Is D-I-Y wrenching D-O-A?

Jerry Flint and Doug Flint - two automotive pundits that we've spoken of here many times before - team up as father and son and tackle the topic of do-it-yourself auto maintenance in the elder Flint's recent column.

The theme that's woven through a few example is that times, tools, and technology have changed... making it just about impossible for owners turn a wrench.

From where we sit, while technology has indeed conspired against the shadetree mechanic, plenty of good work can still be done.

(More thoughts and a link to the Flintstones after the jump!)

The factory service manual (FSM) for most new cars is around $100-300, and they're available to anyone who asks a simple question at the parts counter. Rare indeed are cases where service information isn't available to the public, and in those situations, a polite inquiry to the same parts desk and a promise to buy your service parts there usually yields printouts of the necessary proprietary information. Cracking open such a book (or spinning up the CD-ROM, as is increasingly the case) can help demystify most aspects of automotive repair.

But what about this "scan tool" that's required to perform so many tasks on modern vehicles? This device, like any number of other expensive tools that reside in well-outfitted garages, can be purchased. Whether it makes sense to drop several hundred dollars on such a device isn't something that we can assess for each of our readers, but for many DIYers, it's just another drop in an large and expensive bucket.

Sure, some repairs will remain out of reach for the average home mechanic, but we simply do not buy into the idea that cars have become too complex to work on at home. Some here at Autoblog Towers feel that if anything, modern on-board diagnostics make it easier than ever for laypeople to determine what's got their vehicle ailing.


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