The two extremes in mechanics jargon, when it comes to repair work, are Running Repair and Invisible Repair. A running repair, for instance, is a repair while a car is in use. An invisible repair is one that you can’t see anything ever went wrong. Normally, repairs on vehicles are somewhere between these.
As cars tend to be so expensive most people just want a repair that works, rather than one where you can’t see any damage. Many things like dents or bubbles in the windscreen may just be ignored; though having pride in your car is a good thing in itself, there’s a good reason to get things fixed while they’re still small issues. Not unlike seeing a dentist, you can put it off but you’re not saving yourself any money, in fact, you pay more in the end.
Some repairs are cheap but may need to be done every six months. Technically we call this preventative maintenance. This includes replacing the fuel filter or battery. Many parts are replaced because they wear out quickly while others are replaced because if they fail the results are more severe.
Other repairs, however, start out expensive from the moment you find out your car needs it. The most expensive job in the car is changing the cylinders which can cost about $10,000 on a standard car. Other expensive jobs are to change a battery on a car which works on hybrid fuel, replacing the transmission and replacing the entire suspension of a car (this might come as a surprise to the layman who might not know there is more than one kind of suspension).
When it comes to do-it-yourself, we find the good the bad and the urban legend. It’s not terribly difficult to replace your own air filter (at least the main one) and because this part should be replaced regularly and affects your fuel economy it’s a good candidate for a do-it-your-selfer. Things like a transmission go firmly into the category of things not to try at home.
When it comes to urban legends…there is a well-established idea that ladies’ tights or stockings can be used to repair fan-belts. This used to be essentially true. However, it might be quite hard to do in a modern car simply because it’s just so hard to find the fan belt. If you have to try this, stretch the tights or stockings as far as they can go, remove the old fan belt and run it around the pulleys that held the old fan belt. It will work better with more than one layer, so presumably, two pairs of tights work better than one. In the end, tie it up with a knot. Then drive immediately to a shop and have a proper fan belt installed.
Unless you simply can’t afford to have your car repaired always do so before selling your car. The value is restored, you’ll find buyers faster because not everyone has the ability to take on a non-running vehicle, and it’s highly unethical to not disclose things you know are wrong with a vehicle you’re selling. So avoid having to spend a bunch of ad space listing what doesn’t work.
And what about if fixing the car is too expensive or just can’t be done? Well, then it must be scrap time. An unrepairable car is issued a special certificate. Often the word “UNREPAIRABLE” emblazoned on its front. In order to obtain an unrepairable certificate, you need proof of ownership and filled in the correct paperwork, which differs from state to state. You also need to surrender the license plate which came with the vehicle. Unless you do this quickly (within ten days of when your car stops working) you may have to surrender your car.
It’s sad when a car goes to the wreckers, but that’s just the way of the world. It’ll happen to all cars one day. Even yours.