Use the internet to fix your car

The search engine has become one of the most important tools to use when working on your classic car. But how do you get the best out of it?

2cv Tinkering

The internet has become as important a tool as a torque wrench

I’m no expert at tinkering, that’s for sure, but I’ve learnt plenty over the years – often by trial and error. The internet is a HUGE help – so much so that I wonder how we ever coped without it. If I run into a problem, the only difficulty is cleaning my hands before hitting the internet in search of words of wisdom.

Be warned though. For every word of wisdom, there may be many false trails. It’s like anything in life. Don’t believe the first thing you read and be prepared to interrogate Google (or your favourite search engine) hard to get the information you want. Car club membership can be a god-send, and many clubs have members-only resources to help you gain the information you need. It’s a major benefit – I would have been utterly clueless with my Ford Maverick if it were not for the sterling work of the folks at the Nissan 4×4 Owners Club for instance, and 2CVGB takes the strain out of opening a car which scares most British garages. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that to own any of the non-conventional Citroens – from Traction Avant to BX and Xantia – you really need to get a grip with the technology. Forums allow you to do that.

With the Discovery, I’m utterly spoilt for choice. There are so many forums, that I do end up Googling and searching through the many, many responses. It takes patience and an ability to configure the question to provide suitable answers. This is a skill I learnt while working in an office. I soon became known as the Microsoft Office expert, but this was only because I got very good at using the Help function. This was the days before open internet, so Help was all I had. I learnt how to interrogate it, how to change the wording of my query to get the response I needed and that getting no answer usually meant the wrong question had been asked. The solution here is to rethink your question. Is the terminology wrong? Is what I’m asking impossible? I learnt that my Daihatsu has no in-line fuel filter by a combination of Google and Ebay. There are no in-line fuel filters available for first generation Sirions – that was quite a clue that there isn’t one.

If the answer doesn’t exist, even by the power of the search engine, then you can ask questions yourself. DO have a good search first though, as your question is very likely to have been asked before. There really is no need to ask whether Britpart make good quality parts for Land Rovers, or which chassis is best for a Citroen 2CV. Your Mini has corrosion in the rear subframe? Well, don’t ask about what you can do about it – many, many people already have. Forum folk get driven mad by folk who are too lazy to search properly.

So, my golden rules of internet car fixing:

1) Use the search tools. Your problem is probably not new.

2) As well as Google or similar, check out the search functions on relevant forums.

3) Add specifics. Discovery 200Tdi, 1984 Citroen 2CV6, BX TZD Turbo etc.

4) Don’t dive on the first answer you find. Keep searching, keep researching. Other solutions may appear.

5) Latex gloves make it easier to ‘remove’ dirt so you can more quickly access the internet without getting oil on your keyboard.

What are your thoughts? Do share them!

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