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    1. #51
      Moderator Krazee's Avatar
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      I was just talking about this with my mom....

      I joined Vortex in 2001, about 6mo after buying my first Corrado. My first round of modifications and maintenance trips were done by a shop that evidently didn't know older VWs.
      Shortly thereafter, I met one person off of Vortex, and he introduced me to the man who would ultimately become my Corrado mechanic for about 6yrs and a good friend. I had the opportunity to learn by watching and picking and choosing the tasks I felt comfortable with.

      Over the years I progressed to following DIYs from Vortex, and then DIYs on other sites for other cars, and even watching DIYs on YouTube.
      I followed a very comprehensive DIY from NASIOC to do the timing belt on my 2002 WRX.
      I followed comprehensive DIYs for suspension and brakes when I overhauled that stuff on my Corrado.
      I'll be doing the same over the next month as I overhaul the front end on the Corrado again.
      Nothing beats the sense of accomplishment and usbesequent euphoria when it all goes back together correctly, and you are neither short parts or have excess.

      Currently I am fortunate to be friends with one of the best Corrado-specific mechanics in the tri-state area, and potentially in the country. While I have paid him to do alot of stuff, as often as I can, I watch what he's doing, and try to learn from his work, so that should the same part break in the future, I can fix it myself. By biggest issue is time - my garage is 2hrs away from me, and at best I can only make it there on weekends, and even then, not every weekend.

      One of these days, I'll take a week off from work to crank through a multitude of small projects.

      I believe anyone can wrench on cars. I apply a similar logic to cooking: If you can read and add, you can cook.
      All that wrenching requires is a basic understanding of how things go together and how they interact.
      That being said, there are some people who SHOULD NEVER work on cars, and any older car is only as reliable as the person who does the work.
      Project Corrado RS: Keep Up

    2. #52
      Member smetzger's Avatar
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      First car 77 Rabbit
      It broke a lot and I was in college with very little money, so had to fix it myself.

      I also had one of the two best how to books every written...
      Poor Richard's Rabbit Book, How to keep your Volkswagen Alive.
      https://www.amazon.com/How-keep-your.../dp/0912528176

      I would pay very good money to have a John Muir book for my Miata.
      Nothing to see here move along.

    3. #53
      ...by the best possible way to learn, having no money.

    4. #54
      Member Surf Green's Avatar
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      Taking about where it all started reminded me of the times I spent with my father doing this stuff.
      We weren't the most affluent family, but we got by on his blue collar income and being self sufficient.

      He's pushing 75 at this point, and stays active in the neighborhood and community by generally being a really useful guy. And that's what makes him happy.

      They were up for Christmas to see the kiddo, and he had the opportunity to give me a hand rebuilding the 4 Pot calipers on my WRX, which were so seized that I likely wouldn't have been able to manage without the extra pair of hands.
      It was some good bonding time, and it probably meant as much to him as it did to me.

      I don't get the same feels dropping the car off at a local garage.
      I keep up with traffic with only 90 hp. What's your superpower?
      2002 Golf Wagon TDI - 2007 Fuji Heavy Industries WRB WRX Wagon - YouTube Track Videos - flickr
      Past: 1996 Surf Green GTI VR6 - 1985 Golf 1.8L - No Trim Level Edition

    5. #55
      Member Rockerchick's Avatar
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      My husband grew up working on VWs with his dad. I grew up watching all forms of racing, and my dad raced locally before I was born. I never worked on cars but I always had a low level interest in them and fell in love with VWs when I was 7 and got a ride in my Aunt's '69 Beetle. Once I met my husband and we got our first cars (both VWs) we started working on them together. It started off pretty minimally as neither of us had garages, so we did let others do work for us for a time. Once we rented a place with a garage, we started doing more work ourselves. We picked up an '84 Jetta TD to work on as our first project car, with the condition that I got to help with getting it up and running and the eventual engine rebuild we knew it would need (I don't think its a coincidence that we were engaged a few months later ). We also made friends with local VW mechanics. We were able to use their shop space for little jobs and tools we didn't have, and they did bigger jobs that we couldn't do at the time. Fast forward a few years, 3 months after we got married, we tore into the engine on the Jetta. Our mechanic friends moved to a bigger shop so we were able to do the rebuild there, since we moved into a place without a garage. It was really handy to have them around to ask them questions. We did a ton of online research into the work and had the Bentley manual for the car but there were still some gaps. Asking questions is key. We got a ton of great guidance by not being afraid to ask for help when we got stuck. It was a really great experience - I'm a very hands-on learner so reading things online or having my husband explain things to me without a real visual never really stuck with me. Being able to get my hands on the engine to see how things move and fit together was really awesome and I learned a ton from that. But we've certainly made a lot of mistakes and broken a lot of things along the way. You don't learn by doing things perfectly every time - you gotta screw up every once in awhile to really learn. We've definitely been in the middle of a job and had to run out for parts or make a phone call for help. It's all part of it.

