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Old 01-04-2010, 02:58 PM
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37yrs old Too Old to Learn About Cars

Hello All,

I am a new member to this forum. I have posted a few threads, asking this and that, where to find things, and looking for help. I then came to my senses. Well I think I have.

I read all these incredible articles that you folks put together. Giving advice, and how to's. 90% of what is written in here is a foreign language to me because I know about as little as a man can know about cars. But I am willing to learn. So here is the reason for this thread.

Where can a Idiot like myself learn about cars? I don't want to eventually be a mechanic, but I would like to work on my own car. It has a carburetor, just learned what that is, and front disk and rear drum braked ( eng.), 350 automatic trans ( not sure what 350 means ), blah blah blah, so as far as cars go, computers, fuel injection, and other complicated "new" things the newer cars have, mine doesn't.

Because of my job, which is a "live in" estate manager I'd say I probably have about 90% of my time free to do the work on my car if I knew how to do it. Unfortunately this position is an on call job so going to schooling is not an option, last minute travels don't help, as well.

What do you guys suggest I do to be able to work on my own car? This may be an idiotic thread, but I figured I'd post it anyway. Not the first time, I've done a dumb thing,

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Old 01-04-2010, 03:19 PM
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Not a thing wrong w/asking. The criminal thing would be to not ask and make expensive mistakes.

Reading the forum here is as good a place as any to start. When you get "stumped" by a term, use the search function or post a question in the Hotrodding Basics section and it will be answered- I promise. If not by me, some other member will surely respond.

There are also the "How To Rebuild/Hotrod" series of books about engines, trannys, carbs, ignition systems etc. that you may find useful.

Getting a factory manual on your year, make and model is always a good investment. Reading it over, you may get bogged down at first, but you'll soon start to put the pieces together.

Good luck!
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Old 01-04-2010, 04:23 PM
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The haynes or chilton manuals are your friend and show how to do many of the common maitenance tasks on your car..doing the oil lube and tuneup tasks will help you get more familiar with your car..

Sam
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Old 01-04-2010, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cobalt327
Not a thing wrong w/asking. The criminal thing would be to not ask and make expensive mistakes.

Reading the forum here is as good a place as any to start. When you get "stumped" by a term, use the search function or post a question in the Hotrodding Basics section and it will be answered- I promise. If not by me, some other member will surely respond.

There are also the "How To Rebuild/Hotrod" series of books about engines, trannys, carbs, ignition systems etc. that you may find useful.

Getting a factory manual on your year, make and model is always a good investment. Reading it over, you may get bogged down at first, but you'll soon start to put the pieces together.

Good luck!
Cobalt thank you. I think the thing I suffer from most is confidence.
Here is a shot story, I read in here about rust and priming. So I purchased 1950 fender skirts with 60 years of paint and primer on them. I purchase the paint remover, sand paper, and primer. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scraped and scraped. Then sanded and got down to the bare metal. I spray painted the primer. Not knowing anything about what primer should look like my brother in law says it was not done right. Then as I read on in here I find out that spray painted primer is not real primer. I also read you should not scrape metal, Oops too late. Baically thankfully this was only skirts, but I'm fearful of trying anything more complicated. ( Pictures attached )
A knock to the confidence once again...
I have a lot of things "I" would like to do, but as of now, an oil change and tire change is all I'm capable of..
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Old 01-04-2010, 04:45 PM
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The best dog training book I have owned or read addresses the question on when is the best time to start training a dog. The answer is: "On any Sunday." , meaning start the training now. An older dog will learn just as well as a young dog, but you have to break it from some bad habits first. Not meaning to imply you are anything like a dog, but you just start your training right now. Your lack of experience with working on cars is a good thing because you don't have to be broken from bad habits or pre learned untruths. Treat your learning endeavor just like your on formal educational experience in that you start out like you are in the first grade. You must learn to read, write and do simple math. You start out your mechanical education by learning the definition and terms of mechanical things. You learn about the function of various tools and how to use them correctly. You learn basic safety precautions such as proper handling of gasoline, solvents and many other automobile specific fluids, eye protection, fire protection clothing and equipment, lubricants and their properties, precision measurements etc etc. Now you can start getting into the books at the same time you start getting your hands greasy by removing and replacing parts, graduating into disassembling and reassembling simple parts followed by more complex parts. Get some books that tell you how to do this in text and with drawings and learn to follow these step by step. In this process, enroll in basic automotive maintenance classes in your local VoTech College and things will start coming together. Keep in mind, it is a building block approach and it is a life time learning experience. I have been retired nearly 17 years and my automotive hobby has make them wonderful years!!! At 71+, I am planning on taking some basic machinist courses utilizing a metal lathe and milling machine. I have piddled with these, but want to expand my capabilities and formal training will be the quickest and least expensive way of doing this.

