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Old 02-10-2008, 06:27 AM   #21
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seriously school and books is the way to go. theres so much misinformation floating around from mechanic to mechanic, the web, etc.
True but most people who go to school to be mechanics, never get a job being one.

The way to learn is to just start working on your car. Make sure it's a project one, and not a daily, because you WILL mess up if you're a beginner.

I've been working on cars since I was 13, finished restoring my first car when I was 16, and I've been under hoods/cars ever since. I went from Chevies to Hondas since MPG was killin me.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:00 PM   #22
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I think I've been mechanically inclined since I was very young, so that's kinda cheating, but I guess I started out with just taking broken small appliances and stuff apart to figure out how they work.
My dad was into bicycles for a long time... He would do his own maintenance and such and go riding on the weekends. I picked up the maintenance tidbits by watching and asking questions. After that it was a lawnmower engine or two, and similar watching/asking questions when he was doing auto maintenance.
Then came my first real project when I was 14 or 15 - putting my dad's old '74 Kawasaki S3 back together. It had been sitting in pieces for nearly two decades when I started messing with it. Luckily, everything was boxed and bagged up nicely, so very few new parts were needed.
Next was my first car - a '90 CRX DX. I tinkered with it for a while and then managed to hydrolock the motor, bending a connecting rod and trashing the starter... Pure stupidity on my part. So that threw me into my first motor swap. It was just a stock salvage motor, but cars are quite a bit different from motorcycles... You can generally pick up a motorcycle engine/transmission for instance.
That swap turned out fine... a year or so later I found a '90 Civic EX motor (same as the CRX Si) so I dropped that in and went about figuring out the MPFI conversion. My original transmission took a dump on me at some point in there, but that's not really much different than a motor swap.
A friend got ahold of a pair of CRXs with blown motors from a technical school, so I helped him install a single cam VTEC motor in it... That took a fair amount of wiring. He wasted no time in killing the auto transmission (doing neutral -> drive burnouts probably). Of course he wanted to replace it with a manual... Luckily Hondas go together like legos.
And then I wrecked my first CRX. Not racing or carving corners or other such stupidity. I was distracted and simply didn't register an oncoming Rav-4 when making a left turn. Bent the frame, it was a write-off. So I stripped what I could off of it and bought the remaining tech school CRX from my friend - my current '91 CRX.


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So now I can do anything to a Honda with the exception of rebuilding an automatic transmission.
They're not that bad... You just have to follow the manual and keep everything absolutely grit-free when working.



I'm now driving around on that trans BTW.
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Old 02-12-2008, 07:02 PM   #23
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So in summary; if my Dad hasn't already taught me (he hasn't) buy a Geo Metro or an older Civic (Cheap and FE and I can sap you guys for knowledge) as a second car and the shop manual for it and fix everything that breaks on it myself plus do all the oil/filter/belt changes myself too. My wife and I currently just share 1 car, 96 toyota Corolla and I've never done any work on cars before so i'm a bit scared to work on that. I have done some electronics stuff and I have taken apart sanders and fans at work and put them back together without incident so I think it wouldn't be too hard. I just need a place to start.
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Old 02-12-2008, 07:13 PM   #24
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So in summary; if my Dad hasn't already taught me (he hasn't) buy a Geo Metro or an older Civic (Cheap and FE and I can sap you guys for knowledge) as a second car and the shop manual for it and fix everything that breaks on it myself plus do all the oil/filter/belt changes myself too. My wife and I currently just share 1 car, 96 toyota Corolla and I've never done any work on cars before so i'm a bit scared to work on that. I have done some electronics stuff and I have taken apart sanders and fans at work and put them back together without incident so I think it wouldn't be too hard. I just need a place to start.
An old metro or civic would be a great place to start. Just get a good set of tools and have the attitude you can put it back together.
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Old 02-14-2008, 05:44 PM   #25
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i'd started with changing the oil(engine & transmission), plugs, wires, air filter, disc brake pads, drum brake pads, rear hubs, tie-rod ends, distributor, ball joints. The only thing i take our cars to the shop for is a timing belt or tires. Only because i've never changed a timing belt and i don't feel like changing the one of my wifes accord i'll do mine though when it's time. f23a is much larger than my d15b6.

