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Turning a wrench... A dying skill?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Jive-Bomber, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 3,363


  2. Old-Soul
    Joined: Jun 16, 2007
    Posts: 3,596


    Like you, I'll lift the hood on a new (read: 2000+) vehicle and most of the time I'm left scratching my head as to what the hell is going on under there.

    But all hope is not lost. My cousin is 20 years old, broke and building his car (an import, I'll save you all the details) on a shoe string budget, and has done 90% of the work himself, in his garage. He's done engine swaps, electrical, mechanical and even painted it himself. I'm as guilty as the next guy for thinking we're doomed (I can't even talk, I'm just a glorified set of hands really, I rely on friends who are more skilled than I many times with my vehicles) but as long as there's broke kids with work ethic there will be guys wrenching in the garage.

    My $0.02
  3. harrington
    Joined: Jul 22, 2009
    Posts: 421

    from Indiana

    Sad but true...
  4. AHotRod
    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
    Posts: 11,165


    It is true .... amazing how few have any clue how to fix or maintain a vehicle anymore, it is a dying skill. Fact is, there is hardly no one even building or fixing up a car or truck in these parts anymore, all the old-guys (older than me :) )have street rods that they hardly drive anymore, and there are no younger guys getting involved in the 20-50's cars. To me it looks like Hot Rods are dying to ..... :(

  5. I do ALL the work on my 06 charger and my 05 excursion...its not impossible just daunting at times.I would rather grind rust and welds on my old cars but I just cant afford the shop rate . The dealer wanted $ 300.00 for an oil change and "safety check " on the diesel ex.That seemed kinda high to me .Some people can work on their cars ...some people cant and have to write a check.
  6. New cars aren't complicated to diagnose, but they can be a bitch to repair!

    I spent over 10 years teaching end-of-line UAW guys how to understand how modern vehicle systems work, how to diagonse them, and how to repair them. It was definately a very rewarding position.

    I do, however, have to agree with your point on "throw-away" parts. I don't agree with calling a parts-changer a mechanic, but so many components are unrepairable. Have I used my knowledge to bypass certain vehicle systems to save a buck? Absolutely! I have also bit the bullet and realized when some things are just simply irreparable.

    To make matters worse, I went into an Autozone on my lunch break recently. I tried to buy a case of oil, oil filter, and wiper inserts. I was amazed at how dumbed-down that place has become. They could not sell me a case of oil, but they sold me a 5-gallon jug. They no longer sell wiper refills, but only a handful of the most popular replacements. I was amazed I could get my own filter off of the shelf!

    This is another reason we need to keep driving out of our way to support locally-owned parts stores and machine shops.
  7. The problem is, you can't teach someone who doesn't want to learn...

    I deal with this on a daily basis. Many (NOT all) of our students look at this line of work as an income source and nothing more. They will take every shortcut (unfortunately some of them are taught by instructors) possible, and their only concern is the paycheck at the end of the week.

    I can teach them anything but how to give a shit...
  8. Lowbuckboz
    Joined: Apr 2, 2008
    Posts: 500


    I work at a Lincoln/Hyundai dealer as a mechanic...excuse me... technician. Lol, that's good shit! New cars suck to work on and pay less every day. I won't own a new car. If you do want a new car, dump it when the warranty expires. Nothing is made to last anymore.
  9. Rich427
    Joined: Mar 14, 2012
    Posts: 75


    A friend who is my age (22) and admits to know nothing about cars, called me a few weeks ago and asked if I could teach him to do an oil change and some other basic things. He came over and we went out to pick up some oil and a filter. I tell him what oil to get while I found the correct filter and he says "what do you think 1 or 2?"

    I am 22 and I am into old cars because of my dad. Since I was 12 I have been outside wrenching on something. I am trying to get my friends into it as well, and i have succeeded with a couple. But yes it is definitely becoming a thing of the past.
  10. mike in tucson
    Joined: Aug 11, 2005
    Posts: 499

    mike in tucson
    from Tucson

    The scanner and a voltmeter are the new 9/16" wrench...but you still have to troubleshoot. It appears that most dealers have a well trained tech who does the tough troubleshooting. He is well paid and worth the money.

