Is The DIY Mechanic Dying Out?

If you’ve opened up the bonnet of a new car recently, you’ll notice that it doesn’t look like it used to. The complex mechanical intestines of the engine used to be laid out in all its glory. To a mechanic, or even your average car enthusiast, it was a dream.

You could learn every nook and cranny of your engine. You learnt its quirks. And you could get stuck in and fix things or make alterations. Nowadays you might only get access to a small section of the engine. Sometimes you can’t get to it at all; there’s just a little access for the oil dipstick and the input for water. How are you supposed to fix a problem?

Not only that, but with some new cars, you might actually void the warranty for even trying! Sure, you can open your bonnet, but try and get to the engine? Nope.

Unfortunately, the days of the DIY car mechanic are over. Well, soon to be over. It used to be the case that your car would only see a professional for a serious problem, or its annual MOT. You could pretty much take care of the rest yourself. It was a skillset passed down from father to son. Now you have to visit a garage just to get a headlamp changed.

And even that is an effort for the professional! You used to simply screw in a new bulb. Now, many headlamps are constructed by lots of little LEDs. They look incredible but they are a nightmare to change. If you do need them changing, it is costly and time consuming, even at the garage.

Take a look at the current Mercedes-Benz range at They look phenomenal but they are so complex and many of the parts are now electrical. It’s become more and more difficult to even diagnose what’s wrong with your car. Gone are the days of opening the bonnet and just messing and poking. Now you have to hook your car up to a computer to run diagnostics. This can only be done at a professional garage so you have no choice.

Modern cars are put together by robots on a factory line. They are are a complex and precise puzzle of electronic and mechanical elements fused together. They’re made with instruments we didn’t even know existed. Even if we could get to the parts we needed, we wouldn’t have the tools to fix it.

7307390498_feaabcc6cb_zThanks to Ian Robertson for the image.

This process of putting a modern car together means that many parts are held together in ways we can’t understand. We might figure out that a part needs changing, but who knows what chain reaction will occur if we do actually remove it?

Unfortunately the DIY mechanic is dying out. That skilled artform will no longer be passed down from father to son. Instead of growing up learning mechanics, we’re probably better off learning electronics. So put away your spanner and get out your tablet and computer, the future is coming.

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Published on: October 16, 2014

Filled Under: Cars

Views: 2901

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