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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What was it that inspired you to pick up a tool and Do It Yourself?

For me it was when I was in my early 20’s I had a new car under warranty and I believed bringing my car to the dealer was the right thing to do and they only thing to do. I felt like I had to have a detailed record of bringing in my car for service to keep everything whole.

Then one day it was time for me to make an appointment and all I could remember was waiting for hours for routine maintenance. If you didn’t get there at 5:30am (they opened at 7:00) you were screwed for the day. It was just ridiculous.

Back then the internets didn’t have a detailed catalog of what service was needed and YouTube didn’t exist. I had to get the service manual (which I did from the library - I learned very quickly that if they didn’t have it they would order it and was within a week they would get it).

Then I would go through what needed to be done and start doing them. I had a mechanic buddy that showed me the ropes for the “harder stuff” like changing brake pads, bleeding the brake line, spark plug and coils, etc. I snapped a lot of bolts and screws along the way and learned the value of a torque wrench.

There are some things I really dislike doing like tire rotations and anything that involves taking of the inside panels as they can be fragile.

I have yet to take on a timing belt change and I don’t expect to - that’s a job I am happy to drop off and pay someone to do it.

So all in time savings was why I picked up the wrench and saving money using higher quality products is a close 2nd. Hell I learned how to cut hair because I got tired of bringing my son to the barber and waiting there for an hour or two, unfortunately I learned too well because his friends ask me for touch-ups whenever they come over.

What’s your story?
 

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When I turned 15, I got speed fever. Had to put a four barrel carb, dual exhausts, and a manual transmission in the family '55 Mercury. Read the "Motor Manual" front to back a few times. Asked for tools for gifts on whenever I could. Two years after I got my driver's license I got it revoked for 3 years. Originally 6 months, but got caught driving 4 times and it kept getting extended. Worked in gas stations during the summer, then finally went full-time as a "Mechanic".

Spent most of my 45 year working career in dealership parts and service departments, as a district manager for BMW, and the last 18 years as owner of a small repair shop. 4 time certified ASE Master Auto Tech. I still like to "Tinker Around" with various home and vehicle projects. I still keep up with auto tech via some good classes on the internet. Good to keep the brain from rotting. :)
 

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I was 16 years old when I bought my own first (used) car, paid for everything myself including the car, repairs, mods, gas, etc., and car mechanics are expensive so I figured out how to maintain them myself. I'm a DIYer in many ways other than just cars - it's my nature - the whole taking things apart to figure out what makes them tick kind of thing.

I later figured out that it's quite convenient to do things myself. It's just easier to change the oil myself rather than taking it somewhere to do. There was no internet (or even PCs) at all back then but there were shop manuals and in some cases just using logic. Most car mechanical repairs aren't that difficult to figure out. Some procedures are a hassle and some might require a special one of a kind type of tool but generally I can do most repairs and maintenance including on modern cars but sometimes I'll take it to a mechanic depending on the situation. Routine things like brakes, tire rotations (which I don't mind at all), fluid/filter changes, plugs/wires/cap, hoses/belts, starters, alternators, batteries, etc. are simple and don't require special tools. Replacing water pumps, radiators, are a bit more involved but doable (I replaced the water pump on my Durango about 4-5 times over the course of its 235K miles - I got pretty fast at it after awhile). I've also removed/installed engines, transmissions, rear ends, and redone suspension and steering components as well as many other things. I'm not a mechanic by trade but I do okay at it.

I also figured out that no one cares as much about my car than I do and that there are incompetent and careless people in the world - even dealer mechanics (some - not all).

And then there's the self-satisfaction I get from a job well done.

Over the decades I've saved many thousands of dollars and many hours of time taking a car to a dealer and back and waiting around, etc. by working on the cars myself. And even for the times I might take the vehicle to a mechanic they're not going to be able to snow me hence I don't get ripped off by the occasional dishonest shop or even the ones who indicate some repair 'could' be done (but isn't really needed - at least not for awhile). I also save thousands by not buying extended warranties people less knowledgeable of the mechanics get goaded into buying (i.e. I know they're not worth it on average), save many thousands by keeping my vehicles longer and for higher mileage than some people not familiar with the mechanics would out of their fear that something might go wrong so they buy a new vehicle rather than just fixing what's wrong, etc.

