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Author Topic: What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics  (Read 6095 times)

Offline Indecisive

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What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics
« on: 03:29:48 AM / 11-Jun-04 »
Posted by Arro

Ok, well here is why I like to write. If this doesn\'t cover the issue than I\'m a monkey\'s uncle.

I learned because I just started doing things myself. Shitty shops like Pep Boys and Midas and local hole-in-the-wall joints would charge me too much and do shitty work, sometimes even ripping me off completely. I got sick and tired of it, and here is what I did about it:

- I paid $220 (USD) on sale at Sears (a big general store chain in the United States) for a $350 mechanic\'s tool set from Craftsman (which included a box and drawers, one deep accessory drawer and the rest with moulded insets for each and every piece.. really nice so you can prevent losing tools and quickly replace those you do), and started to do my own shit. You ABSOLUTELY MUST buy a good floor jack and a pair of jack stands. So many things require to you get underneath or remove wheels. I got mine as a package deal, you can too usually cheap in auto parts stores.

- Manuals are your BEST friend, so get WHATEVER you can. Buy the Haynes. Buy the Factory Service Manual. Buy the Chilton\'s. Get all three. Why? Usually Ebay has these for 10-20 bux a piece in auctions, and in the long run it will save your $$$ and your sanity. Also having a few means one might end up at work where you can reference it while talking to your support group or calling around to shops for stuff, one might end up in your bookbag and you can check things out betwen classes at school, one might end up in the trunk of the car, or in the house... you get the idea. The diagrams alone are PRICELESS.

- Manuals are great, but NOTHING replaces a good source for tech discussions, like this site. ALWAYS try to find a support group for whatever kind of car you own and expect to be working on more than once. If it doesn\'t exist, do what I did here and help CREATE the support group. I guarantee I wouldn\'t have come this far without these guys, this group is good, and other car platforms have similar levels of support. Also it\'s a good idea to get the phone numbers of a few of the members, because voice conversations can sometimes assist you quicker in repairs than the internet. Most people have cell phones with free long distance service anyways, so there\'s a good chance it will be little if any inconvenience to your time or money to do this. I know that I\'ve bothered Bart on a number of occasions while trying to tie up many of the loose ends on my engine when I first got the car.

- Pick up a wrench or a ratchet and just start working on the car. Trust me, it starts off obvious with the little things, but eventually you will indeed run into something that makes no sense or looks like more than you can handle. Drop your support group a line. Call up someone. Look at the manual. Chances are that one of those three things WILL give you what you need to move forward.

- Over time you will begin to grasp what I like to refer to as design philosophy, which means as you work more on a particuar car, you will begin to notice common design techniques by that car manufacturer. Some of that can even be applied to other brand and model cars.

For example, I learned about turbocharging and intercooling and all the other related issues with that through my turbo Dodge Daytona. When I went to the Eclipse GSX turbo, much of that turbo-specific knowledge carried over, but since the Eclipse used an airflow meter, I couldn\'t use my knowledge of the other car quite as much. I had to learn Mitsubishi\'s design philosophy as well as how airflow metered systems worked. From that I was better to able understand Nissan\'s airflow metering setups and how it worked with fuel. But I still had to learn more, Nissan has their own design philosophy, which is evident in things like their weird throttle body setups with their external idle air adjustment motors (something I had never seen in a Dodge, or a Mitsu, or even a Honda which is another car I had worked on).

Nissan uses more screw than bolts, Mitsubishi likes lots of sensors, and Dodge doesn\'t like too many parts and tends to integrate stuff. That\'s part of what you begin to retain as you work more and more on these kinds of sport compact cars. That, and the fact that they all tend to rely heavilly on 10, 12, 14, 18, and 22mm bolts.

- Some final things to make the whole experience less stressful and easier to clean up need to be mentioned here. First off, buy a box of disposable latex gloves (or rubber if you have that uncommon latex allergy). Use them as often as possible. It\'s really nice to be able to strip them off quick when your cellphone is ringing or you want to stop for a break. A box of them costs me $1.99 USD, and comes with 1000 pairs or something like that. I sometimes go through six pairs in a day. One tears, I replace it. I get an itch, I take one off and then replace it.

