Adventures in ADHD: Learning about cars

One thing about having ADHD (OK, there are dozens of things but I’m trying to focus on one here. Don’t distract me) is that for me, I have this tendency to become hyperinterested in something and for the next few weeks or months I spend all my energy on that interest (and unfortunately, my money as well sometimes).

Until I become burned out and lose interest or a brand new shiny interest shows up.

Past interests have been swords. I wanted to collect them. I read about them. Became an expert on them. Before I knew anything about them I had purchased three wallhangers (swords only good as decoration) and before my interest waned I had acquired two genuine swords and three antique fencing foils.

Silver Age comicbooks. Having grown up in the Silver Age, I still regard this period, into the early Bronze Age, as the greatest period for comic books, specifically Marvel. So I go through periods where I purchase collectable copies of S.A. comics. Usually reader’s, which are the lower grade of comics and the most affordable. 

At one time I was interested in collecting beer steins, and also beer memorabilia, but since I stopped drinking over two years ago, these things are just taking up space and collecting dust. Anyone want a German beer stein that has a naked woman in the bottom that you can only see once you’ve drained the beer and hold it up to a light? 

My latest interest is cars. I’ve never been a car guy. I mean, I grew up during the muscle car era of the ’60s and I still oogle a well-maintained car from that era, but I’ve never had any interest in their mechanics.

Outside of changing the oil on my 1986 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z, the rest of a car’s mechanicals are a mystery to me. As far as I’m concerned when you turn the ignition key, the car starts because of magic.

But now my ADHD has taken a turn toward an interest in cars. Beyond just wanting to change the oil, and wash and wax my vehicles, I want to know what makes them tick, and click, and squeal, and knock and ping.

I want to learn how to work on them and keep them running well. (I’ll simply mention that part of this is because I’m cheap and tired of paying mechanics to do things I should be able to do just as well.)

I’ve been to the library several times and have checked out four books so far on maintenance for beginners. Three out of four of those books were geared toward women and/or written by women. 

I guess the sexist assumption there is women don’t know jack about cars, but men do. Nevertheless, I’m finding them very educational because I probably fit into that level of inexperience. My dad never worked on cars (or my mom). They relied on the corner gas station to keep things running and, I might add, were at the mechanic’s mercy when it came to problems and cost.

I don’t want to be like that any more. Did you know that a car’s internal combustion engine is also called a four-stroke engine because it takes four strokes of the piston  (up and down and up and down) to make the car go? I didn’t. As I said, I thought it was magic. Who knew it involved valves, fuel injectors, combustion chambers, spark plugs, cam shafts and so on? Seriously? Who knew?

I’ll admit, I had a few friends in high school who worked on their cars and I often got roped in to do all the grunt work, but I never understood what they were doing. It was like watching a magician summoning a demon. If you told me it didn’t involve a pact with the devil and blood sacrifices to get that car to run, I wouldn’t have believed you.

How long will this new interest of mine last? Hard to say with ADHD. Could be anywhere from three months to the rest of my life.

All I know is I’m chomping at the bit (shoukd i have used a car analogy?) to change the oil on one of my cars, but they were all recently in for that and I don’t want to just waste oil time and money on something unnecessary. 

In the meantime, I’m actually going to clean the garage, put up shelving, and get everything organized for when I finally do get a chance to work on one of the cars.

The books I’ve read so far (in order of how I read then and coincidently, in order of how I liked them):

  • Clueless About Cars: An easy guide to car maintenance and repair by Lisa Christensen, with Dan Laxer
  • Auto Upkeep: basic car care, maintenance and repair by Michael E. Gray & Linda E. Gray
  • Dare to Repair Your Car! A do-it-herself guide to maintenance, safety, minor fix-its, and talking shop by Julie Sussman & Stephanie Glakas-Tenet
  • The Car Book: Everything you need to know about owning, enjoying and maintaining your car by Steve Rendle

I enjoyed Clueless About Cars and found it to be easy to read and understand. Lisa Christensen is a female auto mechanic. Her experiences made for factual and interesting reading, whereas the women who wrote Dare to Repair are not mechanics and admitted they knew nothing about cars until they started eriting the book. Dare to Repair is a much thicker book, but it’s geared primarily to women who, like me, are complete novices and think cars run by magic. The book is informative but I still think Christensen’s book is much more useful.

The Car Book is last on the list primarily because it was written for a British audience and the differing nomenclature was confusing and I don’t just mean boot and bonnet. Aside from that, by the time I read it, most of its information was just repeating what I had already learned in the previous books. Which is a good thing for me because it means I’m actually learning,  and possibly retaining, this new knowledge.

If you have any suggestions on what car book I should tackle next, I’d be happy to hear it.

Learn something new every day to keep your mind young. Learn a hobby to keep it active.
-30-

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