Working on your car

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5,667
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Tn.
Thread starter
Sometimes, someone will post they do their own maintenance on cars...some folks in here own over 4 and up to 10 cars....I ask this question: How in the world does someone get all that experience and skill to change out transmissions, engines and know how to fix them or rebuild them at home...you would need a lifetime of schooling IMHO plus a 1000 tools...
 
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pbm

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8,677
Location
New York
Some people are more mechanically inclined than others....I'm not one of them but I do most of my own maintenance... I regret not buying a lift years ago.....the $3000 or so would have paid itself back over the years...
 
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6,710
Location
SE British Columbia, Canada
I assume we're not talking about professional mechanics. I've found its best to start young, not be afraid to buy tools, and have a place to wrench, hopefully a garage. It helps to have friends who are also gear heads. Watching You Tube videos really helps. Most wrenching is mundane, changing water pumps, power steering pumps, alternators etc. I think there is often that push you give yourself to get to the next level. One of the best ways to get experience is to quit buying new vehicles. Thanks for the post. It's an interesting topic.
 
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1,166
Location
south dakota
I know some backyard mechanics that can do almost anything to a vehicle and they learned it all on their own. Some of them even paint there own cars as well as do body work and mechanics with very limited tools. I know one guy that would paint cars outside in his driveway and they would turn out perfect in the end. I actually changed a motor in a 1969 SS 396 in the back of the apartment complex that I lived in. I did it outside and the landlord told me not to do it again. It took a total of 2 days start to finish.
 
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7,830
Location
Champlain/Hudson Valley
How deeply into each of his "over 4 and up to 10 cars" one person delves are what you have to know before being impressed. With LOTS of knowledge being universal items like tire, wheel, brake, coolant, suspension, air handling, interior electronics, lubrication and more is broadly applicable. There are indeed many specifics to know. If everyone was an automotive wizard, nobody'd be here asking questions. What you're onto here is part of why I'm on my 3rd Volvo V70 base.
 
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8,871
Location
Marshfield , MA
I'll parts swap, do wiring and plumbing. Do a head gasket, change oil, etc. But stuff requiring any real skill, is beyond me. In fact, I made the decision not to spend my "golden yrs" car crawling. I passed on another Ranger project. Even if I fixed the coolant in the oil problem, It is still a 20 yr old rust belt Ford.This time, I'm gonna spend more to fix less grin2
 
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1,701
Location
Michigan
It's the internet, everyone is an expert in everything! Seriously, YouTube has democratized so many repairs and made so many people "knowledgeable" in areas they don't understand. There are some super-sharp guys on BITOG. There are many more people who just regurgitate what they've read elsewhere. If a post talks about information gleaned from some other forum or a YouTube video, the poster probably doesn't have a really good grasp. On one hand, a car is nuts and bolts. Nuts and bolts are easy. Someone assembled the vehicle, someone else can disassemble and reassemble it. It's not much more difficult than that. Funnily enough, the great equalizer seems to be drum brakes. Ask someone to explain operation, then disassemble and reassemble drum brakes without a YouTube video. It'll tell you a lot about their understanding and ability. Another one is voltage drop. Ask someone to explain what measuring voltage drop is and then actually measure it. Oh yeah, look at their multimeter too. If it's from Harbor Freight, be very suspicious. Personally, I went to trade school/OEM training program at a local community college (AAS in automotive technology), spent the better part of a decade at a dealership while taking university classes (BA in management), then moved on to working for automakers. I've worked for two different automakers, both heavily involved in the service sector. That's how I collected all my tools and knowledge.
 
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21,093
Location
Apple Valley, California
Once you have pulled an engine,trans,done a head etc the next one is easier. They are all very simmiliar built. I started @8-9 yrs old repairing and maintaining my dirt bike. Then @16 I had to put a clutch in my Toyota. My autoshop teacher was there for that.
 
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3,977
Location
Central Virginia
My brother rebuilt his first Volkswagen Beetle engine before he was old enough to get his driver's license. I was an aircraft mechanic in the service. It's true that if you have talent and desire to learn how to fix things at a young age the complexity doesn't seem like a big deal. I'm sometimes forgetful and take lots of pictures, but a lot of stuff will only go together one way and it's a lot of common sense. You have to know your limitations as well as push them if that makes sense.
 
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13,962
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...
When I went to high school they still had auto shop where one could gain these skills. Many of us might have known a mechanic who we would watch when we were young. No video games back then. It was fun to watch your dad or someone work on a car. We learned a few new words in the process as well when something didn't go right.
 
