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I have always felt that schools...


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#1 Lover of Purple

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 01:23 AM

I believe schools (high school would be good) should have a mandatory basic course on automobile upkeep and maintenence. Such a course would be designed to teach each student enough to know what service should be done as well as how to not get ripped off with repairs. One semester should be enough to teach such basics. I say this because so often autos are such a big expense and often very necessary (especially since most people tend to live outside areas with mass transit) and it would go along way toward eliminating the ripoff mechanic.

Today there are so many people that only know to put gas in the vehicle and nothing else that they can't even teach their children. Such a class could also help the student spend alot less on unnecessary repairs and thus help the save money.

For anyone past high school age: Would you have benefitted from such a class?

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#2 Vapor Trails

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 01:35 AM

I took such a class in high school. My teacher was a Volkswagen FANATIC. He'd bring in old Beetles and have us repair them. He'd teach us about the parts. Later, he would either keep or sell them.
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#3 Captain Jack

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 03:55 AM

There are schools that just don't have the money to do it these days it seems.

We had "Auto Shop" and I enjoyed it.  There was a police station a few blocks away, and they let our school maintain them.
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#4 ilexx

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 05:15 AM

View PostCaptain Jack, on Mar 6 2010, 09:55 AM, said:

There are schools that just don't have the money to do it these days it seems.

But would it really be all that expensive to have such a course in the higher grades?

#5 Balthamos

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 06:25 AM

That actually sounds like an excellent idea. I confess I'm quite useless with cars, all I know is which parts of the bonnet I can safely touch (they have to be yellow in England and that's part of your driving theory test). A course on how to keep your car running at its best would be very useful and such a practical skill to have in this world.

#6 obsidianstorm13

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 08:46 AM

I have to ditto this idea... I knew someone who was driving a car and she killed it because she had never been told to change her oil... it had been over a year.  She felt really bad and kind of stupid.  I felt for her and her poor car.  Luckily now she knows and gets it done but a course would be awesome.

#7 Nonny

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 09:57 AM

Good idea.  Back in my day, though, I wouldn't have been allowed to take it.    :(    My penchant for asking lots of questions, and finding the folks best able to answer them, serves me well with my Honda maintenance.    :)
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#8 Nikcara

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 11:49 PM

I think it would have been a good idea for me.  I didn't think of it much at the time - in fact in high school I probably would have been actively resistant to it because I was already so busy and at the time my seizures were so bad I couldn't drive and I disliked being reminded of the fact.  However now that THAT issue is under control, it would be really nice to know how to change a tire.  All I really know now is how to pump gas, check/fill certain liquid levels (power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, etc), change wiper blades and how to call AAA.
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#9 Nick

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 10:36 AM

View Postobisidianstorm13, on Mar 6 2010, 08:46 AM, said:

I have to ditto this idea... I knew someone who was driving a car and she killed it because she had never been told to change her oil... it had been over a year.  She felt really bad and kind of stupid.  I felt for her and her poor car.  Luckily now she knows and gets it done but a course would be awesome.

Wow.

That's beyond ignorant, I'm sorry.  "Not being told" is no excuse.  If you can't be bothered to read the manual of such a big-ticket purchase, then, well, you deserve what you get imnsho.

Anyhoo, I think more auto shop classes would be great and a welcome addition to high school curriculums, but I don't think they should necessarily be mandatory.  If people have no desire to learn, then by all means, don't force them.  Let them get ripped off by the repair shops and car dealers.

View PostNikcara, on Mar 8 2010, 11:49 PM, said:

I think it would have been a good idea for me.  I didn't think of it much at the time - in fact in high school I probably would have been actively resistant to it because I was already so busy and at the time my seizures were so bad I couldn't drive and I disliked being reminded of the fact.  However now that THAT issue is under control, it would be really nice to know how to change a tire.  All I really know now is how to pump gas, check/fill certain liquid levels (power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, etc), change wiper blades and how to call AAA.

Tires are easy.  And changing a tire is easier to demonstrate than it is to describe.  If you can, have a friend show you, and you'll be set for the next time you get a flat.  Invest in a real hydraulic jack (they're only $20).  While there is a jack in the spare tire compartment, those are a big old pain to use.

Edited by Nick, 09 March 2010 - 10:40 AM.