Also pick up some plastic drain pans. I bought mine from Napa for $1 each, I have three, that way I can either catch lots of fluid, or I can catch three different types, or catch in three different locations at once as it drains/drips. Get them before you launch into stuff, it helps alot.

Finally, I recommend a jumpsuit-style coverall instead of some old worn clothes, because not only will you be more comfortable, but you can get some that can zip over clean streetclothes so in a pinch, like the latex gloves, you can take it off and go about other business. It also tends to protect you from oil and grease better than a shit and pants. I got tired of spending a half hour scrubbing of grease stains off my back when my shirt would ride up past the beltline. And cleaning greasy elbows sucks, too. Most coveralls are made of fabric that is durable, very stain resistant, sometimes even fireproof, and are usually tailored to be worn over clothes.




Of course, sometimes you have to know when to cut yout losses and have a shop do it. On occasion it\'s just going to be easier and less stress, but I\'d say that 90% of the time you CAN do it YOURSELF. Buy your jack and stands. Get your tools. Do it right the first time and buy a decent set. Don\'t buy the whole store, just a good balanced set for a couple hundred bucks. Add tools to that as you need them. I bought a set of stubby metric wrenches just last month so I could access one bolt on the #4 runner of the exhaust manifold. Then get a manual or two and start working on your car. If you need help just ask us. Save money, save TIME in many cases, and know that you\'re not going to intentionally rip yourself off.

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Offline scorched

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What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics
« Reply #1 on: 05:01:35 PM / 31-Aug-07 »
thanks for the tip. got any suggestions though on what the tools i need to buy that would make it "balanced"? maybe a checklist. thanks again

Offline Xano

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What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics
« Reply #2 on: 05:40:05 PM / 31-Aug-07 »
Amazing, simply amazing, now when someone asks me where I got my car knowledge, I can point em to this thread and be like thats how =D

I always have people ask me where I got my love for cars from, who knows, the second I got my second vehicle (my first was a 91 camry that i had for all of 2 months then sold for 500 bucks, still running to this day with over 300,000 miles on it.) but my second vehicle was a 2001 GMC Sonoma, and after having it a week, I had already pulled out the headlights and installed some HID's without knowing anything about cars prior to that.  So yeah, this information is tried and true.

Also, occasionally you MAY break things, it happens, if it does, dont get mad, just run out and spend money on whatever parts you need to get to replace what you broke, and dive right in trying to fix it =) I broke the steel line running from the bottom of my fuel filter to the tank when trying to simply replace the clogged fuel filter, in turn it broke the line, so now im going out to buy a new line to go with my new fuel filter =P
~xano


Offline bluke1

What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics
« Reply #3 on: 07:41:38 PM / 25-Mar-08 »
Quote from: scorched
thanks for the tip. got any suggestions though on what the tools i need to buy that would make it "balanced"? maybe a checklist. thanks again
basic set of metric hand tools, jack stands, a torque wrench is pretty important. after that then you can get them piece by piece on an as-needed basis. just be careful of 'tool addiction' cause once you have a few, you want them all!
on a long enough timeline, everyones survival rate drops to zero

86 200sx notch racecar (soon to be kade)
86 200sx notch ka swap project
87 200sx se welded diff beater
87 200sx se daily driver
76 cadillac miller meteor endloader hearse

Offline Jackalope

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What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics
« Reply #4 on: 08:07:05 PM / 25-Mar-08 »
i didn't read all of the above because it was long... but
i think hands on is the best way to learn.
there is a catch to this, do hands on things with people that know
what they re doing.  Such as a teacher at a vocational school or a freind who knows
whats he is doing.
also a factory service manual will help ALOT

i went to vocational for engine rebuilding i also quit going because i felt i learned what that teacher could teach me and i didn't want a job in that feild anyway i just wanted
to work on my own stuff.  so the second year seemed pointless to me
and yes i would buy a fsm for anycar i planned on doing work too
unless of course you have constant access to Mitchell on demand which is an online think that basically gives you service manuals fo every car in the world
« Last Edit: 08:07:39 PM / 25-Mar-08 by Jackalope »

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My Garage Thread

Offline Arro

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What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics
« Reply #5 on: 01:46:53 PM / 26-Mar-08 »
That was written for people who want to read a little and get a sense of direction rather than pick up tools and bumble through things without a clue. Hands on is great, but you have to know a bit first, or all you do is take shit apart, and now you have a floor full of parts. I know someone who habitually makes that mistake despite that a friend and I keep telling him to approach things carefully and with better research. Research meaning *reading*

Not everyone is a natural, and most people don't have a chance to go to school or even a single class (or have a knowledgeable friend standing by), so what was said in the first post here is designed to point those people in the right direction, and give them some sense of what is involved.

