bad virus

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I am fascinated by these people. Most things I learned to fix on a car, someone had to show me. Yet, my 20 year old brother who is studying to be a paramedic and by any standard IQ test would be judged to be really below average can figure out how to do a timing belt change on his first try from a crappy manual with no pictures. WTF. It took me an hour to change out my breaks and in the same time he had the radiator on his car changed without being shown how to do it.

Is there some kind of innate gear head gene I am missing. Needless to say, my first year out of residency if I don't do a fellowship will be spent at my community college getting my auto mechanic certifications (its actually 1.5 year program). I am one of those people that just has to be shown how to put a lift on a truck and not just figure it out by looking at it.

Anyway, any innate gear heads here and do you have any tips. I mean, do you just look at the stuff and get a general idea what needs to be done, or did you have to be shown how to do things first?
 

racerwad

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I feel as though I fall somewhere between you and your brother. I'm not someone that has the kinda of spatial intelligence to understand how something works just by looking at it once, but I get the idea fairly quickly.

I'm like you; once I'm done with medical training, I want to take some vo-tech classes in welding, fabrication, etc. I'd love to be able to be good at things like that.

I find it hard to believe that your brother really is "below average." I do believe that another part of the equation is a willingness to just wing it and see what happens. I'm not saying that this is you, but I've known people in the past that say they're into cars (or whatever mechanical device) and like working on them, but when it actually comes to turning a wrench, they're terrified of doing something wrong. So, I think that has something to do with it, too.
 
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bad virus

bad virus

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I feel as though I fall somewhere between you and your brother. I'm not someone that has the kinda of spatial intelligence to understand how something works just by looking at it once, but I get the idea fairly quickly.

I'm like you; once I'm done with medical training, I want to take some vo-tech classes in welding, fabrication, etc. I'd love to be able to be good at things like that.

I find it hard to believe that your brother really is "below average." I do believe that another part of the equation is a willingness to just wing it and see what happens. I'm not saying that this is you, but I've known people in the past that say they're into cars (or whatever mechanical device) and like working on them, but when it actually comes to turning a wrench, they're terrified of doing something wrong. So, I think that has something to do with it, too.
No I think your onto something here. Here is an example. When i was young and dumb, my friend and I wanted to put rims on a caddy. Talking 22s here. So the only way to get it to fit was to cut this annoying cable and crimp it. I did that, and oil spilled everywhere and i crimped ed it shut and it was good. Ride was looking sweet. I got on the road and the car wouldn't stop. Guess what cable i cut and crimped. I always seem to mess something up. i am ambitious in my repairs, but always seem to do a half ass job. That's why I think i need school. I guess i am more cautious now and as you pointed out, worried about the wrench turn.

I can't wait to take every welding, electrical, machining , air conditioning class i can when im done with residency.
 

JacobMcCandles

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With the amount of information on the internet these days, you can almost always find a tech write-up of pretty much anything. If it isn't anything too major, I'll usually jump in and do it or look at a Haynes manual. If it's more in depth or if me messing something up will cost me a lot of $$$, I'll usually try to find a tech article and study up on it.

My dad is one of those people that can just take something complicated apart and put it back together without ever seeing it done before or without a manual. If I do that, I'll have a few leftover parts.
 

racerwad

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No I think your onto something here. Here is an example. When i was young and dumb, my friend and I wanted to put rims on a caddy. Talking 22s here. So the only way to get it to fit was to cut this annoying cable and crimp it. I did that, and oil spilled everywhere and i crimped ed it shut and it was good. Ride was looking sweet. I got on the road and the car wouldn't stop. Guess what cable i cut and crimped. I always seem to mess something up. i am ambitious in my repairs, but always seem to do a half ass job. That's why I think i need school. I guess i am more cautious now and as you pointed out, worried about the wrench turn.

I can't wait to take every welding, electrical, machining , air conditioning class i can when im done with residency.
LOL. You make me both proud and terrified. :thumbup: I like it! I feel like your confidence in cutting that cable and just making it happen bodes well. Just work on those fundamentals.

Is it weird that we're already planning on what else we're going to do when we're done? I basically want to do the same thing, minus A/C. I don't mind letting the pros handle that.
 

Chip N Sawbones

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Anyway, any innate gear heads here and do you have any tips. I mean, do you just look at the stuff and get a general idea what needs to be done, or did you have to be shown how to do things first?
My advice is to buy a $400 car and do whatever you have to to keep it running. It helps if you're poor and it's your only car, but that's not strictly necessary. When I bought my first car (a $400Toyota Camry) I didn't know how to do anything besides changing tires and fuses. Three cheap cars and a pickup later, I've taught myself how to replace fuel pumps, water pumps, brakes, starters, shocks, radios and plenty of smaller stuff. I would feel reasonably comfortable replacing a timing belt or a headgasket. Nobody taught me how to do any of these things; I looked them up in the Chilton's manual and stumbled along until things worked out like they were supposed to. It gets easier over time, as you learn things like bolt sizes, part names and basic electrical theory.
 

gutonc

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My advice is to buy a $400 car and do whatever you have to to keep it running. It helps if you're poor and it's your only car, but that's not strictly necessary.
I did this. I turfed all the repairs to my dad and my brother while I was busy getting a better job so I could just buy a damn car that worked.
 

