Aspiring blind mechanic wants to learn with princess best friend to work on American Made cars

I have been a huge fan of car talk and the Click and Clack brothers for years……

I believe you have never received an message like this before. I have always aspired to be mechanically competent. I am a blind woman with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. My articles and credentials are below. I am a pro athlete in the sport of triathlon. I have the world record in Blind / low vision Ironman distance for woman incidentally beating the male record by 55 min. I’ve been featured in local and national news for both my athletics as well as for an award I won as an engineer. I know it sounds crazy that I want to learn to work on cars. I have always loved rally cross, monster trucks, and all motor sports. I know I will never drive but I may as well learn and expand my knowledge base. I know I’m capable of it. I have an idea below for a blog that I want to use for my project as well as to promote your brand if you are willing to help us with car advice.

I have partnered with a close girlfriend for my project. She is a hilarious Russian princess from the heart of Chicago who generally speaking is pretty comfortable paying someone to do the dirty work for her. She is wanting to learn to be more independent. Anna is an accomplished software engineer and a coworker of mine. Anna is brilliant, hardworking, and mechanically inclined. This may be her first time getting dirty. As such I will have the number for emergency services ready in case she goes into shock 

My project proposal…… Here is what I want to do; I want to get an old beater, firstly learn all the key engine and alignment components, secondly fix what needs fixing, and finally find some safe place in the wilderness for me to drive the car at least once. Anna and I have agreed to dedicate at least one day per week to this project. I’d like to turn it into a blog. My feeling is that if I can do it than anyone can do it. People are intimidated to help themselves. I have grown to feel sad for people who feel helpless. I once got stuck in the Seattle area in the snow. I was one of 5 people in the car. I was the only one who could figure out how to put the chains on because these guys had learned to feel helpless. I ended up putting chains on our car and 4 more cars in the area. I don’t think these people even knew I was blind.

I wanted to ask for consult in the event we get stuck. We anticipate blogging this in the effort of encouraging others to educate themselves on car maintenance and learning some basics of car maintenance.

We want to work on a Ford, Chrysler, or Dodge. I am deeply patriotic and really want to work on something American made. In in addition we felt it would be easier to find cheap or free parts for these makes.

The strangest message you’ve ever received in your life, right?

Happy 4th!

Patricia Walsh

Patricia, I congratulate your pluck and ambition. Unfortunately Tom and Ray don’t contribute to this forum, but there are several regular contributors who are experienced mechanics and who would be happy to offer advice.

My own piece of advice would be to look for an older 1960’s or 1970’s car that won’t have electronic controls, fuel injection, or many other modern complications that will be hard to work on. Pre-1980 cars won’t have all that stuff and will be easier to work on and better to learn from.

I’m thinking of something like a 1970’s Dodge Dart with the “slant six” 6 cylinder engine that was reliable and would be easy to work on. The other engine option for the Dart was the Chrysler 318 eight cylinder engine which was also very reliable. Either one of those engines would be good for you to learn on.

Good luck and please keep us posted on your efforts. There are many people here who will be happy to offer advice and support.

By the way, the link you posted to your home page doesn’t work. But I found a link to your “speaking” page and will post it below.

I’d recommend an old pick up truck. A 40’s or 50’s era might be ideal, but perhaps pricey for parts and restoration. PU’s from the 60’s and '70’s aren’t yet classics but might hold their value if you repair them and do some light restoration.

If you want something newer with things like FI, ABS, trac control, then simply go for a late '80’s or '90’s PU. PU’s in general give you more room to work around under the hood and parts might be easier to identify and access for a blind person. Parts are easy to get, and insurance will be less expensive. The PU can be good for transporting bikes, kayaks, and on moving days in the future.


From Autoweek:

Have you approached any Hollywood screenwriters with this? I could be a potential sitcom, Oh wait, there is already one similar to this. Sorry too late.