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Cars easier to service, DIY declining - oilrag
Two propositions. (All IMHO of course)
1)Cars are getting easier to *service* as per book. ( complexity not being reflected in regular service book details)
2) DIY owner servicing is diminishing, but is *not* mainly related to the increased ( overarching, but not in routine servicing ) compexity of modern cars.

Regarding the former, I started DIY with cars of late 50s design and the time, effort and skills needed then, in the early 60s were considerable.
The following
( manual brake adjustment/tappets/head removal/decokes/lapping in valves//greasing/contactbreakers/frequent spark plug replacement/HT leads/distributercap/dealing with structural rust),
are no longer part of the regular DIY of contemporary cars
Some current car *engines* are only oil and filter changes (Servicing for the actual engine at routine services) . OK I`m refering to the Fiats Multjet here as I`m familiar with it, but the aygo`s petrol engine must be similar. Both with hydraulic tappets and chain drive camshafts reducing servicing even more.

OK, so the computer, management systems are there, but not part of regular servicing.

So my question is, why is DIY reducing, when *regular* servicing is easier?

I became interested in engines through building control line model aircraft aged 11years, my first engine being an E.D. Hornet 1.5cc Diesel
Well my mates and I took them apart and when we all bought motorbikes age 16, it was not too big a leap to service them.
Then we read car mags and started servicing our cars.
Thing is we ALL did this ( boys in our class from school.)
The driving force ( beyond interest) was that servicing costs ( labour mainly) was so high and servicing so frequent, that we really had no choice aged 17yrs. It was DIY or no car, with all that implied re girls.
Some of us ( mates from school) continue to service our cars as our 60s approach.

Opinions? I`m particularly interested in how others ( other than professionals mechs )of other ages became interested in DIY,
and aquired the ability to service their car and to why DIY owner maintenance ( beyond the warranty) is reducing.
Anyone agree with me that cars are actually *easier* to service. ( with consideration given to engine choice and regarding work specified in the handbook at service intervals)






Cars easier to service, DIY declining - Navara Van man
Im 24. In the past ive worked on several farms and am reasnably skilled mecancily and with a welder. ive replaced tractor fuil lines, serviced tractors, land rover defenders and my then mondeo. Also fitted extra spot lights and replace an exhaust.

These days i no longer have acsess to a pit and i use a local garage for service and repairs. I do regularly check the fluid levels and top them up and also grease the hinges but this is the limit to things.

whilst i have a very good toolkit and could probably borow anything i dont have, space is now at a premium and i no longer have acsess to a pit. when ive tried to source parts my experience has often been that the gardage can get them quicker.

I curently drive a 04 navara double cap and a new shape transit 350 01 reg.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - ajsdoc
Easy. People have MUCH more expendable cash now than they used to have. OK, credit is at an all time high but people have lots more money in their pocket. More people would service their cars if money were very tight,but it's not.

We're a cash rich (value poor) society.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - pmh
But when you get to 60 you tend to become time rich, asset rich, but cash poor, The only problem is that the ability to bend over disappears! You adopt the 'while I am down here, is there anything else to do' approach.

The only way I can run 4 cars (+ the daughters) is to DIY. The new one however goes back to Citroen to keep the warranty intact.

I do have the advatage of a good garage (3 car) and pit, but unfortunately the garage tends to be permanently occuppied by other DIY work in progress.

With a background in engineering, software and electronics I am not as intimidated by the modern generation of vehicles, just appreciative of how difficult to find an intermittent fault can be. Particularly if the software is not documented and accessible.

Maybe there is an increasing market opportunity to sell expensive diagnostic PC based tools to people like me with DIY skills. But not with ridiculous inflated software prices.
--

pmh (was peter)


Cars easier to service, DIY declining - Mapmaker
I think engine covers - both below and above - put people off. Open a bonnet today, and you have four yellow service items (oil, water, water, brake, steering fluid - OK, thats five) that stick out like sore thumbs. Where the dickens is the battery... let alone the oil filter. Can't find the ignition leads. (Apparently that's 'cos there aren't any.)

I could change the oil in a W123 Mercedes (early 80s, so late 60s design) wearing a good suit, provided I had my Telegraph to kneel on to take out and replace the sump plug whilst the car had two wheels up on a kerb. (Sorry to bore those who've read that before.)

