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2019 Hellcat Redeye
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Like a typical shadetree, driveway mechanic, I'm fine with doing typical maintenance like oil changes, brake pads, etc. I'm even comfortable working on about 90% of the systems that aren't in the engine bay like suspension, after-transmission drivetrain, exhaust, even some of the electrical here-and-there.

But every time I do a service, even though I feel like I look over the car properly, I'm worried that I'm missing something. "You don't know what you don't know," after all. So, maybe my engine's about to explode and if I'd just change a timing chain tensioner I could avoid it. Maybe my water pump's going bad and my engine is about to explode from overheating. It's these crazy things that I know I don't know what to look for and worry about.

Sometimes I try to console myself with, "if it's that bad, the check engine light will warn me." But I might just be lying to myself on that one. There are plenty of systems that don't have check engine lights. What if I didn't know how to listen for a bad control arm or end link? If I just kept doing my own stuff, I'd eventually get to watch a wheel pass me as I slide to a halt on the highway! :)

Then of course, there's the issue of doing something wrong. Did I torque my lug nuts to spec? Maybe I put the wrong diff fluid in! What if I reused the crush washer at the drain plug because I didn't know I needed a crush washer when I started the fluid change?

All of these things rattle around in my head and make me second guess myself. I keep going back and forth about whether I should do this stuff myself or just take it in. I save a TON of money doing stuff myself, but it it worth it if doing it myself means I end up doing thousands in extra repairs because I missed something?

Do you guys ever go through this dilemma?
 

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2018 Dodge Challenger T/A Plus in Yellow Jacket w/5.7L and A8 automatic
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No. I do what I know I can do based on my skill set.
 

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Like a typical shadetree, driveway mechanic, I'm fine with doing typical maintenance like oil changes, brake pads, etc. I'm even comfortable working on about 90% of the systems that aren't in the engine bay like suspension, after-transmission drivetrain, exhaust, even some of the electrical here-and-there.

But every time I do a service, even though I feel like I look over the car properly, I'm worried that I'm missing something. "You don't know what you don't know," after all. So, maybe my engine's about to explode and if I'd just change a timing chain tensioner I could avoid it. Maybe my water pump's going bad and my engine is about to explode from overheating. It's these crazy things that I know I don't know what to look for and worry about.

Sometimes I try to console myself with, "if it's that bad, the check engine light will warn me." But I might just be lying to myself on that one. There are plenty of systems that don't have check engine lights. What if I didn't know how to listen for a bad control arm or end link? If I just kept doing my own stuff, I'd eventually get to watch a wheel pass me as I slide to a halt on the highway! :)

Then of course, there's the issue of doing something wrong. Did I torque my lug nuts to spec? Maybe I put the wrong diff fluid in! What if I reused the crush washer at the drain plug because I didn't know I needed a crush washer when I started the fluid change?

All of these things rattle around in my head and make me second guess myself. I keep going back and forth about whether I should do this stuff myself or just take it in. I save a TON of money doing stuff myself, but it it worth it if doing it myself means I end up doing thousands in extra repairs because I missed something?

Do you guys ever go through this dilemma?
When I started out doing my own car servicing/repairs I might have had similar concerns. (Maybe. Was a long time ago.)

But some professional auto techs impressed upon me the importance of if it ain't broke don't fix it.

What one has to do is develop the ability to "listen" to the car, the engine, in fact use all senses to pick up on any early warning of pending trouble.

A new noise? In one case it was a water pump. In another case -- two times in fact but separated by considerable time and mileage -- it was a bad accessory drive idler roller bearing. Yet another time it proved to be a bad wheel bearing.

Anti-freeze odor? Cooling system leak. With yet another car it was a water pump leaking.

A puddle of coolant on the ground under the car? Not to be ignored. In one case it turned out to be a pin hole leak in a radiator. With another car turned out all 3 radiators were leaking around where the lower tank and core join.

Yet another time the coolant on the pavement proved to be from a crack in the plastic coolant tank.

A low coolant level light turned out to be a leaking coolant tank cap. When the engine was shut off hot the increase in coolant temperature increased the pressure. The cap vented water vapor. I "tracked" this down by tenting the cap with aluminum foil and after a few minutes spotted water condensing on the foil.

Years ago a slight hesitation at around 3K turned out to be a loose plug wire.

'course, some things gave no warning. Like the fuel pump that decided to quit (at around 200K miles) one morning shortly after I started the engine.

Or the alternator that over about 30 minutes of engine run time was not putting out nearly enough electricity based on the battery voltage gauge.

At other times the CEL provides one with a clue something's wrong. A few times with various cars it has been an O2 sensor.

Another time I diagnosed a bad MAF but the problem eventually turned out to be an oil filler tube cap leaking.

But years later the CEL error code had me guessing MAF and this time I was right.

Some things are caught by the techs. In one case when I had a car in for an early transmission (manual) fluid service -- I refuse to change that nasty manual fluid -- he spotted a selector shaft seal leak. The car was under warranty and the factory shipped over a new 6-speed manual.

Yet another time the tech spotted a leak from the front diff (car had AWD) axle flange seals.

And at another time the car was in the air and we both spotted the signs of what proved to be a leaking rear main seal. Often the tech would let me join him under the car as he went about inspecting it and I added to my knowledge of what to look for.

This is important. There is more to servicing a car than just changing the oil every so often. When I would take one of my cars in for this invariably the tech would do a thorough check of the car. Most of the time he found nothing. But a few times he did and it proved to be very important. (The selector shaft seal for instance. Not only did the new transmission address the leak, the new transmission was clearly better than the one in the car. Had the tech not spotted the leak I might have had to have the leak addressed out of warranty or even had the transmission rebuilt out of warranty to address its lousy shifting.)

