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Albert27

How did you get into DIY Car Maintenance?

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Just wondered how you got into working on cars?  And how you developed your skills further?

For me, it was a money saver and from then on became a hobby.  Have mainly learnt more through this forum but occasionally wish I had an experienced mate to work with me when I come to tackle jobs that are just out of my skill level!  Haynes has helped too (sometimes).  I've wondered about volunteering at a garage a few hours a month but don't know if this is ever done or anyone would allow this..........

What about you?

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same here ,taught myself using books and of course  youtube became a big help for me. also to save money.  last big job i did was the timing belt and water pump replacement ,that alone saved a few hundered quids. with what i saved buys tools for more jobs.

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Got fed up with garages ripping me off, taking advantage, stupid waiting times, leaving bolts loose, doing half a job, returning the car with more things broken...

Did a college course to learn the basics 7 years ago.  Have done brief work experience at a couple of main dealer's. Stripped a few cars for parts, fantastic way to see how things work.  Helped out mates with various car projects a few years ago.  Try to keep up to date with modern tech.  Tend to watch YouTube videos on anything I'm unclear on before starting a job these days.  

Most garages won't let you volunteer now due to thier insurance, I tried various places a few years back.

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Dad was always playing with cars and trying to keep up with Mike Brewer and Ed China as well, so used to sit and watch him, went to college to do my IMI Light vehicle, while doing stuff on my own cars.  Now I work as a farmer and just do some stuff on my cars but always take it to the garage to service them as I like seeing a stamp in the book + keep all the receipts.  

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1 hour ago, TomsFocus said:

Stripped a few cars for parts, fantastic way to see how things work

Sounds a really good way to learn.   Do you just buy a cheap one at auction and then strip it to sell the parts?  And would the parts value be worth more than the car you've just paid for?

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6 hours ago, Albert27 said:

occasionally wish I had an experienced mate to work with me when I come to tackle jobs that are just out of my skill level!  Haynes has helped too (sometimes).

Very true!

When you are working on your one & only means of transport, and it all starts going a bit pear shaped, it does get a bit lonely and stressful sad.png. Will it all go back together again, or am I going to have to "phone a friend" (if I can find one!), to get me out of trouble huh.png?  Also Haynes is rather hit and miss. It is an invaluable source of information to be sure, but a lot is missed out, misleading, or even just plain wrong.

But then the internet is rather the other way round, the amount of garbage out there (here?) greatly exceeds the amount of truly good info. But there are some real gems of useful stuff to be found.

My father was a vintage motorbike enthusiast. I was surrounded by bits of engine, frames, and related things, since before I can remember. He also dabbled (haphazardly) with TVs & Radios, so electrical and electronic components were also in the mix.

I partly re-built a Triumph Tiger Cub (200cc motorbike), which made a lot of noise, but was not really much use. Then I was given the Hillman Imp that had been the family 2nd car. It needed a complete engine re-build, as Imps seemed to (and probably still do) need every few years. That was quite fun, as a teenager. But I had the resources of my Dad's quite well equipped workshop, and his (not always reliable ohmy.pngunsure.png) assistance, to call on when needed.

After leaving home, doing car maintenance at the roadside, outside the house, with no backup, was a lot more of a challenge. But a £100 garage bill sounded like a lot of money in those days, so I did what I could. As my work commitments increased, and my financial situation got better, I did less, and used garages more.

But there were occasions when I felt I had to do it myself. My Triumph 2000 had a problem with hot starting: One place said valves, another said pistons. I felt it was valves, but was not sure. So I bought a cheap MoT fail car, and swapped the heads over in the works car park, in February. There was ice on the puddles! I must have been tougher then, I could not do that now. It was valves, and the swap did work, but it was a painful, hard weekend of work!