Nowadays, a '99 Vectra... far trickier. And the persistent misfire that has dogged its last 25k miles and 2.5 years can't be diagnosed by a garage with its panoply of instruments, let alone me. In the old days, a change of the plugs and leads and rotor arm would have sorted it. Oh yeah, and a broken plastic flap in the top of the inlet manifold required a whole new inlet manifold; total cost £'00s.

Give me an 80s car any day. Well beyond the "it's done 30k miles, it needs a rebore" era, but before the "it's all boxed in, don't you dare touch it if you're an amateur, we daren't touch it either!" era.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - oilrag
Hi adjdoc, Maybe you`re right.

But for me its also about *quality* of workmanship ( not talking about senior techs) wanting to service a car personally.

As evidenced by my car being 3/4 litre overfilled with oil at the last dealer ( still under warranty) service.

When I was 17, I could not afford dealer service and had no choice, but along with some other contemporaries am now
--Its difficult to really spell it out- but its not the money for my mates and me, its *quality*, doing it yourself and
beating the system by saving on the labour.......even though we dont *need to*
I also get a kick out of doing it :)
So is it because I`m from Yorkshire or a generational thing too? :)
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - CGNorwich
Easy. People have MUCH more expendable cash now than they used to have. OK, credit is at an all time high but people have lots more money in their pocket. More people would service their cars if money were very tight,but it's not.

As far as i am concerned I totally agree with ajsdoc. I enjoy driving and like cars but diy servicing? Definiteley not!. Did my fair share when I had a young family and cash strapped but never enjoyed it and would far sooner pay someone else to do it for me. I look back on those weekends struggling to fix the car by Monday morning with a set of inadequate tools and even more inadequate knowledge with profound relief that I don't need to go there any more
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - P3t3r
I was in a main dealer a while ago, and saw the servicing prices on the wall. A basic service was £40, I thought that was amazing, but then I read the small print and it was only something like an oil change. Modern cars seem to need very little doing to them from what I've read, and the service intervals seem very long for some cars.

I service my car, but I probably don't save a huge amount, but I know exactly what does and doesn't get done. Servicing is a lot of work, is usually messy (oil changes), and probably isn't worth doing if you haven't got a garage.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - Mapmaker
The other thing is that most garages don't bother with most of the servicing items. Brake fluid change, Sir? Coolant change, Sir? Cambelt, Sir? They never ask; you never know it's not been done. And it's there; every 2-3-4 years on the schedule.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - oilrag
"Servicing is a lot of work, is usually messy (oil changes), and probably isn't worth doing if you haven't got a garage."

I have worked outside laying on the ground to get at things since 1962.
I use a suction oil extraction device though now,
my last car had a big undertray but I took it off and cut *access holes* wth a jigsaw.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - Aprilia
Lots of DIY still going on, but cars are more reliable and durable so decokes etc no longer required. I buy my own cars carefully and its a long time since I had to do any non-service work on my OWN cars, but see plenty that need work due to owner neglect or poor dealer servicing.

Youngsters (i.e anyone under about 30-35) don't seem keen to get their hands dirty nowadays. When I was younger we thought nothing of major engine rebuild work in a snow-covered yard. I remember changing a waterpump in a driveway in the middle of a hailstorm - was part and parcel of life. Lads now worry about getting their hair wet or breaking a nail - God knows what hormones are in those McDonalds burgers. I have had one or two of the local lads buy shiny bits and pieces from Halfords (e.g. simple things like gear lever knobs, that sort of thing) for their motors and ask me to fit them because they thought is was too difficult!
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - oilrag
"I remember changing a waterpump in a driveway in the middle of a hailstorm - was part and parcel of life"

Yes, Thats how it was for us.........normal. Sometimes we worked on cars at night laying on the ground in freezing conditions holding a torch in our teeth.
Remember doing a Minis handbrake cables like that.
No heating in the house at night too. Looks like its a generation thing then?
I`m not going to stop doing it until I can no longer grip a spanner :)
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - graham woods
I understand where you are coming from, I am 56 now and still like messing with cars, as long as it is a simple thing to fix. But boy does it knaker me up when i change oil, filter etc. But i still like to do it myself if i have the ability and knowledge to do so. Cheers, graham.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - MagDrop
My history is somewhat similar to yours, ie. model ?planes, trains, crystal sets et al, then an all-consuming tendency to take everything apart to see how it works. Many of our relatives and neighbours were doing all the servicing tasks you mention so it was part of life and these skills were gradually learnt. It always amazes me how in the First World War people from backgrounds such as blacksmithing and (horse) coachbuilding rapidly became skilled in aircraft and vehicle maintenance.

