When something goes wrong with your car, it is problematic, irritating and a little frightening. We tend to wait when a problem appears, hoping it will resolve itself or go away. If the car still runs, and we don’t have to tow it to our local car repair shop, we tend to want to try it fix the problem ourselves, if we can.  Kind of like when we have a pain in our side that won’t go away, we will google the problem and see if it is a simple problem with an easy solution we can conduct ourselves. Perhaps, since a car is after all, a machine, the fix will be easier than something like a physical problem, anyway.

Auto ShopCan we really get good repair advice on the computer? Sometimes, but it takes a lot of searching as well as sifting through pointless postings by folks who really don’t know what they are talking about, but really really want recognition and attention as legitimate car health experts. It is easy to be led down the garden path by amateurs who know just enough to make us feel secure that they can guide us through repairing our vehicle. There is seldom any way to vet an online mechanic to determine if they have any legitimate expertise and credentials, unlike some medical web pages, where you can get quick input from a physician concerning a pain or concern, and expect solid advice on how to proceed. Sometimes too, scammers can take advantage of us, guiding us to do something completely wrong to our car, or steering us towards buying a product we really don’t need.

If the mechanical problem is one that involves maintenance, like an oil change, credible and useful sites are available for these simple procedures, and if you really want to perform some simple repairs yourself, a solid YouTube video might be sufficient to get you through it. A general advice site can also give you some good tips on what symptoms lineup with which specific car malfunctions. But trying to be your own car mechanic when you don’t have the knowledge and training based on Internet advice will leave you out of time, and leave your car still in need of repair.

The internet is best used as an information tool, not a repair guide, when trying to determine what is wrong with your car, and what it will take to repair it. Go ahead and start a web search, you can access some good information. Being very specific about your car’s make, year and model, as well as the exact mechanical symptoms will yield better results than typing, “The stupid Subaru rattles when I drive on dirt roads,” in to the search bar. There is good information out there, you just need to know what to look for.

MechanicStart with your repair manual and the specific specs for your vehicle. That manual is professional written, and meant to be used as a tool. The information will be correct, and relevant to your model year as far as knowing exactly what kind of parts your car might need. It will advise you on basic maintenance and car care. If you’re not doing what the manual recommends for basic maintenance, this might be the problem. After you have done the research on your car, go ahead and start typing in some of that information on a search bar. You might be pleasantly surprised and find some usable information.

To maximize your time and get productive information, these tips will help you make the most of getting repair advise on the internet:

  • Find forums specific to your car. You will most likely find other folks with the same problems that you are having, as well as a history of different approaches to correct mechanical issues. Kind of like customer ratings and input on Amazon, you can benefit from the experiences other people have had in addressing issues with your car.

  • Don’t be afraid to use Wikipedia. It will give you up to date and relevant information, and steer you to pages concerning your car, as well as maintenance and repair.

  • Check factory service bulletins. your car problem might be covered under a recall. I had a very irritating problem with my tv a few years ago. I googled the make and model, as well as the specific problem. It was “TV clicks off an on continually by itself.” I found it that the manufacturer was repairing the problem at their expense due to a class action lawsuit.

  • Go to the manufacturer’s web site. You can do this for not only your specific vehicle, but for parts, tools and equipment as well. If your roof rack keeps falling off, check the manufacturer’s site, for repair advice, and perhaps your automakers site as well. There will usually be phone numbers for you to call to ask questions, and an option to email in your concerns or chat online with a tech.

  • Take everything on the internet under advisement. Remember, no one on the net is actually looking under the hood of your car, or running tests, no matter how well intentioned they may be.

  • Go to the web page or site of your Auto Shop. They are there. after all, to take care of you and your car, and just might have the best information you can get on what is wrong with your car, and if it something you can deal with on your own.

  • Ask a mechanic online. There are several radio and web host shows, and these folks are looking for your questions. How would you like for your question to be featured on car talk? Google the shows you are aware of, and look for others that interest you. Submit your query, and you might just get some excellent advice, as well as help others with a similar problem.