Getting into cars

Hi, I want to get into cars and project cars but I have no idea where to start? I usually just watch engine rebuild videos or people fixing cars and it has made me love the idea of building a project car but I have no idea what to do or what to search for so if any has any tips into getting into project cars I would gladly appreciate it.

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I am interpreting your post to mean that you have no hands-on experience with auto repair.
If I am mistaken I apologize.
If I am correct, I suggest that you contact your county’s vocational school in order to find out what types of evening classes they offer on car maintenance and repair. These courses are either free-of-charge, or very low in cost, and could give you the needed knowledge to fix cars, rebuild engines, and–possibly–to begin work on a project car.

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Our State Colleges (AKA, Junior, Community) offer automotive courses.

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That’s perfect because I live very close to a vocational school and yes I have no real hands-on experience but thank you for the advice.

Many of our County Colleges do too, and–to their credit–they have held costs down by teaching the academic courses at the college, and by sending these students to the adjacent County Vocational School for the hands-on courses. But, these are two year, degree-granting courses, and I suspect that the OP is only interested in the hands-on aspect, hence my suggestion about the vocational schools.

One caution for the OP:
DO NOT buy into the hype from Lincoln Tech, UTI, or other private “for profit” diploma mills. Instead, look at the county or municipal vocational schools in your area.

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Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our appetites or checking account. Spend a little time on youtube on painting, bodywork, rust repair, interior work, etc. to get an idea. There are posts on the whole process. Makes you tired just watching it. It’s not unusual to spend 5 years or more on a project with helpful friends and assuming you have tools and equipment like air compressors, paint guns, hoists, jacks, etc. You can also go to the library or buy some books on those subjects to expand your knowledge base, but until you actually get some hands on experience, it’s like learning how to fly from a book.

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And if it makes you feel any better then think of this. When it comes to cars and mechanical issues there is not one mechanic on the face of the Earth (even if they are in the top .0000001% of techs) who knows everything and who never needs further education in that field.

Things change constantly in the field even during the year much less by new model introductions so the learning never stops.

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The local vocational school would be a great place to start, at least talk with one of the instructors and see if their program would be a good start for you, At a more reasonable cost than going through the for profit schools. You’re expected to buy a set of professional tools (Snap on for $2,000 roughly) at the local community college’s program.

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Diving right into a simple project car is a way to learn. If you want to modify a car, pick a popular car with a large aftermarket and a strong video following. Miata, BRZ/AE86, Mustang, Camaro.

Watch install videos from the sellers of the aftermarket products. Set a budget and create a plan.

Don’t start with, “K Swap a Miata” or “Turbo an Impala”

Maybe apply vinyl stripes to your hood or install a larger set of stabilizer bars with the goal to be a personalized, better handling car.

Read everything you can find about how the portion of the car you are modifying works and why your mod will make it the way you want it.

The path to success starts with the first step.

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One more observation.
The car shows on TV that make everything look so easy (with a very few exceptions) may have rehearsed and reshot the modification many times before what you see on the episode.
But don’t let that deter you. You have received some good advice from the above posts.
Working on cars can be a fun, though expensive hobby.
Good luck with whatever path you choose.

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About those community colleges. In my years of automotive repair as a shop owner the best mechanic I had was a local community college graduate who I hired largely on the recommendation of the school’s instructor. That young man stayed with me for over 8 years and earned a great living for himself while being very profitable for me.

And over the years it has become quite evident to me that those who desire to benefit from such an educational opportunity can gain as much or more than for their effort than they could from a prestigious ‘for profit’ school.

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Additionally, some of the community college automotive technology programs are affiliated with auto mfrs. At the CC in a nearby county, a student can affiliate with Toyota or Ford, get specific training on the repair of those vehicles, and are guaranteed a job at a dealership’s service dept. upon successful completion of the program. Ford corporate determined the actual workplace, depending on openings, but it was guaranteed to be w/in 50 miles of the student’s home.

At one point, back in the '90s, Ford was even gifting those graduates with a new car (Fiesta? Aspire? I don’t recall the specifics.). While not a very valuable car, at least it gave young people a new, fully-warrantied car to drive to work, thus giving the dealership an employee who had a reliable mode of transport for getting to work.

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I’d start with checking and changing fluids, rotating tires, and changing brake pads/rotors. Every time I change brake pads I change the rotors rather than having them resurfaced. Rotors aren’t that expensive, and the car is back in service the same afternoon rather than waiting for the shop to resurface the rotors.

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At least for the 2yr duration of the program students in the Ford Asset training have a dealer sponsor and the training is split between the classroom and work in the dealership.

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I’ll second what JTsanders and Mustangman mentioned. Start doing as much maintenance as you can on your own car, if you aren’t already. Then if you want a project car, I’d buy something cheap and relatively simple and start playing around with it. I guess some of this depends on what you want your project car to be. If you want a fully custom, engine swapped, suspension swapped show piece…that’ll take years of experience. But, you’ve got to start learning somewhere, and a cheap project would be a good place to start. The classroom instruction that others mentioned would be great, too. No reason not to have a project to tinker with on the weekends too for some more hands on self training.

Everything I know was self taught. I’m just a shadetree/DIY guy, so I’ll never build a show car. But, I rarely have to take a car to a paid mechanic, so that’s a plus. I learned by doing. I rode dirt bikes as a kid and did oil changes on those, replaced chains and sprockets, wheel bearings, etc. Then I started doing oil changes and routine maintenance on the vehicles I drove as I got a little older. Naturally, being a young guy without a ton of money, most of those vehicles were often in need of some repair from time to time. So learning how to change oil led to learning how to change plugs and wires, then changing fuel pumps, replacing valve cover gaskets, intake gaskets, headers, etc. The more you do, the more confidence you get. I made some mistakes, but you learn what not to do too!

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Maybe I read it wrong but I got the impression the OP wanted to do some car projects not get into a career as a mechanic.

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Now you need to attend the community collage for two years before buying your first car, some demanding parents.

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In the “Old Days” much of the car work could be done with a Chilton’s/Haynes manual from the library and a selection of tools from your Dad’s work bench.
Although todays cars are much better and the maintenance is much less, it seems like mechanics have to have the education of an MIT graduate, the sensitivity of a Horse Whisperer and the “Special Tools” of a dealership to accomplish even the simplest of tasks.

So start with the basics, oil changes, coolant changes, sparkplugs, brake pads/flushes, etc. but before doing anything further, seriously consider some local public Vo-Tech/Community College classes. An incredible bargain (your tax dollars at work), you’ll receive a great education in “how the pro’s do it” while gaining familiarity with the methods and tools they use.

Even better, if after your exposure at the local public VoTech/Community College if you decide that you want to take it further, as a Mechanic, Fabricator or Designer your VoTech/CC experience will give you a leg up on the competition.
At the top tier, whether the future is gas or electric someone has to design the new vehicles and Automotive Engineering programs at schools like Michigan, Clemson, Maryland, Georgia Tech, etc. are all looking for applicants with a demonstrated passion and hands on experience so why not you?
Go Terps! http://racing.umd.edu/

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The intro courses at least at the local VoTech/CC might be all the OP really needs to get started, otherwise depending on what sort of project car they might find someone from the local owners group that would be willing to provide some help. We have a Vocational school at the high school level that will grant students college credit as well with the amount depending on which local VoTech they go to after High School. Gets students from 20+ High Schools many that don’t have any Auto Shop program. The students only have to pay a $10 Course fee.

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That was a big disappointment to me, my High School did not have auto shop classes.
My co-workers at the gas station went to a different HS that did, they taught me a lot.

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