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Educating young people on cars

 
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Old 03-10-2019, 09:11 PM
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Default Educating young people on cars

Ladies and Gents,
Further to my vent on the "Small things that **** you off, but shouldn't" thread, I've started this thread to try and get a list of things I need to do.

If you had to "teach" someone young about cars, what's the order of priority? I would go with basic, moderate and advanced. Examples below ( note this is for young people)

1. Basic - Tyres (pressure, filling with air), changing a flat tyre, battery, Fluid level checks, Jump Starting a car,
2. Moderate - Oil change, changing filters, electrical connections & switches
3. Advanced - Changing Spark Plugs, Rubber Belts, Brake change (drum and caliper), OBD diagnostics

Any thoughts/additions to the above?
 
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:40 AM
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HAHAHA.

Both mine got it through MY school of hard knoks.

YOU BROKE IT, YOU FIX IT, I'LL JUST WATCH, AND DRINK A BEER OR 3.

SERIOUSLY

Good idea for starters, and the age of teh car involved makes sub topics list quite long.

My sons first car, 1976 Series2 V12, NOT running. He learnt slowly, and detested getting his hands dirty, but the girls arrived, and apparently he had a COOL car, so work progressed with much gusto, and there was a LOT of work, brakes, EFI, fluids (ALL), rear suspension work, front suspension work, and he did it all, and that car took him anywhere, and never ever let him down. That was 20 years ago, and he now has a modern type car, and rarely touches it, but he knows, and that is important.

Daughters first car, 1977 Series 2 XJ6 (5cyl poverty pack) with a blown head gasket. SHE pulled the engine, and rebuilt it, and reinstalled it, then tried to "drift" it, seriously, and bent a few things, so out with the front and rear cradles and rebuilt, on her own, and again, drove it anywhere. That was 16 years ago.

They knew nothing at first, except Dad had always had Jags, and ONLY Dad maintained them, but once that first "little" fix got done, and worked out, the confidence grew overnight, the rest just flowed. I taught them that there was NEVER a dumb question, and all cars are assembled by humans, those in question were, and they also knew how to read, and wiring diagrams were alien at first, but logic quickly took over.

Probably not what you were aiming for, but thats how mine got taught, and its stuck.
 
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Old 03-11-2019, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by DavidYau View Post
If you had to "teach" someone young about cars, what's the order of priority?
Any thoughts/additions to the above?
Telling us more about the student, what they already know, and what they want to learn, might be helpful.

But, lacking more background to your question, yeah, you'd start of with the simplest things and move up, as you've enumerated in your posting. Isn't that the typical method?

Maybe I don't fully understand your question.

Cheers
DD
 
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Old 03-11-2019, 08:06 AM
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Start them on the important things.
Washing and polishing your own car every week for a couple of years.
That will give them a good grounding.
Wax on, wax off.
 
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Old 03-11-2019, 09:51 AM
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I was a little kid and started learning about cars the easy way. My dad bought a tired old timey walk behind lawn mower. We rebuilt the engine, rebuilt the carburetor, and made it usable. Then in my teens we restored some motorcycles with me leading more, then my first car didn't run and I had to fix it.

My dad's advice about learning to do and fix things: you can learn and decide whether to pay something out or fix stuff yourself, or be ignorant and pay out always. I can do pretty much anything automotive, with really the only area lacking is machinist skills and parts reproduction; which my dad has always done for me as he works in a machine shop and our shop at home can't do larger parts. I can do stuff like electrical, plumbing, hvac, etc. He's in his mid sixties, and his sisters all learned stuff, and he never let being female be an excuse for ignorance; so he made it clear we had to learn or he had no sympathy for us. He'd always help, but never do for. It's saved so much money and I'm only 31.
 
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
Start them on the important things.
Washing and polishing your own car every week for a couple of years.
That will give them a good grounding.
Wax on, wax off.
Funny you should mention this.
Adults should be taught on how to wash cars too. Most dont.
It was the most important thing I learned as a kid. In a book named "Drive it forever", it noted that keeping a car clean was the most important factor in making the mechanicals last forever.
Reason being, when the car is unkempt, even the most ardent tend to start ignoring other things.
It makes sense, why would someone consider priority number 2, 3, 4, when the first priority was pending.
Essentially, the rot starts with neglected appearance.
 
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Old 03-11-2019, 02:49 PM
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My oldest got his training with motivation. I bought him a 73 Chevy El Camino (at the time, the car was about 25 years old). I told him that if he wanted to drive the car, the following list of stuff needed to be done. I wrote down a list and posted it on his bedroom door. It was what I considered fairly easy stuff (rotate tires, inspect the brake pads, change the oil, etc). I put the car up on 4 jack stands and there the car sat. The only rule was I was not going to push him to learn about this stuff, but when he was ready to accomplish the list, to come and get me and we would work on it together. he was interested in cars at the time and was even taking an auto shop class. Unless they have motivation to learn about something, most people will not want to learn about something until it is too late.

