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Old 03-02-2010, 02:28 PM
 
Location: SWUS
5,414 posts, read 7,641,184 times
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Hi,

I'm just curious how one goes about learning how to work on and/ior modify their own cars- in addition to basic maintenance, things like putting on new or better parts so one could save money by not doing it at the body shop or the mechanic.


Any suggestions? I'm very interested in this, not for the present moment but as a hobby a few years from now.


I have an ideal "project car" in mind..need to know this stuff if I really wanna make it purr
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:45 PM
 
Location: So. of Rosarito, Baja, Mexico
6,572 posts, read 17,991,938 times
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First thing is to have the car you wish to modify without messing with SMOG equipment or one that is older and smog exempt. There is NO limit what a person can do to a car as long as the person is willing to pay $$$ to a specialist.

If you want to dance you'll have to pay the band.

Okay...I'm not being a smart eleck. As a retired mechanic and former Dragster owner/driver it costs MONEY to suceed in your project.

Other then the car...about $5000 for tools and a tool box to hold them.

There are specialty tools that make a job easier and they are a MUST.

Engine tools are different then body repair tools in addition to a compressor/floor jacks and stands.

Many times a customer at my business wanted to go FAST in his car.

My reply was " the money your willing to spend determines how fast you will go".

Stop by any performance shop and ask a few questions or buy a few car mags and read up a little...surprising what a person can learn.

Steve
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:49 PM
 
Location: SF Bay Area
5,996 posts, read 13,320,950 times
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I'd get on a vehicle specific forum because they generally offer a huge wealth of information and have members that have probably modified their vehicles to a point that few people will so you always have an idea of where you want to start and what you wish to achieve.
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:49 PM
 
Location: Suffolk County, NY
874 posts, read 2,421,644 times
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When I was younger I learned about cars by reading books about them, buying tools and teaching myself to fix anything that went wrong with my own car (which was a lot since when I was a teenager I would buy junk boxes for a few hundred dollars and drive them until they had problems that simply were not worth repairing). I then would help friends and family with their car troubles and I actually got a job at a taxi cab company changing oil on the cars in the fleet. I would do the cars I had to as quick as humanly possible so that I could help the mechanics do their jobs which would consist of diagnosing problems and changing parts from easy stuff such as radiators, water pumps, fuel pumps, brakes, etc. to more complex jobs such as head gaskets, transmissions, electrical problems, etc.

One thing I suggest is making sure you learn all of the basics of automobile mechanics before you start trying to learn about how to do the performance stuff. You can't do the performance stuff without knowing the basics. If you can find someone who lives near you that works on vehicles as a hobby you can approach them and ask them if they can use some help. Most automobile hobbyists do not mind an extra pair of hands and also tend to enjoy teaching what they know.
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:55 PM
 
Location: Planet Eaarth
8,957 posts, read 17,041,167 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JordanJP View Post
Hi,

I'm just curious how one goes about learning how to work on and/ior modify their own cars- in addition to basic maintenance, things like putting on new or better parts so one could save money by not doing it at the body shop or the mechanic.


Any suggestions? I'm very interested in this, not for the present moment but as a hobby a few years from now.


I have an ideal "project car" in mind..need to know this stuff if I really wanna make it purr
I'd suggest , to save HUGE sums of money from trial and error so common in the car hobby, that you take a course at a junior college to learn correctly the in's & out's of the mechanics of the entire car consist.

The days of throwing parts on a car to increase it's performance and/or looks are over due both to cost and computers now built into all cars/trucks.

Ignore this advice at the peril to your wallet and your safety.
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:57 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
13,423 posts, read 42,835,934 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JordanJP View Post
Hi,

I'm just curious how one goes about learning how to work on and/ior modify their own cars- in addition to basic maintenance, things like putting on new or better parts so one could save money by not doing it at the body shop or the mechanic.


Any suggestions? I'm very interested in this, not for the present moment but as a hobby a few years from now.

I have an ideal "project car" in mind..need to know this stuff if I really wanna make it purr
Probably the best bang for your buck would be to enroll in an auto tech course at your local community college. This will be geared more towards people who want to bend wrenches for a living, but if you are a total greenhorn it will probably be a good first step.

Depending on what you are doing professionally, you might get a part-time job at a good independent repair shop. This will give you a chance to get some wide-ranging experience with a lot of different cars, and figure out what you like.

