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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. outlaw256
    Joined: Jun 26, 2008
    Posts: 2,023


    cars may need the same 3 things to run but now you got ALOT more things that have to fire.i sold parts and turned wrenches for over 30 or the other my whole workin life.when i look under the hood of a car now i have no idea what the hell im lookin at!
    Joined: Sep 5, 2007
    Posts: 1,950


    Yup! There will always be hotrodders.

  3. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,260


    If you can't turn wrenches your self, you better make a lot of money.
  4. batt69nova
    Joined: Nov 4, 2009
    Posts: 225

    from OR

    Those big chunks of plastic are there specifically to insulate from noise, and in some cases are also used as an aerodynamic aid to help improve fuel economy, or in the case of hybrids, they help retain heat (as well as aerodynamic and noise improvements).

    I love a good looking flattie, nailhead, or Olds, but new engines don't look too cool, so I'm fine with the covers-they really do serve a purpose!

    I service modern cars and really think it's way easier. New disc brake designs allow for pad replacements by removing 2 bolts at the most...sealed bearings that are just unbolt and go...

    I don't enjoy it as much as working on my Olds or any of my classics. It's not the same at all. There's no "fine tuning" a modern car, most of the time (although, you can bust out your laptop and tune a modern car, it's just not the same...).

    I even service my Prius myself.

    I used to be a Master Certified Lexus Technician.

    New cars aren't too scary if you own a OBDII capable scan fact, if you pop off the plastic covers and plug in the scanner I think that new cars (ESPECIALLY OBDII) are EASIER to work on, because 7 out of 10 times it's a sensor that's worn out and needs replacing-and the scanner tells you exactly what to replace.

    My friends are mystified by points and carbs (no place to plug in!).

    What's dieing, in my opinion, is mechanics who know how to troubleshoot with eyes, ears, hands, and nose...
  5. raprap
    Joined: Oct 8, 2009
    Posts: 768

    from Ohio

    Here's my 2 cents!
    I'm over 60 years old, have wrenched on all of my cars and friends from age 15. My dad used to "tinker" with cars. Plugs, wires simple stuff. My uncle used to do tear downs. I have my uncle's knowhow plus I'm an Industrial designer. I can use any metal, wood tool and learned how to diagnose from a friend who ran his dad's garage. My kids call me from other states late at night and say, Dad, my car is making this noise. What is it? I can normally give them 3-4 solutions and it's usually the first 2.
    I also take care of my daily driver, a 2001 Dakota my wife's terribly expensive 1995 Aurora. I've learned alot about both from the web on how to read the "codes" when something goes wrong. It has saved me $1,000's. Once, my Dakota 4.7 was missing at high speeds. I checked the codes and it said several things that I had to look up. I went to Awful-Zone, bought $46 in sensors and parts, and saved a $600 bill from the dealer.
    So guys, don't be intimidated by newer stuff. Just go step by step, read a blog, or ask a friend and normally you can wrench it back to good running order. CAUTION!! you now have to finese things under the hood. All parts are plastic, alloy or aluminum. I used to "muscle" things and got tired using easy outs and tap & dies. My best new friend is penetrating oil, silicone spray and try using a 1/4" ratchet instead of 3/8. You'll stop breaking bolts off!

  6. Ddooce
    Joined: Oct 27, 2010
    Posts: 132

    from Memphis Tn

    Cars get easier to work on every year. You old guys just need to keep up to date!
    Components can still be rebuild, not everthing is throwaway just because some don't know any better. It's no different today than it ever was - I remember shops who would sell you a new carb or distributor or generator because they didn't know how to rebuild them or they made easy money that way.
    The secret to a good repair is accurate diagnosis as it always has been. Don't tell me you can't afford to buy a scanner, they cost a lot less than the scope, avometer, timing light, dwell meter etc that used to be in my tool box.
    In case some of you older guys think this is the opinion of a young wippersnapper I shall turn 70 next year and started working on/ driving cars in 1957.
    Big problem these days is finding someone who knows how to work on older cars - I don't want to do it for others and never know who to reccomend!
  7. -Brent-
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,431


    We're not driving around in spaceships. I don't know where this stigma came from.

