car maintenance cost


Let’s clear one important thing up before we get on with this, I am a total noob on the car maintenance front! This post is not meant as the final word on an introduction to car mechanics, it is simply what I have learned (mainly from mistakes) from attempting a few basic repairs myself, after our car went for it’s MOT in January. A more accurate description for the title would probably have been “Read about TFS’s mishaps in car repair while laughing and maybe learning a few basic tips along the way” but I don’t think many people would be googling those search terms, so I went with the rather more boring title you see above 🙂

If you are someone with car mechanics knowledge that is even only slightly above the basic then this post may not be of any use to you, barring any entertainment factor at my fundamental mistakes. Read, laugh, and possibly learn along with me!


When the trusty old heap of crap we call the TFS Mobile went in for it’s first MOT in mid January, we guessed it would need a few repairs and we were right, but the bill seemed to add up to far more than I’d like to have paid for what was quoted.

We’ve been here before haven’t we?

Being a man of action rather than words [/sarcasm], and obviously liking to save a few pennies, I thought I better give the old DIY car mechanics thing a go myself this time round. So I booked a day off to attempt most of the repairs. Here is a list of what was wrong with it, with the estimates, what I thought I could save on, and so what my final costs should have been:


Item Garage Est. Labour (Hrs) Garage Est. £ My Est. £ Notes
OS Anti Roll Bar links £12.13 £10.36
Fitting for above 0.5 £30 £0
NS Anti Roll Bar links £12.13 £10.36
Fitting for above 0.5 £30 £0
OS Track Rod End £14.16 £12.90
Fitting for above 0.5 £30 £0
OS CV Boot £17.99 £17.95
Fitting for above 1 £60 £0
Broken Horn 0 (!!!!!) ???
Windscreen washer fluid £1.50 £0 1
Adjust 4 wheel alignment £45 £0 2
Tyre disposal charge £2 £0 3
New Tyre £67 £67
Headlamp vertical alignment 0.25 £15 £0
TOTALS   £337.53 £118.79  4
  1. Already had some
  2. I found out that Kwik Fit do this for free!
  3. WTF!?!?! – Tell you what I’ll just take it to the dump when I next go up there?
  4. This turned out to be a little optimistic, as we’ll see later 🙂

How to read the garage report and estimate

  • What does OS/NS mean? – OS means Offside. This will be the driver side if you are driving on left in the UK and have a normal UK right hand drive car. NS means Nearside i.e. passenger side. As you have probably worked out by now, Nearside means near the kerb or side of the road, that is the easy way to remember it for me.
  • What are all these other random meaningless things on here!? – Yes I had no idea what an Anti Roll Bar Link or a Track Rod End is either but the only thing you can really do is google each part and read up on them.
  • How do I know what can I do myself? – Unfortunately if you are totally inexperienced as I am, you don’t! 🙁 Again it’s just going to have to be your call after googling and researching each repair. Look for videos and watch them more than once if necessary. Don’t rush into anything if you aren’t sure of it.


General Car Maintenance Tips – Before You Start


Over-estimate the time you need by a factor of *Insert large number here*

As stated above don’t rush into anything. Make sure plenty of research has been done and book in far more time than you think will be needed. I know most people need their cars fixed right here right now, but that probably just means you haven’t looked seriously at the alternative methods of transport! Going without your car for a couple of weeks isn’t the end of the world and could end up showing you how little you actually need it. Dust off the old bicycle or give your legs an extra work out, it’s free exercise after all!

Anyway to illustrate the time estimation thing, by 1pm on my day off I had only just got the damn thing jacked up and the wheel off. Long story short: Locking wheel nuts + no Locking Wheel nut tool = Massive pain in the arse* getting the wheels off! I ended up taking it to a garage who kindly spent 20 minutes hammering the nut off with a pneumatic chisel, they charged me a tenner which seemed pretty reasonable!

*Bonus tip: when buying a car – check if alloys have locking wheel nuts and if so make sure they give you the tool to remove them!!!!


Google and YouTube are your Friends

Pretty obvious but still worth repeating.


Ask someone in the know

Even if you can just ring someone 1 up for their opinion on how hard a job will be, it could be worth it’s weight in gold, and they might be able to give you some extra tips that your other research has missed. If they offer to help then even better!


Make sure you have the right tools and materials

Some of the videos I watched seem to assume you have your own garage or are running a car repair micro-business, so you have to make a judgement call on some of the more “Use it once” specialised tools they talk about. Or at least borrow or hire those ones. But a basic set of tools is crucial:

  • Socket Set with decent length leverage and/or breaker bar
  • Hammer(s)
  • Screw Drivers
  • Gloves
  • Lot’s of old rags
  • WD40 or similar
  • Wrenches – Various Spanners, Torque wrench, pipe wrench, etc…
  • Impact driver with various heads (hexagons, like an alan key, came in handy for me)
  • And obviously any other things that are recommended for the specific job at hand.


Safety First

In addition to the above you should get at a minimum a decent set of axel stands like this one (affiliate link 2). I think those are the exact ones I actually bought in fact! This is so your beautiful face does not get crushed after you’ve jacked your car up and it falls off your flimsy looking jack! Here is a link to a video on how to use them:

Please note I am not sure how safe it is have both sides lifted up at the same time, despite these things coming in pairs which suggests you might be able to. I started to jack up the other side and the car started lurching towards me, needless to say I quickly ditched that idea!


