Mechanics can be pricey, especially when it comes to tasks that could take a while. We try to do what we can to save some money, but what car repairs should you leave to the pros? While there are quite a few repairs that should be left to a professional, here are some car repairs you shouldn’t attempt by yourself:
- Changing a clutch
- Repairing or recharging air conditioner
- Replacing windshield
- Rebuilding a differential
- Body work
Changing a Clutch
While it’s not a complex or delicate repair, changing the clutch could require engine removal and a lot of heavy lifting. If you don’t have access to a car jack or engine jack, you will not be able to change the clutch yourself.
What is the Clutch?
A clutch connects the two shafts in your car that drive your car, so they can be locked together and spin at the same speed or decoupled and spun at different speeds. Since the engine is spinning all the time, you need a clutch to stop the car without killing the engine while disconnecting the wheels, so they can stop. The clutch allows you to smoothly engage a spinning engine to a non-spinning transmission by controlling the slippage between them.
Common Problems with the Clutch
The most common problem with the clutch is that the friction material on the disk wears down, kind of like the pads of a disc brake – it just wears down after a while. After the material is gone, the clutch will slip and eventually won’t transmit any power from the engine to the wheels.
Sometimes, the problem is a sticking clutch and not a slipping clutch, which can be caused by:
- A broken or stretched clutch cable
- Leaky or defective slave and/or master clutch cylinders
- Air in the hydraulic line
- Misadjusted linkage
- Mismatched clutch components
Repair or Recharge an Air Conditioner
Not only is handling Freon dangerous, but the A/C system also involves very specific high pressures and lots of tubing with odd components. On top of all that, you need an understanding of the laws of thermodynamics.
What is Freon?
In order to function properly, your car’s air conditioning system must cool, dehumidify, and circulate the air inside your vehicle. These functions are all essential to properly work. When coolant leaks, the A/C will stop blowing. If your Freon or other cooling agent is low, you might have a leak. Freon is a harmful chemical if it comes in contact with your body or skin.
Common Problems with the A/C
Most problems that occur with an A/C develops over time, so noticing sudden issues is less common.
- Moisture or debris that contaminates the air conditioner
- Bacteria, fungi, and micro-organisms that contribute to “sick car syndrome”
- Low refrigeration level due to dried out seals
- Soiled condenser constricting air flow
- Mechanical complications
Replacing a Windshield
Replacing your windshield involves too many components to try and do it yourself. With defrosters and other window electronics, not only can you damage the car, but it also takes a lot of training to handle a large piece of glass and adhesive.
Different Types of Windshield Additions
If you have a newer car that’s more high-tech than the basic model, you should check what sort of additives your windshield technology has. This could really affect whether or not you would want to see a professional, as well as the cost of replacing the windshield:
- Rain sensor
- Condensation Sensor
- Heated Wiper Park Area
Common Problems with a Windshield
The most common problem with a windshield that requires a replacement is that there’s a crack in it. While some small cracks can be replaced with a little patch work, a bigger crack will mean an entire windshield replacement. It’s illegal to drive with a cracked windshield, so the sooner it’s replaced the better. Other problems could be related to any of the technology connected to the windshield.
Rebuilding a Differential
Gears are already tricky in general, but differentials are an even touchy part to rebuild. If it’s even slightly off the contact patch, it will grind the teeth into nothing. That’s why the contact patch has to be exact down to the math.
What is a Differential
The differential splits the engine torque two ways which allows each output to spin at a different speed. There are open differentials, the clutch-type limited slip differential, a locking differential, and a Torsen differential.
Common Problems with the Differential
Diagnosing a problem with the differential can be a little tricky. There are many different noises coming from your engine, and you might not know what it means. Here are some common noises you might hear:
- Whirring only when decelerating
- A howl or whine during acceleration
- Rumbling or whirring at speeds over 20 mph
- Regular clunking every few feet
- Banking or clunking on corners
- Rumble while turning
- Steady vibration that increases with speed
- Clunking only when starting to move
Body work is traditionally a hard job. It’s demanding, intolerant of any minor mistakes, and physically tasking. It takes skill to manipulate sheet metal, which is why we suggest you let the professionals take care of it.
Tips to Choosing the Right Auto Body Shop
It’s not common to get different estimates ranging hundreds to thousands of dollars in repairs. Here are some tips to pay attention to when choosing a trustworthy shop:
- Pay attention to word-of-mouth
- Consider the operations location and overhead
- Get several estimates
- Ask the right questions
- Follow your intuition