How does someone with no mechanic experience learn how to fix basic/important things on cars?

I am a 23 year old woman, and I appreciate cars. I'd love to learn how to fix basic/important things on cars, especially just in case I'm in the middle of nowhere and my car breaks down lol. I'd especially like to learn about things under the hood and the proper way to fix them. I absolutely don't want to have to depend on a man or a mechanic that'll rip me off. I'd love to do freelance of some sort eventually and possibly get paid for it. I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


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Toga_Dan3 months ago

it's also good to learn on lawnmowers, bicycles, etc. They're simpler and there are transferable skills. Add some plumbing skills, and you have a foundation for working on a water cooled engine.

Yonatan243 months ago

A short reply? Youtube.

I believe there are a few popular channels on repairing cars but the only one that I know is ChrisFix.

And do you know what tools you need to buy? Hmmm... You could probably find a bunch of videos on that too.

grayhairguy3 months ago

This is a lifetime goal. There is a spectrum of issues to repair and difficulty of the repair. Start with easy repairs that have low risk of expensive damage. For instance, light bulb and fuse replacements. Replacing drive belts are also not too difficult. Get help from repair manuals and internet help forums and You Tube videos. After decades of doing car repairs, I still have to check information, mostly now on the internet.

Buy some basic hand tools. Good tools will last a lifetime for individual repair use. Power tools are not needed. Read your owners manual for basic maintenance the car company suggests. Check for online repair forums for your car. Ask the forums for typical failures so you have things to watch for.

If you have some basic electrical knowledge, get a simple electrical meter. It can check many things electrical. Cheap code readers ($25) can tell you many things about the car. You will need the internet to explain the code numbers.

Repair manuals will also have warnings to keep you safe. Follow their advice.

Be resilient. You will need to ask advice and get others to help or answer questions. But everything you learn, will make it easier the next time.

If you want more specific advice, replay with make, model and year of your vehicles(s).

iceng3 months ago

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could inject some DNA and it would load your brain with information about car whisdom.. These days most cars have multiple computers to do what we used to adjust with a screwdriver and a small wrench..

It isn't fun anymore when rally drivers have their own steering wheel that instantly configures their car when they pop it on the column of a car..

You have to be a graduate ME and EE just to understand what the car computer is telling you...

Don't be discouraged, read and listen to NPR that re-broadcast help about life with cars like the "Click and Clack" Car Talk show which I enjoy and still learn a thing or two.. You sound determined and that is a valuable tool..

steveastrouk3 months ago

My wife is very comfortable with a most car work - we run landrovers- but what often defeats her is wheel nuts - all garages seem to use impact drivers to cinch the nuts, which means they are often beyond the torque range many women can exert on a standard wrench, and even when jumped on, still struggle. We have a special, long, "breaker bar" for our wrenches, for her. If you have the funds a 3/4" socket set is a god-send for highly toruqued nuts.

bwrussell3 months ago

Youtube and internet searches (especially forums dedicated to your specific car) are where you can get the knowledge but you just need to start doing it to actually learn.

Start by doing most of your own routine maintenance. Change the oil & filter, replace headlights, air filters, and rotate tires by yourself. As you gain experience, and tools, you will have to invest in tools, you should easily be able to change belts, spark plugs, and brake pads.

The biggest hurdle in car repair is identifying the real problem. There are a lot of interconnected systems and knowing the subtle signs that differentiate various problems is going to save you a ton of time, and maybe money. It may seem odd but one of the better ways to learn some of this I've found, outside of accumulating years of hands on experience working in a shop, is to listen to old episodes of the NPR show Car Talk. It's entertaining which makes it easy to listen to but if you actually pay attention to the questions and answers you can pick up a lot of useful tips for diagnosing common problems with cars.

Also speaking of tools. If you're starting from scratch then just pick up a basic mechanics tool set. One of those sets with sockets and wrenches. I wouldn't buy any specialty tools until you need them or if you find a great deal on something you know you will or most likely will need in the future.

You'll need something to lift the vehicle too. I'm a fan of ramps when possible but if you need to remove a tire you'll need a jack, and maybe jackstands too. Ramps are quicker and more secure. I don't worry at all when I'm under my cars on the ramps as opposed to jacks or even jack stands.

Finally the last piece of basic kit is something to catch and store used oil until you can take it to be recycled. There are lots of options, just make sure it has plenty of room for at least one oil change worth if not two.

Finally a couple of tips for parts, mostly just for oil changes really since that's most of what you have to do.

For specific parts that break or need infrequent replacement you'll just have to research the best retailer when ever you have a need for the part. For things that need regular replacement, i.e. oil and oil filters, I find a few that fit my car on Amazon and then put a price watch in at Then when the price drops I buy stock up a few changes worth. That way I never have to worry about having them around when it's time to change the oil.

For oil, pretty much every manufacturer runs year long rebates (check their sites). Buy the 5 quart bottles ( I assume these are standard in CA as well) when they go on sale, typically at Walmart and/or Amazon. Combined with the rebate I can get 5 quarts of synthetic oil for $12-20 instead of ~$5/quart at the auto store. Also if you have a Costco nearby, and a membership, their 6 quart boxes go on sale a few times a year and are decent deal at that point. Most often I notice deals on oil by watching the front page of

rickharris3 months ago

I guess like a lot of us did pre internet days, we bought a basic toolkit and messed around (Ok then it was often with a VERY cheap car), but checking basic things regularly AND having the car serviced at least once a year will avoid most breakdowns:

Learn to check oil and cooling water.

How to check and change a fuse.

How to change a wheel

How to use a basic multi meter (you will have to buy one but they need no be expensive)

Recently after having a car that periodically refused to start, i changed the starter motor (3 times), I check voltages on the battery and starter motor,

Eventually I bought a new starter motor - No joy. In desperation I changed the battery for one from a friend - problem solved - so I bought a new battery. faults are not always clear.

Youtube s a great help and are relevant forums for your car.

Start with simple things, read the manual, learn where the parts are. Don't be scared of the beast.