More General Car Maintenance Type Things You Should Know


Don’t be disheartened by the time it took you to do things the first time round

Going back to my examples, once I’d completed my first attempt of the NS (Near Side) anti roll bar links, the second OS (Off side) replacement was much quicker. I managed to jack the car up, replace the part, and then jack it back down in about 25 minutes. The first time it took me about 5 hours including taking the car to garage to get the locking wheel nut off. Even not counting that fiasco I am sure I did the second one at least twice as fast as the first one. The learning curve is seemingly steep at the start but shallows out very quickly (for basic repairs at least).


Don’t expect to save much money on your first go either

The first time you do something like this you will likely come across one or more of the following problems which may end up with you shelling out more than you’d originally budgeted for:

  1. Have to buy at least a few tools you don’t have
  2. You will end up doing something wrong/forget to do something
  3. You will realise you are unable to do something

Or all of the above like I did… yea I hit the trifecta baby!

Here are some more mistakes I made so you can laugh at them and make sure you don’t do the same:

  • Tools needed (OK not a mistake but something you need to bear in mind) – Socket converter for my Dad’s socket set (~£3), axel stands (~£25), and some silicone spray (£~3)
  • Forgot to put a new clip onto the CV boot, which the garage then kindly did for me and charged me £25 worth of labour for!
  • Totally forgot to even look at the horn issue, which the garage sneakily didn’t quote for and then charged us £60 to fix when we took it back.
  • Was unable to remove the track rod end. It was so caked up with rust and old After struggling for around 2 hours on my day off, giving up, coming back on Saturday and taking a blow torch to with my Dad, we conceded defeat and gave up. This meant we had to pay them to not only fit the part but for the wheel alignment which needs doing after fitting said part, so not being able to do this cost us £75
  • Incorrectly fitted the first attempt at the NS anti roll bar link. After doing the second one much better, and then driving it off and realising there was a knocking sound coming from the car, so I had to refit it properly. Luckily this one only cost me some (more) of my time.


The Burning Question – Did it save me any money?


That’s enough tips for this time, I’ll do a “Part II” with a few more specific tips next week, but to finish off let’s see if it was actually worth all the effort?

Here is the final sheet of costs if the Garage did the whole lot vs my final costs:


Item Garage Final £ My Final £ Notes
OS Anti Roll Bar links £12.13 £10.36
Fitting for above £30 £0
NS Anti Roll Bar links £12.13 £10.36
Fitting for above £30 £0
OS Track Rod End £14.16 £12.90
Fitting for above £30 £30 1
OS CV Boot £17.99 £8.00 2
Fitting for above £60 £33 3
Broken Horn £60 £60 4
Windscreen washer fluid £1.50 £0
Adjust 4 wheel alignment £45 £45 5
Tyre disposal charge £2 £2 6
New Tyre £67 £67
Tools I needed £39  7
Headlamp vertical alignment £15 £0
TOTALS £397.53 £317.51


  1. As mentioned above we couldn’t get the old one off, so had to let them replace it
  2. Sold it for £10 after fees on eBay, so an £8 loss 🙁
  3. As mentioned above they charged £30 + £3 for the part to put a bloody jubilee clip on!!! Super Massive Uber D’oh moment!
  4. As mentioned above they just threw this one in without quoting, which was a bit cheeky but I doubt I’d have been able to fix it anyway (will definitely at least try next time something like that comes up though rather than just forgetting about it).
  5. Due to note 1 above, it became unfeasible to ask for the car back after they’d fitted the track rod end, to get a free wheel alignment at Kwik Fit, so we just had to eat this one this time around.
  6. Totally forgot about this but at £2 I think I’ll get over this one, given enough time and support from loved ones.
  7. Includes the £10 for the other garage getting my locking wheel nut off

So there you have it! I saved us £80.02 compared to just letting the garage do it all!

Although this was nowhere near the original £218.74 I estimated I would save, and was only actually £20.02 worth of savings over the original garage estimate, let’s not forget the other major benefits I got out of this endeavour:

  • A set of axel stands to use for the rest of eternity 3 and a few other little tools/bits.
  • Knowledge and experience – For next time, I will know much more and be able to do things cheaper and faster, and make less mistakes. As I build up this experience time and time again, this will stay with me for the rest of my life.
  • Estimation skills – I should be much better at estimating time and costs next time so will be able to work out whether the cost savings are worth it up front (I think that for almost anything the answer will be yes anyway though!)
  • I’ve started the ball rolling – The hardest part when you come to learn anything new is normally right at the start. I’ve slain that particular beast on the car maintenance front so that’s a pretty big win in my book!


Do you think this was worth the effort? Have you got any car DIY howlers you’d like to share with me, if so I’d really like to hear them (it might make me feel a bit better!)? 🙂



Car Maintenance Resources

Over the course of my YouTube and Google searches, here are some of the more useful resources I found:

Honest John – Despite sounding rather dodgy, this is actually a great website and forum and you will find a mine of information here. You can obviously even ask specific questions if you join the forum!

Eric The Car Guy – Again a wealth of information, and has his own YouTube channel with loads of instructional videos

Forums Specific to your manufacturer – I found a couple of Peugeot forums which were great. Just search for a forum for your particular make and model of car!




  1. Like your Dad maybe. It’s good to chat to the old man about bloke stuff sometimes isn’t it? 🙂
  2. This page contains affiliate links to amazon, each one is brought to your attention with the cryptic denotation ‘(affiliate link)’. You know what one of those is right!? No…!?! OK well it’s fairly basic… If you click through and then subsequently buy anything (not just the originally linked product) on amazon I may receive a small fee, which will help to support theFIREstarter blog. The key thing is that it will not cost you anything extra to use these links, although don’t go clicking on them willy nilly just because it may help me! If you think you will find the product/service useful and do click through, then a sincere “thank you” for your support.
  3. Well they’re pretty sturdy so they should at least outlast me!