Maintaining our cars is essential for a whole slew of reasons. It helps them run well, it helps keep them roadworthy, and it helps us to be safer drivers. If you do it regularly, it can also help maintain your car’s sale value as well.
It’s a good idea to service our cars at the mechanic every year (or every 10,000 to 20,000kms), but it can be expensive, particularly when repairs are required.
But what if we could repair our cars at home? Would such repairs be feasible? And perhaps one of the more frequent questions we hear, can at-home car repairs save you money?
As car insurance experts, we are here to help you answer those questions. But before we do that, we also think it’s useful to understand that performing your own repairs on a vehicle is not the only way to save money when it comes to car ownership.
Car insurance can be one of the more significant costs associated with owning a vehicle. It’s also quite important to consider, as it can be quite expensive to cover out-of-pocket costs if you damage your vehicle or something goes wrong, and you’re not insured.
Each car insurance policy can vary when it comes to both price and the level of cover provided, which is why it’s important to become familiar with the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). This will list any limits, restrictions or exclusions which will give you a better idea of what you are covered for.
Comparing your options for car insurance can have a significant impact on what you pay in premiums, and it can also allow you to look for a policy that is suited to you and your personal circumstances. Letting your insurance renew year on year without looking for other available offers can cost you more in the long run, so it’s worthwhile looking around if you’re hoping to save some cash.
Now that you understand how insurance can impact car ownership costs, let’s take a look at how DIY vehicle repairs can do the same. We have collated insights on the cost of repairs, both at a mechanic and at home, as well as asked people how likely they would be to do these repairs themselves to save a little cash.
Here’s what we found.
Before we look under the hood to see what car repairs can be done by everyday people, we thought we would check the pulse on what people think they can and can’t repair on their cars. We surveyed 2,521 people across Australia, America and Canada and found that most Australians (48%) and Canadians (43.1%) would take their car to a professional to get their vehicle repaired, regardless of the issue. Americans were more likely to pick up a wrench and get fixing themselves, with over 44% of respondents happy to repair minor things on their vehicle. A further 19.8% of US respondents were even happy to bring out small cranes to repair larger items such as a starter motor.
We also found that people were less likely to lift the hood and repair something on their car if they had no prior experience in a repair. Australians were the most conservative, with only around one in four people willing to repair or replace an item with no previous experience. On the other hand, 30.8% of Canadians and 36.4% of Americans were willing to give repairing a go for the first time.
Lastly, our survey found that over two-fifths of respondents across all three countries do not actually know if they can make repairs to their cars without voiding the warranty. A further 29.8% of Australians believe that they cannot make any repairs to the car without voiding its warranty, the highest of the three countries. Americans (at 28.4% of respondents) were also the most insistent that individuals can at least make some repairs to their cars without it having an effect on their warranty.
Read on below to find out what you can and can’t repair or replace on your car in Australia without voiding the warranty.
Compare the Market spoke to AutoGuru’s Fleet Manager Kane Tierney, who discussed whether or not these car repairs were things people could do at home. For repairs that car owners can DIY, we’ve included some potential savings.
Based on the repairs listed above that can be done from home, car owners could expect to save between $345-$880 for all the DIY repairs.
Now, just because you can repair a part of your car yourself, that doesn’t mean that it’s always a good idea. You may require specialised equipment and knowledge or training, which can make it hard for the regular car owner to do a DIY repair.
Also, it can be dangerous and risky to do these repairs yourself. Lastly, you may void the car’s warranty by doing a DIY car repair.
Tierney recommends that work on a vehicle should be completed by a qualified professional in most cases.
“As a rule of thumb, if your vehicle is under warranty, all repair and maintenance work will need to be completed by a qualified mechanic,” Mr Tierney said.
“In regard to new car manufacturer’s warranties, it’s completely fine to take your car to an independent mechanic for servicing and still retain your new car manufacturer’s warranty.”
Mr Tierney also notes that car owners doing the work themselves will save on labour costs, but it can be tricky to source the parts required.
“Prices can vary significantly based on region, vehicle, parts availability and the choice of parts (e.g. premium parts vs economic parts).”
Unlike working on your home’s electrics, which a licensed electrician must do, car owners can carry out any and all repairs themselves. There are some conditions that car owners will need to meet, however.
For example, a spokesperson for the Tasmanian Department of State Growth told Compare the Market that any person can repair a vehicle as long as it remains compliant with the relevant vehicle standard.
“If modifications are completed it requires certification via the Approved Vehicle Certification Scheme and if a repaired vehicle is on the Written Off Vehicle Register, it is required to be inspected by an Approved Motor Body Repairer,” they said.
Anyone carrying out their own car repairs must ensure it meets the rules and standards required by their state or territory.
Generally, across Australia owners don’t need to be licensed to carry out repairs – so long as the repairs keep the car roadworthy and no money changes hands.
If money is involved, it’s a different issue entirely.
In Western Australia, a spokesperson for the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety told Compare the Market that anyone repairing a car as part of a business or when money changes hands (such as a service for a friend) must be licensed. People doing their own repairs or doing it for family and friends for free aren’t affected.
A spokesperson for the South Australian Department for Infrastructure and Transport meanwhile explained the difference in legal governance for the Festival State.
“Owners can legally carry out repairs on their vehicle in South Australia, provided the vehicle is safe to operate on-road and does not pose a risk to any road users,” they told Compare the Market.
“There are no specific regulations around the quality of work provided by professional mechanics and repairers. However, individual operators and the Australian Consumer Law may provide some consumer guarantees on the standard of service and works provided”
“Whether repairs are undertaken by individuals or professionals, all vehicles must be roadworthy to be registered and driven in South Australia.”
In contrast to South Australia, New South Wales has specific regulations for car mechanics under the Motor Dealers and Repairers Regulation 2014. This legislation has specific classifications for different types of repairs and mechanics, as well as standards for how car repairs should be conducted.1
Additionally, any light vehicle over five years old requires yearly safety inspections.2
Indicative prices and commentary provided by Qualified Mechanic Kane Tierney, Fleet Manager at AutoGuru. All indicative service pricing at the mechanic includes the cost of parts and labour. All prices and costs subject to change.
Compare the Market commissioned Pure Profile to survey 506 Australian, 1,006 American and 1,009 Canadian adults in April 2022.