Trees
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:52 AM
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Trees has some good advice, he's been around for awhile, you're never too old for rodding, in fact, it's the older guys that seem to have more time and money to spend on the hobby. do't give up, that Merc is a sweet ride!

Where in L.A. do you live and how far do you want to go to get your work done? One of our members lives in La Mesa, does great fab work and could probably steer you in the right direction for some paint work.
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:58 PM
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Hands-on. Mind open. Take advice ONLY from those whom you can plainly see that, they have BEEN THERE.

Build if for YOURSELF, and YOURSELF only.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:57 PM
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I'll Go Anywhere!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dinger
Trees has some good advice, he's been around for awhile, you're never too old for rodding, in fact, it's the older guys that seem to have more time and money to spend on the hobby. do't give up, that Merc is a sweet ride!

Where in L.A. do you live and how far do you want to go to get your work done? One of our members lives in La Mesa, does great fab work and could probably steer you in the right direction for some paint work.
The guy working on my car now is in Wildomar, which is about 80+ miles from my house... Whats his name and info?

Thanks,,,
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Old 01-05-2010, 04:26 PM
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TONY70DR, im just like you , i know the basics and just the basics about cars. I allways had friends that would help me out . Back in 81 i enrolled in a auto-body coarse at a technical institute. I went to work in the construction field and made good money and never went back to school . I got caught up in the money i was making. Now i have 8 years left to retire, and i want to get back to the first love i had in auto body and paint. The guys here in this forum are awesome. Just think of them as your friends, they will give you the best advice they can . And the best thing about it , its free advice and you dont have to leave your house . lol . Patrick
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Old 01-08-2010, 09:54 AM
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read and ask and read. Get a stack of old car magazines. Read them. That's how I started out. My dad was the 'if it works its good enough' guy, and taught me NOTHING about rodding, although he did teach me a few basic things about fixing brakes.

Hang out in the Hotrodding Basics section of the site, it's designed for more basic info.

I won't be a wet blanket on the situation, but I think this thread should be in a non-tech general discussion section.
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Old 01-08-2010, 07:52 PM
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Interesting, we don't get many threads like these here on HR.com.

I agree with the above, reading is good. It also wouldn't hurt to have a project car that doesn't need to be road worthy at first. You're going to need to do some research, ask some questions etc. You also are going to need to turn some wrench and do some work. Then you'll know which questions to ask.

Trees has a good point about not having bad habits. Commit yourself to not being a hotrod "hack." Commit to quality, even if things take twice as long, or you have to wait till tomorrow, next week or next month to see a finished product instead of today.

Best of luck with the road ahead! Be confident, get your hands dirty, take things apart and learn. Be safe and make sure things are done right before you go rolling down the road!

K
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:42 AM
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I think the first obstacle has been overcome; you WANT to learn to work on a car. The resources are unlimited: the library, the internet, book stores, videos, etc. If you have a laptop, the internet has information on basically anything about a car or any of its individual components. This resource, you can also take on the road with you, when the need arises.

