Author Topic: Any suggestions for obtaining skills in auto repair/mechanics?  (Read 4367 times)

Wendyimhome

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Any suggestions for obtaining skills in auto repair/mechanics?
« on: November 18, 2012, 08:12:08 PM »
I'm a DIY believer, and one area where I've always wanted to be more independent is with car maintenance and repair.  I change my own oil and can handle some other basic maintenance tasks, but the bottom line is that I pretty much suck at it.  I suppose some of it is a lack of mechanical aptitude, but I think part of the problem is that I was never really taught some of the fundamentals of how engines work, parts, tools of the trade, etc.   I'd really like to become more comfortable with auto repair and be less at the mercy of repair shops.

I suppose you can find certain how to videos for specific tasks on youtube, but does anyone know of any really good resources that help turn average to below average DIY'ers into decent auto repair guys?

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Any suggestions for obtaining skills in auto repair/mechanics?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012, 08:19:31 PM »
In my experience the best way is to get to know a 'backyard mechanic' and bribe him/her to help you work on your car. Most people know someone who is either a mechanic, or just very good at that stuff. Make friends first, then ask for help on a specific issue, and bring over some of his/her beverages of choice.

I went from being auto-illiterate to replacing a head gasket by myself (mostly) in less than a year by making friends with my neighbor who was always working in his shop. I estimated I've saved over $5000 in mechanic bills over the last 3 years by learning how to do most things myself.

Once you have some basic knowledge and the confidence to tackle the big jobs, a Haynes manual will tell you pretty much anything else you need to know. You can also ask the people at auto parts stores; they are generally friendly-- or at least they should be if they want your business.

edited to add: apart from electrical issues which I know next to nothing about, it's helpful to remind yourself that the mechanic you'd be paying to do this work for you could be a high school dropout. If they can do it, so can you. That's what i always tell myself when it seems too hard to figure out.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2012, 08:21:31 PM by MarkCB »

jawisco

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Re: Any suggestions for obtaining skills in auto repair/mechanics?
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2012, 08:51:04 PM »
It depends how good you want to get.  If I was ambitious, I would volunteer as a helper at a garage near my house for a few hours each week.  He/she gets free labor and you get to learn how to do things.  I bet if you did this for 3 hours a week for a year, you would have a base of knowledge and experience where you could feel confident taking on a ton of mechanical projects.

strider3700

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Re: Any suggestions for obtaining skills in auto repair/mechanics?
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 09:05:00 PM »
I learned the real basics mostly by helping dad when I was younger and then eventually I bought a dead car that needed an insane amount of work.  Many hours and a lot more dollars later and it was running again.

Masha

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Re: Any suggestions for obtaining skills in auto repair/mechanics?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2012, 06:11:25 AM »
some community colleges have auto classes where you bring your own vehicle and problem. In my experience these are usually frequented by pretty knowledgeable people who want access to the shop equipment, and are happy to offer advice as well.

I'm in an auto body class now two evenings a week, in a full auto restoration shop--I work away with all the equipment, and the instructor is there if I get stuck.

For $80, its been an awesome way to learn basic body work.




thurston howell iv

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Re: Any suggestions for obtaining skills in auto repair/mechanics?
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2012, 08:05:55 AM »
These days most everything you will ever encounter is posted online either in specific enthusiast forums or on youtube. I learned the old fashioned way by getting the service manual and screwing up a few times and learning as I went. I am not a mechanic but do all of my own work short of transmissions (it's on my list of things to learn) and bodywork (tried the votech class and it helped but I have no patience and it's hard work)

If you have a question, feel free to shoot me a pm if you like. I'm happy to help if I can.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Any suggestions for obtaining skills in auto repair/mechanics?
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2012, 01:37:30 PM »
I learned the real basics mostly by helping dad when I was younger and then eventually I bought a dead car that needed an insane amount of work.  Many hours and a lot more dollars later and it was running again.

This is actually what my dad did to me when i was 16 and wanted to drive, "i'll give you a car, but if you want to drive it we'll need to make it run first." He was also good enough to warn us so i took autoshop in high school.

Making yourself get any beater running will teach you. If that isn't fast enough, look into your local CC programs. You don't need to take all the classes, but a couple pre-req's would serve you well.

Good Luck

Matte

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Re: Any suggestions for obtaining skills in auto repair/mechanics?
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2012, 06:18:21 AM »
Online forum or YouTube, supplemented with manuals.  I taught myself this way, chances are if it's a common problem someone has done it, documented it, and usually taken color photos or a video.  There is not much mystery anymore.

EngGirl

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Re: Any suggestions for obtaining skills in auto repair/mechanics?
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2013, 08:51:57 AM »
As someone who apprenticed as a mechanic for a brief time during highschool, I would say that the best things that you could do is to go to the library and get the vehicle repair manual for your make/model/year. (You might have to try a few libraries, or try to find it used).

Vehical repair manuals are broken up by system. Choose the system that you feel most comfortable about first. I would leave the engine to mid-way and electrical until last. Read about the system. Take a break every few minutes and actually physically look at and touch the parts in the system that you are investigating. If you are not getting the feel for the function of the part, wikipedia it. For example, if you are looking at your EGR and wondering why you would pipe exhaust back to the inlet manifold, wikipedia EGR.

The vehicle repair manual will give you the HOW, and you can follow up on wikipedia to read the WHY.

Enjoy! Cars are so much fun to play around with.