Granted, this is coming from someone that spent a lot of his childhood out in a garage helping his dad build a car from the ground up (literally, brought that car home in bushel baskets). So, I had an appreciation for knowing about something before you needed to know about it.
 
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Old 03-11-2019, 10:11 PM
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If I were POTUS, every teenager would have to get their first car the same way I did. My father towed home a car with a blown engine and some crash damage and said "Son, if you can fix it, you can drive it." This was long before Al Gore invented the internet, so I had to go to the library and get some books to learn (it'd be so much easier today with all of us discussing how-to's on forums like this and some even posting videos on youtube). Then I spent every dime I earned one summer buying parts, tools and finally paying a low-budget body shop to paint it. Dad sat in a lawn chair and watched while I pulled the engine to make sure I didn't hurt myself, but I had to do everything. Within six months of finishing that first car, I had sold it for a small profit and was starting on my second. Most of my teenage friends in the blue collar neighborhood back then had to buy their own junky old cars and fix them up too.

It turned into a lifelong hobby for me, but even if I'd never touched a wrench again, I'd at least have learned enough that mechanics wouldn't be able to take advantage of me. When my brother's wife was in the hospital and his car had slight misfire, he took it to the Toyota dealer because he didn't have time to mess with it. After diagnosing the problem, they called and wanted over $2,000 to fix it. After telling the criminal on the other end of the phone that he already knew what the code was and that six of the eight parts they they wanted to replace could not possibly cause a misfire, they replaced only the plug wires for $150 installed. I bet most people would have just paid the $2,000, having no idea what any of the listed parts did and too busy to take it somewhere else for a second opinion.

So yeah, I'd take it a step further than Thermo, start with a car that doesn't even run and make the kid's driving conditional upon fixing it. If the kid isn't motivated to fix it, he/she can get a job after school, work long enough/hard enough to buy a new car with a warranty if that's the way they want to live. But if they're going to drive something out of warranty, especially an old Jaguar, they ought to know considerably more than how to change the oil and hook up jumper cables. And nothing like throwing them in the pool to teach them to swim. If we did it, today's teenagers can too.
 
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Old 03-11-2019, 11:22 PM
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When I was about 12 or 13 we moved into a new neighborhood. I loved anything about cars but my actual experience didn't go beyond the latest issue of Car and Driver magazine.

Anyhow, across the street was a nice family. The father and his 3 teenage sons were always working on cars. I would observe, fascinated, from a faraway distance. That is, from across the street. One day, after a couple weeks or so, the father waved me over.

"You wanna help?" he asked

"OK, sure", I replied.

Within 5 minutes the oldest son, who was maybe 18, was showing me how to change spark plugs and ignition points on a 1966 Mustang. The rest, as they say, is history. My entire adult working career has been in the auto parts and repair industry, and still is

Very nice people, those neighbors. Utterly decent and kindly. I remember it all quite well and quite fondly.

Cheers
DD
 

Last edited by Doug; 03-11-2019 at 11:27 PM.
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Old 03-12-2019, 12:43 AM
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Gents,

It's nice to reminisce about how we were educated on cars, and what we did to motivate our children. Your stories are all similarly related.

For this young lad, currently at university, he admitted he knew nothing about cars, so I decided to adopt a 2 part split approach akin to academic knowledge and visually linking to a more practical "look, see and do."

So for the academic part it's general theory about how an engine works - air/fuel/spark makes it go, explaining coolant systems, suspension & steering, air intakes & exhausts etc. This will be linked to a "see that's where it is" explanation. An interesting thing the boy wanted is "What are the common problems?" which takes us onto the more practical bits.

For the more hands-on work, I'll go through the typical car service, fluid checks & topping up, tyre work, trouble shooting starting problems and 'orrible noises.

I think for the next 2 months, I have enough to go on. Hopefully the young lad will "get the car bug" and won't turn into the modern city type that just buys a new fancy car under warranty and leave the dealer to deal with it.
 
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Old 03-12-2019, 02:55 AM
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Default I too started behind the lawnmower

[QUOTE=80sRule;2038177]I was a little kid and started learning about cars the easy way. My dad bought a tired old timey walk behind lawn mower. We rebuilt the engine, rebuilt the carburetor, and made it usable.