    For the backyard guy, the cost of tools has probably risen and the technology changed to favor electronics but the principles remain the same. The only gotcha with newer stuff is that you cant improvise when it dies beside the road....a carburetor can be "patched" to limp home but a FI unit is a bit more difficult....
  11. Hmmmm......I like working on new cars.....everyone thinks it's a pain in the ass, which is good since they don't freak when I hand them the repair bill....

    Once you get the engine cover off it's easy access and who doesn't like check engine lights? Something goes wrong, the light comes on, You plug in the scan tool and it tells you what system the fault is in.....I don't really see how it could be more simple. The cars I hate working on are were built from between about 1979 and 1990. They suck. cracked vacuum lines running everywhere.....
  12. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 7,031


    Vehicles back in the day were mechanically and electrically controlled. Today's electronic computer controlled "systems" and components make it extremely difficult and expensive for the average person with mechanical skills to diagnose and repair modern vehicles. That said, young folks and those who are self-reliant who want to learn the skills needed will do what it takes. Sadly, this is where our high school boards of education have failed our youth by eliminating programs across the USA.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2012
  13. nail-head
    Joined: Jan 22, 2007
    Posts: 293


    Check out a book by Matthew B. Crawford called "Shop Class as Soulcraft."
  14. I think the exact opposite is true.
  15. There is a natural progression to get up to fixing cars. For me it was erector sets, bicycles, lawn mowers, mini bikes, boats and finally cars.

    I feel that if you're not mechanically inclined and don't try to figure it out for yourself incrementally, you may be a car technician, but you won't be a car mechanic. One local kid went to a 2-year automotive school and couldn't fix a flat on his bicycle.

    For me as well as others, if your car broke and you were also BROKE, you needed to fix it yourself ASAP to get to school or work. But a '65 Falcon is a bit easier to get running than a dead 2012 Whatever.

  16. SquireDon
    Joined: Aug 8, 2010
    Posts: 600

    from Oregon

    I'm driving a '99 Lincoln Town Car with 293,000 miles. I can still wrench on the 4.6 liter.

    My wife's 2006 Explorer? I just open the hood and stare at it. It's a big plastic nightmare.
  17. skwurl
    Joined: Aug 25, 2008
    Posts: 1,620


    Been a Honda tech for 15 years. I love it. It pays the bills. I don't like working on older stuff as much. I kinda went backwards. I learned on new cars now I have a bunch of old stuff that I tinker on. It's really about what you're used to.
  18. Lowbuckboz
    Joined: Apr 2, 2008
    Posts: 500


    I do a lot of trouble shooting. The pay isn't there. I can make more money doing repairs then trouble shooting a running problem. The scanner doesn't fix it for you either. There is not just one guy that trouble shoots. The problem with this industry is the pay isn't there for the skills needed to fix the cars. That seems to be keeping the young guys out of the dealer. A little more education and you could be an IT tech, make more money and not get dirty.
  19. SquireDon
    Joined: Aug 8, 2010
    Posts: 600

    from Oregon

    On the other hand, this kind of sentiment isn't new. When the car came around, I'm sure there were blacksmiths & such that were wondering if there were going to be anyone left who knew how to shoe a horse, or put the metal ring around wooden wagon wheels.

    I don't mine being able to use a scanner on my newer cars. That OBDII scanner has helped me out more than once on finding problems on my cars.
  20. Mr.Mix
    Joined: Feb 2, 2012
    Posts: 34

    from Vermont

    I hope younger people are getting into older cars, but from what I have experienced and seen in my age group it is not looking good. I rarely can find someone in their 20's interested in older cars and getting their hands dirty under the hood which is unfortunate. I find a great sense of accomplishment doing whatever I can on my low budget in my garage and learning from each experience (good or bad).

    New cars though? Forget it. When did big chunks of molded plastic bolted over the engine become so in style?:confused:
  21. vonpahrkur
    Joined: Apr 21, 2005
    Posts: 918


    My newest car is an 89 gmc pickup, it has some computer stuff-(okay any amount of computer stuff is more than I'd prefer when it comes time to fix it) but i can still somewhat work on it and it can tow a trailer and haul just about whatever i need to haul. It's a work truck and it's not much to look at as that year there was some kind of experimental paint-i think the experiment was let's design a paint that holds up for a little while then just all of a sudden begins coming off in small medium and large pieces, yet stays on in small sections really good thus making it a lot of work to repaint...:)

    I like working on old cars, been turning wrenches since before I was old enough to drive. I'm by no means an expert and i definitely am learning new things all the time and re-learning things i forget... :) I like being able to fix things on my vehicles, but it would be nice to have a newer truck with low miles to haul and tow with and that i can hop in and not have to worry about-thus giving me more time to wrench on the classics.
    You are right though, not too many people that know how to turn wrenches anymore...
  22. Unless you own your own shop and know yer stuff.. working on new cars sucks, at least for me. I got out of it in 1980 following my 1978 car accident recovery. Already they were becoming harder to diagnose.