#10 Orpheus

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 01:40 PM

C'mon, Nick, calling people ignorant isn't a cool start for the tone of this new forum. I'm sure The Boss wants everyone to feel welcome here -- unlike some garages I've known. That said, she wants to learn (Great!) and the owners manual *is* a good suggestion. I can see someone not reading it. I, too, often haven't felt like being insulted by lavish fold-out spreads meticulously showing the location of the steering wheel, brake pedals, seat belts, cosmetics mirror...

A lot of those manuals are remarkably useless, too. In fact, many are split into two manuals these days: a mechanicals guide and a a useless half that mostly shows what you could figure on your own, and uses so many in-house feature names that even with four pages of diagrams, you *still* don't know how to turn off a specific interior light or keep it from lighting up under mysterious circumstances (I was recently bugged by a car which had four front seat roof lights that came on automatically if you turned the engine off but didn't open the doors -- maybe they assume that you must be looking at a map, but why can't the lights turn *off* automatically, too? Two did. Two didn't. Worst of both worlds.)

Many times, a buyer of a used car only gets the Useless Guide  (which being almost untouched, looks great in the glove compartment, in it's true full-glossy role: sales material for the test drive), but not the dog-eared mechanicals guide. Even the mechanicals guide can often be rather useless on the "obscure" bits (which is when you need it most). It's like they are written by non-driving authors paired with mechanics who could strip the car down blindfolded

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It took me over a year to find the fusebox on a Volvo once. It was indeed on the "left side of the driver-side dashboard", but it was literally "on the side" -- covered by the angled junction of the door panel and dash when the door is closed, behind a cleverly camouflaged panel, for aesthetics. Naturally, they couldn't bother to show *that* in a picture. Similarly, some Volvos have batteries that are not directly accessible or are in the trunk, and should be jumped from a "positive connection point" -- which turns out to be a big copper nut and bolt where the battery cable attaches to the rest of the ignition system. They *did* provide a drawing of that, but alas, it was a close-up view, so there's no surrounding landmarks to orient you -- it just looks like any other nut and bolt... and you can't even see *that* view until you remove the nondescript plastic conical cover, which looks like it's covering some random bit of suspension hardware. It's really easy to find if you know where it is, but until you do, it'd have Agatha Christie playing the flirty ingenue to coax some "big strong man" to find it [Not that they can. I've never seen a tow truck driver successfully find it, and New England is serious Volvo country


Okay, rant over. The Owner's Guide(s) CAN be an excellent resource for the basics. Though they may insult your intelligence by pointing out the hooks for hanging your dry-cleaning --well, maybe you wouldn't have noticed them otherwise. Even after all these years, I still find a few minor pleasant surprises in every owner's manual I read -- if I can keep my eyes from glazing over. It's certainly the first place I look, if I have a question.

I personally recommend that all my friends get a Chilton's [or Haynes] Guide to their car. It's usually under $20, and comes in handy even if you never fix your car. Many times I've seen garages attribute a problem (or charge for repairs) to parts that *particular* car didn't even have. I've also seen cars with "permanent" metal lettering saying "3.0 L DOHC" when the factory engine under the hood was a 2.6L SOHC. The metal VIN and factory door tags will give you more accurate info on what the car was actually built with. A Chilton's (etc.) will tell you the codes used.

I often find "professional/factory" repair manuals rather useless, especially the CD versions often sold online. Some are poorly indexed or illustrated, are designed for factory trained mechanics who don't need the pics you'll need, or have a twisted version of 'easy' that basically tells you to do 2-3 other major system disassemblies before you can do the one you want. Maybe that's easier for pro mechanics with a full garage; it's definitely easier on the manual author. I'm guessing the service dept accountants don't mind it either.

A Chiltons (etc.) is written with a fresh eye, by taking the car's systems apart. It'll still sometimes tell you to remove the *entire* fusion reactor and cooling systems to get to the flux capacitor, but the photos are often more useful.

YMMV. A lot of my experience with cars, especially when I worked on them often, is obsolete now. It should serve you until you get around to signing up for a Basic Auto Repair class at a local community college. (which may not be a bad idea. There aren't that many basic auto repairs left on new cars, so they probably fill in other helpful info)

#11 Raeven

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 02:12 PM

Haynes manuals are the best - I have thumbed through many a grease stained Haynes. I have long thought that a basic car repair course should be part of the driving test, or at least an optional extra - I learned the hard way, for most of my driving life I have driven 'old' cars - I remember the day of my wedding, my car cut out on the way to the registry office, I had to get out of the car in all my finery and fix it - blown fuse....one foil chewing gum wrapper later and we were good to go again - but I miss 'old' cars, they were much easier to work on yourself, now everything is a sealed unit....I miss the old ways, now I am at the mercy of a mechanic, fortunately the VW is a tank and *knocks on wood* behaves herself 99.9% of the time.


