The Driver’s Seat Editorial: DIY Isn’t Dead
DIY Isn’t Dead
We’ve entered into an interesting time for automotive enthusiasts and the general public as a whole. Society is well underway into making the shift from a do-it-yourself mindset to being fully converted to do-it-for-me. We’re becoming soft—nobody wants to get their hands dirty any more. Enrollment at four-year universities is at an all-time high, while tech colleges and trade schools struggle to fill spaces. It’s a bit alarming, this widening of the skills gap. People are graduating with prestigious degrees and can’t find work, while millions of jobs in skilled-labor fields go unfilled.
I’m not here to condemn, nor be the new advocate for the National Skilled Labor Association, if there is such a thing. Mike Rowe—yes, the Dirty Jobs guy—has this covered with his Mike Rowe Works Foundation. He works tirelessly to bring awareness to the issues at hand and provide scholarships to those seeking a profession in the skilled trades. No corporate shilling here, just an honest endorsement from a fan. And if you don’t follow him on Facebook go do it now, you won’t regret it.
Anyway, since we’re presumably all automotive enthusiasts of some sort, I’m more interested in working on trucks. We toe a fine line here at Truck Trend. Dealing with the new truck market, it can be tough to advocate working on them yourself. Many come with free dealer maintenance plans, and warranties keep us from customizing them beyond simple bolt-on parts. For the rest of us whose pickups have outlived the warranty period, there’s no good excuse.
Lack of time, no place at home, doesn’t have the tools, never learned how—all are poor excuses, and we’ve heard many more. We live in the glory days of the Internet. There’s nothing that hasn’t been done before and documented to some degree. With smartphones, the cumulative knowledge of the world is literally at our fingertips. Start small: change that light bulb that’s burned out or put on a new set of wiper blades. The sense of pride from a job well done will give you the high that you need to keep learning and trying increasingly difficult tasks.
I started working on cars at a young age in my parents’ backyard along side my dad, uncle, and grandpa. When I got older, I took classes at the local community college to learn basic vehicle systems, structural welding, and heck, even residential cabinetry. Since then, I’ve done all sorts of dumb things in the name of DIY. I started by tinkering with my ’68 Mustang, then my high school buddies and I “built” a Baja Bug with what I’m pretty sure now was a fence pipe rollcage. We probably would have all died if we rolled that thing. I’ve torn a perfectly good Ford Ranger apart and rebuilt it to go fast in the desert, which is sitting in my garage right now waiting for someone to finish an engine swap. And I’ve just embarked on rebuilding a non-running ’02 Chevy Silverado 2500HD Duramax in my side yard. We won’t even talk about all of the other projects I have going that are either still cluttering up the property or have since been set free. Thankfully, I only have one neighbor, and he’s worse than I am.
Later in this issue, we’re going to take a look at a few things that you can do at home, with a buddy and simple hand tools. I’m not here to tell anyone to quit his or her desk job and go become a craftsman or mechanic. Instead, I encourage everyone to tackle a small project on his or her own vehicles. Get your hands dirty, learn a new skill, and pass it on to the next generation. After all, our passion for trucks is supposed to be fun, and it’s no fun sitting in a dealership waiting room (and even less fun paying the bill.)