The same thing was true to an even greater extent after WW2. Millions who had never been anywhere near engineering suddenly found themselves doing it. It took many years for this effect to wear off.
Cars are easy to service today (my Sierra has done 175K miles with me doing everything. ie.not much. I?ve only ever replaced the wearing items, and not even the clutch. The oil filter on my MX 5 isn?t much fun though!)

Getting one?s hands and designer jeans mucky is naff today. I keep hearing on TV after another vandal outrage, ?there ain?t nuffin? to do ra?nd ?ere?. No interest in anything, especially getting your hands dirty. Until a few years ago I taught aircraft engineering to lads of 17-21 years mainly. Few had any real interest in aircraft and most hadn?t the slightest idea what sort of engine powered the Spitfire for instance. They were just after the money. And you don?t need much of that today to buy a reasonable motor. It was obvious that many had never even had the most basic tools in their hands before. Some even admitted their mum used to fix their bikes! Another problem is the lamentable state of adult literacy in this country. So if something goes wrong it becomes hard work finding out how to fix it. Books too, are naff. I learnt most of my car servicing from Practical Motorist and Car Mechanics, and I?m still learning. The same basic car fault questions re-occur monotonously on the various ?Answers? websites. The level of ignorance about the workings of the car never ceases to dismay me.

Perhaps I haven?t forgotten lying in the snow in Germany adjusting helicopter tappets and turbocharger wastegate actuators. If I could do that then doing an oil change in the drive is a cakewalk - even at 65. At least I know the job?s been done properly and I haven?t been ripped off.

Sorry to ramble on, but I think your answer?s there -somewhere!
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - oilrag
"Few had any real interest in aircraft and most hadn?t the slightest idea what sort of engine powered the Spitfire for instance."

My Father worked on Merlins ( Malta) and other aircraft engines but had little interest when demobbed.

( wish I had helical gear driven camshafts :)

Yes, I agree MagDrop, your views reflect my own.

Cars easier to service, DIY declining - henry k
Just a few years ago it was very easy to change the front pads on my Cortina.
Today the calipers seem more complex plus ABS etc.
Disk change frequency seems to approaching pad change frequency.

All the magic code readers etc would not have found the blown & intermittently reconnected fuse I found.
Long live the real experts ( like some of our members) who can diagnose faults rather than just trust a magic box.

For the average consumer it is about time the washer bottle was put in the boot and a full set of sensors/ displays for fluids, brake pads, bulb failure, tyre pressure etc. me made mandatory .
That would mean little alteration to the current consumer servicing attitude and hopefully an alarm going off in the cabin might, just might induce a reaction.

When I compare the Cortina with my Mondeo the difference in the engine bay is obvious.
Not just the space around the engine but the add ons like power steering, A/C all squashed in acts as an incentive to walk away.
Then there are "simple jobs" , so I am told, like clutch and suspension bushes.

It certainly was simpler in the old days but I will stick with today.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - Pete M
I'm 51and have been working on cars since about 1970. I started with early 1950s cars with points and grease nipples, tappets, but like most of my friends, I worked on them because I couldn't afford not to. After a while I got to like the feeling of knowing all the mechanical and electrical parts of the car had been checked, or were on the list to be done. Modern cars have electronic ignition, hydraulic tappets, are more precisely machined, and last much longer. The servicing requirements are much less. I too have changed gearboxes and cylinder heads outside, sometimes in the rain. Now I have a garage so can stay dry, but I still have a Mini and an XJ12 to work on, along with the Mitsubishi that only seems to need oil changes and the odd suspension part. One of my sons has cars that he works on, so I help out there, but the other only needs a moped, and yes, I have to fix that too. I like to think that they are picking up the 'black hand' art from me. My father was not at all mechanical, so I had to learn (including some very painful and expensive lessons) for myself.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - LeePower
Being a youngster under 30 I agree with not being keen to get my hands dirty.

