Getting My Hands Dirty

Paul Morrone |

By Paul Morrone, CFP®, CPA/PFS, MSA

After reading my father’s article a couple of weeks ago, it made me realize what little experience I have working on cars. It’s no secret I love to drive them, but actually getting out a wrench and working on a car myself is an entirely different ballgame. I have many reservations about working on my own car, fear of breaking an expensive part, fear of not having the right tools, fear of not knowing what to do, and fear of having to have the car towed to the shop because I screwed something up (which will inevitably cost an arm and a leg). And if I’m being honest, I never really want to devote the time to it when I could be out and about doing something which I deemed to be more fun. As time goes on, however, I’m becoming increasingly more curious about what I’m capable of and have started dipping my toes in to the world of automotive maintenance.

I started out small, removing and replacing worn interior parts, upgrading some aesthetic items and swapping out winter and summer tires. Nothing crazy, but when you have no experience and no tools, each of these tasks required some patience and maybe the occasional trip to home depot. Now that I’ve assembled a small collection of items needed to complete the most basic maintenance tasks (and have a bit more confidence), I’m ready to take on some bigger projects. Next up are brakes and maybe oil changes, although I may pass on the oil change so I don’t have to cart the discarded oil to the dump. We are long past the years of dumping motor oil out in the back yard (and that’s a good thing!).

Luckily, I’ve grown up in the internet and YouTube era (I’ve never said that before…), which has its perks when you’re trying to get something done. The breadth of information available amazes me, and you can learn step-by-step how to do virtually any task by searching the internet. The automotive scene is no different, and you can find DIY guides detailing everything from changing your oil to rebuilding an engine.

When it came time to replace the brakes pads on my car, I got out the computer and was able to quickly find some basic instructions with only a few minutes online. I inventoried the parts and tools I needed and ordered brake pads and wear sensors online and within two days they were at my doorstep. I decided to learn as I go and was able to get through the first brake caliper with only a little trouble. As with anything, what I learned on the driver’s side saved me 15-20 minutes or so on the passenger side. All in, it took me a little over an hour and a half to do the front brakes. Even better is the sense of accomplishment and knowing I saved hundreds over what I would have paid at the dealer for the same work.

Speaking of cars… check out Kyle in his new Ferrari!

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