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Five jobs best-suited to the professionals…

Are you a trained mechanic? No? Probably best to leave these jobs well alone then.

So you’re a dab hand on the spanners are you? Masterful with the aerosol maybe? Or can you seemingly will electrical components back to life? If you can, well done. For us mere mortals, such skills may be a little more than illusive. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Cars are complicated beasts, built from thousands of components by robots and assembly line staff with far more patience than we could ever have.

That’s why, from time to time, it’s okay to admit defeat and hand your motor over to a professional. This not a sign of weakness on your or our part, it’s simply a case of knowing where we stand. The pros do this for a living. What may flummox you for days my be a mere a head scratch for a professional spanner-wielding person. So, in the case of the five jobs listed below, let them take the stress out of it for you. You’ll thank us.

1) Clutch

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If you’re dealing with something simple, like a tractor or a Morris Ital, changing a clutch is the work of but a moment. On anything newer though, especially if it’s front-wheel drive, it’s a world of torturous pain and shouting and possible divorce. Just don’t bother. Yes, you could technically do it on your driveway, as it’s a job that only requires a semi-decent tool kit. But at the same time, you could theoretically balance brad knives on your nipples. It doesn’t mean you’re going to.

To do a clutch you need a ramp, you need a lot of patience and you need determination. And to those of you reading this thinking “yeah, well I changed my Fiesta’s clutch in the rain, in a ditch, at night” well done you. But we don’t all have those skills. Also, you’re watching far too much Monty Python.

2) Engine swap

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Oh, we’ve been here with this one. The first engine swap was fine, because we knew it needed to be done. We bought a car with a snapped timing belt. A new engine was a must. So we put what was basically the same engine back in. It should have been a doddle. It was not. There were eight million plugs and wires in places that no human hand or conventional tool was ever meant to go. As such, we shouted, we cried and then we gave it to a professional. Then the ‘new’ engine started knocking, so we cried some more.

It’s a big job on anything other than a lawnmower or a Volkswagen Beetle. If it’s something you’ve never tackled before, by all means have a go, but do so with a contingency to throw in the towel when you can see the bone poking out from every one of your knuckles.

3) Paint

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There’s a mantra that goes with paint, and it is thus: 99% prep, 1% paint. The Golf you see in the local ASDA car park that’s nineteen shades of black was not painted with that mantra in mind. In fact, most home-painted cars weren’t. So there you go, we’ve given you the inside scoop. Make sure your preparation is perfect and you should be fine. Except that’s a lie. Because you won’t. You’ll try and do it at home and some dickhead moth will land in it, or the paint will react with the primer despite the assurances of Steve at Halfords. Or you’ll pass out from huffing too much lacquer.

Touch ups are fine, but if you’re going to have a stab at a panel, or even an old car, prep prep prep and prep some more. And make sure your painting stage is free of moths while also being well ventilated.

4) Wiring loom

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Disconnect the battery. Expose suspect wiring. Raise eyebrow. Cover up wiring. Call professional auto electrician. Car will probably still set on fire. Call insurance company.

5) Timing belt

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Again, this is something that is simple on old cars, the sort with an cam and two valves. On modern motors, however, with twelve cams, more valves than a Hammond Organ and a serpentine belt that seems to wrap around every component in the engine bay as well the radio and the rear lights, it might be best to down tools and just call in a pro.

The timing belt is the spinal cord of your engine, it is the link that keeps everything running in perfect harmony. The act of changing it is a doddle, actually. But the art of doing it right is something else. One mm wrong and you’ll send bits of your engine smashing into other bits of your engine, and that’s not fun.

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