My hands are dirty enough during the week at work fixing forklifts, when I was younger I did service & repair my own cars but now I just cant be bothered doing it myself, I would rather pay someone beer tokens & get the job done for me.

In the past ive had sumps & other bits of engine apart, alternators, starters, steering columns on 2 different cars, steering racks etc & used to do all my own servicing & brakes etc but not anymore.

Bulbs & simple stuff I will still do myself, but oil changes, services, brake pads etc I just let my trusted mechanic do them now.

I can still change a gearknob & steering wheel & PSA clip on airbags are easy to remove too when you know how.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - barchettaman
I´d do more myself, but am worried about cocking it all up. As the Astra is very much a family wagon it goes to the garage :-(
I try to be rigorous about checking fluids and tyre pressures etc, but anything more than that, well, I´d rather not take the risk.
Fortunately we have a local mechanic who doesn´t charge the earth, seems to do a good job, and very much appreciates the odd opera ticket that gets bunged his way (they´re a cultured lot round here!)
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - GregSwain
Well I'm a "youngster" as well, and I like getting my hands dirty. Even though my car only has the normal oil, filter and plug changes every year, plus the odd coolant change every couple of years, I dread to think how much money I would've parted with had I paid someone else to do it for me.

Bulbs are a simple job on a well-designed car - 2 headlight bulbs on my Almera took me 5 minutes each in Halfords car park, in the dark with no torch. Oil changes are more of a pain, because I usually have to jack the OSF wheel up to get a bowl under the car. Things like spark-plugs and air-filters take seconds to change, and there's no reason whatsoever why anyone couldn't change them themselves - fuel filters on a modern petrol car are a bit more tricky (removing relay and depressurising etc), but still easily doable on the street. A combination of laziness, ignorance and poor financial skills are the reasons people don't DIY service as much anymore IMO.

The posters who wrote about credit also have a point. Money isn't an issue anymore, until the bailiffs come. But then they'd probably take the car, which eliminates the problem of DIY car maintenance(!!)

A lot of my friends have this "get a man in to do it" attitude - my concern is that one day there won't be enough "men" to do these jobs - they'll be too busy moisurising and buying clothes.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - barchettaman
I tried to change a rear brake light bulb on the Astra and completely ballsed it up, the whole unit lit up like a Christmas tree when I put the headlights on. Not my finest moment. The local ATU (similar to Halfords) had to sort it out, took them about a minute.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - SjB {P}
Colt 1410 GLX auto - 1982-1984: Living in Kuwait, this was my first car since passing my test in UK a few weeks before; oil changes and basic services were done myself, the rest at a Mitsubishi dealer given that I didn't even have a garage and sand in the air contaminated everything.

Austin Aggro 1748 "Sport" - 1984: Six months of the most dire car to drive that I have ever owned. Servicing and fettling to get it up to scratch done myself after neglect from previous owner.

MG Metro - 1982-1990: Once out of warranty, bar hydragas pump-up after the ritual (annual!) radius arm bearing replacement, and tyre changes, everything was done by myself. This includes a meticulously done complete engine rebuild with overbored block and tuning components, a gearbox rebuild at the same time, suspension and braking modifications, and inevitable replacement of the sills and front wings due to rust at the six year point. Rust annoyance aside, all very satisfying, but a good job I enjoyed doing everything - and learning a huge amount in the process - because having just purchased my first house I couldn't afford otherwise.

After the MG Metro came Dad's ex company car, a Sierra 2.0 DOHC that just needed easy annual servicing that I did myself, and then, until 2003, company cars on which I did nothing except keep them clean and perform fluid and tyre checks.

In 2003 I purchased a new Volvo V70 2.4T that I still own, but other than keeping it clean and polished have also done nothing myself but change the oil at an interim mileage for the past two years (because of applying BSR PPC tuning and some other power enhancing modifications and that I intend long term ownership)

Specialist tool requiring work apart, I do however still service and maintain my wife's 306 1.8 Sedan. Why? Simply because although working in a completely unrelated industry I am "mechanically interested" by nature, I enjoy it, and I'm doing it because I want to, when I want to, in a clean and well equipped garage, not because I have to; quite a change from twenty odd years ago and my turn at jobs done out in the open, snow falling, and mother hacked off that you won't come in and eat when you're told!