My DIY has increased quite a lot with my current Focus. Most of my previous cars were bought quickly, either due to urgent need, or on impulse, but the Focus was the result of several weeks of research and searching. The rising cost of garage repairs, and the complexity of these modern cars going beyond the capability of many local garages, plus the Focus being a bit more "valued" by me, has resulted in a lot more work done by me. But also a general decline in my financial situation (:sad:) may be a contributory factor!

I certainly would not claim that my abilities exceed a local garage, but I am prepared to do the research, and put the effort in to not only do the job, but look for other problems at the same time. No garage could afford to do this, without charging horrific amounts.

Maybe a result of the extra work is that it has passed all the 6 MoTs I have had to have done. Brakes & corrosion are certainly areas where I have had many fails in the past, but avoided on this car so far.

Apologies for the life story:blush:, but that is how I got into car maintenance.

 

 

 

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not done any major DIY, but i will be in the future when needs be, iv been watching chrisfix on youtube best videos out there, i would like to do a car maintenance coarse at college, but its having the time as i work 38 hours a week so time is hard to come by.

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10 hours ago, Albert27 said:

Sounds a really good way to learn.   Do you just buy a cheap one at auction and then strip it to sell the parts?  And would the parts value be worth more than the car you've just paid for?

No, I'm just terrible at buying cars...always end up with a lemon! :unsure: 

It started with the Golf, (mentioned in another thread recently) after over-modifying an old engine it had top end engine failure, along with clutch and DMF needing to be done, I couldn't afford to fix it.  Would've only got half it's value by selling it.  Ended up getting more than it's book figure price by stripping and selling parts - but the important thing is it was a sought after engine and trim level so plenty of upgrade parts, it doesn't work well with base spec cars.  A few cars later I owned my 6th 306, which had rusty rear arch and chassis legs amongst other issues, again cost too much to fix so stripped that for more than book figures.  After that I bought a few through ebay and gumtree to either fix or break (most ended up broken) and a few as donors, where I kept some parts and sold the rest.  Funny thing was, that often led me to buy other cars...one donor was a 306 HDi, had been rear ended but had a refurbished rear axle on it (those cars use a torsion bar rear axle) that I needed for my own, plus a stainless exhaust and some expensive wheels.  It also had a low mileage engine but I just could not sell it!  Nothing wrong with it so kept it in my Nans garage...  Few weeks later I see another 306 HDi on ebay with engine failure...so I bought that and fitted my unsellable engine to it, saved the car from the scrapyard and that car lived on for another 4 years (only 6 months of that in my ownership)...until that was sadly rear ended this year.  

It does take time & space though, I don't have the space any more, despite plenty of time.  And scrap value got so low I couldn't find anyone to take away the bare shells as it wasn't worth their time and fuel!  Courier prices also cost a lot more now, and vehicle delivery is around £3 a mile, 3 times what it was 5 years ago.

 

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16 hours ago, Tdci-Peter said:

When you are working on your one & only means of transport, and it all starts going a bit pear shaped, it does get a bit lonely and stressful sad.png

I identify with this @Tdci-Peter, it has been one of the major stresses of working on the car, being self employed and having only the one vehicle.  I do hope to get a second vehicle at some point which will make life a bit easier and probably give me the confidence to tackle the bigger jobs; I'll be able to stagger them over a week or two rather than frantically panicking to get my car fixed and back on the road. Enjoyed reading your post.

 

8 hours ago, TomsFocus said:

No, I'm just terrible at buying cars...always end up with a lemon!

I'd avoid an auction then Tom for your next motor; went to one recently and a lot of them look like sheds on their last legs! Although, i think there are some bargains to be had if you do your research.

 

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8 hours ago, AlexBartlam said:

iv been watching chrisfix on youtube

I've watched a lot of his stuff too particularly when I came to do the discs and pads.  It was really helpful.

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15 hours ago, Albert27 said:

I've watched a lot of his stuff too particularly when I came to do the discs and pads.  It was really helpful.

yeah really in depth i follow on facebook and he said for one video it takes 90+ hours of research, filming and editing, so he gets the most in depth video.