Older Detroit Iron cars, dead stock, have some things you can modify and the only downside is the cost of parts and your time. Like putting headers on most engines with restrictive exhaust manifolds. You can usually tune the carb and ignition to give better overall results too, although here you are starting to get into the world of engineering tradeoffs - for example you can increase the spark advance, and the rate of advance with RPM, and that will give more power, and more MPG as well if you keep a light foot - but at some point you have to go to premium fuel.

Most cars from the 80's and later are hard to make real improvements on. You can't fix what ain't broke. You can put a chip in, but most of what the chip does is advance timing, at least in "closed loop" running. Some chips are designed for a perfectly running, tight engine using 93 octane premium. They will get into some spark knock with even 92. Do you have 93 available? Soon you get into the fuels engineering biz - you will get on a first-name basis with your local distributor of racing fuels, which you will have to blend with the pump gas if you can't find 93...

Anyway it's good for you to ask about this in a forum rather than just go buy some "riced-out" "Too Fast Too Furious" car that's been beat by it's previous owner, and dumping more dinero into it...
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Old 03-02-2010, 03:07 PM
 
Location: SF Bay Area
5,996 posts, read 13,320,950 times
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If you are buying a car that you're looking to modify from a performance perspective I suggest a vehicle that is factory turbo charged. These types of cars give the most gain in output for the least amount of money spent compared to naturally aspirated vehicles.
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Old 03-02-2010, 03:23 PM
 
Location: Planet Eaarth
8,957 posts, read 17,041,167 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iTsLiKeAnEgG View Post
If you are buying a car that you're looking to modify from a performance perspective I suggest a vehicle that is factory turbo charged. These types of cars give the most gain in output for the least amount of money spent compared to naturally aspirated vehicles.
Allow me to politely disagree. Turbocharged gasoline engines are never a good place for a novice to start and learn from. The turbocharger adds complexities that is well beyond a novices understading and reach. Any novice must learn how, and why, a naturally aspirated engine works well before they tangle with a turbocharger and/or blower.


In fact, a turbocharger on a gasoline engine shortens the engine's life by many years and miles.
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Old 03-02-2010, 03:58 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
13,423 posts, read 42,835,934 times
Reputation: 11524
Oddly enough I have to agree with both previous posts. Factory turbo setups are the most "mod-able" of modern cars, you can get significant gains *if* you know what you are doing.

They are not the best place for a novice to start, unless they have very serious financial and technical support. So if your last name is Callaway, yes, those Callaways - go for it.

Actually if the OP can get interested in them, old aircooled VW cars are a really excellent place to start, you can find one in decent shape but needing a little TLC for cheap, and if you manage to blow an engine completely, it's not that expensive to replace and it takes only a floor jack and a couple of jackstands to do the swap.
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Old 03-02-2010, 04:20 PM
 
Location: SF Bay Area
5,996 posts, read 13,320,950 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tightwad View Post
Allow me to politely disagree. Turbocharged gasoline engines are never a good place for a novice to start and learn from. The turbocharger adds complexities that is well beyond a novices understading and reach. Any novice must learn how, and why, a naturally aspirated engine works well before they tangle with a turbocharger and/or blower.


In fact, a turbocharger on a gasoline engine shortens the engine's life by many years and miles.
There is a reason I specifically stated my opinion from a performance oriented perspective. There is no disputing the ease and lessened financial burden of modifying a turbo vehicle for power. Whether or not this is important will be for the OP to decide. If someone doesn't care for power output then by all means, a naturally aspirated vehicle will be easier to maintain and easier to work on. I say this as someone who has owned both varieties and spent time/money on modifications to the drive train.

As an example, a buddy of mine asked me for ideas as to what he can do to this 2009 VW GTI with the 2.0T engine. A quick search online shows a stage 1 ECU reflash at a cost of $500 nets a dyno proven 50hp (from a stock output of 200hp) and pushes torque over to over 300lbs (from 207) without any other modifications. He doesn't care to have any noise so an exhaust setup is out of the question but the addition of one greatly benefits total output in addition to the 50hp from the ECU flash. Gaining 50hp on any modern naturally aspirated car will cost you a great deal more than $500.

Last edited by iTsLiKeAnEgG; 03-02-2010 at 04:33 PM..
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