Likewise my immaculate Honda Hornet 600 motorcycle owned since new in 1998; bulletproof Honda build, but still very satisfying to keep it running to perfection and enjoy the crispness of control when I'm out for a ride all the more. Jeez are some of the things fiddly and awkward to get at compared to a car though!
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - spikeyhead {p}
I had my first car at university. a 1978 mini 1000 city. I had plenty of time, a few mates that were mechanically competent and a haynes manual. I also had very little money, I usually claim that the only things I learnt at university were to play pool and drinking. I think I should add to that car maintenance. Fortunately nothing major ever went wrong with the mini until I spread it all over the back of a two week old Astra GTE about six years later.

I did learn how to keep the ignition sweet, the joys of setting the points, setting the timing, the distributor on the car was never bolted solidly, that way I could jump out and tweak the timing in seconds, used to get done about once a month when things weren't quite right.. I've stripped the carb a couple of times, wheel bearings and CV joints were an annual change following the MOT failure. I still prefer changing brake shoes to pads thanks to the memories of working on this car.

I still do a reasonable amount of the maintenance on my own cars. I did do the timing chain changes on the mini but these days I'll leave belt changes to a friendly mechanic. I'll also do most of my work at a friends garage, that way I'll always have all the required tools available as well as some expert advice. The last major job I did was change the leg of a Mk II Mondeo last summer. I picked one up from a scrappy for thirty quid and took about an hour to change it.



--
I read often, only post occasionally
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - Robin Reliant
I do what I can myself, yesterday I changed the discs and pads on the Mondeo (thanks to those on technical for their advice on removing a siezed disc). I don't do anywhere near what I used to, however. Things like starters, alternators, carbs etc could be easily accessed from under the bonnet on the seventies motors I cut my teeth on, now it can be a hell of a job even finding them. The starter motor I replaced a year or so back was a pig of a job, with bolts hidden in all sorts of barely accessable places, and the fact that it was tipping it down didn't help. There also seems to be less room underneath cars now, and at my age crawling about the floor has somewhat lost it's appeal, in addition to which spending a few hours bending and squatting makes me suffer the following day.

I am glad I learnt a fair bit about the mechanical principles in my youth however, because it has instilled a driving style which is sympathetic to the car and a sixth sense that gives me an early warning that something isn't quite right and needs attention. I do know people who don't even know how to open the bonnet of their car, and I have a male relative who had to limp to a garage with a flat tyre because after he had got the spare out of the boot and psyched himself up to grapple with the highly technical art of using a jack and wheel brace couldn't figure out how to get the wheeltrim off.
--
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - DP
I'm 31 and although there is a lot I still don't know, I would consider myself a competent DIY mechanic. I've done my own clutches and timing belts on a few of my cars, as well as routine servicing. For me the interest in DIY mechanics was part of a wider character trait in that I love to know how things work. My dad always did his own servicing and repairs, and I found myself "helping" at the age of 8 upwards, and actually learning enough to do something useful a few years on.

Routine servicing on most cars is easy because there's so little to do. Most engines will now do 100k on fluid and filter changes only, with maybe a timing belt or spark plug change thrown in the mix somewhere. Additional work has got harder. I actually have my suspicions that Ford deliberately designed certain aspects of the Mondeo (front suspension / steering / subframe mostly) to drum up dealer servicing business. I find it hard to believe such an awkward to work on design (disconnect all four engine mounts and jack up the engine to get the left hand wishbone bolts out, special tools to get the steering rack bolts out etc etc etc) was arrived at by accident.

Cheers
DP
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - PeterRed
I've been servicing my cars for the past 25 years and have attempted many repairs. For me, using a dealer is a the option of last resort - unless the car is still within warranty. I have very little trust in any dealers - particularly nowadays. Discussions with friends suggest that true mechanics are very rare - what you get are fitters. Also, the bread & butter jobs (e.g. oil changes) are performed by the least skilled trainees.

When I started my older brother was a great help in showing me how it's done. I think hand-on training is invaluable. It's very hard to get the right feel for things just from a Haynes manual. If you take your time and apply a little common sense, DIY servicing and repairs can be very rewarding and enjoyable.
As mentioned above, seeing how the mechanical bits fit together gives you a better appreciation of the machine. It helps you be a bit more sympathetic when using it.