      Fast forward to now. We bought a house with a pretty decent sized garage. We have our own lift now (only a half height, but one day we'll have a tall one!). We rarely are taking our cars for work elsewhere (usually only happens because we don't have the time). The last 2 weekends, we took transmissions out of 2 of our cars. Over the summer we did a full timing belt job, suspension refresh, and new brakes on my car. We have an '82 Rabbit Pickup project to go along with the Jetta we still have. We aren't experts by any means at all though. We still look online for DIY guides. We still consult the repair manual on every job we do. We still don't have all the tools we need. We still ask lots of questions. We still break things. We're still learning a lot. But we enjoy it and want to keep improving our skillset.

      So to echo everyone else - take on the small stuff first and work your way up, use guides (services manuals, online DIY guides, forums, etc), don't be afraid to ask questions, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. They will happen. And you may have to bailed out by a shop. But its still a learning experience.


      Edit: BTW, thanks, OP for the excuse to go down memory lane. I forgot how long its been that I've been tinkering with my cars and what all I've done and learned. It's been quite a journey!
      Quote Originally Posted by TM87 View Post
      VW-making mechanics out of owners since 1957.
      The project - '84 Jetta 1.6TD
      The Wheelbarrow - '82 Rabbit Pickup
      Hers - '03 BMP 20thAE GTI
      His - '16 GLI SE

    6. #56
      Semi-n00b Herb F. Gildersleeve's Avatar
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      I started out by watching my dad and my brother. I'll echo what others have said about necessity and being a poor graduate student has certainly helped me along to take care of things myself. Since I own an Old GM car, there is no shortage of opportunities for small repairs and somewhat occasionally big repairs. Started off by having the OE starter rebuilt locally and installed it in January. I was partially frozen to the ground when the job was done. Then the bearings in the factory alternator went and I had that rebuilt too. On the 3.4 that is an easy five minute job. I repaired the rear defrost recently (the connector melted!).

      I am currently enjoying the process of replacing the LIM gasket which is not an easy, five minute job. Starting off small has really helped me get to the point that I can tackle a job like this. YouTube and forums are a huge help.

    7. #57
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      Quote Originally Posted by 16volt View Post
      ...by the best possible way to learn, having no money.
      Yup. being a college student then a graduate student living on a stipend is a great incentive to learn.

      Still working on cars 35+ years later. Herb Chambers Ford quoting almost $700 for front brakes for my wife's 2012 Ford Escape is a great incentive to do it yourself.

      Just bought rear brakes for my 2014 Escape.

    8. #58
      Member 4.OMG's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Harrison. View Post
      I'm really not adding anything new to this thread..

      But growing up with a blue collar father, you fix everything yourself.
      Pretty much this, except my dad is not an enthusiast but I grew up around tools and just assumed that's what people did. I also didn't have money to pay people to work on my cars for a long time, so I learned to do smaller, routine stuff out of necessity, which in turn helped build the skills and confidence to do bigger projects and elective projects.

      It also helped that my uncle and his two sons are car guys, and make their living doing it, so I had access to knowledgeable people that were willing to contribute time, expertise and tools.
      Now this was a superior machine. Ten grand worth of gimmicks and high-priced special effects. The rear windows lit up with a touch like frogs in a dynamite pond. The dashboard was full of esoteric lights and dials and meters that I would never understand.

    9. #59
      Member speedworks1's Avatar
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      - Tools are in investment you can never have too many tools
      - Stop working when you cant see
      - Figure out how something works before trying to fix it
      Quote Originally Posted by ClothSeats View Post
      Be considerate. Most posters here are old and bitter men who lived in their parents' basement during their 20s and are now married to women who drag them by the balls.


      You can't expect them to turn this place into The Yolo Lounge.

    10. #60
      Member chuckster1's Avatar
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      My son-in-law is 28 years old. He just swapped his dad's 4.0 engine in his FJ for another one after the oil sludge got the best of it after 300K miles. Did he go to school for it? No. Did he take automotive classes in HS? No. Did his dad teach him all of the skills necessary? No.

