Saturday, December 6, 2014

I'm No Edd China, But Time To Try

(Note: I write a tech column in the Hurricane Region, Porsche Club of America newsletter. Desperate for content for the blog, I decided to begin plagiarizing myself.)

The car enthusiast hobby has changed a lot since I caught the bug as a teenager. You probably followed the same path as I did, getting hooked on messing with cars in high school and gradually working your way through a succession of faster/nicer/cooler cars (with a few bad decisions along the way – I see you, Acura Integra). (I take exception to that; mine was an excellent car. -Ed.)

I started out doing many repairs and upgrades myself, from installing stereos to ripping out rusty exhaust components and welding in a straight pipe... and man, did that ‘74 Capri sound cool. In my 20s and 30s I changed my own oil and even attempted deeper repairs on occasion. I have a fairly good set of tools, jack stands, and a floor jack. I did go to mechanics for big stuff, like timing belt changes, but more from a time and confidence standpoint, than an actual skill thing.

It used to be so much simpler. What happened?
But, when I moved into modern Porsche membership with my 996, maintenance got a lot tougher. For one thing, OBDII now rules fault diagnosis. Sure, I’ve changed the brake rotors and pads, but I’m no Ray Munsch or David Brown (Porsche guys I know with real wrenching skills). Modern cars are just too darned complex for the average enthusiast to tackle much other than oil changes and brakes.

This reality has led me to create the “Home Car Repair Continuum” chart. It graphically shows a simple fact: the more expensive and complex the car, the less willing and able the average enthusiast is to repair it himself (or herself!). To be completely honest there is an additional factor at work     
here... let’s call it the sloth of affluence. Generally, we can afford to have done things we could actually do ourselves. But we rationalize we don’t have the time and pay one of the fine shops in the area to maintain our rides (waves at Hurricane Region sponsors). This is not wrong, but it is a bit lazy. I don’t have time to change the oil, but I did watch about 20 hours of basketball during March Madness...

So what to do? I have come to this decision: I am going to try to do everything that I can myself. Oil changes? I can do that! Brakes? I can do those! Motor mounts? Sitting in the garage waiting for warm weather.

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