I agree that servicing has become easier. The days of adjusting tappets/shims and CB points are thankfully over. Braking systems are still fairly straight-forward. One-man bleeding kits are very handy.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - oilrag
Very interesting replies to my original post.
Here`s an attempt at an interim summary........

There did seem to be a boom in learning mechanical skills in the 50s and 60s,
due to *ordinary* working people suddenly being able to afford a motorbike or car for the first time( remember those sidecars!) and they HAD to do it themselves for financial reasons. Also ex forces people following demob, national service, or career,had aquired mechanical skills and the knowledge was transferable to cars.

There is also the "mechanical interest" in servicing one`s own car and "satisfaction of doing a quality job and knowing it has been done."

I think there is general agreement that contemporary cars ARE easier to service (excluding repair and problem solving)
Or at least those of us who can strip and rebuild earlier engines tend to see it like that.

It makes me wonder whether the OVERALL complexity of modern cars tends to hide the simple service requirements, for some owners who have not had a thorough grounding in earlier car DIY?
( and by "some" I am refering to other than posts to this topic on this forum)

Then there is developing an interest in Mech and as someone said " in how things work".
I think once that develops the interest and involvement just snowballs.
But there seem to be sociatal changes too, with contentment in "letting a man do it" and I bet that applies to more than car DIY

I



Cars easier to service, DIY declining - bignick
Current regulations regarding the disposal of waste oil don't help.
I live in Reading, a major town, and there are only 3 oil banks within 10 miles. I suspect that more rural areas will have even fewer.
As improper handling/disposal of waste oil is an offence this may be a deterrent to doing your own servicing.
In relation to this I have heard of garages making an additional charge on service bills for disposal of controlled waste but don't know if this practice is widespread yet.

Lengthier warranties are of course an added disincentive to DIY servicing - 3 years seems to be the minimum standard with extended warranties up to 7 years not uncommon.

Also those of us who do service our own vehicles probably learnt the use of tools and the basics of vehicle maintenance a long time ago when vehicles were far simpler and much more accessible. My first car (vauxhall victor 101 1967 vintage) had room for me and a friend to climb into the engine bay to work on the engine.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - dylan
I'm 34 and I've just recently done my first DIY service (just oil, oil filter and air filter). I was pleasantly surprised at how simple it was, even though I don't have access to a pit, or even a garage. The main problem was safely getting the car off the ground (jacking points etc). In the end driving up a kerb was sufficient to get to the oil filter, but obviously that will not suffice for other jobs.

My motivation for doing it was becoming fed up with the extortionate prices at main dealers, and poor service I've had a quick-fit places. Also in general I like to know how to do things myself rather than rely on others to do them for me.

I'm hoping to do all my servicing and basic maintenace from now on, including brake discs/pads (if they ever wear out on my Yaris!), but we'll see how it goes. Having access to a Haynes manual for my car is a big help - I know more experienced mechanics poo-poo them, for a total beginner it's a big help.

Cars easier to service, DIY declining - DP
Having access
to a Haynes manual for my car is a big help
- I know more experienced mechanics poo-poo them, for a total
beginner it's a big help.


Funny, I've found the same thing (you usually get a snigger in response to "the Haynes manual suggests", yet most of the smaller independent garages that I've been into have a collection of them for reference purposes.

I've only had one bad Haynes manual and that's for the car I've got now. Otherwise, they've been brilliant for me.

Cheers
DP
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - Roly93
I am 46 and from not only an engineering background, but also a rural area where cars were an obsession.
Everyone I knew in my younger days was into cars, and most people had at least a basic understanding of car mechanicals.

However things have moved on from these days, and now hardly anyone is interested in engineering, to the degree that it is uncool to even talk about it. It is this culture that creates people who will not attempt any DIY in spite of the minimal servicing cars require. I am stunned by the number of people who are so unknowledgeable and/or frightened to look under the bonnet. as I thought learning the basics of how cars worked was akin to learning to tie your shoe laces.
Personally I dont have to do much car DIY these days, but would still do things like brake-pads, oil changes etc. I'm not poor by any standards, but I dont like spending £150-£200 on something that I can do in 1/2 hour in my own garage. I'd rather have the money to spend on something else. However these days I'm in a minority so the garages continue to reap their £90 per hour bounty !
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - Xileno {P}
I'm 37 and still like to tinker. Used to do most jobs on my old cars when I was in my late teens and early twenties. Tackled some unpleasant jobs such as clutch changes on old Renault 5's (the ones with the engine north-south), drive shafts on a Renault 18 (not nice). VW's were far easier to work on but I prefered the Renaults to drive. Citroen GS clutch and setting the points was fun as well.