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272
Location
Olathe, KS
Youtube is an amazing wealth of knowledge. I'm 41 and teaching myself how to do all sorts of work on my cars. As my Dad would say, it gives me an excuse to acquire new tools. There are still some jobs that I would rather not tackle, but the money you can save by doing it yourself is worth it to me for most jobs.
 

RAR

Messages
39
Location
Minnesota
I do most everything on the massive fleet we have (more than my sig suggests, as those are just MY cars), except for transmissions. That is a dark, magical art I leave to the professionals .... Other times, I may not have time to get something done within a time frame I have so I send it out to someone. But I choose carefully as I got burned by going "low bid" (the guy skipped changing a trans to transfer case gasket and caused a huge leak). 🤨
 
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34,425
Location
NY
Originally Posted by PimTac
When I went to high school they still had auto shop where one could gain these skills. Many of us might have known a mechanic who we would watch when we were young. No video games back then. It was fun to watch your dad or someone work on a car. We learned a few new words in the process as well when something didn't go right.
That sums it up. Having friends to ask and learn from is a big plus too.
 
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35,779
Location
ME
I had the internet but no youtube when I came of age mechanically. It also "helped" that I was broke (but not also stupid) and motivated by thrift. Big hurdle for me was front-end work. Sounds silly but I couldn't "see" how the shank pulled through and jammed it all together. Once I could blow that apart, doing a FWD trans/clutch was cake. They set up assembly lines so someone with a high school diploma can slap an assembly on in 55 seconds. The major assemblies aren't any big deal. For example if you need a wheel bearing you can do the whole spindle by removing the strut fasteners, brake caliper, ball joint and tie rod ends. Then you can slap a junkyard knuckle in if that's the limit of your skill. If you want to do the bearing inside, that takes more specialized tools like a press or stout hammer. So that's more of a sub-assembly. Internal engine or transmission work can be bypassed by getting a parts car, dropping both cradles, and moving everything between the two tires over. That's not so much mechanical work as rigging-- lifting & handling, a different skill set. smile
 
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820
Location
Upper midwest
Also, part of the learning process is screwing up and maybe having to do a fix twice. Or fixing the wrong thing and putting in parts that did not need it because you don't have the knowledge of a true car mechanic who sees this stuff daily. You start to figure things out with time and when labor costs are up to $150 an hour, you still come out far ahead even when you screw up from time to time. Youtube lets you advance your skill level very fast.
 
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4,206
Location
Parts Unknown
Originally Posted by CARJ
Youtube is an amazing wealth of knowledge. I'm 41 and teaching myself how to do all sorts of work on my cars. As my Dad would say, it gives me an excuse to acquire new tools. There are still some jobs that I would rather not tackle, but the money you can save by doing it yourself is worth it to me for most jobs.
Amen to all the DIY'ers.
 
Messages
94
Location
Soonerville
I was interested in mechanical stuff from a very young age. Didn't have a lot growing up, when my first vehicle (72 C10 - still have it) broke I either was on foot or figured out how to repair it. Now at 50+ yrs old with 10+ vehicles plus a semi, coach and boat if I couldn't work on this stuff and mostly enjoy doing it - no way I would or could afford to keep most of it. Mechanical repairs IMHO are relatively easy. Machined parts, just a process of taking more and more things off/apart until deep enough to get at what needs attention. There are some specific things important to follow instructions with certain clearances (pistons, bearings, heads etc) but information is everywhere. What I don't do or have any skill/interest in is any type of cosmetic or bodywork. No artistic ability/creativity whatever. I leave those things to those that do.
 
Messages
1,505
Location
texas
On one hand what you guys say is true: Youtube videos are great and far better than the old Chilton manuals. And being able to plug a diagnostic tool into the OBDII connect and the vehicle gives you codes that you can look up on the internet and get a pretty good indication of the problem. That's all great. On the other hand, these videos give a false impression of the ease of the undertaking. Like someone falsely said "its a matter of just taking nuts and bolts off". Yeah right. In the videos the nuts and bolts come off presto, as easy as a knife through warm butter. In real life, it's a knuckle busting, sometimes bloody struggle that takes 10 times as long as in the video and leaves you sore and healing for days. And sometimes the bolts are fused in and will never come off. That's where more than half the skill comes in. Knowing how to get the dumb bolt off.
 
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