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#12 Nick

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 03:08 PM

View PostOrpheus, on Mar 9 2010, 01:40 PM, said:

C'mon, Nick, calling people ignorant isn't a cool start for the tone of this new forum. I'm sure The Boss wants everyone to feel welcome here -- unlike some garages I've known. That said, she wants to learn (Great!) and the owners manual *is* a good suggestion. I can see someone not reading it. I, too, often haven't felt like being insulted by lavish fold-out spreads meticulously showing the location of the steering wheel, brake pedals, seat belts, cosmetics mirror...

Too harsh?  :blush:

Alright, alright, guilty as charged.  I'm sure obisidianstorm13's friend learned her (very expensive) lesson.  I don't want to discourage anyone from asking questions and how to learn more.

When you get a new car, you always want to at least flip through the manual(s) and make sure to find and take note of the scheduled maintenance section.  Ignoring the maintenance schedule is very dangerous.  As in, not just expensive, but potentially deadly (for you, your passengers and anybody else on the road).

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I personally recommend that all my friends get a Chilton's [or Haynes] Guide to their car. It's usually under $20, and comes in handy even if you never fix your car. Many times I've seen garages attribute a problem (or charge for repairs) to parts that *particular* car didn't even have. I've also seen cars with "permanent" metal lettering saying "3.0 L DOHC" when the factory engine under the hood was a 2.6L SOHC. The metal VIN and factory door tags will give you more accurate info on what the car was actually built with. A Chilton's (etc.) will tell you the codes used.

As do I.  I *always* buy a copy or two of the Haynes manual for my vehicles.  I'm not kidding, they have easily saved me thousands of dollars on maintenance and repairs I found I could easily (and cheaply) do myself.  I've never left an auto repair shop with a bill for less than $200, yet I've managed to fix my vehicles with that manual and maybe a $10 part and a few dollars more in supplies.

#13 Orpheus

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 07:45 PM

View PostRaeven, on Mar 9 2010, 02:12 PM, said:

Haynes manuals are the best - I have thumbed through many a grease stained Haynes [...] I remember the day of my wedding, my car cut out on the way to the registry office, I had to get out of the car in all my finery and fix it - blown fuse....one foil chewing gum wrapper later and we were good to go again - but I miss 'old' cars, they were much easier to work on yourself, now everything is a sealed unit....I miss the old ways, now I am at the mercy of a mechanic, fortunately the VW is a tank and *knocks on wood* behaves herself 99.9% of the time.

You, my dear, are a woman of an unplumbed talents.

Seeing as you have done your time in auto repair purgatory, I hereby remove my objections to your Aston Martin. It only steams me when people *buy* performance, without knowing how it works (or often how to drive it). An engine only truly comes alive when baptized (or, sometimes, liberally lubricated) with knuckle blood.

View PostNick, on Mar 9 2010, 03:08 PM, said:

As do I.  I *always* buy a copy or two of the Haynes manual for my vehicles.  I'm not kidding, they have easily saved me thousands of dollars on maintenance and repairs I found I could easily (and cheaply) do myself.  I've never left an auto repair shop with a bill for less than $200, yet I've managed to fix my vehicles with that manual and maybe a $10 part and a few dollars more in supplies.
I have no doubt that "thousands" is no exaggeration. By my age, it's tens of thousands. Heck, my mother lost an entire car because a  local "insta-lube" type shop didn't tighten the nut on her oil pan (and she's not alone -- I've picked up breakdown victims on the highway from Dartmouth to Boston with the same suspicion  I saw the oil trail at least a mile back) Of course, those lube joints are [suspiciously] experienced at making it seem like you have no proof (even if, like my parents, you've never changed your own oil in your life) They still go there, too -- "*shrug* what else can they do?"