Nowadays with the internet, car forums with how-to posts, and great Youtube tutorials by the likes of 'Localbar', DIYing many of the areas is made much easier and less intimidating for people willing to roll up their sleeves and give the task a try.
 

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Doing my first camshaft replacement very soon. It a big jump from doing brake job, oil change, ATF flush and such. Can’t wait to get started! Next project is oil pump reseal and timing belt. Reason for doing this myself because I am broke and have the tools and garage.


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My dad taught me change the oil on his Honda when I was around 6 and then I did it with him overseeing the work all the way through my teens. Then when I got my own Subie when I was 18, that's when I REALLY branched out and did just about anything else I could get my hands on except the timing belt, water pump, and head gaskets (Subies, yanno?) because the Subie forced me to learn to maintain it on a budget (since I was in college) much more than I really wanted to learn these things lol. Also helped that the Subie community I was in was mostly engineers who happily wrote DIY instructions for anyone who wanted to try on their own as well. I think owning a car with sporadic issues and a more intense maintenance schedule forces you to learn a lot of these things because I've noticed that most of the relatives who own Toyotas and other reliable brands tend to be more clueless about their vehicles, despite being in professions like Mechanical Engineering.
 

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I got tired of getting ripped off by dealerships.

Most of them would telling me that XXX fluids are burnt and overdue and try to sell me a bill of $500 - $1000 when they see a new customer. Sticking to the same dealership is usually not too bad.

Anyway, eventually I decided that I need to "know" in order to not get ripped off, and eventually that developed into hands-on interest.

Also, the realization of how easy it actually is to do most DIY work vs. what the shops charges
 

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I so badly wanted to ride a motorcycle when I was about 9 and the only option was my Dad's neglected 1967 Honda CL 90. When my dad went to work (summer break) I would 'wrench' on the bike and eventually got it going and rode the crap out of it every chance I could. Eventually my dad gave the bike to me (like 20 years later) and it was really in bad shape at that point. But, I still have it and have corrected all my early learning mistakes and made it a nice survivor (mechanically great, original patina). I think the motivation these days to DIY is largely my OCD and my wife's cheapness.
 
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Started when dealership got grease on my RL carpet mats second time. Also tired of paying what I consider ridiculous fees for simple services. Then I decided to stop putting money into a 2006 MDX with over 200k miles that was an extra vehicle, which meant I didn’t need to get it repaired emergently and could research repairs.

Found the FAQ post for the Gen 1 MDX which details how to fix pretty much anything. Add in some YouTube videos, discounted parts off amazon or eBay... and... well... I do it all myself now.

Just last week changed oil, transmission fluid, rear differential fluid, front transfer case fluid, brake fluid, rotated tires, both air filters on 2015 MDX. It was fun, I know it was done right, and saved a ton. :)


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To the OP, thanks for asking. I'm aware that this is more fun for me to write than it will be for anyone to read, so forgive me for taking your post as an invitation to indulge myself.

Working on cars (as well as appliances, wiring, plumbing, etc) is an extension of a mindset I learned/inherited from my dad. I learned by watching as I grew up that the mechanical and electrical things around us can and should be maintained, and that much of the knowledge needed can be gained in the act of thoughtful disassembly. My dad and many others in my parent's circle of friends were engineers. There was a variety of professional training and experience among them, from electricians and air-conditioning technicians to rocket scientists, but they tackled any maintenance issue without hesitation and they got real enjoyment from solving problems over a few beers. The lessons for me were that troubleshooting is a process, mistakes can be corrected, and you can always stop when you get stuck and find someone with the experience needed to get you back on track. Getting help used to take some time, but today it's almost instant.

I started out working on my bicycle and lawn mowers and helping my dad with the family cars. When I bought my first vehicle, a '77 Land Cruiser FJ40, my parents gave me a tool box and metric wrench and socket sets.

Through college and beyond I continued to maintain my vehicles and anything else around me that broke down - partially because I chose to spend what money I had on something other than repair or replacement of broken cars, stereos, toasters, etc., and partially because I broke a lot of things. My dad still tells the story of how I set fire to that FJ40. Luckily it's not too difficult to reverse engineer the wiring harness for a 'cruiser.

In college I bought a $200 motorcycle ('75 CB550) and started hanging around a friendly Honda dealer where I could grill the service staff for help with the bike. That turned into an arrangement where I would sweep the floors, or whatever, and they would pay me in information, used parts, and guidance in carb tuning.

