You wouldn’t self-diagnose a medical condition on yourself; you might wind up like this. So why do you self-diagnose so many things with your cars, that cause so many problems and waste so much money? One of the more typical things we see is that somebody comes into the repair shop, and maybe they had a tire wear problem, or maybe they have a shake or a shimmy. They bring the car in, and they say, “Hey, I need an alignment. Would you align my car for me?” Well, we ask them what the problem is, and we tell them, “No, we probably wouldn’t. We would rather find out what’s wrong with your car.”

You see when you have an issue with an automobile, you don’t take it in, self-diagnose, and say, “I want this repair.” The only time you ask for a specific repair is when you have scheduled maintenance. Otherwise what you want is the solution to a problem. So you take the car in, describe the problem that you’re having, you ask them to diagnose the problem, and then give you an estimate on what it will take to correct that problem. That way you’re going to save money in the long run.

Now another place where this is very common is right here with these silly code readers. Everybody seems to think that a code tells you what part to replace on a car. Well it may, but more often than not it won’t. You see, all a code does is tell you what part or what system is being affected by what’s wrong. Not what’s actually wrong. To find out that, you have to go through a test that has the same number as that code; you run that test, and that tells you exactly what part to replace or repair. So don’t self-diagnose. You want your car fixed. You don’t want a specific repair performed.

And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.