DIY Car Repair for Sorta-Dummies
September 5, 2018 2:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm relatively car-repair competent. I'm capable of doing maintenance like changing oil filters, brakes, and fan belts. What are good resources for increasing my automotive knowledge?

I can find my way around a Chiltons manual for some/most things.
HOWEVER, I'm not a car person. Car forums might as well be written in French, and people in those forums can be total jerks (or call me sweetheart when they find out i'm a woman uhg). Are there educational resources somewhere between "Take your car to your dealership for regularly scheduled maintenance!" and "I just machined my own part, duh super easy, also here are a bunch of acronyms you don't understand."

For example, I'm looking at replacing my suspension, which I believe I'm mechanically capable of doing, but while shopping for leaf springs I was trying to learn about what different thicknesses mean, and ended up reading a race car blog for my answer. Like yeah, I got my answer eventually, but I'm not building a damn race car.

If it matters I drive a mid-90's Chevy, if you have any specific resources.
posted by Grandysaur to Education (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Get the actual shop manual (not the Chilton or haynes) for your car. Read all the introductory stuff there after you read the shorter version in the Haynes. Google a bunch od the stuff too.

There are a bunch of good community college automotive textbooks, you can get a used older edition on Amazon at non-textbook prices. They're really useful for the sort of general education you're asking about.
posted by twoplussix at 2:20 PM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Check your local public library: my account gives me access to Chilton manuals plus other chilton how-to content and tutorial/how-to stuff from other providers as well, including videos and other online content.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:37 PM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


YouTube is surprisingly good for things like this. Obviously the quality can vary a bit, but there's almost certainly a handful of step by step videos for "do X to my specific Y".
posted by so fucking future at 2:49 PM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


2nd-ing the Factory manual over a Chiltons. They do tend to list lots of special tools, some you need, some you can figure your way around. Chiltons does have handy tips like "stuff a rag into the carb opening in the manifold so you don't drop stuff in there and tear something up" though.
I've rebuilt motors and driven them for 150K miles, I've rebuilt transmissions. I in fact transplanted the motor, transmission, interior, etc out of my recently totalled totally rebuilt car into a body from a scrap yard in the middle of nowhere in the summer in New Mexico years ago. None of that took a great deal of strength except bench pressing the transmission up into place. They make jacks, but the jacks don't work on sand.

Suspension work is heavy hard work, especially things like replacing ball joints etc. They make a puller/installer you can borrow from many auto parts stores, but it takes a great deal of upper body strength to get the job done. That, or an air operated impact driver and maybe a BFH. (Big F'ing Hammer) Most of this stuff is pressed together, so you have to press it apart while on the car. Then press the new parts back together. Nothing but a return of extreme poverty coupled with dire necessity would ever get me to work on a front end suspension again.

I replaced leafs on a 65 Nova, if I recall correctly we had to use a hydraulic jack in a "non approved manner" to get the thing into place. I don't recall it being too bad.
posted by rudd135 at 4:11 PM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


I see your location. "Middle of Nowhere" is defined as 11 miles west of Mountainair, which is east of Belen a good ways.
Find some friends that like to work on cars if you can, and be a helper. That's how I got started.
posted by rudd135 at 4:15 PM on September 5, 2018


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