My dad worked on our cars but i wasnt interested as a child. Internet helps alot.

I'd buy a honda they're very easy to work on. At least my 1990 is, wifes 99 looks very similar to my 90 under the hood, just alot bigger. yes i do realize a 2.3 liter engine is tiny compared to a muscle car.

P.S. i replaced my master cylinder for the brakes. i'll pay someone to do it next time.
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Old 02-14-2008, 08:39 PM   #26
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I grew up on a small farm where we repaired what we used. My dad was a mechanic also and ran a shop on the farm where he repaired neighbors cars and equipment. I had to wash up the filthy parts back when people thought non-detergent oil was a good thing. My dad had a boring bar and valve seat grinder. He actually rebuilt engines. The valve refacing and crank grinding were done at the local NAPA. Everything else he did. He had a pretty awful temper but was an exceptional mechanic. I learned a lot from him. Also I read old "Motors Repair Manuals" because they were interesting.

We had a few small junk engines lying around and I patched them up to make them run more or less. I was probably 7 years old the first time I put a small engine together and got it started.

My first car was a "non-repairable" car. It was not economically repairable with a cracked block. I told the owner I thought I could fix it. They did not want to chance it and sold the car to us for $2.50. A brother and I drove the car for several years.
My grandfather built whatever he wanted. Also my Dad did. All four of my brothers have worked as mechanics at one time or another. It might be an inherited interest.
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Old 07-19-2008, 06:53 PM   #27
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I was a helicopter mechanic in the US Army (1978-1984); I worked on the UH-1 Huey and the UH-60 Blackhawk, which was just coming online in the early 1980's. Army maintenance is all done from manuals. Of course I did go through training courses for both aircraft.

I'm now learning to do my own auto repairs out of necessity. Taking any automobile to a repair shop is an expensive proposition-even if they are honest and do a good job, which many aren't and don't. As a case in point, a reputable shop told me it would cost nearly $600 to replace a VX O2 sensor-as it turns out, very simple job to do. You must keep in mind their parts markups and astronomical labor rates. I did the work myself for just over $300, and it would have been even less had I known that an Ebay seller had the part for about $170 (there's a message for you: leave no stone unturned in trying to find the lowest price on the web for that part you need).

I figured that if I could break down a UH-1 helicopter tail rotor drive shaft or transmission from a manual, I could certainly handle many tasks on my car if I have the right tools and information. These are two key items to making a job come out right. Of course, one must have motivation, patience (because some jobs absolutely won't go smoothly), and the moxie to feel that you can attempt these things in the first place. Last but not least, there are websites like this one, where a novice can get information from auto repair veterans, many of whom are knowledgeable in the particular vehicle you are trying to fix.

So give it a go! I'm sure you'll do fine.
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Old 07-20-2008, 03:00 PM   #28
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When I was in high school I bought my first clunker and fixed it up. I had help from friends that were really good. We did everything from simple oil changes to engine/tranny swaps on each other's cars. We were always working on someone's car and coming home at 2 am all greasy.......haha. That's how I learned. I never rebuilt an engine or tranny though. One time we were pulling an engine and tranny and the chainfall slipped and we put the tranny through the windshield. (my 57 Chevy). So I unexpectadly had to learn how to replace a windshield.

These days I only do all my own routine maintenance, unless there's something I can't or don't want to do. Then I take it up the street to a trusted professional mechanic friend and just pay him and be done with it........I'm getting too old for some of the stuff and you need specialty tools/equipment that I don't have sometimes.
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Old 07-20-2008, 04:03 PM   #29
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I'm now learning to do my own auto repairs out of necessity. Taking any automobile to a repair shop is an expensive proposition-even if they are honest and do a good job, which many aren't and don't.
Well, somehow I managed to double post....
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Old 07-20-2008, 04:09 PM   #30
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I'm now learning to do my own auto repairs out of necessity. Taking any automobile to a repair shop is an expensive proposition-even if they are honest and do a good job, which many aren't and don't.
When I have had a "professional" mechanic work on my car, about 50% of the time I have to correct THEIR mistakes!
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