diy auto repair

The high costs of maintenance encourage some motorists to maintain their own car. It is a practice that develops under the double effect of the crisis and the rise of the Internet.

Unbeatable prices on the Internet

With the development of Internet sales sites, the motorist finds his parts 70% cheaper than the dealer, and even 30% below the rates charged by car centers.

These sites can deliver at home, but most of them are affiliated to a network of garage partners who receive and install them, sometimes with a slightly higher labor rate.

Attention to the quality of spare parts

In order to avoid any unpleasant surprise, you should buy your parts from a retailer working with professionals or on a reputable website. Thanks to their stock:

  • They deliver quickly,
  • They offer qualified telephone support,
  • They offer a wider choice of partner garages where parts can be delivered and assembled.

There are 3 main families of spare parts:

  1. Those “original”bear the manufacturer’s signature and are marketed only in its network.
  2. The “equivalent quality” parts come from the subcontractors who produce the original part and differ only in packaging, finishing details … and the price of 20% to 40% lower. They are available at wholesalers in car centers and on the Internet.
  3. MDD (retailer or  “adaptable” parts, generally less resistant, are sold in car centers or in large supermarkets, rarely on the Internet, and come back from 40 to 60% cheaper than so-called quality parts .
  4. For more technical parts (starter, turbo, alternator, brake caliper …), the standard exchange is generalized, that is to say the replacement by new parts rather than a repair. Offered by reputable subcontractors or specialized SMEs, they cost 40 to 60% less than new parts.

5.     Order your tires online

The tires of the major manufacturers (Michelin, Continental …) are often as expensive on the Internet as in the car center.

The exotic labels, generally of Asian origin, have very low tariffs which mask tires that are enduring but not very adherent.

Most of the sites are affiliated with partner centers that mount the tires, for € 10 to € 15 per wheel. The site rezulteo-pneu.fr compares tires by make or model of vehicle.

6.     Find help on forums and blogs

Do-it-yourselfers can get help on motorists’ forums and on blogs of enthusiasts who put on-line tutorials explaining, photos and videos in support, how to carry out even the most complex repair operations.

7.    The alternative of car breaks

Dismantlers now offer a wide selection of parts via their websites (careco.fr, francecasse.fr or opisto.fr).

For the body parts of French cars, they are the best alternative to the official networks, and even the only one for the three French brands which retain the monopoly of selling “drawn” parts (body parts such as bumpers, rear-view mirrors … ).

Warning: Parts purchased on sites such as ebay or leboncoin may be counterfeited or stolen, or even come from accident vehicles.

The confirmed handyman can replace the following items;

  • Brake drum sets,
  • Shock absorbers,
  • Quiet,
  • cardan

With a good tool, the expert handyman will take care of:

  • The clutch,
  • The alternator,
  • The cylinder head gasket …

Whatever the intervention, gloves and glasses are mandatory to avoid injuries and contact with oil and gasoline (notorious carcinogens).

It is also not advisable to slip under a car supported by a jack, a wooden block or a cinder block, capable of yielding or tipping. The vehicle must rest, with the hand brake applied and the first gear engaged, on steel candles.

Avoid Loss of Warranty

If it can save a lot of money, self-maintenance can also be costly by losing the benefit of guarantees (contractual, legal or latent defects).

The law makes it possible to choose its repairer, but it imposes the respect of the recommendations of the manufacturer in terms of periodicity and protocol.

Note: Invoices or filling in the maintenance booklet serve as proof.

If these protocols are not followed, the manufacturer’s after-sales service will be able to argue, especially in case of breakage of the engine, of a defect in order not to operate a guarantee.

For a car under warranty or still eligible for legal coverage of hidden defects (8 to 10 years and 150,000 to 200,000 km), it is preferable to avoid any intervention on the engine, without changing of spark plugs, oil and filters .

It is also necessary to keep the invoices for the purchase of its parts, even oil, and never engage in an operation that is not certain to master. Careful periodic interventions, such as brake bleeding or changing the timing belt, are reserved for professionals.

Self-service garages and workshops

Of private origin or associative, the self-garages allow to practice its mechanics itself by renting bridge and tooling (10 to 15 € per hour) and benefiting from the advice of a professional. They are found on the site selfgarage.fr.

Barely more expensive, vocational colleges and apprenticeship training centers preparing for the automotive trades are responsible for overhaul or repair at half the cost of traditional garage.

However, the customer usually has to supply new parts, and sometimes be patient about the duration of the intervention (information on betterdepenser.com, click on Application garages).

Give your car

Some motorists tend to keep their car for very long. Eventually, the cost of any breakdown exceeds the value of the car. In addition, if a car is usually scrapped free of charge when you drive it yourself, it can cost you 50 to 100 € if you have to tow it.

When the vehicle no longer has any market value, it can be given. Some associations collect the donations of cars, then handed over.

Cars, motorcycles, scooters and vans must ride and not be rough, but no need to provide an up-to-date technical check or insure them.

The association has an antenna in each region and can take care of the conveying of the vehicle and the administrative formalities.

Beware of scams!

On the Internet, “mechanic” service offers offering revisions at home or interventions at half price are multiplying.

Namely: Many self-entrepreneurs hide behind these classified ads, but also undeclared work.

Three precautions are necessary before calling on their services:

  1. Require the writing of a preliminary repair order,
  2. Ask for a detailed invoice indicating the source and the price of parts (useful for resale or in case of failure), and the retail price of labor.
  3. Finally, you should never pay in cash but by check to keep track of the transaction.