Whether you do some of your own repairs or have it all done at a garage, misdiagnosis can be costly in several ways. Doing the wrong repair can affect the performance and safety of your vehicle. There are few things that are more frustrating than spending time on money on repairs that are not necessary. Not only have you wasted time or money on the unnecessary work, the original problem remains and still needs to be fixed.
A common misdiagnosis occurs when your vehicle is pulling to one side. Too often drivers assume that the car needs a wheel alignment and will take their vehicles to the shop and request that repair. Rather than performing their own diagnosis, mechanics might just follow instructions and complete the alignment the customer requested. It would be wiser to consider easier and lost costly alternatives before completing the more costly repair. The easiest alternative is to check the tire pressure.
An under inflated tire can affect handling and lead to a confused diagnosis. Another easy alternative is to have the tires rotated. If the problem is a slipped belt on a tire, rotation can solve the problem. Both of these alternatives are easier and much less expensive (often free) than a realignment.
Another common misdiagnosis occurs when the vehicle air conditioner is not cold enough. The first assumption is often that the refrigerant is low, so a do-it-yourselfer might be tempted to recharge the system by adding more refrigerant. However, overcharging can damage the compressor is the actual problem is a leak in the system. It is even more frustrating when the new refrigerant leaks and you realize that the original effort and expense was wasted and you still have a leaky air conditioning system to fix. Environmental laws now require that AC leaks be repaired by certified technicians before refrigerant is added.