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The Do-It-Yourself Car Owner

By Earth911 |
Tired of the paying your mechanic? With a little determination and a lot of patience, it is possible to repair your own car with recycled supplies. Find out how.
Courtesy of Earth911 | Originally Published: 10/12/09

The idea of tinkering with one's motor vehicle is as old as the idea of driving one. While there are many of us who are perfectly content with the simple knowledge of how to fill our gas tank or change a tire, there are other auto enthusiasts who can't wait to play with their cars.

Known as Do-It-Yourself-ers, or DIYers, this trend has been gaining more and more speed as of late. This DIY community can usually be broken into two groups:

  1. Those that are trying to save money: The average cost of labor at a mechanic is now anywhere from $65-$110 an hour! A simple job like changing brake pads and rotors can take anywhere from two to three hours. On top of that, the cost of the parts is cheaper when you buy them yourself, and you can buy recycled parts.
  2. Enthusiasts who enjoy working on their cars and like the satisfaction of knowing that the job was done correctly: While it will also save them money, that is not the primary reason that these DIYers repair their cars. Who better to diagnose and improve a car's performance than the one that is driving it?

If you fall into either of these categories and are eager to learn more or get started for the first time, your options for education are plentiful. Both the DIY Network and DIY Projects Online have extensive auto repair sections with detailed instructions on many DIY repairs. In addition to these resources, almost every car make and model now has an online forum, which is usually loaded with DIY posts. Of course, there are potential environmental pitfalls involved with doing your own auto repairs, and DIYers should be aware of and committed to proper fluid disposal and recycling methods.

Common DIY Jobs Involving Recycling

Oil Changes
  1. Engine and Transmission Oil: This oil can be re-refined, reconditioned, or reprocessed.
  2. Oil Filters: Filters are made of steel and can be recycled.
  3. Use Earth911 to find out where to recycle filters and fluids.

Hardware Installations
  1. Brake Pads and Shoes: These are usually ceramic or metallic and can be recycled.
  2. Brake Rotors: These are steel and can be recycled.
  3. Batteries: These can be recycled and are often accepted back at your local auto parts store.
  4. Tires: Tires can be reused as a tire swing or for your compost pile, and they can also be recycled.

Other Maintenance
  1. Leaking Engine: This may be a DIY job depending on the location of the leak. If the oil is leaking out of the valve cover, then it is a simple seal replacement. However, if it is a more complex leak, the engine needs to be disassembled, and this may not be a job for most DIYers.

DIY Jobs to Avoid

  • Air Conditioning Repair: The EPA mandates that a certified technician must service your auto's air conditioning system because of the potential for coolant to leak.
  • Leaking Hoses: Coolant and power steering fluids also have the potential to leak during these repairs.

Making Your Repairs Eco-Friendly and Economical

  1. Try to purchase recycled parts. Check out the Automotive Recyclers Association's Directory of Members.
  2. Whenever safely possible, repair rather than replace.

What environmentally-friendly DIY car care tips do you have? Share them in the comments below!

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Elaine F. 7 years ago
    I've gone to a junk yard to get tires.
  • 8 years ago
    Find a local business that uses heaters that run on old lawnmower gas and used oil, also two cycle gas is only good for about 90 days even with a stabalizer. Dispose your waste at these places and suppy them with heat at the same time.
  • 9 years ago
    that would save a lot of money