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Self teaching auto mechanics

Hello everyone new here was wondering if I can get some advice and tips on self teaching myself how to work on cars nothing against schools just I’m already paying for welding school and would like to learn mechanics as well

Do you wish to become a professional technician/mechanic or will you use your skills for Do-It-Yourself work?

Teaching yourself can be tough. Especially with modern electronics and ECU. There are videos available and much documentation. But it depends on what skill level you have now.

I’d start with a small project - like change brake pads or spark plugs. Then work my way up to more complicated tasks. But realize you’re going to make mistakes. Even the best professionals make mistakes.

Yeah I hear you there’s YouTube for that and tools is harbor freight tools good for now

I am not sure that self taught can even happen anymore. Cars have ABS , electronics that can be expensive to replace if damaged , and not in the least is how they manage to put so many parts in the allotted space. It might be best if you wait until you are settled in a job and find an old simple vehicle that if you mess it up you will not be out a lot of money.

Starting with Harbor freight tools will be fine, like wrenches and hammers.

I’d stay away from much of their diagnostics tools though. You will be throwing away good money on these as they are normally of poor quality and if they do work…it won’t be long.

But if you plan on making this a career, you will want the better quality tools.


I’m not a big fanof Harbor Freight. But they are cheap.

I’ve been happy with my HF stuff.

To get to the original question, the best answer is : read, read, read, read, read, hang out on forums (this one’s the best of all), and study physics. Understanding physics can teach you a great deal about how cars’ systems actually work, and that transfers to an understanding of cars.

My bookshelves at home are loaded with textbooks on suspensions, fuel systems, chassis, engines, etc. etc., as well as on physics, geometry, algebra, and even calculus. My bookcases are stuffed, yet I have no novels at all. It isn’t car related, but right now for bathroom reading I’m reading a book on the Constitution and the federalist papers. Not an interpretation of them, but the actual documents. It’s a reference book.

And I read car magazines with technical “how-to” articles.

An excellent source for information on books is your local community college library. If you have one with an automotive program, the department chair would I’m sure be happy to make some recommendations.

I swear by harbor freight @MikeInNH .

They make pretty good zip ties, chip brushes, and baling wire.

I needed some bungie ties one day and happened to be at Harbor Freight. I spotted a tud full for a pretty low price and picked them up.
When I went to use a 24" one, I was lucky to get the thing to stretch to 27 inches.
Pretty useless.


Many the small non-critical stuff is fine. But I had a neighbor who bought a new floor jack that wouldn’t stay up. Kept slowly lowering the car. Another friend who bought a 10" chop saw that seized up the second tome he used it.

Read manuals, DIY books and car forums, watch people repair stuff (or screw up!) on YouTube, try it yourself, repeat.

Get a basic tool set. Craftsman and others still offer starter packs with the basics. Usually on sale at Xmas and Father’s day. Buy a code reader - $5 app for your phone, $10 bluetooth OBD2 dongle and you can now read codes and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Start with the small stuff on your own car like changing your own oil and filters, wheel rotations ect. Next, brake pads and rotors, spark plugs, wires and coils.

Work your way to more complicated things by volunteering to help a more experienced DIY mechanic so you can learn. Tackle harder and harder stuff as you progress. Enjoy the journey.

Thanks I will keep all this in mind thank you all feel free to leave more comments

Oh forgot that’s what I’m doing now I have a 2010 vw jetta 2.5 car is probably out my league I did the oil change when I took it some where to get done and they said it was going to be close to $200 bucks I just turned around and said no thanks so I been doing it next is brakes

Lots of good advice. But one note: proper diagnosis of complicated problems is a very difficult thing to do. The people here are good at that (but excluding me), but many-many mechanics are not. So if you hang around with a DIY mechanic, or even a real one, be warned to take what they say with a grain of salt.

I second TSM’s advice, learn basic physics and mechanics. And basic electricity.


If you’re already paying to take welding courses, why not stick with that for awhile

A skilled welder can earn a very nice living, from what I understand

And you can still do diy mechanic repairs on your own cars, if you like

But if you want to learn how to be a mechanic and actually get hired as such and be skilled enough to earn a living, WITHOUT any formal training . . . that won’t be easy nowadays

some guys start off at pep boys, sears, america’s tire, etc. doing simple stuff. They acquire skills over the years, then leave for a better job, such as a dealer or independent shop. It takes awhile, though

I can’t speak for the others, but I actually did an apprenticeship. It taught me some basics, then I worked at a dealer for several years. I’m a fleet mechanic for a large city now. I learned skills at every step of the way, and each job took some adjustment

I can give you the names of some websites . . . but I warn you. They are for seasoned mechanics, and much/most of it will be way over your head at this time.

I understand tools can be expensive, but I’d pick craftsman over harbor freight. I realize craftsman tools are also chinese nowadays, but I consider them to be better quality, versus harbor freight. buy them when they’re on sale . . . club saver days is when you want to buy. ebay is also a good place to buy used tools on the cheap

If you like, I can give you the names of some automotive textbooks. Some of them are fairly general, and might be appropriate for you, at this stage

200.00 for an oil change. You had to misunderstand what they wanted to do besides a basic oil change. That sounds like a certain mileage service , you should pull your manual and see if you are up to date on service.

Start by reading Popular Mechanics publication on how modern cars work, and what’s involved in fixing them. Popular Mechanics Complete Care Care Manual. Most Barnes and Noble bookstores stock it, as well as public libraries.

db4690 sure thing bud I can use all the help I can get much appreciated and welding is something I want to do I would like to get in to custom work one day and performance

Volvo all I asked for was how much for an oil change and it was like 167 plus tax yeah they probably would have topped off fluids and rotated my tires or something but still that’s a lot because of the oil can’t remember what it is but I should have a can at home I will check when I get back

I’d start learning all about your VW. Get the Bentley repair manual for it, much better than the Chiltons/Haynes. But I’d get one of them too, they’re not big $.