      It's crazy. He just figures things out. And his day job? He's a business security analyst for a major bank...who never finished his degree.

      Oh, and BTW: he's currently working on putting an LS crate motor in a '80 Pontiac Firebird.
      Quote Originally Posted by GoHomePossum View Post
      See? You have to relax before you can completely take in all of TCL's magic.

    11. #61
      Member GrimJettaGLI's Avatar
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      I learned out of necessity. I never had a ton of money growing up, so if something broke it was only going to get fixed if I fixed it.

      I have definitely made mistakes (some worse than others) and I learned a ton from watching others, watching videos and getting help from friends.
      mk2 Nevada Beige Coupe (In Progress)

    12. #62
      Senior Member dunhamjr's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by rimtrim View Post
      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
      I have used this same mentality that allows me to work on cars... and applied it at home as well.

      Replaced ignitor in my old gas dryer.
      Replaced a condensation trap, and cleaned the drain lines on my old furnace.
      And when the fridge ice maker was acting up, I found the process and tested to determined I had a failed capacitor, which I pulled from the circuit board and replaced.
      epitome
      Mr. Money Mustache

      2.0 TDI "BHW" engine partout - @tdiclub @vwvortex

    13. #63
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      Quote Originally Posted by O'doyle View Post
      By doing. Just start with small projects and work your way up.
      Quote Originally Posted by ByronLLN View Post
      By doing it wrong and breaking ****.
      Quote Originally Posted by Pennywise View Post
      Yep. And liberal use of the search button. I'm not a wrench by any stretch of the imagination.
      Quote Originally Posted by OldAndyAndTheSea View Post
      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.
      Quote Originally Posted by Hogan View Post
      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.
      Quote Originally Posted by LT1M21Stingray View Post
      By cursing and swearing. A lot. Beer too.
      ALL of these.

      I bought an $800 MK1 GTI back in 2003, because I could not afford the repair bills on my hand-me-down Audi, and felt guilty asking my parents for help. So... I struggled, broke a lot of crap, and read a metric ton of posts and threads and googled a lot. I also rode my bike or the bus to work quite a bit

      Since then I've done multiple engine swaps, and have had my hands on every major system that makes up a modern car. Taught myself (very) basic fab, welding, etc. The only thing I haven't taken on is a full on engine build (I've put heads on blocks, replaced cams, etc) and transmission/differential rebuilds.

      I'm fairly good with mechanical things, but I'm not a genius by any stretch of the imagination. It just takes a lot of research, looking at things, and thinking through the workings of an entire system. Once you start doing work you'll work up a physical and mental tool set, knowing when a bolt is cross threaded, how to deal with rusty shiz, applying leverage, etc. etc...

      I recommend buying an easy-to-work-on beater that's in decent shape, and learning on it. Something with a good support base. And keeping a newer car alongside of it

    14. #64
      Member Harpoon's Avatar
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      I've loved cars literally ever since I can remember, and as a middle school aged kid I soaked in a ton of information reading tech articles in magazines like Sport Compact Car and the like, as well as watching tons of automotive TV and following motorsports for years.

      I went to a technical high school for automotive, which isn't like as ricky dink regular high school shop class, it's four years of half shop and half regular academics, full blown shop with eight lifts, laser alignment rack, diag equipment, air tools every day, etc. My junior and senior years of high school were spent wrenching on actual customer jobs for the public, and there's as ton of classroom theory time behind it too. Before I could even get my license I was tearing down and rebuilding two liter Dodge Neon engines on stands that we had for practice, down to the bare block, hone the cylinders, and put it all back together piece by piece. Good times.

    15. #65
      Member simple's Avatar
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      My first car I swapped stereos in. My second car was a pretty well used Honda. It had dog hair everywhere so I decided to strip out the interior to clean it really well. Then I installed a kick ass stereo in that one.

      I was motivated by knowing that teenage girls i wanted to make out with and my teenage friends who wanted to cruise would be in the car so I wanted it to be nice, clean, and comfortable. Luckily as a Honda it was pretty easy to maintain mechanically. I only brought it to the shop for a replacement clutch. Otherwise those tiny little Honda bolts are easy to turn so my little high school Craftsman toolbox worked for most everything.
      If you can't measure it, you can't understand it; if you can't understand it, you can't control it.

