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What Life Skill Did You Learn Through Wrenching?

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Working on your own car is both fun and cost-effective. But it’s also another, secret third thing: educational. Wrenching can teach you all sorts of new skills, from wiring and diagnostics to things as simple as “knowing when your torque wrench actually clicked, so you don’t wildly over-torque your transmission drain plug and almost destroy your gearbox by sending shards of crush washer into the sump.” Not that I’d know anything about the latter, of course.

But wrenching, in a Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance way, can teach you about things beyond the motor vehicle. It can teach patience, attention to detail, and other broadly applicable skills that I’m still figuring out. So for today’s question, we ask: what has wrenching taught you?

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

For me, the big lesson of wrenching is just how important it is to have the right tool for a given job. Sure, you can often make do with a Sawzall, self-tapping screws, and a breaker bar, but you won’t be doing yourself or your car any favors — especially when you inevitably have to redo all your shoddy work down the road.

No, it’s better to have a tool that’s meant to perform the job you’re trying to do. Look no further than the top gif of this blog — “massaging” a seat rail with a rotary tool made it work in the short term, but didn’t fix the core problem (a bent seat mount) that I was actually trying to fix. That issue still exists, it’s just been papered over.

My lesson from wrenching is that the right tool in the right place makes all the difference in the world. But what’s yours? Give us your best life lessons from wrenching in the comments, and we’ll collect our favorite answers this coming Monday.

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