    It's not the complication of cars but rather dumbing down the masses to get them to think they need a pro to do it. Have you seen many of the "pros" that do service to vehicles?
  8. junk yard kid
    Joined: Nov 11, 2007
    Posts: 2,719

    junk yard kid

    You know how we look at kids with there dam phones and video games, will their kids be into an analog life style just to be different then their parents.
  9. Orlando1701
    Joined: May 2, 2012
    Posts: 128


    There are some of us who are trying to learn but a lot of the old timers seem to have the attitude of 'If you're too dumb to not already know I'm not going to tell you.' Also so far as dealing with new cars they're designed by Engineers not mechanics so there's just no joy in working on them when you have to disassemble the car just to replace the battery or the oil filter is up a shaft. My shoebox is fun to play with but I won't touch my wife's 2010 Mazda 3 for that reason... you can't get to anything under the hood without removing something else first.
  10. jazz1
    Joined: Apr 30, 2011
    Posts: 1,498


    Many folks are overwhelmed at the view under the hood,,,,WTF the engine. And then there is the complete line of specialty tools required to remove many items due to space restrictions. If you do it for a living you just deal with it,,you're getting paid regardless. My daily driver is an 85 pickup,,no ECU,,change plugs in 5 minutes,,try that with your 2012 pickup.
  11. I had to replace parts on newer drivers over the years. Things like cam position sensors on Powerstroke Fords and turbocharged PT Cruisers. Not a big issue. Easy to access and both take maybe ten Plus, like here, there is plenty of online sources for diagnostic assistance for those vehicles, as well. I do not have an OBDII scanner, but I can borrow one from O'Reilly's for a refundable deposit. The newer cars and trucks are easier, for the most part. It's just a matter of getting your hands dirty and learning what to do with the new diagnostics.

    Now, my Hudson was a different story recently. I could not remember how to hotwire an engine to start and run. I drew a complete blank on that, considering it's been 20 or more years since I've had to utilize that knowledge. I was not ashamed to ask the question, I asked here and got the answer. Too easy.
  12. A Chopped Coupe
    Joined: Mar 2, 2004
    Posts: 1,133

    A Chopped Coupe

    You know this is kind of two edged are the same as they were 40+ years ago, but the way they are controled has gone from points to computers......hopefully us old guys over 60 have kept up, if not they shame on us. I've been working on cars since I was 13, rebuilt my first engine at 14 and learned how drive in a field. I've got an 08 Dodge and my wifes 09 Venza..............and I work on both. Some of the things I won't do, like in my Dodge is to change 16 spark plugs that could take 4/8 time is just worth more than it goes into the shop.............................all you need is a code reader for your vehicle and a good shop manual..........and knowledge of electrical systems (not indepth) and understand how an engine/trans works.
    I just rebuilt the motor in my 70 Maverick (used for drag racing only) and took a pair of 15 year old heads (old technology) and 12 year old headers (also old techology) and made 650HP on the dyno................with 1 carburetor..............oh, it's a stock block 351w bored/stroked to 408ci................I much prefer to work with N/A motors and the next one will have fuelinjection.............................................................old ways die hard.
    Now with that said there are two things we have lost, first is people like Barney Navarro and my friend Rod Furtado.....................these people slipped away from us without imparting all of their knowledge..................and most of that knowledge is gone. Why aren't our young people learning from the older guys................and the second thing is that our great country is not the global leader it manufacturing..............we are in the top 5 and almost the same for higher education. I used to travel overseas (both East and West)
    for my job and 20 years ago every young kid who wanted to go on to College wanted to come to the USofA for, most want to got elsewhere if their families can afford it..........................................IMHO
  13. duste01
    Joined: Nov 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,213


    I love it! You guys are always good for lifting my spirits, giving me good advice, giving me a good laugh. RIGHT ON! By the way, as I go to work in my '53 f100 and build off topics vehicles for the number one import in the country, I laugh at what everyone else drives as they tell me "Cool truck". And I tell them to come to the hamb to get they're own. They just don't get it.
  14. Lowbuckboz
    Joined: Apr 2, 2008
    Posts: 500


    This places does kick ass! Lol
    Joined: Aug 7, 2009
    Posts: 2,069


    We all gotta keep teaching!!!! If they don't, its because we didn't teach. Keep Teaching!!!!
  16. spudz
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 531


    I'm a service tech at a GM dealership for almost 10 years... You have no idea how complicated some of the communication systems are on these new cars... It really makes it hard to diagnose.
  17. PhilJohnson
    Joined: Oct 13, 2009
    Posts: 906


    Brakes are much easier to service on newer cars but there is a lot else that isn't. I wrench on everything from a 1930s tractor to a 2000s era mini-van. The biggest irritation with newer cars is when they are no longer so new. Old cars are not as reliable but they sure are much more durable.

    I can drag a car out of the woods that had been sitting for 30 years and get it to yard drive within a couple of hours for nothing. I can drag a FI car that has been sitting for 5 years out of the weeds and spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars replacing bad components and if I'm really lucky the wiring itself isn't complete junk from mice.