Geez! Me too, I too started as I had to mow the lawn when I was a youngster. I was so short, my hands were above my head, on the lawnmower handle, as this smokey thing pulled me along. When it didn't work, me and Dad used to work on it to get it going again. I remember this horrible 2 stroke noisy engine and with a rattling chain that that was a continual danger to my fingers. I used an oil can to keep things going, always put way too much oil additive to the petrol mix, & frequently had to squeeze this rubber thing to get fuel into the engine when it stalled. Fixing all the dodgey control cables taught me a lot when I moved onto bicycle maintenance.

Ahhhh.... the memories......
 
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Old 03-12-2019, 04:24 AM
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David, you have the right idea. Just don't be afraid to stretch a little bit and push what you know. You will be amazed as to how much you will be able to actually do.
 
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Old 03-12-2019, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by DavidYau View Post
Hopefully the young lad will "get the car bug"

Be careful! If he really gets the bug his studies will probably suffer !


and won't turn into the modern city type that just buys a new fancy car under warranty and leave the dealer to deal with it.
Let's not be too disparaging about "city type" people. I'm a city person. . It so happens I enjoy car repair....but there are are other types of work/repairs I don't enjoy and gladly turn over to someone else.

Cheers
DD
 
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Old 03-13-2019, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug View Post
Be careful! If he really gets the bug his studies will probably suffer !
Over on our CelicaSupra forum about fifteen years ago we'd see lots of youngsters buying junky old Supras that were obviously way beyond help and we'd worry about them getting in over their heads. But some of them would surprise us. One, a young college student got rear-ended in his 84 Supra. I offered to have him tow it over to my shop where I had seven other Supras in various states of repair (or disrepair as the case may be) and see what we could do. Because his had under 40K miles, I suggested I could sell him a rust-free shell with 200K miles that had been decimated in the Texas sun, he could strip all the parts off it, repaint it and then swap literally every other part over from his mint 84. I'd let him use the shop and tools. Despite taking a full load at college, playing on the soccer team, working a part time job and somehow even keeping a girlfriend, he came over for at least a couple of hours nearly every day and essentially completed a total restoration in about five months. I helped a little, but I had other projects so my role was mostly advice or a second pair of hands occasionally. Luckily the other driver's insurance paid considerably more than book value and covered everything, except of course his labor. He graduated in 2005, married the gf, now works in the IT field and still has the Supra.

Originally Posted by Doug View Post
Let's not be too disparaging about "city type" people. I'm a city person. . It so happens I enjoy car repair....but there are are other types of work/repairs I don't enjoy and gladly turn over to someone else.
I have to admit that I too have paid for some professional car repairs, especially as I get older, busier and have less energy. When you have more than one old car, seems there's always something that needs fixed. It warmed up outside last Saturday so I rolled down the windows on my truck and it sucked my headliner fabric down. Yet another thing to fix. I've done headliners before but I'm just going to drop the truck at an upholstery shop and pay them to fix it. I'd rather work on the XJ8 (engine needs put back in) and it'd bother me too much to drive the truck around for months with the headliner hanging till I finish the Jaguar. Nothing wrong with hiring a mechanic when you need help, but the more you know about it, the less you'll spend getting it done.



 
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by pdupler View Post
I have to admit that I too have paid for some professional car repairs, especially as I get older, busier and have less energy. When you have more than one old car, seems there's always something that needs fixed.
Sorry gents, I didn't mean to be disparaging about "City Folk." I too wear a suit and tie at work.

I too sometimes get my local mechanics to do jobs especially when I don't have the time, tools or the knowledge. It's about knowing your limits. As for getting older, wisdom comes with age!

My young lad here is so excited with my little car teaching programme. My wife convinced me to write it down for him, so he has a check list. She said young folks need a visual reference to help their "sense of accomplishment!" Not sure what that is about......
 
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Old 03-14-2019, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by pdupler View Post
I have to admit that I too have paid for some professional car repairs, especially as I get older, busier and have less energy. When you have more than one old car, seems there's always something that needs fixed. It warmed up outside last Saturday so I rolled down the windows on my truck and it sucked my headliner fabric down. Yet another thing to fix. I've done headliners before but I'm just going to drop the truck at an upholstery shop and pay them to fix it. I'd rather work on the XJ8 (engine needs put back in) and it'd bother me too much to drive the truck around for months with the headliner hanging till I finish the Jaguar. Nothing wrong with hiring a mechanic when you need help, but the more you know about it, the less you'll spend getting it done.
It's not even so much the paying out, it's knowing the ins and outs of WHAT you are paying out. Knowing cars you'll never buy muffler bearings or a rebuild of the blinker lubrication system. You'll also know when a shop is overcharging for a job, or padding the bill with items that absolutely can wait or do not need to be done. Knowledge is power. You have that power.

