EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Business

April 28, 2013

Do-it-yourself repair has its risks

Really? Struts? Dangerous even in a shop! We should encourage this? Quick struts are a good choice, but still a major undertaking, not for any amateur. You show a lot of knowledge but have maybe come up short on wisdom. Do-it-yourself days are over; get used to it. Also, quoting prices from the Internet gives the impression that the dealer and repair shops are ripping people off. You know this is not true.

I should add that this reader is an ASE master technician and shop owner who certainly knows his stuff. He brings up several points about my recent column (“Strut renewal possible at home,” April 14) that are well worth addressing.

As a mechanic-turned-auto teacher, I’ve come to believe there’s both an art and a science to fixing automobiles. The art part involves ever-evolving hands-on experience in such things as how hard you can hit, twist or pry something without breaking it; learning the difference in sound between a connecting-rod rattle and a cracked flex plate; distinguishing a shudder from a shimmy; drilling out a broken stud without destroying the surrounding part; and knowing when a job is over your head or has a high chance of going sour.

The science part requires training in electronics, physics, vehicle components and systems, information gathering, and creating/implementing productive diagnostic strategies and repair validations. To a point, this second category can be gleaned from books or the Web, unlike the prerequisite skinned knuckles and burnt forearms of the first.

Renewing struts is not a job for an amateur. But there are many folks out there who fall between those who have trouble screwing on a gas cap and a professional technician. I spend a lot of time in Alaska. In the Great Land, you learn to take care of business because the nearest auto repair shop isn’t, um, nearby. Probably 8 of 10 neighbors there could pull off this job without breaking sweat or uttering more than a few choice words.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Business

Financial News
Stocks
Photos of the Week