#14 Vapor Trails

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 08:03 PM

View PostOrpheus, on Mar 9 2010, 07:45 PM, said:

View PostRaeven, on Mar 9 2010, 02:12 PM, said:

Haynes manuals are the best - I have thumbed through many a grease stained Haynes [...] I remember the day of my wedding, my car cut out on the way to the registry office, I had to get out of the car in all my finery and fix it - blown fuse....one foil chewing gum wrapper later and we were good to go again - but I miss 'old' cars, they were much easier to work on yourself, now everything is a sealed unit....I miss the old ways, now I am at the mercy of a mechanic, fortunately the VW is a tank and *knocks on wood* behaves herself 99.9% of the time.

You, my dear, are a woman of an unplumbed talents.

:silenced:
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#15 Vapor Trails

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 08:08 PM

But seriously... ;) :p~

In my neighborhood there's this old fellow who has been fixing classic VWs since 1965-as long as I've been alive. :blink: He's a short, tough SOB-and a good guy too. ;) His name is Jamie. I'd call him the Yoda of fixing VWs. There's sort of an informal VW club there in his HUGE garage, where a friend of mine and a couple of others rebuild VWs from scratch. My friend helps Jamie out, and in turn, Jamie has taught him additional mechanics, welding...a bunch of stuff. Jamie is a no-nonsense teacher too, and will snap at you if you're not doing things right. I drop by there on Saturdays when I can, and it's always fascinating to watch him and the guys at work. :) We even occasionally go to VW shows. I went to one in Pennsylvania, where I saw a WV jet dragster that did about 300 mph!!  :eek4: :eek3:

Edited by Analog Kid, 09 March 2010 - 08:12 PM.

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#16 Raeven

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 03:38 AM

View PostOrpheus, on Mar 10 2010, 12:45 AM, said:

Seeing as you have done your time in auto repair purgatory, I hereby remove my objections to your Aston Martin. It only steams me when people *buy* performance, without knowing how it works (or often how to drive it). An engine only truly comes alive when baptized (or, sometimes, liberally lubricated) with knuckle blood.

Woohoo .....thanks Orph *runs to the car dealership* I hope you have enough credit on your card :D


AK, that was my reaction too ;)

as for VW's, they never die.....as Miles Munroe said "Wow, they really built these things, didn't they?"


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#17 D.Rabbit

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 04:45 PM

Back to the original question.
I don't know about a course taking up a full semester, probably an assembly with a guest speaker would be enough to show the basics of car ownership.
When to chance your oil, and why, how to change a tire, what emergency gear you should carry etc.

About car manuals, I've had 5 vehicles and 3 of them came without manuals. Two where brand new so yeah they had better still have the manuals, but why is it, every time I look in the manual for the information I need that it's not there?
They don't tell you how to set your clock or radio buttons, you have to poke around with them until you figure it out. I even had a kid help me with the speakers and tone and it's still a mystery to me.
Bring back the treble and bass dials, I can set my own.

Maybe my moon roof is suppose to whistle until I get it leveled out manually, there does not seam to be a shut position on the levers. Manual didn't help there either.

Car maintenance is pretty easy when you buy new. At least it was with my latest buggy, the dealer would send me an email reminder. I now have a sticker on my windshield from Jiffy-Lube with date and mileage suggested for my next oil change. Saves me trying to remember.

I took the young drivers course, and learned auto mechanics 101 from my landlord when I bought my first vehicle/beater. Stripped out the exhaust, installed a new one, changed the break pads and shoes, etc etc it still did not help me with the knowledge that I needed to change my oil after so many months, when I first started driving, I blew the rod in my engine.  I was good at blowing up 305's they where not the best of breed back in the late 70's.
Not saying that a course in school would have helped me, I didn't start driving until I needed to at 37.
It's true what they say, for most of us, "if you don't use it, you lose it."

Recommendations are all well and good for newer models but I got to the point that I would change my oil every 3 months even if I only drove 1,000 km in that time span. Old vehicle need to be babied in that respect. Especially their transmissions. No waiting 2 years to change the fluid, once a year to remove all the iron filings from the filter is best.

The first thing I noticed when the dealer opened the hood on my Aveo, is that the layout of the engine had gone back to being user friendly. One can almost reach the oil filter from above. I might even start changing my own oil again.
I bathed enough vehicles in knuckle blood but this car looks like it likes me.

My younger brother had a VW bug back in the 70's, cost him a year at uni because he spent so much time trying to keep it on the road. Perhaps the newer models are less time consuming.
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