    16. #66
      Member 0dd_j0b's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by ByronLLN View Post
      By doing it wrong and breaking ****.
      A lot of that ^
      Took an automotive course in high school, so I knew what a tire was.
      The past vehicles.
      93' Camaro-Sold, 87' Cabriolet-Sold, 87' Scirocco 16v-Sold, 85' Scirocco 8v-dead, 13' Jetta-dead, 87' Scirocco 16v-dead
      Quote Originally Posted by Seabird View Post
      Hell, you know those ancient cave paintings in France? I betcha those animals were really half the size that the hack scribbler drew.

    17. #67
      Member cockerpunk's Avatar
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      youtube.
      Quote Originally Posted by VigorousZX View Post
      In their unquenchable thirst for world domination, the aristocrats tax peoples time so as to keep its cattle viewed populations forever in servitude. They have gone as far as brainwashing and banning the western world that marrying your first cousin is forbidden and results in retardation... and thus have disturbed human evolutionary densities because broken families are easier to control and will better fall into debt slavery.

    18. #68
      Member audi80Quattro's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Ryukein View Post

      Finding a friend that can help (but not do it all for you) is a bonus.
      This is key. My dad owns a shop and while I would start banging on things to figure stuff out, he would always swoop in and do the work. This made me understand the concepts very very well, but in practice I was a nervous wreck working on my own stuff, and would always lean on good old dad to get it done. Nowadays I try my best to do it myself. You have to put the time in with your own hands to really be comfortable working on stuff.

    19. #69
      Member TurboREX's Avatar
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      youtube

    20. #70
      Member D_B_Jetta's Avatar
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      I just completed the biggest self-repair job I've ever done.
      I swapped the transmission in the GFs MK5 after the 5th gear gave up.
      It took a week longer than I would have liked, but that was mostly due to the hours at the auto hobby club I used.
      I nearly gave up halfway through when I kept running into little problems, but a good friend took some time to come help and we persevered.

      I got my curiosity, problem solving and mechanically inclined brain from my father. Although we didn't regularly wrench on cars together, he has always been a tinkerer with anything mechanical, electrical and digital.
      I spend a lot of time looking at DIY threads and videos, I call professional and hobby mechanic friends for advice or assistance, and eventually I just dive in.
      I have no formal training and there are still some things I gladly leave to professionals.

      It can be fun and frustrating sometimes, but I usually enjoy the challenge.
      Fortunately the GF, though not as mechanically inclined as me, also has a love of cars and driving and like to help out as much as possible.


      G
      I am █ ♣ █ Army

      RIP Warrant Officer Gaetan Roberge. KIA, 27 Dec 2008, Panjwaii Dist, Afghanistan.

    21. #71
      Member Senior Member's Avatar
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      If you owned/tracked a moded car, you won't have a choice but to DIY.






















    22. #72
      Member BluMagic's Avatar
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      youtube is a miracle

      Trying to diagnose issues and get correct fitment on parts in my H22 swapped civic in 2004 was a nightmare.

      Back then you just had to talk to other people that seemed credible but could potentially just be morons or thieves

      I "learned" how to change springs in '00 behind a trailer in a seedy mobile home park by someone who I though was a legit shop owner.... When he was standing in a box with his eyes closed trying avoid getting hit in the face by the spring mount I knew I'd found a moron.

    23. #73
      Member TheDeckMan's Avatar
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      Started with maintaining and fixing broken equipment around the farm, from there it was cheap beater cars slowly moving the way up to nicer things. Spent many years hanging around an old engineer's garage as he worked on mostly rusty old British iron of Rovers, MG's, e-types and the like. I offered my time and labor on weekends to learn body work/working on lots of stuff I could not afford at the time. This in combination to working as a machinist for years has allowed me to increase knowledge and skills over time so to be able to tackle anything in car.
      -Noah
      Corrado - Burns money faster than hookers and blow | 996 Turbo - Hates noise ordnance's, fuel and tires in that order | TT - Colorless Wonder with a C16 habit | TT - Colorless Wonder II Lives Again!
      "Life is tough, but it's tougher if you're stupid" - John Wayne

    24. #74
      I learned everything on my own. First started out reading magazines and now the internet. I'll do basically anything that doesn't invovle opening the motor up.

      Start by figuring out what you need to do. Then find as many DIY's as you can and compare them together to see the "best" way to do it. Make sure you have the correct tools and take your time. Having a second vehicle to drive when you do mess something up helps
      *Insert old signature here.

    25. #75
      Senior Member A.Wilder's Avatar
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      Alcohol and spirit journeys

      Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
      signatures are annoying, right?

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