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    1. #1
      Junior Member
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      For you DIY'ers, how did you learn?

      I've always been impressed with the threads on here about folks who buy older cars and get them running smoothly. I've done a handful of things with my own cars but nothing beyond oil, coolant, transmission fluid changes. And I always seem to make errors along the way, but luckily I haven't blown anything up yet.

      For those of you that do your own wrenching, how did you learn? Family member? YouTube? Trial and error? Just interested in how people go about obtaining auto maintenance/repair knowledge.

    2. #2
      Member O'doyle's Avatar
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      By doing. Just start with small projects and work your way up.

      X...

    3. #3

    4. #4
      Member Pennywise's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by ByronLLN View Post
      By doing it wrong and breaking ****.
      Yep. And liberal use of the search button. I'm not a wrench by any stretch of the imagination.
      Global Time Attack: Every second counts.
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      It's reassuring to know that when I finally hit the 98th percentile of US individual income, that I may then buy my dream car - a Toyota Avalon.

    5. #5
      Member madrussian's Avatar
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      what everyone else will say and did say. by doing it and working your way up to larger and more complicated things.

      nowadays its even easier w/ youtube.

    6. #6
      I learned the basics from auto tech class in high school, but from that I made a ton of car guy friends and learned a lot more from weekend projects with them drinking beers and messing around over the years on various projects. At the time I was the Euro car guy, we had a couple JDM guys and a couple american muscle guys.

      So yeah if you can find a car club or just some dudes that shadetree on the weekends stop by, make friends, offer to help, bring beer and take it all in.

    7. #7
      Moderator rs4-380's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by ByronLLN View Post
      By doing it wrong and breaking ****.
      came here to post this.
      Dave

    8. #8
      Member Smigelski's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by SoCalHomer View Post
      I've always been impressed with the threads on here about folks who buy older cars and get them running smoothly. I've done a handful of things with my own cars but nothing beyond oil, coolant, transmission fluid changes. And I always seem to make errors along the way, but luckily I haven't blown anything up yet.

      For those of you that do your own wrenching, how did you learn? Family member? YouTube? Trial and error? Just interested in how people go about obtaining auto maintenance/repair knowledge.
      The next thing you need to do is something like brake pads and rotors. Change a belt in the engine, change spark plugs.

      The biggest impetus for me learning things is "I want to do that to my car!" then the next step is "Okay, how do I do that? How much trouble is it?"

      Also, it's extremely beneficial to have someone more knowledgeable than you around when working on cars. Take initiative, but ask questions. "Why can't I do it this way?" "Why in this order?", etc.

      As a parting thought, this work doesn't have to be on your car. I love working on cars, but my cars rarely break. So I invite friends over and we work on their cars with my tools (I have a lot). Luckily, my driveway is downhill toward the road, so if we screw up the car, I just roll it down into the street. No longer my problem.

    9. #9
      Senior Member dunhamjr's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by O'doyle View Post
      By doing. Just start with small projects and work your way up.

      X...
      pretty much this.

      we grew up needing to do our own everything. dad was a pseudo mechanic (no credentials), and even owned a repair shop for a while. ran his repair business out of the home garage after that, just friends and word of mouth.
      so i learn being involved in that and doing little things...

      brake pads/shoes.
      spark plugs, wires, cap, rotor.
      oil change
      even tire changes, since you learn where TO and NOT to jack up cars.

      buy a manual.
      with the internet you have a huge leg up on seeing the parts and processes happen in video before digging in.
      dont be afraid to mess up.

      the next time the shop/dealer says it will be a $400-800 cost to change out your brake pads, screw that.
      save yourself a weekend day, and tackle it yourself with mostly basic hand tools and $50-100 in parts.

      i just did the rear pads for a friend. the dealer estimate was $392 ish. rear pads were $37 +tax.
      epitome
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    10. #10
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      50% curiosity 50% necessity.

      What I wanted, no one could do - so I took it upon myself, because I wanted it badly enough.

      I'm mostly self taught.

      With the internet, there is honestly nothing we can't teach ourselves. It just takes the desire to do so.