Go to car shows and ask questions. Most people who love their car, will be happy to share the answers to "how'd you do that?" Same with many folks at the local drag strip or roundy-round. They may be a little close-minded at first, but when they learn you're not a competitor, they usually open up.

There are many websites that have forums where you can ask questions (like here) on specific topics, and get specific advice. Many manufacturers also offer technical advice on their websites, or will refer you to a local manufacturers rep, who can assist you.

Got any friends who are car enthusiasts? Spend more time with them. Most friends will spend whatever time it takes to help you....and vice wersa. Or maybe you can learn something new, with a friend. It's never too late to learn. And don't forget to have some fun along the way.
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Old 01-10-2010, 11:01 AM
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Thank Guys, funny things is after posting this thread and reading all of your encouragement I have started to find exactly what Ive been looking for..

I found the 3 day Metalkwork Workshop not far from me that I'm going to sign up for..

So guys I may be able to contribute soon, Yayyy...
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:53 PM
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Some of the basics...

Always use factory specified fluids when changing you oil, coolant, transmission, differential, power steering, and brake fluids.

The most costly avoidable mistake you can make is putting in the wrong fluid as I recently was reminded when I put Dexron Mercon 3 in my '98 Jeep instead of ATF4, now I might need a new transmission.

Oil is a controversial topic, most newer cars use 5W-30 year round, and some light trucks use 10W-30 just in summer, 5W-30 in winter because it's less thick and will start lubricating cylinders faster in sub zero temps, and the 10W-30 will hold up better in high temps.

Always go off of factory recommendations.

Gasoline- manufactures recommend premium gas for some cars, unless you are rolling a Corvette or a Viper, ignore that recommendation.
Most factory compression rations do not warrant anything more then 87 octane.
High octane is for high compression engines, anything below 12to1 compression works fine on 87(cheap stuff)

Brake Fluid has a DOT rating, just make sure your DOT rating is at, or above, the recommended rating for your car.

Coolant, it's more expensive to buy premixed but I recommend it, to mix non premixed coolant a rule of thumb is 50/50 coolant and distilled water.
And there is RED coolant, and GREEN coolant, green is most common, but newer cars can have RED coolant to, so double check before adding.
And never remove a radiator cap until the car has cooled down, or you can get a face of hot steam.

Spark plugs, stay with factory plugs.
Whatever it came with from the factory, replace with that.
Buy a spark plug gaping tool and fine the gap the plugs are suppose to be at for that car, never assume the plugs are pre-gaped.

Brakes, if you have pulsation in the brake pedal it means your rotors are warped, the day of turning rotors on a lathe to straighten them are passing quick, most rotors now days are one use, so replace.
They make them thinner to reduce spinning weight to save fuel.

If your brakes are squealing loudly it usually means the brakes pads are almost gone, that squealing is a metal tab on your brake pads that grinds on the rotor to warn people that it is time to replace them.

If your brakes are grinding, that means they are shot and you are using metal backing plates of the brake pad against the metal rotor, there isn't that much friction and your braking power will be drastically reduced(replace immediately)

If you hear a grinding noise and your brakes are good, that usually means you have a bad wheel bearing, I drove too long on a bad wheel bearing and it got so hot it started a rubber boot on fire, almost set the whole truck on fire, luckily I had a fresh gallon of water to put it out with.

Just a few real life trouble shooting tips for you.

Google is your friend, just type in your problem and there will be information about anything car related somewhere.
And you got this forum too, do a quick search before asking though, sometimes the question has already been asked and answered.

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Old 01-10-2010, 09:35 PM
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Don't get discouraged by messing up. As long as your not taking a jack hammer to your car I don't think you could mess anything up so bad it can't be fixed (some might even debate you couldn't do it with a jack hammer). Age isn't an issue either. I had a high school teacher who retired and started working on Hotrods. He's in his early sixties.
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