Now that I am privileged to run a new or nearly new car, I have lost touch with a lot of the technology. A look under the bonnet of my 2004 Megane shows a packed engine bay with some things I don't even know what they are. I still do an interim oil change and will do other things as well but I keep it serviced at a main dealer and when it gets older I use a very good Renault specialist - unless I change cars in the meantime.

I still get my tools out though to look after my 205 and Dauphine. 205 GRD - so simple and brilliant but I won't drone on about that car any more...
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - ForumNeedsModerating
Just to add , I think the DIY culture has been further weakened by the fact that cars can have standard warranties of up to 5 years now & with (bought) third party warranties extending to 6-8 years. Most manufacturer (..and probably 3rd party ones too..) warranties make validity contingent upon 'proper' (at, at least VAT registered garages) servicing.

The word proper in single quotes was meant to emphasize my respect to previous posters (obviously skilled & knowledgeable) & my doubts about what dealers & garages actually do to earn their (my!) servicing monies.

Cars easier to service, DIY declining - paulb {P}
I know (in varying levels of mechanical detail) how all the bits work, it's the taking apart and putting back together again of major mechanical components and their ancillaries in which I lack confidence. I blame this on having made a complete mess of adjusting derailleur gears on various mountain bikes when I was in my teens. I'd be happier at having a go it it wasn't for the facts that

1) I need my car and my motorbike to work properly all the time and not let me down (see posts of mine elsewhere on this site concerning length of commute);
2) I don't want to risk making a mess of some repair or bit of servicing or other that either leaves me stranded (and I then have to pay to get it sorted out anyway) or, worse, causes an accident;
3) The car has a warranty which I am sure the manufacturer would be only too happy to void if I started messing about with it;
4) My personal circumstances being what they are, I simply don't have enough free time to do this sort of thing;
5) There is no-one to teach me how to do things or help me if I get stuck. Workshop manuals are only good up to a point.

So I guess I'm stuck with pressures, fluid levels and polishing, on this basis.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - DP
Modern motorcycles are a different kettle of fish altogether. Masterpieces of packaging and weight saving, they are more often than not a complete and utter swine to work on.

There are some current four cylinder sportsbikes which require you to remove the engine to adjust the valve clearances (a job which needs doing every 16,000 miles or so). The frame rails run over the top of the engine, and you can't get the valve cover off with it in situ.

One of the motorcycle magazines recently upgraded the headlights on a Honda FireBlade to Xenons, and needed somewhere to locate the power supply which was "about the size of a cigarette packet". They could not find anywhere inside the fairing to put it. This tells you how much space you have to work with on a modern bike.

Even my elderly ZZR 600 requires about an hour of stripping just to get to a point where the cam cover can be removed, and then like some kind of mensa puzzle, it can only be extracted between the frame spars in one precise orientation.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - PeterRed
The shims on my Yam XJ600 were a real pain. Is there any reason why bikes don't use hydraulic tappets these days? Is it simplya lack of space?
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - DP
Hydraulic tappets can't deal with high revs. Some bikes use rockers with a locknut and screw though. SWMBO's old GPZ500S was one, and doing the clearances took about 10 minutes. Only having two cylinders and a half fairing helped though. :-)
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - turbo11
Agree wholeheartedley.I am similar age,engineering background with over 20 years working in motorsport.None of my friends outside of work would even know what to do once they had opened the bonnet.Although bearing in mind that most of them work behind a desk and have no hand skills its not really suprising.The same goes with home DIY.They will always pay some one to do the work as they cannot and probably do not want to whereas I always have enjoyed getting my hands dirty.Guess thats why I will never be rich.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - Aprilia
It just amazes me that ordinary working blokes are prepared to pay £100 for an oil and filter change. I can change an oil and filter on nearly any car quicker than you can drive to the local main dealer and book it in! Hardly any special tools needed other than filter wrench of some sort.
Similarly discs and pads are pretty easy on most cars yet these are a real money spinner for dealers - you can probably do them for 1/4 the price of a main dealer by using factored parts.
I can understand people not wanting to do timing belts and getting involved with electronics, but most of the rest is straightforward. With electronics you can now help yourself a lot by getting a £50 code reader off eBay. Even a good one with CANbus (e.g. GS400) can be had for under £80 - that will probably pay for itself the first time you use it. Or try Gendan's CheckEngine for a laptop - about £99 IIRC.