      Also: must be willing to make mistakes.
      Last edited by OldAndyAndTheSea; 04-05-2017 at 07:59 PM.

    11. #11
      Member Reflex Silver 2.0T's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by ByronLLN View Post
      By doing it wrong and breaking ****.
      This. Also when fixing something make sure you don't have leftover pieces or bolts. You might have to do the project a couple of times but that is the process of learning.

      Just like a math problem, keep working on the problem until a solution is found.

      Also, get yourself a good shop manual and a decent set of tools.
      Last edited by Reflex Silver 2.0T; 04-05-2017 at 07:39 PM.

    12. #12
      Member Form Ocean's Avatar
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      Learned most basic maintenance from my dad. Then I bought a B5.5 Passat and got tired of burning through cash for dealer parts and service. You learn quick!

    13. #13
      Senior Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      I cut my teeth back in the '80s, but I had the advantage of having two brothers who were 16 and 20 years older than I and were previously into the same thing. When I built my first engine they were both there riding me pretty hard for the bottom end. (That doesn't sound right!) I did the top end by myself and drove the car to my brother's house. He shook my hand and said "You've done something that not that many people can do." Needless to say I was insufferably pleased with myself.

      After that it was reading (books!) and doing most things by myself. I've done metal work, a little paint work (I've not yet painted a car), suspension, wiring, and built a few more engines. I haven't built a transmission (auto or manual) nor built a modern engine with EFI, nor a turbo. Hopefully that'll come in the not too distant future.

      One tricky thing is parts matching. Choose the wrong cam, valve size or header (or especially a carburetor!) and the power curve is severely compromised.
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
      Proletariat, Bourgeoise - Everybody smellin' my potpourri...

    14. #14
      Member rimtrim's Avatar
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      When I was in elementary school (circa 1992) my friend's dad had a 1976 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency sitting behind the garage that was going to the junkyard soon. He heard that I was into cars, and he told me I could take apart anything I wanted on it. That was the first time I ever "wrenched" on a car, though I had no idea what anything was. I was just taking bolts out and looking at how parts fit together.

      Later I convinced my dad that we could change a clogged radiator in his 1985 Tercel ourselves, which we did. I was probably 12 or 13 then. I also did some pretty awful Bondo body work on that car around that age. When I started driving, it was old boxy GM cars, and I've stuck with them over the years, and learned to fix just about all their systems. I also got into doing some "charity" repairs for some people I know who don't have the money to maintain their vehicles. Some of those jobs have been great learning experiences. My first transmission rebuild was a charity job, and to my surprise, it's still working over three years later.

      As far as the learning process goes, my motto is, you can't fix something until you understand how it's supposed to work. Youtube and forums are great, but don't just Google it and jump to a conclusion. Read some manuals until you understand how things work, and why a particular part is causing the problem. There are few things in life more satisfying than using test equipment to prove that a no-start is caused by a simple problem like a loose wire, and watching the car start right up after you fix it. People see that and think you're a magician. Of course, you have to be careful, because they start to think that you should be able to do a "magic" fix for blown head gaskets and other complicated problems!

      -Andrew L
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    15. #15
      Member GolfTango's Avatar
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      My father showed me how to do oil changes, then we'd tinker with his POS fleet which normally consisted of old GMs, Dodges and Chryslers. Then he passed when I was in my early 20s, so the learning stopped. Thankfully it was the same time the internet started. This is where I've learned since. YouTube is a fantastic tool.

    16. #16
      Member burn_your_money's Avatar
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      I bought cheap cars and parted them out. Typically I'd make some cash and the best part is if you break something, it doesn't really matter. Plus you don't need to use it to get to work the next day. Plus Google.

    17. #17
      Senior Member Ryukein's Avatar
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      Get a Haynes manual, register on some forums, and bookmark some good youtube channels. Then just start trying things! Start small.

      That's how I did it.

      Finding a friend that can help (but not do it all for you) is a bonus.
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    18. #18
      Senior Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      I completely agree with rimtrim. The better you understand the system the better you are at diagnosing the problem and you're more likely to be able to take it apart and fix it. Properly.

