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Even if you don't intend to start a career as an automotive mechanic, working on your car can be a fantastic hobby. When you're good at it, you can save your... Show moreself quite a bit of money staying away from repair shops. If you've never gotten under the hood before, what do you need to know to get started?
Collect Your Tools
As with any hobby, the first thing you need to do is make sure you have the right tools. While there's specific equipment that may only have one use, you'll want to get your hands on some of the essentials, such as:
Screwdrivers: Flathead and Phillips head, in all different sizes.
A socket set: As big a set as you can afford — you will use a lot of them.
Jack and stands: Working on a car without a jack or stand is dangerous.
A Torque Wrench: Allows you to tighten bolts to the recommended specification.
Breaker Bars: For those stubborn bolts that will not come loose.
You can complete most jobs with the tools above. It's true, this equipment is expensive — so stock up here and there when you can afford to add a few more baubles to your collection.
Have Somewhere to Work
While you can work on a car nearly anywhere, it's always better to have somewhere to store your project. Leaving a half-disassembled vehicle on the side of the road or in your driveway may find you running afoul of local municipal codes. If you have a garage attached to your home, it's the ideal location to work on your project without worrying about the weather or nosy neighbors.
When you're setting your garage up as your workspace, make sure you take a close look at the door. If it's as old as the rest of your home, it might be time for an upgrade. Garage door springs are only good for 7,000 to 10,000 cycles — opening or closing — and can start to fail afterward. With old, faulty equipment, you risk the door falling on your head, which can cause extensive injuries.
Invest in a Repair Manual
If you've never worked on a car before, all those moving parts can be fairly intimidating, but don't let that discourage you. Instead, invest in a manual that goes over common repairs, such as oil changes and brake pad replacements. Most are $25 to $30, depending on the year, make and model of your vehicle. Need to replace an intake manifold, repair a valve cover, take off a door panel or tear down an engine? The manual will tell you how to do it.
As you spend more time under the hood, you'll find yourself relying on your manual less and less. In the beginning, however, when you don't know an oil dipstick from an air filter, it will be an invaluable tool that prevents costly mistakes.
How to Become a Car Repair Pro
Now that you know how to start working on your vehicle, what are you waiting for? Get out there, get your hands dirty and fix that project car. In addition to saving money, the feeling that you get from a job well done is incomparable.
Adding a classic car to your collection might be a dream of yours, but not every vehicle for sale has been as well-loved and well-cared-for as we might like.... Show more You may be able to find the car of your dreams, but if it hasn't been taken care of, you might be looking at a time-consuming and costly project to restore it to its former glory.
If you're taking on one of these projects, what do you need to know to restore a classic car?
Choose Your Car
Your first step should be to pick the car you want to restore. This will depend on a lot of variables, from your available budget to what you're capable of doing and whether or not you already own the car you want to restore.
Consider looking at estate sales and auctions. You might be able to find a prize for a fraction of the cost because people who are selling off the belongings of their deceased loved ones may not know what they have. You could find a classic Mustang Shelby GT350 for next to nothing if all the seller knows is that it's an old Mustang.
Pick Your Restoration Level
Now that you have your project car, step two is to pick your restoration level and plan out your project. You've got three options for this step.
You can plan an authentic restoration that will only return your car to its former glory. You can plan a complete makeover, which gives you the freedom to pick and choose the kind of features you want, or you can plan a restomod. The latter combines the two previous options, letting you enjoy the car's classic look while including modern upgrades.
Set Your Budget
Once you've got a car — since we're not including the cost of the car in this step — your next move should be to set your budget. There's no way to avoid it — restoring a car is an expensive project. If you're not careful, you could end up pouring more money into the project than it's worth, spending an arm and a leg on something that you may or may not ever finish.
Set your budget and then stick as closely to it as possible. Remember to overestimate. It's never going to cost you less than you're projection, but there's a distinct possibility that it could cost more.
Know Your Skill Level
Do you have all of the skills necessary to completely restore your project car? If so, good for you — you can skip this section. If not, make sure you're aware of your skill levels.
Attempting to machine your cylinders or repairing rust damage when you don't know how is just going to end up messy. You could even end up paying more to have someone come in after you and clean up your mess. Know when to outsource one or more tasks. There's no shame in bringing in a specialist, especially if you want to be really proud of your finished product.
Don't Take Shortcuts
We'll say it again. Don't take shortcuts. Shortcuts in bodywork leave you with a messy look. Shortcuts in engine work might leave you with an inefficient engine. Shortcuts in safety or in brakes could get you killed. Don't take shortcuts.
Now, we're not counting using junkyard or salvage yard parts as a shortcut. That's a smart, budget-conscious decision when you're restoring your car. We're talking about taking dangerous shortcuts to cut the time that could put you and anyone else in your car in danger when you finally get it back on the road. Don't. Take. Shortcuts.
Enjoy Your Restored Classic
Once the project is done, all that's left to do is enjoy your freshly restored classic car and show off your handiwork. Take it for a drive, find a car show or just show it off to your friends. You might be surprised how many heads you turn.