PLEASE excuse me for not reading ALL of the thread in this post (It's
now kind of long).
Here in central VA (Centerville, Va) We have what is called "Field Days
of the Past". It's like a local Fair/Carnival.
Although, It DOES have a great deal of old/antique farm equipment... it
totally blows my mind that we once, 100 years ago, had washing machines
that were kept outside and had to be started with a pull rope (just like
a lawnmower) because they were gasoline powered. We had rock crushers
that turned watermellon sized stones into gravel (gas/steam powered) and
all wicker baskets were local made (not from China at Pier1)
If we go back 100 years from THAT (1806), Saw mills were just two men
working a HUGE hand saw back and forth to saw the logs into planks.
I even heard stories of people moving away from their houses and then
burning- down their house, just to re-collect the nails. (They were
expensive to produce)
Let's push forward to today.
What would happen if we were faced with a natural catastrophe? Could I
Could I build a fire? Basic shelter?
It makes me think!
I don't now, but I have hunted and fished, I can build a fire from
scratch, I can toss together basic shelter in a rush, but if it comes
to the point we need to do something like this, even in a rural area
like mine, where do, for example, the 98,000 residents of Roanoke and
the 65,000 people in Lynchburg go to nail a deer (or turkey, or,
failing all else, a possum), grub up some branches and get a fire
going, rip the branches off cedars and pines, and dig slit trenches,
but...the sanitary arrangements alone for today's population in central
and southern and western Virginia would be a major feat that probably
cannot be accomplished without technology. The same holds true for
clean drinking water when the wells go out. My county has 754 square
miles, but also about 60,000 residents now, many of whom are true city
boys and girls who never spent day one in the military, either. They're
living their rural dream in their McMansions, but that dream of theirs
may become a nightmare for all of us, unless things keep ticking over
in the current kindly manner.
And this would probably be one of the better areas in the east, should
a catastrophe occur.
IMHO, TOTALLY incorrect.
New cars are easier to fix than the old stuff ever was (and need a lot less
of it) and the service garages are MUCH more expensive than they used to be.
Most of the dealer shops (and the franchise specialty garages) are staffed
with apprentice parts changers (not mechanics) who have no diagnostic skills
or inclination. They just keep on changing expensive parts till the
problem stops. The self serve scrap yards are a source of very cheap used
parts and the jobber parts stores sell parts of as good or far better
quality than the dealer for a fraction of the price, and often give parts
warranties that you can actually collect on. When a garage fails to fix a
problem usually YOU just keep paying them more and more until they (or
another shop) get it right.
When you buy ANY service,
- You are paying an inflated price (often for parts that are never installed
on your vehicle) + overhead + an excessive markup + lots of hidden taxes
plus added sales taxes AND you are paying in after income tax paid dollars.
When you DIY,
- You are paying wholesale, for only the parts you need, are saving ALL the
sales and other taxes on labor and overhead AND you do not pay any income or
sales tax on YOUR labor OR on the cash you save.
- You also do not need to have the work done at the shops convenience or
travel to (and from, TWICE) the shop for delivery and pickup, or to leave
the vehicle for several days. You do not need to wash grease off the
steering wheel and seats and fenders or clean out food scraps and garbage or
cigarette burns and smoke and butts and ashes.
- AND the chances are better that the job will be done right.
- And when you DIY you can watch for and keep track of the preventative
maintenance that will prevent the need for repairs (and towing) caused by
BOAT = break out another thousand.
just my .02 YMMV
New oil - 12.00 for mid line oil in quarts. Filter - 3-4 bucks.
Oil disposal fee? No place selling oil can charge you a fee legally. The
law states that ANY business selling new oil MUST accept used oil for
recycling, at NO CHARGE. Cost 0.00 Drop off the used oil from the
vehicle when you buy the new oil. You can even pour it back into the
empty bottles to save on container expense.
Benefits to the owner: YOU know the oil was changed, while under there
YOU can look over the engine and underside of the vehicle and look for
problems or leaks. While under the vehicle YOU can also grease any items
that can be greased, this has the side benefit of lowering wear on items
that should be lubed but usually are not.
And again you can return the used coolant to any store that does coolant
changes for free. And again you can return it when you buy the new coolant.
Not likely. Just a normal plug wrench for any plug on the market today.
You may need a torx bit or similar item if you need to remove a coil
pack or pull a cover but those are hardly special tools.