I really hope this isn't a new trend this, lack of desire to read something because it's more than two or three sentences long. Do-it-yourself is more than just having a good set of tools and a willingness to get greasy.

Anyways from previous posts in this thread, it's been a helpful piece of mind for others, and I guess that's what matters most.
« Last Edit: 01:48:39 PM / 26-Mar-08 by Arro »
-Jason Arro


'85 Nissan 200SX (KA24DE)
formerly,
'85 Nissan Silvia RS-X - FJ20 w/ dual Weber carbs
'84 Nissan 200SX Turbo
'85 Nissan 200SX Turbo
Drive it like you stole it, and work on it like you married it - self quote
Quote from: ka-t.org
Hella flush and all associates should be gunned down for brainwashing people into thinking a 225 and lots of camber is proper wheel fitment. THAT IS EASY, anyone can camber a skinny as tire till it dosnt rub. Now fitting an 11 with a 315 on stock fender with reasonable camber, that is fitment. And looks, and performs better than both.
i dont own a s12 at the moment but trying to acquire one to get rid of my s13 hatch
Quote from: SHOUTBOX
[27:54] zastaba: I had a friend touch the contacts on his distributer once
[28:04] zastaba: He did the super jumping up and down pain dance

Offline KLOX

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What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics
« Reply #6 on: 01:57:42 PM / 26-Mar-08 »
Quote from: Jackalope
i didn't read all of the above because it was long... but
i think hands on is the best way to learn.
there is a catch to this, do hands on things with people that know
what they re doing.  Such as a teacher at a vocational school or a freind who knows
whats he is doing.
also a factory service manual will help ALOT

i went to vocational for engine rebuilding i also quit going because i felt i learned what that teacher could teach me and i didn't want a job in that feild anyway i just wanted
to work on my own stuff.  so the second year seemed pointless to me
and yes i would buy a fsm for anycar i planned on doing work too
unless of course you have constant access to Mitchell on demand which is an online think that basically gives you service manuals fo every car in the world

i totally agree! im a technician for Land Rover (fancy term for mechanic lol).... i also went to school and got a degree in automotive technology from unversal technical institute.... i learned alot from schooling.... mostly just the book smart aspect of it... i seemed to learn more by watching the guys i work with.... and tryin it myself... if i didnt get it... i ask questions... u can never ask too many questions... lol. but i love workin on cars... its fun....

the tools i started out with are:
-a $300 tool box from sears
- 1'4" and 3'8" socket set
- wrenches
- screw drivers
- plyiers

just the basics....

but i would look into gettin some air tools.... they make life sooo much easier... sometimes when im at the shop working on my car....i find myself still using hand tools... and then i realize... this would be a lot easier if i just used air tools... lol

good luck to ya man! KLOX

Offline Arro

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What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics
« Reply #7 on: 02:16:32 PM / 26-Mar-08 »
Quote from: scorched
thanks for the tip. got any suggestions though on what the tools i need to buy that would make it "balanced"? maybe a checklist. thanks again

Sears sells a nice tool kit for like $150-200 bux, depending on sale prices. It comes in a plastic box, with a handle on top and handholds on the side. It has four red plastic drawers, and each drawer has molded-in places for all the sockets, screwdriver bits, etc, and are labeled, so if you lose a socket or two, you can easily put them all in their proper spot, and read the label for the empty spots where you lost one or two. It has a healthy set of metric and standard sockets in both 3/8 and 1/2, shot and deep lengths, too, as well as three different ratchet sizes, a bunch of wrenches in metric and standard, and some socket extensions. It also coems with a good set of allen wrenches in both metric and standard. The bottom drawer is deeper than the others, so you can fit some other items in there that you might add. It's a great kit, and it's Craftsman, so it's quality, and broken sockets will get replaced for free for life.