    I've seen many FI cars junked because of phantom electrical problems that are near impossible to trace. A lot of times putting a car on a scope gives you such a vague idea of the actual problem you might as well be throwing darts at a dart board with different diagnosises on it. Then it becomes how much money do you want to spend replacing parts that may or may not be the problem. Is it a simple 10 dollar sensor or a 400 dollar one? Is there a short, which one of the 10,000 wires could it be.

    Taking a car to a dealership is no guarantee either. Most of the time they try the same approach. Keep changing problems till the problem goes away. Except sometimes the problem doesn't because the wiring harness itself is shot. I guarantee that there won't be people 50 years from now dragging out a 2012 whatever, dumping a little gas down the intake and being able to hear it run. Instead they'll be rewiring the whole car and basically engineering motor control modules from scratch.
  18. I can see this. I have a young neighbor who asks questions and you can see some of the answers go right over his head. I used to think it was great to quit buying and modifying old cars and keep newer ones (i.e. 1980 - 2000). I found they were expensive and the tools to fix them cost more than I could justify. I came to my sences and got rid of all but my daily drivers. I convinced my wife to let me get the 1964 F-100 back that she made me give away 5 years ago. I have now gotten it running and have to say neighbors are curious about it and find it is too complicated to work on. They find computers easier.
  19. raidmagic
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,438


    Here's the answer. Too many guys "do it yourselvers" give up before they open the hood and in most cases it's easier to work on a new car than an old one because you have a computer telling you what the problem is and what the best fix is. Instead you just close the hood and shake your head and say things like "I can't see the engine so I can't fix it"

    Silly really.
  20. D-fens
    Joined: Aug 30, 2007
    Posts: 369

    from Huntsville

    I have most of my ASE certs, but i had to get a defense gig to make any money. Turning wrenches at a dealership just wasn't worth it to me. Lot of dealerships are having to offer 30 - 35hr / week pay guarantees to keep their trained techs and get new guys.

    Carbs are good, but a lot of people forget there was a learning curve on those too. OBD2 is pretty good once you learn how to work it.

    It's the mid-70's up through about early 90's cars that will bite you. Limited or no diagnostics, EGR / AIR, ESC, lean-burn, vaccum lines running all over the place. I hate that shit. 70's and 80's European cars with Bosch CIS are even worse.
  21. Sweats
    Joined: Oct 15, 2004
    Posts: 599


    As I see it..its true we are in a disposable world...break it, buy a new one...most people here have a multitude of transportation options. My self included. One breaks down park it and drive the other till it gets fixed.

    But here is the deal....if you want to know where the future mechanics are, and they are out there, look at the working poor. If you only have ONE vehicle to get you back and forth to a low paying job, you WILL learn to work and fix or at least limp it around till you find a friend that maybe knows more than you. And that just might inspire that young person to get a job in a garage.

    How about lawn mowers and other small engine repaire...someone stills has to do that...

    Airplane mechanics? I know they exsist, and surly they are turning wrenches and give a damn if its fixed correctly or not...
  22. Danimal
    Joined: Apr 23, 2006
    Posts: 4,144

    1. A-D Truckers

    I'm happy to say that the wrenching I've taught my boys is starting to pay off. Courtland is 19 now (he drew my avatar at about 14 and now has it as his hot rod, see sig line). He works at the exhaust factory as an intern where I am employed. He's been told several of the machines on the line would be down for 2-3 days due to the fact they have to get a "tech" in to fix it. He's teamed up with one of the guys in maintenance to fix both of them in the matter of a late afternoon. He can not only say he's built his own exhaust, he can say he's rebuilt the machine and then built his own exhaust. He's made fixtures for the diesel lines, helped realign equipment in the factory, built parts in the prototype shop, and worked hand in hand with the president of our company. In the evening, he comes home, eats dinner, picks up his 16 year old brother and has rebuilt a 6.5 turbo diesel with another buddy. As of last night (after baling hay for 3 hours after work), they went over and got the truck running and driving. Is he tired? Yep. Is he realizing what the work world is like? Yep. Is he realizing that the hands on skills he's learned building his hot rod can make a career for him in Industrial Engineering? Damn straight!!! Get them involved early and they won't be afraid of it later.
  23. starliner62
    Joined: Nov 17, 2010
    Posts: 114