Nope because they have the same attitude you have, that it is easier to
trade them than to LEARN how to repair them.
Not if you have the foresight to learn all you can.
Its never a lose lose proposition learning how to do anything, and
really its not all that hard working on today's cars if you buy and
read the manuals, have access to tools and don't mind getting dirty.
I'm still driving a 1996 grand am with 260,000 miles on it and a 1995
Chevy S10 with 225,000 miles on it. I rebuilt the automatic
transmission in the S10 5 years ago by following a books instruction
(I don't think I ever want to do that again, but I learned something).
I've done all the maintenance myself on all the cars I've owned and
can't imagine the amounts of money I've saved over the years.
I'll be buying a Prius January 2007 and my intent is to do all the
service work on that as well.
Rather interesting point of view from a book by Roger Welsch, "Old
Tractors and the Men Who Love Them", subtitled, "How to Keep Your Tractors
Happy and Your Family Running" Highly recommended light, fun reading.
However, he made an interesting statement. Now, he admittedly has no
background or training in various manual arts, so his work on tractor
restoration is his first forray into mechanical work. None the less, the
following has some merit:
"I wouldn't dream of building my own house, too much rides on it. The
welfare of my family and possessions depnds on strong walls and a tight
roof. Actually it's a matter of life and death. I don't know enough about
house construction to reisk my life and property on it ... " Now, his
mistake here is that he fails to realize that he is probably trainable, but
there is a time element required.
"... What would happen if I broke off a pan bolt or ignored a faulty
brake on my Taruus? We'd die [a bit extreme] or lose an awful lot of maney
we don't have to lose. In other words, wehn I work with a tractor [one
could substitute any hobby here -- such as woodworking], there are no
losses, only victories". Elsewhere he makes the comment that he relies on
his car for his employment and transportation, if he screws up, then he
messes with his livelihood. There may be that trepidation on the part of
some to undertake projects that, if messed up, will result in more loss
In my own case, it's more a matter of available time. There are things
that I *want* to do, but because of the other things in life (like work,
family, and church activities), I don't have enough time to do the things I
like and to do things such as mechanical repair on my vehicles. Thus, it
makes more sense to pay someone to do those tasks that I'm not really
interested in doing while allowing me time to do those that I either must,
should, and want to do as well as those for which I really like doing for
my own pleasure. If the time comes when I have more time than available
money, I will once again start doing those other things to save money.
If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough
More like they get sick of riding around in something that looks like it has
100,000 miles on it. Simple fact is that when something goes wrong with a
modern car it's generally an expensive piece of non-field-repairable
electronics or something that requires a lift and a well equipped shop.
Life is finite. If you want to spend it learning how to fix cars that's
your privilege. I'd rather spend it learning to do things that I like to
do or things that get me the income to do things that I like to do.
Steve W. wrote:
> New oil - 12.00 for mid line oil in quarts. Filter - 3-4 bucks.
Around $15.00 for oil and a filter and I have too provide the labor to
change as well as providing the labor to disposel of the used oil.
From time to time, local gas station offers an oil change with filter
for $14.95, otherwise the going rate is about $20.00
I have better things to do with my time than trying to save $0-$5 max
by playing grease monkey.
You are correct that oil changes are inexpensive and frequently offered as
loss leaders, however:
A - I buy my premium oil by the (several) case when it is on sale, same for
premium filters. The oil and filters used by cheap oil changers are not of
B - I can change the oil at home in MUCH less time than it takes to travel
(more $ for gas) and wait for someone else to do the job, according to how
busy they are this wait is often not insignificant.
C - By doing the work myself, I can do it at my convenience and when it
should be done at not when I have the time to schedule the chore into the
time the oil changer has available. There is never a line up at home and I
am open for business any time I want to be.
D - I do not change my own oil because I am saving money (which I do, but
not a substantial amount). I do it because it is easier, quicker and more
convenient. It is usually combined with other preventative maintenance work
which I do not trust an oil changer to perform. I did make the mistake of
going to an oil changer (once) and because I thought it would be convenient
(long story), had them check and change the manual transmission oil and top
off the OD. I neglected to get a firm price quote for this service and
ended up paying a huge amount for the trans service and the trans oil AND
had to show the kid how to do the job as he did not have a clue.
