Gentlemen,

I have always had a passion for cars, but sadly I come from a family where the most sophisticated interaction with an automobile is checking the oil. That being said, I really want to start not only learning my way around a car, but to also be able to maintain, and perhaps some day have the skill to restore or modify cars. 

What would be the best way to go about this without pursuing it as a full career path? Would a garage take someone with no practical experience for an apprenticeship? I am currently a university student, but I would love to take this on as a personal project part time. Thank you and I look forward to your feedback.

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I recommend getting a Haynes manual of the car you want to work on and buy the tools you need on a job-by-job basis. not only will you learn how to maintain your car, but you will also build an impressive collection of automotive tools.

Great suggestion, I just started learning to do the upkeep on my car. My mechanic suggested the same book.

Thanks for the tip. I had no idea books with this level of detail were still printed on the subject anymore. I could spend all day on their website flipping through these things!

Don't listen to these guys, save your money and use this:

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=url,uid

User
ID: tech
Password: tech

For a relatively nominal fee, a many local adult education programs and some community colleges have basic automotive classes.

Thanks for the recommendation.

It is much easier to work on older cars. More and more the newer cars are made to keep you out from under the hood.

So I've realized after trying to learn my way around late-model Accord. Talk about a discouraging experience. When the lease is up I'm going pick up a used American truck and start from there.

My first car was an 86 Ford Mustang with a 4 cylinder engine (allowed for more room for me to work). I was able to replace radiator hoses, water pump, alternator and other parts on my own. It was a terrible car but it did serve a purpose.

An old truck would work great as some of them have lots of room for you to work on the engine.

Wow! That was the first car I bought when I was younger ($900 for it).  

Buy an old Jeep.  Tons of parts around and there are thousands of people willing to help you on everything.  Jeepforum.com

Yeah I had a similar issue when I started looking around in mine. I have to replace my Windshield washer pump, but in my 2003 Ford Taurus its in a spot where I have to have the car on Jacks and be under the car to hopefully reach where the pump actualy is.

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