At £74.33 per hour, the average cost of a garage mechanic's time in the UK is pretty steep, and can reach as high as £215 per hour according to a study by Warranty Direct. If you drive anything other than a run-of the mill hatchback, replacement parts can cost an arm and a leg too so it's little wonder that many motorists are adopting a DIY attitude towards their car repairs.
However, undertaking your own car repairs without the correct training can be dangerous for both you and other road-users should any of your repairs fail out on the road. If you're interested in learning to repair your own car, there are plenty of weekend and evening vehicle maintenance courses held at venues around the country. Each offers different skills and a different depth of knowledge, and all are taught by industry professionals.
With all this potential knowledge on offer and a wealth of car parts and accessories available online through sites like eBay, there's never been a better time to try your hand at basic mechanics.
Read on to find out more about some fantastic courses on offer:
City of Westminster College: DIY Car Maintenance, £325
The City of Westminster College offers a 10-week short course that will teach you how to maintain your own car, helping you to save money on repair bills. Each Thursday evening session lasts three hours and covers topics including vehicle safety, vehicle servicing, fault finding, simple repairs and MOT checking. Courses start in September, January and April and students are required to wear stout protective footwear and suitable overalls.
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City & Guilds: Introductory Qualifications in Vehicle Systems, Body and Paint Maintenance and Cycle Mechanics
Available at various colleges around the UK, this course provides an introductory automotive qualification to anyone over the age of 14 interested in a career in repairing or refinishing a wide range of vehicles. More intense than other courses on offer, this City & Guilds qualification will teach you about engine lubrication, electrical and suspension systems; the basics of vehicle body fitting and how to mix foundation coat materials for spray gun paint application.
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Bracknell & Wokingham College: Basic vehicle maintenance, £187
Basic Vehicle Maintenance at Bracknell and Wokingham college is a comprehensive 11-week course that promises to teach you how to examine and maintain your own car. The weekly two-hour session teaches a range of skills including how an oil filter works and how to change one; how to remove, examine and replace a water pump, a fan/drive belt and a vehicle's brake pads; how to inspect and bleed a braking system and how to adjust a handbrake.
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Adult Learning & Skills St Ives: Bring your own car, £25 per session
This one-off, three-hour session differs from the rest of the courses we've listed because you can take along your own vehicle, allowing you to directly apply the skills you've learnt on the car that you will need them for. With a maximum session size of six, everyone has the chance to contribute and ask questions. In the session, you'll be taught how to deal with a puncture, change a lightbulb, and to check the oil, water, battery, brakes, clutch and drive belts.
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Eastleigh College: Car maintenance for beginners, £157
Eastleigh College's course is designed for both inexperienced and regular DIY enthusiasts who want to transfer their skills into car maintenance. The 10-week course covers how to safely carry out routine maintenance and repairs on your car, including checks on tyres, cooling systems, air induction, brakes and lubrication, as well as valeting and servicing. The MOT process will also be explained during the course and you'll be expected to turn in some written work.
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Auto Repair For Dummies, from £11.30
The cheapest of all the options, the Auto Repair For Dummies book is available on eBay and boast a number of solutions to basic car troubles. While obviously not as hands-on as the courses, it describes how to avoid or solve common roadside emergencies such as flat tyres and faulty hoses, and how to diagnose mysterious noises. The book is a good introduction to the world of DIY vehicle maintenance for those who are unsure about signing up on a course.
Attending any one of these courses could cut back your mechanical outgoings massively. Soon enough, the amount you will have saved on labour will have covered the cost of the course and you will be well on your way to cheaper motoring.
How much you could save
One of the jobs on which you can make massive saving is removing and replacing your car's brake pads. This could cost from £85 to £125 in a garage, but only £25 to £45 to buy the parts online and do it yourself.
An oil and filter change and minor service would set you back from £130 to £160 at a dealership or garage, but choosing to do it yourself could cost as little as £55 if you source the service kit and lubricant from eBay.
Perhaps the biggest saving can be made on preventive maintenance and simple diagnostics. While mechanics can charge up to £125 per hour for carrying out this type of check, with the correct knowledge and training, anyone could do it themselves.
Now if that isn't enough to tempt you to sign up, then we don't know what is!
Visit eBay Motors to shop millions of tools, parts and accessories to help you keep your vehicle in great condition.
Prices quoted are subject to change.