Self sufficiency is an attitude and a lifestyle which cannot be explained to
people who do not share similar feelings. Different strokes for different
folks, as always YMMV
> A - I buy my premium oil by the (several) case when it is on sale,
> premium filters. The oil and filters used by cheap oil changers
are not of
> equal quality.
The manufacturer suggests changing oil at 7,500 mile intervals, I
change at 3,000 miles so the so called stuff is adequate for my purposes.
> B - I can change the oil at home in MUCH less time than it takes to
> (more $ for gas) and wait for someone else to do the job, according
> busy they are this wait is often not insignificant.
I leave the vehicle and pick it up at my convenience. Yes, that
requires some planning, but NBD.
> It is usually combined with other preventative maintenance work
> which I do not trust an oil changer to perform.
I have been very fortunate finding competent mechanics, when I need
one, that expect to be paid a fair price while providing quality service.
> I neglected to get a firm price quote for this service and
> ended up paying a huge amount for the trans service and the trans
> had to show the kid how to do the job as he did not have a clue.
Was it Jiffy Lube?
They have been caught with their fingers in the cookie jar a few times
> Self sufficiency is an attitude and a lifestyle which cannot be
> people who do not share similar feelings.
Trust me, I'm VERY self sufficient, but working on cars is not my
thing, if I have a choice.
> Different strokes for different
> folks, as always YMMV
That's my line<G>
> Self sufficiency is an attitude and a lifestyle which cannot be
> people who do not share similar feelings.
I have to smile when I see somebody, not necessarily "Private" above,
spouting off about being self sufficient while living on land as has
happened with this thread.
Really want to see if you can be self sufficient?
Become a cruising sailor, actually a single handed cruising sailor.
Get a decent sail boat, say about a 30 ft sloop, depart from somewhere
here along the left coast and set sail for say, someplace like Fiji or
You'll be by yourself, out of sight of land, for 30+ days, if you are
If not lucky, add another 10-20 days sailing time.
No 911, no cell phone, no hardware stores, no towing service.
There are no gas stations at sea.
Good thing, you won't need one anyway.
There will probably be some rather nasty weather along the way.
Weather forecasts beyond 48 hours start to get iffy.
15 minute cat naps are the best you will get while underway.
If you are not careful, you can hallucinate.
It is what that is between your ears that will bring you safely to the
Similarly, a large part of pilot training is communicating the concept of
PIC (pilot in command) which basically means that the pilot is responsible
for everything and no matter what goes wrong:
A - the pilot gets blamed.
B - the pilot dies.
Similar attitude and resourcefulness is required in most mountaineering and
IMHO self sufficiency does not require the exclusion of external resources
but rather is a mastery of the technology that we choose to utilize and a
desire to 'do for ourselves' when possible and practical. The practical
part is a judgment call we must each make for ourselves. Many do not
understand the urge of some to steer their own boat when it is so much
easier (and usually cheaper) to just buy a ticket on a ship. Some of us
feel that the journey is at least as important as the destination.
I suspect that Lew and I share much agreement.
Well put, Private.
I change my own oil and do the maintenance because it generally saves
time and costs about the same. I know the quality of the stuff I use if
good, and I can change the oil faster than I can drive to the
quick-lube place and back. Plus all the other reasons you listed.
Doing maintenance might not be for everyone, but I think more people
should at least learn the basics. Also, if you know more about how your
car works, you're less likely to get ripped off when you need to take
Last time I changed oil was in May, 1991. I had about 3000 miles on my new
Regal. It was not easier, quicker, or more convenient. It was a royal PITA
that was never repeated. I can come and go as I please at work so time is
not a problem. I just go over to Bill's and pay $25. Yes, I can take a
look around under the car while is on the lift, even when it is 10 degrees
outside and snow is falling. I have no plans to ever crawl under a car and
change oil again even if a new model is easier.
Raise your own livestock, grow your own veggies and generate your own
Hah. I have a friend still doing that, mostly, out west where there is
more space. But he's about the same age I am, and is now looking to
sell his land, the house he and his first ex built, and move closer to
civilization as the creaks of age become louder than the fears of youth
and middle age. He's as self-sufficient as anyone I've ever met, but is
smart enough to realize that it's time to get a tad closer to medical
help, among other things.
Self-sufficiency in today's world is pretty much illusory. Someone
still had to supply his batteries for the wind-power set up; he had to
locate the motorcycles he rebuilt to make money and buy the parts to
repair them; even the fence lines he worked on to make spare cash had
to belong to someone.
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