Austin BusseyMrs. CorbettAP Literature/Composition11-17-2011 History of DIY Automotive Repair and Future Outlook What does the future of automotive technology hold for the average Americanwho enjoys the DIY of automotive repair? As history has progressed it has becomeharder for the average person to do their own work. With the increase of computers,finely tuned transmissions, precisely weighted engine parts, and a plethora of other highlydesigned parts and assembly processes have made it difficult for an individual withoutproper training and equipment to make any modifications or repairs. In the near future, itwill be impossible for an average person to do their own work. The history of automotiverepair has progressed from the past with ease of repairs, to present with only certain partsthat are easy to work on, and a quick approaching bleak future for DIY automotive. In the past with the first creation of cars, there were few mechanics. “A mechanicis defined as someone who provides repairs or maintenance to a machine (Alisimo, 1)”.The original creators of cars, such as Henry Ford, had very little idea of how cars workedmainly because they were a new invention. The first mechanics were the same peoplewho had been working on horse drawn carriages and had no experience or training. Thecomplexity and difference in the automobile engine made it much harder to work on.With few mechanics around to repair damages, many had to take matters into their own
Bussey 2hands and made their own repairs. Granted, there were mechanics around, but many ofthem were too expensive and many of them were just common people who hadexperience, no serious education on the matter. The spread of the auto mechanicincreased quickly in the early years. As time went on DIY repairs flourished to thepresent. Cars were simple, with uncomplicated and simple designs that were easy torepair and maintain. In the 1950s and 1960s, generations of young men fell in love withtheir cars and worked on them at home. Since the home mechanic was so popular duringthis time, the rise of the trained auto mechanic was hampered. The simplicity and easecontinued into the 1990s when it was commonplace to have cars with computermonitored engines. Computers in cars were the first big injury to DIY automotive. Theproblem was lessened with aftermarket parts and general knowledge education throughword of mouth. However, complete understanding about the operation of these parts wasstill unknown to the common person. American automotive makers in the past havealways been the easiest to work on, do to the fact that they were made with simple parts.However, European and Asian automotive manufacturers are a different story. Asianmanufacturers are known to have a strong technological influence with computers beingplaced into their cars, making it extremely difficult for the common person withouteducation in computer technologies to repair and modify. The European manufacturersare known to have finely tuned and very refined engines that because of the degree ofprecision in the parts makes them very hard to be worked on by someone who was notprofessionally trained. American cars in the past have been the most popular until thepopularity increase in European racing and the release of cheap reliable Asian cars in theeighties.
Bussey 3 In today’s tough economic times, more people are attempting to work on theircars in order to save money. However, it is increasingly harder to work on cars. It is atransitionally time in the history of the home auto mechanic. It has become increasinglydifficult to work on cars without extensive and expensive equipment and knowledge ofthe new technology involved in cars today. Computers and electronic elements inautomobiles today have changed what the automobile mechanic knows and what he hasto do in order to work on today’s automobiles. “This is reflected in the fact the term,Auto Technician, has largely replaced auto mechanic in most shops today (Alisimo, 1).”The new title for the auto mechanic shows just how far the technology and the expertisefor automobile repairs have come from the time when a wrench and a teenager in thedriveway could work on a car. Now most automobile mechanics or technicians attendschools in order to learn how to work on today’s complicated automobiles. In today’sworld, the cars have computers and many electronic parts. Without this education,replacing and modifying parts has become nearly impossible. The main purpose of thesecomputers was to maintain the engine, and modify little fine tuned intake numbers andother technical items that will modify how the car runs allowing for longer life, better gasmileage, and other useful items. The problem with these computers is that, because of thedegree of education required to program and modify these systems, which normallywould not be an issue, however this means that as parts are replaced and modified, it willcause the computer to error and prevent it from operating correctly. They are equippedwith many emissions parts, as well, so that they pollute the atmosphere less. Theemissions in automobiles are required by federal law. Emission parts add morecomplexity to the automobile that cannot just be looked at and figured out what is not
Bussey 4working. Now the home mechanic needs equipment that can read the codes from thecomputer in the car that tells him exactly what part is not functioning correctly. The DIYauto mechanic is still able to do some things on cars. However, he can still change the oilin most cars, rotate his tires, change the air filter, flush and replace the coolant in the car,replace the spark plugs for some of today’s cars, fuel filter, brakes if it is just replacingparts, but for safety issues a professional need do it. The routine maintenance on theparts above is still able to be done by the DIY auto mechanic. However, it is already notpossible for the DIY auto mechanic to change the oil, spark plugs, or brakes in the morecomplex cars. Today’s cars have computers in them that monitor your tire pressure, helpprevent you from going into a skid, and even tell you when it is time for maintenance onyour car. The complexities of the car has also led to more automobile recalls then haveoccurred in the past. The hybrid car has also added a layer of complexity to cars. “Anyvehicle that combines two or more sources of power that can directly or indirectlyprovide propulsion power is a hybrid.” (Nice, Layton, 1) Most of the hybrids today aregasoline-electric hybrids. Cars’ complexity with the electric and gasoline engines makeit almost impossible for the DIY auto mechanic to work on them. More makes andmodels of the hybrids are coming out every year. A DIY auto mechanic is still able to docertain things to the car, however, with the increasingly complexity of the automobile, therole of DIY auto mechanic is changing and may eventually go away. As the complexity of today’s car increase every year, it is becoming much moredifficult for the DIY auto mechanic to work on a car. Already certain very sophisticatedand complex cars are virtually impossible for the DIY auto mechanic to work on themwithout expensive equipment and specialized training. A trend in this country is to
Bussey 5provide a place and equipment for the DIY auto mechanic to work on a car. “Mike"Huck" Ehrlichs new auto repair business in West Salem gives do-it-yourselferseverything they need to roll up their sleeves and fix their own cars (Burgess, 1).” Thenew type of operation provides a space to work on your car, tools to do it, can get theparts necessary to fix your car, and even provide a mechanic to teach or assist you inrepairing your car. Mr. Ehrlich had purchased a warehouse and was looking forsomething to do with it. After doing some research, he found there was nothing in thearea for a DIY auto mechanic to go to and work on a car with the now specializedequipment needed to work on a car. With these tough economic times people are keepingtheir cars longer and attempting to do the repairs themselves in order to save money.With people unemployed, it is cheaper to attempt to work on your own car than spend$80-100 per hour in a professional automobile shop. The new DIY auto shops can fit alllevels of DIY auto mechanics, from the one who just wants to change the oil to the onewho wants to rebuild an engine. The charges to use Ehrlich’s facilities are also muchcheaper than a professional shop. Ehrlich plans to offer classes to DIY auto mechanics.One way for the DIY auto mechanic to still be able to work on a car without having topurchase expensive equipment and giving him access to people who already have beenextensively trained on the new technologies in today’s cars is shops like Ehrlich. Asmore cars employ complicated computer systems and electronic parts, it is going tocontinue to make it harder if not impossible for the DIY auto mechanic to continue towork on a car. The increase popularity of the hybrid and the need for increased fuelmileage on cars is also going to make it harder and maybe impossible for the DIY automechanic to be successful.
Bussey 6 In the beginning of auto repairs, cars were simple enough for the DIY automechanic to work on a car in the driveway with just some screwdrivers and wrenches.As time progressed so has the complexity of automobiles and with the increase ofcomputers, finely tuned transmissions, precisely weighted engine parts, and a plethora ofother highly designed parts and assembly processes have made it difficult for anindividual without proper training and equipment to make any modifications or repairs.In the future, it looks like the DIY auto mechanic will no longer be able to work on a caror do even the simplest repairs to it.
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