I share the frugality others have mentioned above (OK, I'm cheap), as well as the OCD about doing the work my way. I've come to respect the skill and knowledge of good professional mechanics, but I'm still hyper-critical of the occasional experience of paying for half-a**ed work. All along the way from bicycle pedals to head gasket replacements, I've enjoyed the act of doing the work and the enduring satisfaction of learning the skills and relying on my own hands.

These days with kids in school and a busy work schedule I don't have time for project cars but I do the maintenance, and I look for opportunities to be that neighbor who can help out with building or fixing something. I do still type "mechanic's special" into craigslist once in awhile for fun though...

Joe
 

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If the job is something that I can do it safely without compromising the safety of the vehicle, I like to do it myself. I kind of enjoy fixing anything myself, you know the joy it comes with(I feel the car actually drives better when I work on it).
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
To the OP, thanks for asking. I'm aware that this is more fun for me to write than it will be for anyone to read, so forgive me for taking your post as an invitation to indulge myself.

Working on cars (as well as appliances, wiring, plumbing, etc) is an extension of a mindset I learned/inherited from my dad. I learned by watching as I grew up that the mechanical and electrical things around us can and should be maintained, and that much of the knowledge needed can be gained in the act of thoughtful disassembly. My dad and many others in my parent's circle of friends were engineers. There was a variety of professional training and experience among them, from electricians and air-conditioning technicians to rocket scientists, but they tackled any maintenance issue without hesitation and they got real enjoyment from solving problems over a few beers. The lessons for me were that troubleshooting is a process, mistakes can be corrected, and you can always stop when you get stuck and find someone with the experience needed to get you back on track. Getting help used to take some time, but today it's almost instant.

I started out working on my bicycle and lawn mowers and helping my dad with the family cars. When I bought my first vehicle, a '77 Land Cruiser FJ40, my parents gave me a tool box and metric wrench and socket sets.

Through college and beyond I continued to maintain my vehicles and anything else around me that broke down - partially because I chose to spend what money I had on something other than repair or replacement of broken cars, stereos, toasters, etc., and partially because I broke a lot of things. My dad still tells the story of how I set fire to that FJ40. Luckily it's not too difficult to reverse engineer the wiring harness for a 'cruiser.

In college I bought a $200 motorcycle ('75 CB550) and started hanging around a friendly Honda dealer where I could grill the service staff for help with the bike. That turned into an arrangement where I would sweep the floors, or whatever, and they would pay me in information, used parts, and guidance in carb tuning.

I share the frugality others have mentioned above (OK, I'm cheap), as well as the OCD about doing the work my way. I've come to respect the skill and knowledge of good professional mechanics, but I'm still hyper-critical of the occasional experience of paying for half-a**ed work. All along the way from bicycle pedals to head gasket replacements, I've enjoyed the act of doing the work and the enduring satisfaction of learning the skills and relying on my own hands.

These days with kids in school and a busy work schedule I don't have time for project cars but I do the maintenance, and I look for opportunities to be that neighbor who can help out with building or fixing something. I do still type "mechanic's special" into craigslist once in awhile for fun though...

Joe
I enjoyed reading that! I was raised in an environment where the only DIYing was cooking - everything else was hired out.

When I bought my first house I didn’t have much money left but had a whole lot of work to do and I quickly subscribed to the “night as well try to do this first myself before hiring someone”. I’d go to the library and read up on what I was doing and I’d do it. I learned what to do and more importantly what not to do along the way.

Now I can fix pretty much anything in the house and remodel any room and I enjoy it. I too like helping the neighbors out but I try and teach rather than do because doing gets tired after a while. Some peoplebjust don’t value your time and look for the quickie - all these social neighborhood groups and now people don’t even Google anymore. The research it just too much work so they ask anything looking to be spoon fed. I help where and when I can and when I know I’ll get enjoyment out of it. Don’t ask me to update your Kodi “YouTube that one” I tell everyone.

It’s good knowing the work is being done property and with good quality parts at a FRACTION of the cost and time waiting.

??
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
If the job is something that I can do it safely without compromising the safety of the vehicle, I like to do it myself. I kind of enjoy fixing anything myself, you know the joy it comes with(I feel the car actually drives better when I work on it).
That’s the best feeling - because it’s does drive better and you’ll swear you can feel how smooth the car is after the fluid changes.
 
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