Myth #1: Fixing your car at home is the same as going to a shop. There are several key differences between a repair at a shop and one performed in the driveway. Most notably is the quality of the repair. The DIY repair will usually involve cutting corners during the repair process. There is good reason professional technicians have tool boxes almost as big as your car. There are specialty tools for a lot of repairs today. When an improper tool is used, additional damage can be incurred to the vehicle. DYI’ers also tend to use sub-par parts. Replacement parts are not all created equal. A professional shop will use parts that will ensure a long lasting repair.
Myth #2: Reading a fault code will tell you how to fix it Check engine lights come on only when there is a problem with the vehicle control systems. Too often consumers have their codes read by a parts store or friend and then start putting parts on the car. Then have the light come right back on. Diagnostic codes only give you an area of concern. The code must be diagnosed in order to find the cause of the failure. Having a shop diagnose and fix your problem will actually save you money over the trial and error routine.
Myth #3: If a part is failing on my car, I will know it The biggest problem with this myth is when you do know about it, it is because it has caused other issues. Then what happens, a lot of times, is the symptom gets fixed but the cause goes unnoticed and the problem just returns a short time later. So many of your cars systems work with each other and sometimes the proper repair can be in a totally unrelated area. For example a bad thermostat can cause decreased fuel economy, or a bad battery can cause an ABS fault. Car repair shops are much better equipped to find the cause of your concern than either Google or YouTube.
Myth #4: Over-the-counter remedies are a quick fix Over the counter stop leak products were never intended to be a permanent repair. Using them will often cause further damage to your car. As the chemical works its way through your car it will not only try to stop your leak but will also start clogging small passages your fluid needs to pass through. In an emergency, you can use a stop leak chemical to help get you to safety. You should then have the failing component repaired and have the effected system’s fluid changed to remove the product. Even then it may be difficult to tell if the product caused other issues.
The common thread here is, trying the shortcut to avoid a perceived expense could actually cost you more in the long run. So when in doubt, have a car care professional solve your issue. Technicians have years of experience which always trumps HowStuffWorks.com.