    Finding the right shop to work in was always a problem. Too many owners were satisfied with doing a shoddy job and probably are still today.

  23. '51 Norm
    Joined: Dec 6, 2010
    Posts: 717

    '51 Norm
    from colorado

    New cars can be understood and worked on; it just uses a different skill (and tool) set.

    My day job is an instrument and controls technician at a power plant. The control systems on new cars aren't so very different. The only real difference that I can see is that the information needed to properly troubleshoot automotive systems is much more difficult to locate.

    I have found that if you can get down to the component level in an automotive system things can be fixed for little or no money, the issue is the time required to discover what (and where) the problem really is.

    What bothers me is the amount of mis-information that is out there. I have had "experts" tell me things that were totally wrong. I guess that isn't anything new, car guys have been lying to each other for decades.

    The result of all of this is that I have a couple of newish cars that are similar so that I don't have to go through all of the "fun" of learning all about a different vehicle.

    Anyway for what it is worth that is my 2 cents.
  24. I taught automotives at the high school level for 25 years.....they cut our shop programs...welding, auto, woodworking..machine shop..drafting, blueprint reading. Here in Maine we do offer Voc Ed..but these kids enter as a Junior or Senior was no background..some kids can't even read a rule. Our "No Child Left Behind" crap pushes for science and math...that good for some kids..but what about the kids that are not built for these kinds of courses..some math is good..BUT not all math..after math...after....seems like our country is going backwards.. We need hands on education...just like we had and we built our country..maybe I'm old fashion??.
  25. Ole_Red
    Joined: Jul 29, 2009
    Posts: 596

    from 206, WA

    I have recently gotten back in to old cars and am trying to learn as much as I can as I go. Jumping from an 09 Hyundai to a 65 Studebaker. When I had my 67 Buick, it went to a shop mostly because I never had the time to work on it between 3 jobs and going back to school. This go around, I am trying to learn and do as much as I can on my own. I want this to be something that I can teach my kids down the line. My daughter, at 3, is already trying to help when I work on it.

    At some point, I would like to take a few welding classes or have someone work with me so that I can learn the skill.

    My wife asked why I dont do any work on the Hyundai... I lifted the hood and showed her the "tupperware" and then showed her a picture of the 283 in the Stude. Her response, "the Stude looks easy."
  26. The sky is falling!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Jay, you got suckered into the same trap that automotive journalists have been falling for over the last 5 decades.

    New cars are not so hard. I have learned a lot in the last few years from one of our drivers who is not afraid to tackle anything. A simple code reader and the same hand tools I use on my older cars. Fuel and fire, still the same.
  27. Larry W
    Joined: Oct 12, 2009
    Posts: 731

    Larry W
    from kansas

    I can fix my hot rods,but forget this new computer crap....
  28. Lowbuckboz
    Joined: Apr 2, 2008
    Posts: 500


    Hard to open a shop with that kind of overhead. Then the problem of who do you hire hits. I do make more money at home in my own shop. There are a lot of little shops that'll just cut your throat.
  29. bowtiemyk
    Joined: Feb 3, 2005
    Posts: 175


    !/2" Box wrench? Don't you mean 13mm.
  30. Swiss50chevy
    Joined: Apr 30, 2009
    Posts: 561


    I disagree, i work at a GM/Chrysler dealer as a tech. Once you get past all the wiring harnesses, plastic intake covers, cam phasers, electronic injectors and coil packs. The basic ARE still there, internal combustion engine, 4 or 6 speeds transmission and rearend...or transaxle. Though you wont find a (1/2) bolt anywhere on today cars, everything still works the same. Intake, compression, power and exhaust. Transmission work the same, hydralic clutches and planataries. The electronics arent too difficult to understand. You have a driver, input and output controlling whatever and multitude of sensors.

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