Put the brakes on these DIY car repairs, says AAA

Auto club experts reveal six fixes to leave to the experts


Phoenix, July 18, 2012. Sometimes it seems cheaper to do your own car repairs, but taking on something unfamiliar can make the do-it-yourselfer feel like blowing a gasket. Though consumers still feel the financial pinch of the economy, AAA auto experts would like to advise against six repairs that shouldn’t be attempted by amateurs.  


“The most expensive repair you’ll ever make is the one you don’t need,” said AAA Operations Manager Gary Bons, who has been working on cars for 30 years. “Attempting your own repairs often costs you more and can jeopardize your safety.”


According to AAA auto experts, the following list of six repairs should be left to experts:

  • Brakes: When changing brakes, there’s the risk of not tightening lug nuts, inadvertently spraying oil on the brakes or putting the wrong fluid in the reservoirs – the list of possible calamities goes on. Considering brakes are one of the most important safety features of a vehicle, it’s best to leave their maintenance to a trained and trusted technician.


  • Timing belts: People who don’t install a timing belt correctly can bend valves and almost destroy an engine, resulting in thousands of dollars in damage – and a car that won’t run.


  • Transmissions: Weight and complexity are two reasons for amateurs not to attempt a transmission fix. In newer vehicles, the engine usually is mounted sideways. As such, most manual transmissions have to be removed from the bottom, which requires removal of major suspension components – requiring specialty tools.


  • Air conditioners: Make the wrong move, and you could be hit with 300 to 400 pounds of air pressure, so the potential for injury is great.  


  • Diagnostics: It seems tempting, because do-it-yourself code scanners can cost about $60 at a parts store, but they only provide static, ambiguous information. Professional diagnostic scanners, such as those found at AAA Owned and Approved Auto Repair facilities, provide live information. Car owners usually pay $50 to $100 for an average diagnostic, which can determine the specific problem rather than spending hundreds on unnecessary repairs.


  • Fuel system repairs: Generally, amateur mechanics are trying to change a fuel pump. Not so fast, AAA auto experts say. Safety is paramount when working around flammable materials under pressure. If something such as an O-ring is pinched, there’s a potential for a fuel leak.

“If you’re not using the right tools and equipment, and you don’t have the proper training, you can do a lot more damage than the money you’re trying to save,” Bons said.


AAA Owned and Approved Auto Repair facilities employ expert ASE-certified technicians who are supported with state-of-the-art tools and equipment. AAA Owned facilities provide members a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty on parts and labor; nonmembers receive a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty. These facilities are open to the public, and offer special discounts for AAA members.

To learn more about AAA’s automotive services, or to find a AAA Owned or Approved Auto Repair facility, visit AAA.com/auto.


AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.