Uneven tire wear points to an alignment problem. In one case the new rear tires were gone in 8K miles. After new tires fitted and an alignment and new tires went 20K miles.

The point is you can service your own car. But you have to use the servicing as an opportunity to really go over the car.

And at all other times keep an eye, ear, nose on the car for any signs of possible trouble.

For what level of servicing I did I went from oil/filter changes, plug changes, to doing the brakes, which for at least one vehicle also had me replacing the front wheel bearings, water pump/T-stat, to rebuilding a couple of engines.

Then I dialed it back and when I did servicing pretty much limited it to oil/filter services. With one car I did remove the front bumper cover to clean out the radiator ducts.

With this same car I tried to diagnose a mild hesitation, varying idle and other odd behavior. I finally decided the problem was beyond my ability to diagnose and arranged to get the car to a dealer. Diagnosis was a bad air/oil separator. The next 2 times this failed -- with around 80K to 100K miles between failures -- I recognized the symptoms -- which were different each time believe it or not. I still took the car in for this repair but at least I knew was was wrong and in both subsequent cases arranged to have the car flat bedded to the dealer rather than try to drive the car to the dealer.

For whatever service you do you should strive to do it right. I always follow the factory service/repair manual and this includes using a torque wrench to ensure all drain plugs, filters, bolts, nuts, fasteners are properly tightened.

Because what servicing I do I do infrequently I check and double check my work. That is when I change the oil I count the empty quart bottles to know I at least put the "right" amount of oil in the engine. If the engine has this I then use the dipstick to check the oil level. Or I use the electronic oil level system to ensure its reading is in agreement with the correct amount of oil I added to the engine.

I still give the under side of the car a check. I look for any signs of oil, coolant, or fluid leaks (brake fluid, transmission lfuid). I check the CV joint boots for any splits or cracks. I check that all under body panels are intact -- I found one with a fist sized hole punched in it from impact with road debris -- and secure.

I check brake wear a note tire wear.

In short I keep tabs on the car and its health and look for any early warning sign of pending trouble.
 

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2015 SRT, 6 Speed, Sublime Green
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Don’t spend your time over analyzing this. Spend your time instead reading a shop manual and preplanning the work ahead. Follow the directions carefully and be methodical. Also don’t be hard on yourself for realizing a job is outside your skill level. “A man has got to know his limitations!” - Clint Eastwood, Magnum Force

and....stuff breaks and you will have zero forewarning sometimes...that’s life.
 

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2018 Challenger R/T Plus - Billet Clearcoat
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Like a typical shadetree, driveway mechanic, I'm fine with doing typical maintenance like oil changes, brake pads, etc. I'm even comfortable working on about 90% of the systems that aren't in the engine bay like suspension, after-transmission drivetrain, exhaust, even some of the electrical here-and-there.

But every time I do a service, even though I feel like I look over the car properly, I'm worried that I'm missing something. "You don't know what you don't know," after all. So, maybe my engine's about to explode and if I'd just change a timing chain tensioner I could avoid it. Maybe my water pump's going bad and my engine is about to explode from overheating. It's these crazy things that I know I don't know what to look for and worry about.

Sometimes I try to console myself with, "if it's that bad, the check engine light will warn me." But I might just be lying to myself on that one. There are plenty of systems that don't have check engine lights. What if I didn't know how to listen for a bad control arm or end link? If I just kept doing my own stuff, I'd eventually get to watch a wheel pass me as I slide to a halt on the highway! :)

Then of course, there's the issue of doing something wrong. Did I torque my lug nuts to spec? Maybe I put the wrong diff fluid in! What if I reused the crush washer at the drain plug because I didn't know I needed a crush washer when I started the fluid change?

All of these things rattle around in my head and make me second guess myself. I keep going back and forth about whether I should do this stuff myself or just take it in. I save a TON of money doing stuff myself, but it it worth it if doing it myself means I end up doing thousands in extra repairs because I missed something?

Do you guys ever go through this dilemma?
No,...if I don't feel like doing it, I'll take it somewhere....or if it is something that I don't have time for but if I do it, I don't worry about those things afterwards. I'm confident in myself if I choose to do it.
 
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2015 RT Shaker (STP/A8/FORGED/NAPPA/NO SUNROOF)
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Find a good local indy shop.
 

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This is where some foward planning and the chilton's online manual help ease the 2nd guessing.

Writing things down like oil type, capacity and even putting a checklist together and crossing things off will set your mind at ease. Trying to keep it all in your head is when mistakes are made.
 

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2020 HellRaisin 1320
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Yup, I second guess myself all the time. I think for me it's a bit of OCD too and always wondering if I did something like close the garage door on the way out. The same applies to cars. I sometimes find myself checking that bolts are still on tight days later. Something as basic as oil changes that I've done myself for over 25 years I still recheck everything and look under my cars for oil drips, for days!

Sometimes I get a bit anxious thinking about working on something new, or doing something I've never done before, but then I think to myself, "Dude, you literally worked on 40 million dollar F-117 Stealth Jets, a 40 thousand dollar car is nothing"

But also, I trust other people less, and if I do have to take my car to a shop, which is rare, I find myself checking their work just as much.
 

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2018 Dodge Challenger T/A Plus in Yellow Jacket w/5.7L and A8 automatic
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@gouge93
Thanks for keeping the USA’s aircraft in top-notch shape !!!!!!!
 
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