One of the dumbest decisions of my life happened when I was 15 years old. I had grown up watching my dad change the oil in his cars by hand About half the time the oil would drain out of the filter onto his face, and the other half of the time the oil would drain into the pan as he had planned. None of what he was doing looked enjoyable and I wanted no part in fixing cars. Eventually my dad got tired of it too. So when I was about 12 years old, my dad started taking his cars to places like Jiffy Lube for oil changes and I vowed that’s what I’d do when I grew up and got rich.
That’s the underlying reason for why I made a really bad decision. It just seemed so much easier to pay someone to do my mechanical work rather than learning how to do it myself. After all, in my mind I was going to be a millionaire by the time I turned 25 — it was in my destiny. So when one of my mom’s older friends, who happened to have been a mechanic, asked her if he could teach me everything he knew about cars, I arrogantly told my mom, “No, I’m going to pay people to do that for me.”
Stupid, stupid decision. I’ve regretted that decision for the past 15 years. Understanding how cars work and having the ability to diagnose car problems and fix those problems would have come in handy at least 100 times in my life as a non-millionaire adult. Instead, I get to take my cars to the local mechanic whenever anything goes wrong and cringe every time I get the bill that follows.
I have a truck that’s almost 20 years old. It was my high school graduation present from my parents. It also counted as our wedding present and about a half-dozen other presents that popped up over the 10 years after my parents bought it. The truck was everything I had ever dreamed of as a high school student. It was raised on a lift kit and built, as my mom said when she first saw it, “to climb mountains.” Now I’m married with two kids living in a state that has no mountains, operating a truck that only gets about 4 miles per gallon of gas while the cost of gas hovers around $3.50 per gallon.
Two years ago the brakes on my truck went out. As in, “oh sh#$ get out of my way I can’t stop even if I want to,“ went out. I coasted my truck into the driveway that afternoon and my truck has sat there rusting apart for two years. I didn’t want to pay to tow it to the mechanic’s shop and I didn’t want to pay a mechanic to fix the brakes – not with gas prices being as high as they were.
With stuff piling up in our house and garage that needs to be hauled off to Goodwill, I finally got frustrated and decided to turn to Google to get my Google mechanic degree. After all, working on cars, while difficult, isn’t rocket science – at least that’s what I told myself as motivation. After two weeks of extensive Google searches and several suggested tests I found through Google, I finally diagnosed the brake problem on my truck as a bad master cylinder.
I went to a local parts store and bought a replacement master cylinder, which was much cheaper than expected, and went home and swapped the old master cylinder for the new one. Then I watched several online videos on bleeding brakes and I completed the brake repair on my truck. Now after 2 years of rust and a garage full of crap that needs to be hauled off, my truck finally works.
The moral of the story If someone offers to teach your kids about car engines for free, force your kids to accept the lessons. My truck sat idle for two years before I finally had the guts to give fixing it a try, but had I accepted that teaching offer when I was a kid, I would be several hundred dollars richer and I wouldn’t be on a first name basis with my local auto mechanic.
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