Some people have always had a knack of taking things apart that are broken, figuring out what the problem is and fixing it, and putting it back together.  It’s something of a dying art because it depended largely on a less technical, more mechanical world.  A friend who used to work for the AA said at the start of his career serious motor mechanical skills were sought and recruited for, but in recent years any driver could haul an immobilised vehicle onto a transporter – to go back to the main dealer for its computerised management system to be reset.  About the only thing still fixed at the roadside now being a flat tire.

Bin it? Or could you have a go at fixing it..?

What about at home though? Whilst goodness knows we have plenty of high tech gadgets – and our house may be an extreme example – we also have plenty of more mechanical items that can go wrong.  Some have a range of closed and moving parts.  And sometimes the online technology available to us can help in getting them fixed

Now don’t get me wrong, I am NOT for the world suggesting you should attempt any repair that requires specialist professional skills – for goodness sake leave anything involving gas alone or potentially fatal combinations of water and electricity, and remember that even if you remove the risk of killing yourself you have a very real chance of killing any guarantee associated with an appliance, if you go the DIY route.  If it cost a lot of money and really should still be working, then get someone who knows what they’re doing to take a look, remember in Spain our standard warranties on all electrodomesticos are 2 years so that might not even cost you anything.

But what if you have something that is essentially DOA, out of warranty, and not worth a professional repair? And that can be completely isolated from power supplies, it goes without saying.  That might be a good place to start learning some new skills… and, who knows, just possibly, for getting it back working again.

If it’s dead anyway you have nothing to lose, so start with finding the exact model number of whatever it is, as much detail as you can find, and put this into “double quotes” in a google search box along with words like ‘repair’ or ‘service’ or something about the nature of the problem or fault – like: “Lexus Radio DC799x 21” wont start red LED flashing.

It may take a few goes to get the search string right but the weird thing is amongst all the scams and exploitation and rubbish you find all over the internet, there is also an astonishing repository of human knowledge and experience to be found.  You may find Yahoo Answers where someone has asked about a similar problem (you can of course also ask yourself), there could be forums of people devoted to discussing consumer issues with this particular make of radio, with archived discussions you can browse and search.  You could unearth a manual (try adding ‘user manual’ to your search terms, and bookmark that anyway in case you get it working again) or technical articles that would help.

You might get super lucky and find someone has uploaded a really detailed video walk through of exactly how to do the thing you need to do, on Youtube or eHow.  It always feels so astonishingly serendipitous, but to have someone literally do it in front of you talking through the procedure, really can mean that anyone can have a go and just maybe, come out with a working thing again at the end of it.

Why do people share their repairs like this? Because they can, it’s what they know by way of expertise, and both they and Youtube monetise it with those ads (that you probably barely notice, but statistically enough people do notice and even click for it to be worth their while publishing).  Popular and useful self-published videos get lots of hits, comments and shares, and perhaps the poster is encouraged to create and share more of their skills in future.  The amount of really useful stuff on Youtube is quite astonishing, and the search features are powerful, you can easily get past all the cats doing cute things and straight into people showing you, in detail with commentary and for free, exactly how to fix your broken things

In our household we have successfully rehabilitated a Playstation 3 exhibiting symptoms of ‘yellow light of death’, replaced the keyboard on a comatose netbook, and serviced a tumble drier motor, none of which any of us are technically trained to do.  But we looked it up, followed the instructions, kept track of all the bits, and got it all reassembled again after, only working again.  All three items had been unusable and not economically viable to repair officially, so there was nothing to lose, except for a staggering number of very tiny screws and strangely shaped bits and bobs.

So, why not give it a go?  Remember: safety first, if in any doubt get professional  help, and think costs and warranty second, because if you bodge it up then that’s it.  But if you approach it as a learning experience first and foremost, you might just surprise yourself with the outcome.

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