Perhaps you remember your dad spending a few hours under the hood of the family car, fixing it up to be like new. A toolbox and a few box wrenches were about all he needed to get the car running again. Somewhere in time, this skill faded away and now you almost never see anyone work on their own car. You could even consider backyard mechanics to be almost extinct! If your car develops a problem, you have to go to a professional mechanic to do the repairs. So, what caused the backyard mechanic͟ to all but disappear?
The Rise of Technology
30 years ago, cars were less reliable and far less complicated than they are now. The engines were large and the few components were simple, like the starters and alternators. As time went along, the high-quality levels achieved by Honda and Toyota drove all of the competing auto manufacturers to improve quality and the race was on for higher gas mileage. This led to a revolution in automobile construction. Electronic controls and computers were added to the engines which dramatically improved quality and reliability. Carburetors, which were always a trouble spot, disappeared in favor of fuel injection. Pollution controls were added and integrated with the computers which hid many of the mechanical systems. Comfort items such as power windows, power steering, power brakes, automatic transmissions and air conditioning were no longer considered luxuries and slowly became standard equipment. And finally, cars have become smaller and lighter which saves weight and reduces fuel consumption.
All of these changes have made car repair far too difficult for most people. Specialized tools and computerized equipment are required to even begin to work on a car and each model year sees every manufacturer changing their product. Technicians spend a surprising amount of time researching the systems on cars and they need to….. attend regular training to stay current. The complex interaction of all the computers and machinery has made it so that a car problem rarely has an obvious cause, and the repair usually involves several parts of the automobile.
Now: Modern Engine Compartment
Then: Classic Car Engine Compartment
Furthermore, as cars have added more equipment they have put it in smaller spaces and that makes repair tougher. The engine compartment of a modern car has little open space to work in. Sometimes a mechanic must disassemble parts that are unrelated to the repair simply to access the item needing replacement. This adds time and money to the repair bill, but there is no other way to do it. Strangely shaped tools are required and even the nuts and bolts are different than they used to be. All of these changes reduce fuel consumption and make the cars greener. But the old-fashioned backyard mechanic would not know where to start!
The New Era
We recommend that you find an ASA certified shop, like High Road Automotive, and have your car maintained and repaired exclusively by them. We have always loved the ͞DIY͟ attitude, but the age of home auto repair is coming to a close. The investment of tools and the knowledge required to keep a car running is simply too much for the average person. A quality repair shop can keep your car reliable for hundreds of thousands of miles and you never even get your own hands dirty!