Does anybody still repair their own car these days?

I have a neighbour who is always under the bonnet of his car fiddling with this or that, but I get the impression that modern cars are so complicated that it is probably better to leave them to the experts.

I prefer to let the experts fix my car…

Let me start by saying that I know next to nothing about cars, and don’t much care about them either, as long as they get me from A to B. I drive a 13-year-old Volkswagen Touran (mummy bus), which we have had since new. It is starting to show its age a bit now, and I have sometimes wondered if there was anything I could do to it that might extend its life or improve its performance.

I do have a reliable garage just around the corner from me, within walking distance from home, which is fabulous for all the routine repairs and servicing I need. But last week, in the height of the first heatwave of summer, the car’s air conditioning system packed up. When I rang my local garage they told me that the machine they have for filling up air conditioning had itself malfunctioned, so they wouldn’t be able to help me for at least 10 days.

I’m not daft – I know I can’t do a job like that myself. But it did get me thinking what kinds of repair or customisation jobs could I potentially carry out, getting the parts online? So I did a bit of research and the results were quite interesting

Women can definitely repair cars but I wouldn’t know where to begin…

You may fancy the idea of altering your car in a few ways, either to improve the look or the performance – or perhaps a bit of both. But if you go to buy car tuning parts online, how do you know you will get the right parts and not get ripped off?

The first thing you should do before you shell out any of your hard-earned money is to consult a professional mechanic. Their views will help you to decide which performance car parts can be safely fitted to your vehicle, whether you have a used 4×4 or a sports car.

You will also want to be sure that the modifications you are planning will not compromise performance in other areas, and make sure that your insurance company will not penalise you for the changes you are about to make.

Next, find a reputable online dealer. It’s well worth checking reviews and testimonials from previous customers to ensure you’re buying from a company that knows what it’s doing and provides a good level of customer service, both before and after your purchase. Look for one that offers you the ability to call and speak to a member of staff.

You may have questions and will want to be sure that the car tuning parts you’re buying will be compatible with your own make and model of car. Finally, check for any potential hidden costs. Many prices online look extremely cheap, but when you get to the checkout, you may find they can be inflated significantly by delivery charges, for example.

Performance parts can improve your car’s power, fuel efficiency, or another aspect of its running. This can be a very attractive prospect. But if you intend to use your car on UK roads, you’ll want to be sure you don’t compromise its legality when you carry out any upgrades.

I’m told that tinkering with engines is therapeutic but I may just stick to my knitting….

It’s very easy to get caught out in this respect and end up losing your vehicle, as well as having to pay a hefty fine. For example, one popular modification considered by some vehicle owners is to the exhaust system.

Replacing the original exhaust with car performance parts can certainly make your car faster and more powerful than it was previously. This often also results in a far more satisfying roar from the exhaust system while the car is in use. However, you’ll probably find that if the sound is louder than would normally be expected for a vehicle of that type, then driving it on a public road is against the law.

It’s not illegal to sell such parts, but it is an offence to fit them and then drive on public roads. This is why it is critical that, before parting with any cash, you check that the online website or car parts store where you intend to buy your performance car parts is 100% reputable and knowledgeable about the products it sells.

That way, you can be sure the staff will give you sound advice on whether the products you are considering buying are first of all compatible with your vehicle type and secondly are suitable for road use.

After checking through all of this stuff, I’ve decided to leave my car tinkering to the professionals around the corner. and resorted to 80s style air conditioning (driving with all the windows open) until they are ready to fix it. It seems like the safest option!

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