HunterGatherer

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purchased my first car ($800 junker probably worth less than that) at 18 and ripped the engine apart for a rebuild. I was depressed for about 1 week because I didn't know WTF I was doing, only had a few books I was reading and had no help. Chilton's manual, Hayne's manual and an enthusiast's manual helped me rebuild the engine and fix the electrical in 1 week.

We know how to read and figure things out, it's just do you have the time. With videos online now and enthusiast web forums it makes things easier. But, now new model engines are mummified in engine casing discouraging the casual gear head which is very annoying.
 

dchristismi

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I came thhhhiiiiisss close to having to rebuild a 1971 Porche 911 engine in high school. Once I was able to prove that it wasn't my fault (loose bolt in the engine block causing the camshaft to basically snap) and I just happened to be driving it at the time it went, was I spared. But that was always Dad's threat, and I held the trouble light him in the garage for many years. And didn't realize until I was out on my own that a typical engine does not require an entire case of oil for an oil change. Pshaw. That's why they there are 12 in a case, right?

I don't know that I'd really consider myself a gearhead, mostly because as was pointed out, newer cars are so difficult for the casual owner to work on.

But I do drive a 6-speed manual Turbodiesel. I almost bought a Prius until I drove one, and realized how much I enjoy my manual transmission. I have a mechanic I trust who does not treat me like I'm an idiot just because I have 2 X chromosomes. But I do enjoy driving.

I do use the "you can't just run down to AutoZone and pick up the 2012 Haynes manual" line when reassurring pediatric patient's parents who want the baby "checked out." Well, assuming the parent will get it, which most of the guys seem to.
 

Dr.McNinja

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I may have worked on a car or two.
Installed hardwood floors in my kitchen and living room.
Built many a scratch bookcase.

I work on my car for the same reason I work on my lawnmower. Not because I'm cheap, but because I enjoy it.
If you're around it enough, you learn what things do what. I've never rebuilt a transmission, and don't mess with pressure lines around A/C, but everything else? Fair game. It's hard to really break something, unless you're not taking your time.

Current vehicle only slightly modified in the sense that there are a few more stock parts than aftermarket parts at this time.
 

HunterGatherer

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I came thhhhiiiiisss close to having to rebuild a 1971 Porche 911 engine in high school. Once I was able to prove that it wasn't my fault (loose bolt in the engine block causing the camshaft to basically snap) and I just happened to be driving it at the time it went, was I spared. But that was always Dad's threat, and I held the trouble light him in the garage for many years. And didn't realize until I was out on my own that a typical engine does not require an entire case of oil for an oil change. Pshaw. That's why they there are 12 in a case, right?
air cooled engines are nice to work on. Probably more simple than water cooled. I've only worked on air cooled engines to be honest. I never got around to getting a 1960s muscle car dreamed of. Hope to get a 1985 whale tail 911 to rebuild and a muscle car down the road if time permits.
 

Dr.McNinja

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I respect the air cooled Porsches, but I really enjoyed putting the Holley carb and street dominator intake manifold on the 327 in my Impala.

Of course, then I sold it, so I'm currently muscle-less. I turn the wrenches on my 4x4 instead.
 
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A gear head friend's advice to me - pick one simple task to work on first. You'll **** that up along with 10 other things, creating a ponzi scheme of problems as you fix those. You either come out a gear head or carless
 
OP
bad virus

bad virus

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A gear head friend's advice to me - pick one simple task to work on first. You'll **** that up along with 10 other things, creating a ponzi scheme of problems as you fix those. You either come out a gear head or carless
I loled hard on the Ponzi scheme, been there done that.
 

The White Coat Investor

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I have yet to find a repair I couldn't Google up how to do with pictures and usually a video. I often choose not to do them myself, but I can see how.....

You're not the first person to own your car. This isn't the first time that part has broken, that sound has been made, or that malfunction has occurred.
 

Dr.McNinja

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I agree. I once fixed the blend door failure of my Ford Exploder using dental mirrors, a nail, and the internet.

On occasion, you might be the first person with problem X. For the other 99.999% of the time, the information is already there.
Just don't be the guy that registers, then posts on a common car forum "does anyone else have problem X?" without doing a search.
 

HunterGatherer

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I agree. I once fixed the blend door failure of my Ford Exploder using dental mirrors, a nail, and the internet.

On occasion, you might be the first person with problem X. For the other 99.999% of the time, the information is already there.
Just don't be the guy that registers, then posts on a common car forum "does anyone else have problem X?" without doing a search.
I second this. Some cars tend to have a high failure rate for one particular part so when something goes wrong and you do a forum search you'll get a ton of hits.

Start your repairs early in the day in case you need a tool or parts from the shop. As you do repairs you will accumulate the commonly used tools for your car.