Basic Auto Mechanics – Week 1

The first class was pretty much just an orientation of what was to come and what was expected of us while attending this class.  The class is held every Wednesday from 7:00PM to 9:30PM and will consist of a lecture period of around 30-40 minutes followed by hands on shop time.  It is possible that the lecture period could go longer but according to the teacher it usually does not.  It probably does not go longer because the students want to get their hands dirty.  Since the second part of the class is held in the shop, safety glasses and decent shoes are required as well.

This week, the lecture part of the class was an outline of what was to come in the next 8 weeks and what we will be covering.  Week 2, which will be on Oct 1 because we are skipping a week, we will start on electrical and go over the basics of the charging system and how to troubleshoot it.  Weeks 3 and 4 will be all about engines!  There are multiple engines in the shop and we will take them apart and rebuild them.  I can’t wait!  Week 5 will cover the cooling system, Weeks 6 and 7 will be about brakes, how to service them and spot problems, this ties in with the steering and suspension system as well and that will be covered in Week 8.  Finally on Week 9 we will cover automatic transmissions.  A small summary of each week was given but I will cover them in following posts.

We then went out into the shop and covered safety and common safety issues in the shop.  The most common seemed to be fires from fuel on hot parts, so some time was spent on how to properly put out fires.  He also went over how to check the fire extinguishers to see if they were still good or have ever been used.  The pins should still be in them and you should not see any white dust.  The thing I went away with the most on this was to put out an engine fire with the suppression blanket instead of the fire extinguisher so that we don’t have to clean the engine bay.

The shop equipment was next, since I have never used a lift or any of the awesome tools in the shop, I was surprised by how easy the stuff was to use.  To lift up the car, put the lift points on the proper part of the car and press a button.  You will hear safety’s clicking as the car is being raised up so that even if the hydraulics fail, the lift will stop at the closest safety point.  The teacher put a lot of emphasis on this; it seems that he must have had students in the past that were afraid to go underneath the car.  I have also learned that you should lift the car slightly and then push down on the front a little to see if the car is stable.  If it is not, you need to reposition the car on the lift.  It is just another safety check to make sure that the shop stays safe.  Another thing that is cool is that you need to use two hands to lower the lift, there will be a lever to release the safety’s and then another one to lower the lift.  This makes sure that the lift does not come down unless you want it to.

He went over the importance of having quality tools.  It’s not that the cheap ones don’t work; it’s just that the Snap On and Craftsman tools offer a lifetime warranty and will be replaced, no questions asked, when the tool breaks.  He stated that all mechanics should have a good hydraulic jack and jack stands.  He could not stress enough the importance of using jack stands while working on your car.  Even while doing normal routine oil changes and maintenance where you are under the car for a brief minute.  Mechanical equipment breaks eventually and it is always better to be safe.

There is a whole room dedicated to the brake system in the shop.  This may be normal, but to me it was pretty cool.  There is all the equipment necessary to cut your rotors and drums as well as all the measuring tools necessary.  We will be learning how to read a micrometer and how to properly service and repair the braking system.

We then moved into the tool room and went over all the different tools that a mechanic may use on a daily basis.  I was familiar with most of them but did see some that I did not know existed.  There were the line wrenches that were pretty cool, the crows foot wrenches, and the pneumatic torque stoppers.  These were pretty cool, they stop the air wrench from putting too much torque on the lug nuts.

We pretty much ended in the tool section and then called it a night since it was very close to 9:30PM.  So far so good and I am very excited to get to the next class.  Too bad I have to wait two weeks to get there.  The teacher is going to Bermuda on vacation.

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