I've always done a lot of DIY, on cars, house etc etc. I live in a 6-bed house with large garage and workshop. I built most of it myself, digging out footing, brickwork, plumbing and electrics (before the Part P stuff came in). The bit I didn't do was the roof- didn't fancy that. Pretty staggering how much you can save and it makes you realise how much builders earn. Makes modern IT workers look poorly paid - welcome to the 'Knowledge Economy' !!
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - madf
Similar story here. I'm 59 and started driving as a poor student driving an Austin A30. You HAD to DIY for saefty and cost.. and it needed to be serviced every 3k miles including point setting...and greasing the suspension.

So I just learned..

Fortunately I have a garage and pit which makes servicing very easy. Did the Yairs and it's a piece of cake ... better layout for DIY than most cars imo especially son's Mark3 Fiesta - oil filter behind engine is difficult compared to Yaris.

Always DIY'd houses .. plumbing and wiring etc as easy to learn and with my physics background easily understood.
(Just finished making a reflector for seeds' growlight: Cost to buy £25 plus . cost to make from surplus material - £3.75 for a plug for the Envirolite bulb. Once you've looked up the design for parabolic reflectors on the internet you realise how badly designed most commercial reflectors are.. ease of manufacture seems pre-eminent. Efficiency? Whatsthat?:-)
madf
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - green oval
I've never taken a car to a garage for repair work, got a lot of my knowledge in the early days from my Grandfather (mechanic of the old school)..my interest in mechanical stuff came from this which in due course turned to cars (and motorbikes etc). Despite his 'remarks' I became a mechanic (agricultural).

I don't think I could face parting with the cash to pay someone to do a job I could do myself although must admit it gets a bit of a drag swearing at tractors then swearing at cars at night time/weekends, remembering to bring certain tools home etc. In the early days I couldn't afford a garage bill, and now I'm set in my ways I guess.

All my motors have been Land Rovers, the first was a series 3 with the 2.25 petrol unit...worn out to hell and back long before I clapped eyes on it - I guess I'm an enthusiast to the marque. I drive a relitively newer product now (M reg Defender on 165,000 miles) so I have been able to take it a bit more easy.

After finishing a gearbox swap or something a pint is in first priority, cleaning fingernails much further down the list - unless I'm taking a lady out of course, if not they have to take me as I find me!! (Im 23 btw)

PS my shed is like Wesley Pegdens.

James.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - quizman
>>>I can change an oil and filter on nearly any car quicker than you can drive to the local main dealer and book it in!


Aprilia, you are a good mechanic I am sure. But I do not think you could change the oil and filter on my TDCI Focus without a ramp.

I have always done oil changes on my cars, but I just cannot do it on the Focus. It even takes the garage quite a while.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - Chas{P}
I still do most jobs on my car and it's rare not to get stuck in if I have time. Having said that the old Mondy keeps on going with only standard servicing and wear and tear items required. Most of my work colleagues never lift a bonnet unless they really have to.

To further my practical experience and enjoyment I work as a volunteer on preserved jet aircraft. Most are kept in ground running condition that generally speaking are much more enjoyable to work on than cars and the sense of satisfaction hearing four Rolls Royce Conways or Avons whiring into life after I have been working on them is very satisfying to say the least.
Cars easier to service, DIY declining - Steptoe
When I was young, many years ago, I played with Meccano & electric train sets as well as constructing model planes & go-karts.

This was simply because we did not possess a TV, and of course computers & other electronic games were only the stuff of science fiction.

This gave me a grounding in dismantling & reassembling which still interests me, and the electrical tinkering formed the basis for my working career.

Todays youths never leave their consoles so never develop mechanical skills, perhaps they deserve the present generation of cars which require laptop diagnosis, but who will actually change components?

My son has inherited my interest in car mechanicals, partly because I would never do the jobs on his car but only advise, but mainly because he is of the ZX81 & Commodore 64 era :-)
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One mans junk is another mans treasure
 

Value my car