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Re: Being One's Own Mechanic

Andrew makes several excellent points here.  I would like to add a couple of 
other thoughts...

I consider myself one of those people with a lot of "natural talent" turning 
wrenches.  My preference for "unique" cars (old British stuff, Corvairs, SAAB 
Sonnets, and the like) often put me in the position in knowing more about my 
own cars than anyone else around.  Some realizations along the way:

(1) There are always going to be problems.  Stripped bolts, broken studs, etc.  
When you do your own work, you consider these "unexpected" or "unforeseen" 
problems.  When you do this kind of thing for a living, you expect them on 
every job.  
(2) You do indeed have to have a "critical mass" of general knowledge of how to 
solve these.  Moreover, that same critical mass of knowledge (proper use of 
proper tool) helps to minimize "unavoidable" incidents.
(3)  Having the correct tools, not only for the job, but also for the problems, 
is essential.
(4)  When the vehicle is an unknown quantity (ie: "someone else's") with 
various modifications and electrical "improvements", things get complicated 
quickly. Jobs started by a backyard "mechanic", but brought to a professional 
to finish warrant at least a 100% labor surcharge.
(5) Basic mechanical skills and experience are not sufficient to replace 
specific marque knowledge in cars like Audi's.  Thank goodness for the Q-list!  
(I am really quite impressed with the level of technical knowledge this group 
(6)  If you DO work on your own car, it is a GREAT idea to have backup 

Having worked part time in various garages, I have a lot of respect for "good" 
mechanics...those that generally complete the job on schedule and within their 
quote AND fix the initial problem.....those guys are worth paying extra for.  
(Most dealerships do not meet this criteria, even on new cars.)  I do 
mechanical work for relaxation; it's much too hard to do it for a living...

 I am by no means an Audi expert (yet), but trust that driving an '85 UrQ for 
my 120 mile daily commute here in "sunny Wisconsin" will eventually "teach" me 
more than I ever wanted to know about them....

Bill Elliott
Lake Mills, WI
(Yes, I have backup transportation...my Corvair and my wife's TR6...)