What are some car-repair jobs you always wished you could do but have never
Mine are, in this order of "I wish I could do it" order
3. replace/rebuild engine
4. clutch replacement
5. tire mounting and balancing
6. timing belt
7. head gasket and vcg
I've done electrical, brakes, shocks, cooling systems, alternators,
ujoints, pitman/idler arms & tie-rod ends and ball joints, tuneups,
emissions hoses and sensors, exhaust, electrical components, fuel pumps,
and fluids, but not the six things above.
What are some car-repair jobs you always wished you could do but have never
Painting is something I have done and wish I never had... The best
paint guy I ever knew was someone you had to catch in the zone between
sober but shaky and falling down drunk. The runner up was a complete
Long ago, in the 80's, at Sears, I bought the compressor, the sprayer, and
the sandblaster, and the welder (but I bought gas welding equipment which
turned out to be a mistake because the skill set needed is great compared
to arc welding on thin metal with wires below them).
Not wishing to merely fill with bondo, I cut out the rust, and welded steel
plates (melting the harness bundle below the rocker panels by mistake but
repairing that easily enough).
I was still working on it, when it was totalled after I lent it to a
friend, so the only thing I have left is the memory and the tools.
What I learned from all that was never lend your car to a friend, and in
the end, I never learned how to paint it because I never needed to paint a
car ever again.
Ever since then, I farmed out my painting, but I wish I had finished that
I've been going to get a gas setup with the portable tanks. I used to be
okay but it's been a long time. Gas is more versatile and works anywhere
you can drag the tanks but the inexpensive point and shoot wire machines
do make life easy over stick welding.
Definitely pros and cons to gas and stick welding.
I have both.
The arc welding takes a skill that is difficult with crappy 220V equipment,
where I tend to have the ugliest beads you've ever seen, and where I
"stick" to the metal all too often.
Then again, with thin plate such as that used on a vehicle, I tend to burn
through with the gas welding.
In the end, it's a skill set that is useful, but difficult to master.
I don't know if the new paints and HVLP guns are any better but the guys
shooting lacquer had half a buzz on to start with. The shooting isn't
bad but the prep, prep, and more prep followed by sand, sand, and more
sand and then buff and buff gets to me. I can only massage the same car
so many times before I'm utterly bored.
Done just about all of it. My painting left a bit to be desired, and
I don't really like rust repair bodywork. I've installed AC, installed
oversized brakes, totally rebuilt a few cars - engine, suspension,
electrics - the works. I've done some automatic trans work - but never
a FULL rebuild.
What I'd really LIKE to do is build a complete car from scratch - but
after taking 16 years on the plane, and it's not done yet - at 65 that
likely won't happen
Nobody expects a home job to be as good as the pros, but it still would be
nice to do.
I was thinking manual. An automatic might be too much for a home job due to
the potential equipment requirement. For a manual, all you need is a good
jack, some tools for tight places, clutch alignment tool, snapring pliers,
and everything else you probably already have.
I'm older than you, so I know what you mean that it probably will never
happen. We lost our chance.
I too would love to have built my "own" car, which, by that, I mean I would
have taken my very first car or maybe one of the cars from the 60s, or 70s,
or maybe as late as the 80s, and then rebuilt it "my way", whatever that
would mean, such that it would be unique.
My advice to a kid in his twenties or thirties would be to save the car he
likes best, probably it's a simple one, manual, inline six perhaps, and
then just learn it, work it, and repair it, and make it what you want it to
I'm thinking that can be misconstrued just like the alignment can be
What I really think about home jobs is that you _care_ more than the guy
doing your work for you for pay.
He has more experience and better equipment.
You care more about the results where your equipment just has to be good
Recently I brought a car back to the shop because a bolt was missing where
the guy insisted the bolt didn't do anything. That's what I mean about
caring about the job.
When they mount my tires, they don't align the dots to get the least amount
of weight. They say it doesn't matter. Maybe they're right. I don't know,
but it doesn't seem like the right way to do the job to me.
When they do the clutch, they put in whatever they put in but I doubt it's
That's what I mean more so than they don't know more than we do.
They know. But they might not care as much as we do about the results.
A GOOD tech cares as much as you do - mabee more - because a poor job
reflects badly on him and can cost him BIG TIME if he gets a bed
I cared more about most of my customers' vehicles than they did for
the 25+ years I was actively in the trade.
And "redline" isn't necessarily the best or any better for your
application/ use than what they put in.
Or they might. You just need the right shop, and the right
I can't disagree that a good PERSON cares as much or more than you do.
But you have to agree that there are people who care more about getting
vehicles through the door than doing the job right.
If they can skip a step or save a minute, they will, but that doesn't mean
that they did a better job. It just means they did a faster job.
At home, you're never trying to do the job fast.
This may be true since you saw lots of abuse I'll bet.
I'll bet the people NOT on this newsgroup don't even think about their
engines all that much.
If they took a car to the shop for a cooling system overhaul, I'll bet
they're not going to look to see if all the bolts that came out went back
in, for example.
Some things matter. Some don't.
I know that with some things though, the "standard" application isn't as
good as the "better" application, but for gear lubes, it probably only
needs to be GL-4 80W90 and that's it (or whatever the car maker specified).
So, a $5/quart GL-4 80W90 is as good as a $20/quart GL-4 80W90 gear oil.
I don't know clutches but there must be "standard" and "better" clutches,
aren't there? How do you know what the shop puts in by default?
That's understood where a guy who tells me that the bolt isn't necessary
isn't necessarily the right technician, is he?
That's why my guys were NEVER on Flat Rate - and why independent
shops where the owner is "on the floor" are generally the best.
From customers, dealer principal., AND my mechanics!!!
10 years as service manager can be eye-opening!!!
The "better" clutch may be better for drag racing or towing a
trailer,but may be HELL on your knees in heavy traffic - - - - There
is "better" and there is "better" - really depends on what you are
My '63 Valiant (170 slant six, push-button automatic) had lowered
suspension so it cornered like it was on rails, and put 206HP to the
rear wheels. 60 in 1st, 90 in second, and bury the needle in drive.
The 69 Dart wasn't quite as radical but would do 104 all day long
(225 slant six)
the 1953 Coronet Sierra (241 Red Ram Hemi Overdrive) was a complete
rebuild, as was the custom 1957 (Dodge) Fargo Express.
Wish I still had those 2. The Coronet was one of my paint jobs.
"'69 Chevelle and 72 VW Beetle were 2 others. Both turned out nice
except for one "sag" on each. The Coronet had no sags, but not much
Ah yes. You reminded me. I also replaced a Holley 4-barrel carburetor!
It was fun to watch how the accelerator pump worked squirting inside, how
the throttle plate worked way down below, and how the choke plate on top
Is there a car sold today that uses a carb?
So that's a skill set along with dwell that we all have, but which isn't
all that useful anymore.
The kids that are 30 and 40 years old today probably don't even know what a
None, I've done a bunch of work on cars in my day, but I'm fed up with it
now. I wish I could find someone who has half a brain who would do a decent
job fixing my truck. It's old and has issues, but the repair people I seem
to find these days fix one thing and break something else.
My observation with repair people is that it's hard to find one who cares
to do what he was trained to do.
Recently a bolt was missing from a repair job and when I came back to ask
why, the guy told me it didn't do anything.
I reflected that the car still works fine without the bolt, but there is no
way they put that bolt there in the first place if it didn't do anything.
He didn't believe me.
I guess that's why he is repairing cars instead of designing them. He
should be introduced to the bean counters in Detroit. They'll explain why
that bolt is there because if the designers couldn't explain it to the bean
counters, it wouldn't be there.
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