Learning from Car Repairs

Over the last week and change, I have been undergoing the adventure of repairing my wife’s car. It was difficult at times, not just because I didn’t completely know what I was doing, but also because I was impatient and I had the wrong outlook when it came to car maintenance. These repairs began my learning experience in regards to taking care of what I am blessed with and provided a firm reminder as to why it is important to perform as many of my own repairs around my home and vehicles as I reasonably can.

I took my wife’s car in for an oil change, but as it turned out, that wasn’t the only thing that needed to be serviced. The shop said the outer tie rods needed to be replaced and the steering aligned. They also said the rear brake pads needed to be replaced, as well as the calipers and the rotors. In total, they estimated it would cost about $1,000 to do all of the repairs. However, paying for parts, a few tools I didn’t already have, borrowing some tools from my dad, and then taking it to the mechanic to be aligned, I was able to complete the repairs for under $300. I saved $700 by doing the vast majority of the work myself, and that, in my opinion, is a massive savings.

However, saving money wasn’t the only benefit to doing the work myself. I learned about how the car functions and what I need to do in order to help it stay in a safe running condition. Knowing more about how the car works will help me perform future repairs, as well as enable me to complete a wider variety of repairs. I can then impart this knowledge and experience to my children and also use it to help other people I know. Having more knowledge will also empower me to keep the car from breaking down on the side of the road or from having an unreasonable amount of needed repairs. By performing simple routine maintenance I can help prevent major repair jobs from being needed in the future, which can save me even more money.

When it comes to things around the house that are broken, I have typically had the attitude that I should be the one to fix them. This is because I believe it is important to know how things around one’s home function, as well as the fact that it is usually less expensive than hiring a repair man. Yet, this same mentality didn’t translate to the way I viewed my family’s vehicles. For quite a few years now I have found the idea of working on our vehicles to be intimidating. I therefore used the excuse of me not being a “car guy” in order to neglect properly caring for the vehicles. Which is grossly irresponsible when one considers how often these vehicles are used and how precious the cargo is which they transport. It took being faced with spending $1,000 on repairs to motivate me to take ownership over the well-being of the van and car, and to a degree, my family. The foolishness of me neglecting this responsibility was only magnified after I began the repairs and discovered that they were far less complicated, nuanced, and intimidating than I had previously thought them to be.

I have also rediscovered the sense of satisfaction that comes from doing something yourself, taking a step back and looking at a job well done. I hope to help my children learn the importance of being satisfied by the work they do. That doesn’t just mean doing the work they want to do, but also the work they need to do. Seeing that you have provided something that your family needs is far more satisfying and rewarding than watching a movie while downing a bag of potato chips, even if they are your favorite movie and potato chips.

Have you completed, or are you in the process of completing, a job that you were anxious about undertaking? Do you also find it important to conduct as many of your own repairs as is reasonable? Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section. Thank you for reading!



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