From: Near Portland, OR
I stopped doing "major" work on my cars back in the mid-90s. The OBD-II systems in cars after 1997 (I think) essentially required software diagnoses for engines and the newer systems even use software checks for brake jobs, etc. A battery replacement in my 2009 328i requires that the new battery be initialized with the car's computer, or else the alternator might overcharge the new battery (there have been a few cases of battery explosions). With run-flat tires, I don't even have a spare, so no more side-of-the-road tire changes. I believe my 2005 Z-4 was the last BMW with an engine oil dipstick - BMW is afraid of overly cautious owners overfilling the sump and then coming in to the dealer with a damaged engine during the free scheduled maintenance period.
On the plus side, cars nowadays are much more reliable (for the most part) than what we drove in the 70s and 80s. Plus, they're faster and they handle better ....
My new car doesn't have a dip stick either. It also doesn't have an engine to put oil into.
The new car doesn't have run flats, but doesn't have a spare either. I did get one of those emergency tire repair kits and stashed it in the car. I've thought about getting a temporary spare to take on trips, but I haven't pursued it. From what I've read a lot of new cars don't have spares these days. My SO thought that was nuts, but she bought from one of the few car makers that still put spares in all their cars: Subaru.
I don't really like working on cars and my rule of thumb was to never do anything to the car that had the potential to take it out of service for more than a day. I did fix the bumper on my old car after a fender bender accident (more like broken plastic). The outer bumper just had a crack in it that I fixed by epoxying a flattened soda can on the bottom side. The inner bumper was more severely damaged and had to be replaced. We both spent an afternoon cursing like sailors because to remove the bolts, the socket wrench could only turn a very tiny bit. We had two sockets so both of us could attack a bolt, but it took a very long time. I seem to recall having to reseat the wrench on the bolt after every micro turn. It wasn't difficult, just painful after a while.
Most of the other things I've done are replacing a speaker, replacing the trunk release solenoid, replacing a door switch, and other things like that. The shop manual was great for telling me ahead of time where the fasteners were and how to get them off.
Even for things like oil changes I took it somewhere. My ex-brother-in-law showed me how to change the oil and I did it once on the car I had at the time, but after that I was too lazy to get all mucky changing oil. I always kept a few quarts of oil around in case a car needed oil between oil changes and my Buick usually needed about half a quart between changes, my SO's Subarus are worse at burning/leaking oil. She usually needs 1 - 1 1/2 quarts between oil changes. Both her Subarus are like that and it's a fairly steady loss. It's never gotten worse.
WitP AE - Test team lead, programmer