Like this guy who became a meme getting an alternator tattooed on his arm, who thought it was a turbo, he did not have the knowledge to not look like a tool forever.

 
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:28 PM
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Now that is hilarious! Unfortunately, the average girl at the beach won't recognize that he's an idiot. But perhaps the OP should also caution his youngster on the permanence of tattoo art because the average girl WILL recognize when a guy's got something like a heart, cupid or another girl's name on his arm.
 
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:35 PM
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I have a total of 5 kids, 1st and 4th child are into cars, and both work as Mechanics. the 3rd child, a girl is quite adapt at most things on a car. She worked at Wal Mart in the Tire Lube Express, and at a quick lube center, and was well known for being able to outwork most, if not all the guys in the shop. Angela just doesn't miss much. The 5th child has learned the hard way, to maintenance his vehicle. As he ended up afoot a couple of times, due to not taking care of things. The 2nd child, Well he's a very intelligent, Book Worm type person. He's now a branch manager for a bank. Back when he was 16 and just got his license. He asked to use the car for Saturday Night. So ok, he had good grades, did his chores, and was usually very careful about things. So sure why not. Well it went from bad to worse. We had a 1983 Chevy Celebrtiy with a 2.8 V6. Simple little engine, didn't require much other then basic maintenance. He took the car, after I showed him how to check all the fluids etc. 5 hours later he returns home. Stating the car wasn't running good. I asked what happened he said they had been driving it, and it stared running rough, and lost power. I asked if they had stopped to check things, no they were to busy to be bothered. The next morning I began checking the car, and found it was low on coolant, in fact it was bone dry. I quizzed him, and said did the temp light come on? Answer Yeah for a while, Did it smell hot? Yeah we smelled something but didn't know what it was. I said, and neither of these things prompted you to call Dad???, and ask what might be wrong. No we were afraid if we called you'd make us bring the car back. The smoke has started to come out of my ears at this point! I said guess what's going to happen now. "I'm walking", I said, oh yeah without a doubt! But guess what else? To which I got a blank stare, kinda like a deer in the head lights look. I said. you didn't call Dad when you knew something wasn't right, and now you're gonna fix it !!! But I don't know how. I said you will!
So it was cold, mid January about 25 F outside. I had 2 pair of insulated coveralls. So we did a little diagnosis. and found water in the center cylinder. on the rear bank, I stood there arms folded, and told him each bolt to remove. etc. He pulled the,hoses, wires, intake, etc, and then the rear head, and sure enough it had a crack in it. Then i made him call, and find a used one at a salvage yard. Then we took it to a machine shop and had it checked, it was good. he cleaned all the old gaskets, the only thing I did was set the head, and torque it down. Then he reassembled everything else. When finished it ran perfectly. I asked him now wouldn't it have been easier to call Dad, in the first place instead of all you went through, fixing your screwup??? After that, the minute a car made the slightest noise, or smelled a little funny, he was on the phone DAD!!!! He's now 38, and still calls at the first hint of trouble. Lesson Learned.

All five can drive a Stick, All five can change a tire, Check all the fluids, and know what goes where, and all 5 can change their own oil, Some of them balked a little when I taught them how to do these things. I simply told them Dad isn't always gonna be there, so you better figure it out for yourself!

Jack
 
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Old 03-17-2019, 10:58 PM
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Jack,

Lovely story. I do wonder what if young folks know that you need to jump on car problems early before they really snow ball into a serious problem.

And we wont always be there to get them out of a hole.

Also with the the onset of the craze for new car leasing, and possible future autonomous electric cars, the result will be that old school mechanics will become rarer. But hopefully Ill be six feet under by then. Then its up the new generation to sort it out.... without us.
 
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Old 03-18-2019, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by DavidYau View Post
Jack,

Lovely story. I do wonder what if young folks know that you need to jump on car problems early before they really snow ball into a serious problem.
They don't. Or many of them don't, at least.

I've spent 41 years in the car repair industry and am still at it. Lots of fully grown adults don't know about jumping on problems early. They helped me put two kid through college, god bless 'em . I see no reason to expect different from youngsters.

It isn't an old/young thing.

We're here on this forum because were interested in cars and car repair. And/or because something in our past or upbringing pointed us in that direction. That's why we know about these things.

I have two terrific sons-in-law. Each has their own skills and interests. Car repair isn't even on their radar. They don't know about it, and don't care to know about it. They know to take the cars in for service a couple times a year and hope the bill won't be too big. Their wives are more attuned to car repair than they are...which should come as no surprise.

Cheers
DD

 
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