What I would add to that:

- A big C-clamp from a hardware store, big enough to compress the brake caliper pistons when you're changing your brake pads. I've tried every piston compressor out there, and a standard C-clamp works best, because you can use it on just about every caliper out there.

- A long breaker bar, in 1/2 in drive connection.

- A good wire crimper w/ built-in wire stripping notches, and a box of butt connectors, quick taps, wire nuts, and a couple small reels of wire for minor electrical repairs and modifications

- A can of liquid wrench super penetrating lubricant. Helps loosen those old, rusted on tight bolts.

- A good set of normal-sized screwdrivers, in both phillips(+) and flathead (-).

Anything else you will figure out that you need as you run into those needs.

Air tools are nice, but you need an air compressor for that, and not everyone want to shell out the cash for one right away, and some people live in places (apartments for instance) where they can run one. Plus they need more room to store them away, and you still have to buy the tools for it. But if you do, a good impact gun and air ratchet, as well as air grinder/sawzall is a good thing to have if you have an air compressor.
« Last Edit: 02:18:56 PM / 26-Mar-08 by Arro »
-Jason Arro


'85 Nissan 200SX (KA24DE)
formerly,
'85 Nissan Silvia RS-X - FJ20 w/ dual Weber carbs
'84 Nissan 200SX Turbo
'85 Nissan 200SX Turbo
Drive it like you stole it, and work on it like you married it - self quote
Quote from: ka-t.org
Hella flush and all associates should be gunned down for brainwashing people into thinking a 225 and lots of camber is proper wheel fitment. THAT IS EASY, anyone can camber a skinny as tire till it dosnt rub. Now fitting an 11 with a 315 on stock fender with reasonable camber, that is fitment. And looks, and performs better than both.
i dont own a s12 at the moment but trying to acquire one to get rid of my s13 hatch
Quote from: SHOUTBOX
[27:54] zastaba: I had a friend touch the contacts on his distributer once
[28:04] zastaba: He did the super jumping up and down pain dance

Offline bluke1

What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics
« Reply #8 on: 07:43:16 PM / 26-Mar-08 »
+1 arro, and pay attention when he says read! information can be found in lots of places and the ability to find, interperate, and apply the info will save you time and money. anyone can take their tools and remove nuts and bolts, but choosing which nuts and bolts and understanding why you are removing them in the first place is the key to repairing any mechanical componant. books/literature give you an understanding of how things are supposed to work, and how to check if they have failed or are out of factory specifications, and THAT is so much more important then just being able to take it apart. the main goal is to put it back together and have it operate as good or better then it was designed to, and you just cant accomplish that without understanding. nice tools will only get you so far, knowledge will make a pile of junk into something to be proud of!!
on a long enough timeline, everyones survival rate drops to zero

86 200sx notch racecar (soon to be kade)
86 200sx notch ka swap project
87 200sx se welded diff beater
87 200sx se daily driver
76 cadillac miller meteor endloader hearse

Offline blue streak

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What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics
« Reply #9 on: 07:44:18 PM / 15-Jul-08 »
Yeah, I took a two year ASE certified course. That gets you the basics of it. But really,
experience, trail & error, and "GOOD" forums like this & others, are the best ways. Even with the best schooling, you still need to jump into a greasy grimmy mess to really appreciate it. OH, and a big compressor with tons of air tools   .

Offline turbo-s12

Re: What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics
« Reply #10 on: 07:08:18 PM / 04-Jan-11 »
very informative, same way i learned and how i am still learning.....i read the whole thing wasnt very hard...lol

Offline nismologist

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Re: What the hell is the best way to learn about mechanics
« Reply #11 on: 07:14:23 PM / 04-Jan-11 »
hands on with someone who knows everything about it, and tells you what you do right and wrong. my dad tought me how to change a belt and the oil at first.. then i started diving into jobs like doing pads on brakes, and then rotors, then an entire engine, then a trans. it just gets bigger and bigger as you move up the knowledge ladder.

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