    I was a Ford mechanic for twenty some years. They finally drove me away with decreasing pay and increasing cost of benefits. I went to work for Fedex as a maintenance mechanic and had to bring my diagnostic skills with me. I still have to keep up with technology for this new stuff coming out, even diesels.
    When I get home, I work on old stuff. If not mine, I work on friends' cars. Some of my friends love old stuff but have no business holding a wrench in their hands. I'll be busy as long as I choose to be. My 16 year old loves his old car but lacks the mechanical ability to work on it, although he is learning. I don't think it will ever be a passion for him as it was/is for me but at least he knows how it feels to drive a car from the fifties.
  24. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,144

    from MI

    For the following reasons, after being a mechanic for a number of years I quit and moved on to something else:

    - In most environments a disproportional personal investment in
    tools and equipment is required.
    - To do the job well one needs to know a lot about a lot of things.
    - When you get old you slow down and make less money.
    - Your productivity is effected by parts availability and sometimes
    what other do or don't do.
    - The better job you do, the longer things take, the less you make.
    - Even if you are the best and most honest mechanic on the
    planet, most customers don't like paying for repairs and suspect
    hey are being cheated.

    All things considered I decided what I was making was out of proportion to what the job required of me. From what I have see that has since improved.

    The number of dedicated craftsman is definitely dwindling. That can be seen in pretty much any field. Over the years I was in the cutaway business it got harder and harder to find good people. I reached a point where it was either lower the quality of the work we offered to match the available workforce, or quit with my existing reputation intact. I don't blame the employees/people. With the opportunity to make similar or better money doing something less difficult and demanding, most will take the path of least resistance.

    There are not a lot of exceptions to this: No matter how interested and dedicated one is to something, at some point the novelty wears off and then it's just work. So much for commitment to one's craft. Example; I know a guy who made custom billet crankshafts for 50 years. When I talked about how cool that was he would just look at me. It was the same look I gave people when they told me how lucky I was to be making cutaways. I never got to the point I really disliked making cutaways. On the other hand, it wasn't as though I couldn't wait to get up in the morning and go to work again.
  25. Don's Hot Rods
    Joined: Oct 7, 2005
    Posts: 8,319

    Don's Hot Rods
    from florida

    I got my first taste of the new technology when in 1985 I bought a new Mercury Cougar. I took it back for it's first scheduled maintenance and as the tech was working on it I asked him if he could bump up the timing a little to give me a little more hp. He laughed and said "Buddy, you don't understand. I can put this distributor anywhere I want and by the time you get to the end of the driveway the computer will decide the timing needs to be reset and it will correct it back again."

    My new daily driver has stuff under the hood I have never seen, like coil packs and sensors on everything. When I open the hood to check fluids there is nothing there I recognize. :(

  26. gwarren007
    Joined: Apr 3, 2010
    Posts: 381


    I will tell you why they don't sell cases of oil, for the most part. According to them and the customer it no longer makes sense. Let me clarlify - You can go in and buy a name brand oil (Valvoline for example) that is currently 5.29qt and a oil change combo (Valvoline 5.25qt jug and stp oil filter) for 20.99 - at least here in AZ.

    12 qts oil (case) = 63.48 + stp oil filter(3.99) = 67.47+tax
    15.75 qts (3 jugs) + 3 stp oil filters =62.97+tax

    Why spend more money on less product?

    Wiper refills are stocked at many of the commercial stores, just as for them to be sent to the store you are shopping at (or call ahead).
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2012

  27. The cars are still 100 percent mechanical and electrical.
    Almost every sensor is variable resistance as in Certain ohms equals certain values in whatever its measuring. Most of it is very much old school technology in and out of the computer. In is ohms, out is only one if two things, on or off, that's it. Some times multiple times a second. The switches are now located inside the computer.
    Different inputs can cause the computer to switch to a different program and behave differently.
  28. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,144

    from MI

    I have known some very good mechanics who were pretty much lost around electrical/electronic stuff. Apparently it's a different kind of thinking? I have a decent working knowledge and don't understand whatever that difference is. Maybe it's because electricity is more abstract.
  29. deto
    Joined: Jun 26, 2010
    Posts: 2,621


    Good to see we have new threads on here. I dont think this topic has ever been discussed.
  30. gnarlytyler
    Joined: Feb 2, 2007
    Posts: 1,004


    Dont worry cause in the future we wont have anymore gas to put in our old cars thanks to over consumption or cyclical consumption, both are bad news, and why work for money to feed your family ? Its fact that there is enough food today to end world hunger but not enough money exists today to pay for it.. That'll make you scratch your head.. In the future a robot will fix and service most everything, even humans, so youll need to know how to fix robots.. Everything will run on electricity cause its proven to be cleaner and easily renewable and abundant once you harness it without worry about dumb things like profit.. things change and the outdated will be phased out, its happening already just open your eyes and turn off your tv.

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