How to do you give your son an Automotive Maintenance Credit? It’s a simple process really.
First Step: Buy two 1991 vehicles. Make sure one is a rust bucket. We have found that having the actual in real life repairs is what gives the motivation for your young men to want to go to town, thus, giving them a reason to fix the car. You might start with just one old car so Dad can get to work easier – but with two – the repairs really do have to be done.
Second Step: Live in a really tiny town, with the only “Flashy professional” car care center is not the most honorable when it comes to the bill. You’ll find the need to seek out honest back yard, small shop, dirty tool guys.
Third Step: Find the guys that are really just having good time standing in their garages working on personal projects and are bored. Or – our favorite – find a couple of men who want to help but would rather help your son learn, than do it themselves. I recommend a mixture of both – so as not to burn out your friends each week.
And so you have it. As many of you know, we went down to being a 1 truck family last June. We spent until December looking for a car that we could pay cash for, and found a 1992 Subaru Legacy for $300.00. The hitch – that it has been sitting a block from the Pacific Ocean for 2 years. It needed just about everything that needed to move – replaced. About $800 dollars later – we have a really dependable fun little Go Cart.
Nathan has been right there through each noise and vehicle stop. We’ll ask – what does it sound like, what happened when it stopped working – and then search out YouTube, Forums, and Owner’s Manuals to find answers. Because the vehicles are both non electronic, the fixes have been fairly simple, once diagnosed. So far, save for the starter, Nate has figured them all out on his own.
He’s changed many a tire (over 7), replaced the starter, the alternator, the battery, battery cables, ground cable, belts, tightened several areas, radiator hose, muffler/exhaust, oil, filters, and I’m not sure what else.
Each time we bring it to a small shop to get it fixed, the man seems to zone in on Nate and pulls him over to show him what he’s talking about. Points and grunts and figures, and then lets Nate fix it. This last round was all Nate.
Puddle of “Something” is in the driveway. Nate goes under the truck and sees a leak from the radiator. He fills the radiator, we do a bit of research, and then find a local Radiator Guy. He’s building trikes in his shop. The forks have Machete’s on them. We’ve found the right place. He pressure tests the radiator, and sure enough, Nate had the exact leak spot. Mechanic says, I can replace that tube, or you can. If I do it, I’ll have to charge you $50.00. So off to Napa we go, they can’t figure out what tube it is, so we take the truck home, and Nate gets the tube off, Napa can now find a ‘close to’ shape. The morning he wanted to fix it, a friend stopped by, and he helped Nate put it back on, gave me peace of mind that the bolts were tight, and then took Nate to help him put together 10 Adirondack chairs. It was a good swap. Nate still ‘paid’ for 4 hours of his labor helping, but the truck is running, time with his friend is priceless, and we didn’t have to pay cash. We have several stories that played out just like this one from the year.
I know this is getting long – but I encourage you to let your young men work. Let them try. They are capable. They just need a bit of practice. Maybe some day we’ll teach him to drive.