      The other thing you'll need is patience.
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
      Proletariat, Bourgeoise - Everybody smellin' my potpourri...

    19. #19
      Senior Member 6cylVWguy's Avatar
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      DIY videos online---and still breaking sh-t. Not that I do anything horribly complex, but even some simple things can cost a lot depending on the car and where you get the work done.

      Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

    20. #20
      Member Hogan's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Perceptive Bunny View Post
      Trial and error.. buy an old VW OP
      This right here.

      I owned a lot of ****ty VWs, and couldn't afford to take it to a shop every time something went wrong, which was all the time. So I learned out of necessity. And in the beginning, a lot of what I learned actually came off these forums. In all honesty, I owe a good bit of my abilities to the VWVortex. I remember printing out the walkthrough for doing a timing belt on a 1.8t, and taking forever to get it done, but I did it, and I did it right.

      Learned more and more from there, engine swaps, rebuilds, stuff like that. Basically I started doing it partially cause I wanted to, partially cause I needed to, then when I started to get good I really fell in love with it. Worked as a mechanic for awhile, now I'm back to doing it on a hobby basis, but I love it even more since the possibilities for what I can do now are basically endless.

      So if you're looking for tips, head to the local enthusiast forum for your car which incidentally for you, is also right here on the Vortex, and check out some walkthroughs and such. After awhile things just start to make sense, and they get easier and more intuitive. It's a wonderful skill to have. Watch out for the tool addiction though.
      2007 Volkswagen GTI/2012 Honda Civic Si/1997 GMC Suburban/2006 Honda VTX1800C

    21. #21
      Before the internet, I learned from people I knew, or just by doing...etc.

      With Internet...you can almost find any DIY info you need, or ask on a forum if you don't find it.

      The info and aftermarket available with the 'net is exponentially higher than it was pre-internet. I mean it's awesome. If you weren't wrenching in the early 90's you have no basis for comparison, but I can tell you how sweet it is today vs. back then.
      Let them eat cake...

    22. #22
      Busted a CV joint and couldn't afford the shop rate to fix it. I could however afford a chilton manual, and a parts car that had in-tact CV boots. I have always been the tinkerer type that could figure out things. Working on my own cars started as necessity and developed into a hobby. I say read, read, and read some more. The internet is a great tool, but don't discount the old shop manuals as they often contain little tips from folks who have done it for a long time. You can google 'till you understand it, but I highly recommend not following a DIY to the letter though. Get in there and figure things out until you get lost, then go back to the last point you really understood what you were doing and look it up. I realize that didn't read all that easy, but once you start putting something back together and things don't fit, you'll get what I was saying.

    23. #23
      Global Moderator MylesPH1's Avatar
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      With videos available on just about everything, I think it's really just about realizing that

      a) most stuff isn't as hard as it looks

      b) even with that being true, you probably won't get it exactly right on the first try, and you should be okay with that.


      Other than that, be safe - disconnect the battery. Make sure it's REALLY well supported if you're underneath it. And having a fire extinguisher handy is never a bad idea.
      - A bunch of old, tough, unbreakable German iron
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      - One Swedish memoriam

    24. #24
      Member LT1M21Stingray's Avatar
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      By cursing and swearing. A lot. Beer too.
      Quote Originally Posted by Mk1Madness
      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tavarish
      The car's best safety feature includes ejecting you in the moment of impact and wishing you the best of luck.

    25. #25
      Senior Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by MylesPH1 View Post
      Other than that, be safe - disconnect the battery. Make sure it's REALLY well supported if you're underneath it. And having a fire extinguisher handy is never a bad idea.
      Very much this. Get good quality jack and jack stands and don't work under a car on non-level surfaces. It's not worth the risk.

      Also, when you're trying to break a bolt loose that is really tight, don't hold the wrench in your fist if there's something to hit when it breaks loose or the wrench slips off. Push it with the palm of your hand so that when it does the wrench takes the impact instead of your knuckles.
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
      Proletariat, Bourgeoise - Everybody smellin' my potpourri...

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