually work out more expensive.
So before starting your DIY maintenance project, be sure that you have done your homework so that there is less of a chance of mistakes.
While servicing your car yourself might not be easier, it can be seen as a more convenient approach since you don’t have to take your car to a mechanic, leave it there for the day.
For many motorists, this is a bugbear when it comes time for a service to be conducted. Nobody likes being without their car, it makes us feel a little vulnerable.
Then there is the hassle of finding a lift to and from the mechanics when dropping the car off, which doesn’t only put the motorist out, but also whoever is giving them the lift.
By doing it yourself, there is no need to make alternative travel arrangements, you will have your car with you when working on it.
Be prepared, however, to possibly go for an extended time without a car, especially if you are no savant when it comes to mechanics; whereas getting a mechanic to service it will likely take no longer than a day.
An Engaging Hobby
There is something to be said about the joy that motor enthusiasts get when working on their own cars. Even the simplest of tasks being conducted under the hood can be quite rewarding to an enthusiast, and one of the best ways to experience this for yourself is to attempt to service your car yourself.
Give Your Car Personal Attention
Nobody loves your car as you do. You doled out your hard-earned cash for it, you’ve gotten many happy miles out of it, and you are personally invested in it.
So why not give it the personal attention it deserves by opting to service it yourself?
Getting to Know Your Car
The next major benefit to doing it yourself is being able to become more acquainted with your vehicle. Sure, you might know how to drive it, you might be the only person on the planet who knows the trick to get it started, but do you know how it works? Do you know it’s ins-and-outs?
Well, the best way to learn is to try and service it yourself.
Essential Service Components
With this in mind, it becomes easier to decide whether or not you would be better off taking your car to a mechanic or servicing yourself.
If you opt for the DIY route, it is recommended that you get a vehicle service kit that contains everything you need.
Here are some of the most crucial components you will be working with:
Oil filters are essential for removing contaminants from oil in the engine, transmission and hydraulic machinery in your vehicle. They get bogged down from use and need to be replaced during services.
The same can be said for air filters which prevent harmful contaminants from entering your engine through its intake through your air conditioner and heat vents.
Fuel filters stop contaminants entering your engine through the fuel. They are essential for keeping particles such as rust or dirt out of the engine, which in turn keeps them lasting longer. Another essential one to replace during services.
Oil and lubricants become dirty over usage and less effective in your car as time passes. Because of this, the oil needs to be drained and replaced at each service interval.
For ensuring the safety and comfort of your vehicle, it is essential to inspect the brakes, drums and brake pads every time you service your vehicle. They may not always need replacing, but their condition should always be closely monitored.
Contact AHK Motor Spares for Details
If you are interested in conducting a DIY car service, be sure to contact our team at AHK Motor Spares to find out more about our offers on vehicle service kits, or visit our website for further details on our offers.