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From a young age, I've always had an interest in how things work and would take things apart and rebuild them, so naturally when I got my first car in 1994 (1985 1.3 Escort) I started to do what I could with the help of a Haynes manual and my neigbours. I then started working for Halfords (retail), which had a garage (different set up to todays Halfords Autocentres), and would learn about things from the mechanics when I could. I was even sent on a vehicle familiarisation course where we did some practical work. Sometimes it was a case of just working out how things needed to come apart or to be changed. Nowadays, as some of you have mentioned, Youtube videos are a great help as well as Forums like this and just using Google.

Biggest job I did was to replace the piston rings (and everything else to get to enable this) on an MK5 Escort RS2000. Also replaced a valve and head gasket on an MK2 Fiesta XR2 (friends car) other jobs were things like radiators, water pumps and timing belts, CVH valve stem oil seals (Escort and Sierra), shock absorbers and springs, exhausts, brakes (I hate drum brakes) and doors to name a few.

I've been riding a motorbike too for the last 9 years, so I've been learning and working on that as well. Luckily, this is my backup should I not be able to fix my car, most recently was in March when my car went in to limp mode and I had to wait for parts (Fuel vaporiser) before I could fix it.

 

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For me, it was shadowing our mechanic J for as long as possible. My dad always bought 2nd hand cars and J was always rescuing him. J drove a white Vectra B GSI (kitted out with limo tints, sub woofer, neon lights and all sorts - these kind of mods actually impressed me at age 9 ) which I thought was the bees knees, so whenever he came round I'd always run out to ogle at his car and see if he'd made any further mods.

Eventually I started going out to our garage to see what he was actually repairing. My naturally curious self would ask him questions as he went along and if I was lucky, he'd even let me unscrew something! I watched him work on my dad's Nissan Primera, Mercedes E200 and then Saab 95 over the years so picked up some basics this way.

When I was old enough to start driving myself, J actually kept a Corsa aside for me (I wish he didn't! ), rebuilt the engine and would do any maintenance necessary until him and my dad fell out and our families naturally drifted apart

I definitely owe it to him as he's the reason I even know my way around an engine bay. 3rd car on and I've only used a garage twice. Whilst I'm pretty self sufficient with my car care, I get my yearly service done at a garage for peace of mind and an 'official' record.

Since my mechanic is more or less out of the picture, this is what's helping me out these days:

1. Haynes or driver's manual
2. YouTube
3. Forums
4. Harassing fellow Fiesta owners
5. Snooping around breakers' yards

Sent from my Phantom6 using Tapatalk

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In my younger days it was all most impossible to buy a newish car  as in my case I only earned £5 a week (yes that  is correct) I used to ride round on a 125 Lambretta scooter ( yes it had all the mirrors and back rest etc a proper mod machine) ,so the only car we could buy would be a bit of an old bangor and you had to try to do a better and better swaps as you whent along. Repairs no chance of taking it to a garage they wouldn't shake an oily rag at your car. So you fixed it your self you had to. You learn very fast and do silly things and fit  like a baffle less back box that actually looses power and not increase but sounds good and because your mate says it real good and absolutely convince your self that the little chrome air filter assembly I fitted on top of the carburettor  made a bit more noise was adding mega BHP LOL we have all done something like that. Eventually I mangled to get a Ford Capri 2.8i and now a 345BHP Collins modified MK2 Focus as my mans toy (I do have a more sensible car for day to day family stuff).I used to call my first car a Rolls Canhardly,  rolls  down the hill and can hardly get up one lol it was certainly that . There was no computers no mobile phone no color TV only black and white so no Utube to help just a Haynes manual  if there was one for you car. You know I wouldn't swap all those old memory's for anything even if I am a grumpy old git now a days.Have fun with your modern  better cars that's what my generation worked for so you could get the best and not the old rusting and sometimes a bit unsafe stuff we had to put up with.Oh forgot to say the most moded car  as I remember was the Old Ford Anglia they did lots to them.

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