If you’ve been around the block for a while, or if you’re at least watched enough classic films, you are no doubt aware of the fact that there was once a more innocent time in the world of automotive technology, when it was common practice for people to have the required skill set to fix their own cars, and be their own mechanics, rather than having to rely on professionals to correct every mishap that might befall their vehicles.
This is no longer as prominent an approach as it once was, not even close. Part of this likely has to do with the fact that people are less bothered today than they were in the days of yesteryear, what with a more uncertain job market, and the ever-present attention drains of the internet and related technologies.
Of course, another major part of the reason why basic mechanic skills are less prevalent, is that the cars of today are just far less accessible and straightforward than they once were. Sensitive onboard computers and circuitry mean that many issues can only be addressed by highly trained professionals, often specialising in that particular brand of vehicle.
It’s even common for modern cars today to have all the sensitive bits under the hood encased in plastic specifically to ensure that well-meaning laymen don’t get the chance to try their hand at tinkering. And while lease car deals allow many more people to enjoy the experience of being transport-independent, they may also make people that much more reluctant to try and see what’s going on under the hood, themselves.
Nonetheless, there’s a good argument to be made that, despite all of the above, it’s still well worth your time to learn the basics of auto repair.
Here are some reasons why training as an amateur mechanic is still a good idea.
There’s a long-standing stereotype that mechanics are predatory people, who will take any opportunity to manipulate their customers, play off the ignorance, naivety and vulnerability, and simply put — rip them off — charging them far more than is appropriate, under the guise of doing “essential repair work” which is more or less made up.
Of course, this stereotype is unfair to the enormous number of honest and upstanding mechanics who have sound ethical sensibilities, and a brilliant level of professionalism.
Nonetheless, predatory mechanics do, unfortunately, exist, and you often don’t know when you’re going to run into one — especially if the garage you’re using hasn’t been carefully vetted and pre-approved by a large number of glowing reviews and testimonials.
Having a basic knowledge of the inner workings of your vehicle simply reduces your likelihood of being ripped off. It
While carrying out full-on automotive repairs on a modern car might not be on the cards for the average person, it’s nonetheless true that having a decent knowledge of mechanics can help you to resolve minor issues on your vehicle, on your own, and save you the trouble of a trip down to the shop.
A surprising number of people today would struggle quite dramatically performing tasks as straightforward as changing a tire, or replacing a fused bulb, never mind replacing a spark plug or doing anything a bit more demanding.
Having the ability to do minor repairs on your own can help you out significantly in a pinch, and can save you from having to take a day off work in order to get a problem resolved.
For many people, classic car restoration is one of the most fulfilling hobbies going, and it’s a hobby that, of course, relies on you having a good knowledge of how to strip down a car and put it back together again.
Taking the time to acquire good auto-repair skills can open up a whole new world of exciting activities related to auto restoration, including giving you the opportunity to attend fairs, and enjoy classic vehicles without having to commit to taking them in for servicing on a continual basis.
This is important because the flip side to classic cars being more accessible for amateur mechanic work, is that they tend to break down and experience issues at a far greater frequency than modern vehicles.
So, if you want to get your hands dirty and fill your weekends and days off with an engaging, extremely fulfilling, physical hobby, you could do a lot worse than brushing up on your engine know-how and getting involved in one of the pastimes that men have been relishing for the past half a century or so.
When you take the time to master a skill like auto-maintenance, you don’t just acquire the particular skill set in question, you also adopt a good deal of responsibility for your own well-being and come to develop a more proactive, habitual mindset towards life in general.
The discipline and headspace involved with learning how to fix up cars can, in other words, have a knock-on impact on all the different areas of your life.
Suddenly, you may find that when the tap starts working in the kitchen, you have an impulse to take things apart, get to the bottom of the problem, and let your DIY skills do the talking.
Generally speaking, the more practical skill sets you develop, the more potentially useful you are to the people around you. If a relative or friend is having car issues, it’s a good feeling being the person who can step forward and offer to have a look.
While our social lives should by no means revolve entirely around a utilitarian idea of who is the most “useful” person to have around, the ability to accompany a family member to the garage in order to discuss their car issues, or to make some useful recommendations, is a great way of making everyone’s day a bit brighter.