Whether you want to brush up on basic information or you’re an aspiring professional mechanic, there are lots of resources—on the Internet, within entertainment media, and out in your community—to learn about cars. Understanding the inner workings of your make and model—and maybe even knowing how to fix a mechanical issue—is an incredibly useful skill for car owners. You’ll be able to shop new and used cars with confidence, save on repair costs, and even do some DIY customizations on your dream ride. Car insurance super app Jerry has put together this handy guide for beginners who are eager to get under the hood of their vehicles. Tap into these resources, and you’ll be a certified gearhead in no time. Compare insurance quotes from 50+ carriers with Jerry in under 45 seconds

Dive into the World Wide Web

It’s no question that the Internet is the best first stop for teaching yourself about cars. Resources online are diverse, free, and easy to access. However, aimlessly browsing the web can feel overwhelming, and it can be hard to suss out reliable sources in a sea of virtual information. Instead of Googling car information at random, try starting in some of our favorite places:

YouTube

Videos are a great way to be introduced to a subject, especially if you’re a visual learner. There are plenty of car-themed YouTube channels that you can browse or subscribe to. Here are some of our recommendations:

  • For an overall introduction to the world of wheels, we suggest the MotorTrend Channel. Their videos include a variety of car reviews, track days, fix-’em-ups, interviews, and more.
  • If you’re in the market for a used car but want to learn more about the many makes and models available, check out RegularCars or carwow
  • Meanwhile, Carfection is the perfect channel for aspiring luxury vehicle owners and enthusiasts.

Online forums

An online forum, or discussion board, may be the perfect place to go when you’re ready to have conversations about cars. You can interact with car enthusiasts from around the globe, read the car community’s answers to FAQs, and even pose your own questions. There are lots of forums out there, but Reddit is a useful place to start. The r/cars subreddit is a great space for everything vehicle-related, but there are tons of message boards centered on more specific themes, such as forums on classic cars and advice for car shoppers. If scrolling through endless message boards sounds daunting, try virtually connecting with car enthusiasts via social media. That’s right—these days, Instagram is about more than just aesthetics. Popular accounts like @petrolicious provide educational content including interviews, car reviews, and features.

Choose entertainment geared toward gearheads

Who says education can’t be fun? Thanks to entertainment media, you can easily become a car know-it-all, all while kicking it back on the couch.

TV shows

What’s better than a weekend TV binge? A weekend TV binge that comes with a side of quality car knowledge! There are lots of popular car-themed shows out there, but here are some of our suggestions. You may have heard about BBC’s Top Gear, one of the most-watched factual shows on cars. You can find the show on Amazon Prime and learn tons about restorations, mods, races, and more. If eclectic cars or restorations are your thing, head to Netflix to watch Car Masters: Rust to Riches. You’ll follow a team of mechanics at a California-based garage as they seek out damaged and used vehicles, fix them up, trade them, and rake in thousands of dollars.

Podcasts

Podcasts are another great way to keep up on car topics, and are perhaps one of the most convenient and accessible forms of entertainment media! Learn about cars while you commute to work, while you fold your laundry, or while you’re out for your morning run. The Smoking Tire is a twice-weekly, 90-minute podcast that features guests such as engineers, hot-rodders, tuners, Hollywood stunt drivers, and other automotive industry folks. The Autoblog Podcast, on the other hand, is hosted by car-loving journalists and features helpful advice, insightful reviews, and up-to-date industry news.

Interactive video games

When you’re ready for hands-on learning but not quite ready for the real thing, try a car-themed video game. Car Mechanics Simulator allows you to “get your hands dirty” in a highly realistic simulation game, where you’ll perform lifelike repairs, tuning, and stylizing on a variety of vehicles. If you’re getting serious about your automotive education, it might be time to get up and get out into the real world. Look to your local community for a variety of educational resources.

Your local public library

Many local public libraries have entire automotive sections filled to the brim with books that can help you learn just about anything you need to know about cars. Signing up for a library card is typically free, and once you do, you’ll be able to borrow loads of print resources at will. Even better, most library cards include access to online databases, which include an even wider range of information from around the world. If you’re ready to formalize your learning process, consider enrolling in a mechanics class at your local community college. Many offer a wide variety of automotive maintenance classes, as well as teach relevant skills like welding, all at an affordable price. Start with just a class or two to make sure you love it, and then feel free to enroll in more as your knowledge and interest grows! Who knows—you may even build up the professional qualifications for a whole new career in the automotive industry.

Car shows and meetups

Education is a social process, so collaborate with nearby car enthusiasts by showing up to car shows and car meetups. At first, you might feel like a fish out of water, but if you’re friendly and enthusiastic, you’ll have no problem finding a gearhead to answer all of your car-related questions!

Put in some elbow grease

There’s no substitute for hands-on experience, so once you’ve done a bit of research, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and grab a socket wrench.

Your vehicle’s shop manual

Before getting under the hood, try to hunt down the shop manual for your vehicle. The shop manual is different from the owner’s manual you keep in your glovebox—it’s an actual service manual that licensed repair shops use as a reference guide for your car’s make and model. To snag a shop manual, contact your local dealer or look online. (You might even be able to save a few bucks by snagging a used copy off of eBay.) Then, the next time your car is due for some routine maintenance, you can reference the manual for a step-by-step guide.

Simple fixes

When you’re ready to get going, start by trying some simple fixes. Easy tasks like replacing your headlights, finding and replacing a broken fuse, or replacing your serpentine are easy to DIY, require relatively few tools, and will help you gain confidence as you get to know your car.

An inexpensive “beater” car

If you’re not an experienced mechanic, you don’t want to take apart the vehicle you rely upon daily just to learn how it works. But if you’re eager to get your hands dirty, you probably don’t feel like waiting for a simple mechanical issue to occur. For those with a bit of extra cash (and ample garage space), investing in an inexpensive “beater” car is a great idea. Look for a car with some specifically diagnosed issues, buy (or borrow) some tools, and get to work. If you make mistakes or have to try again and again before succeeding, it’s no big deal!

How to save on car insurance

Going from car novice to expert enthusiast is hard work, but securing cheap car insurance doesn’t have to be! The Jerry app can collect quotes from dozens of top insurance companies, like Travelers, Nationwide, and Progressive, in seconds. They can even help cancel your old policy once you’ve made your pick. The best part? The average Jerry user saves $887 a year on car insurance.

“Using Jerry is a super straightforward process, and at each step, you can see exactly what coverage you’re paying for. Thanks to Jerry, I’m paying $900 less each year while keeping full coverage for my new car!” —Martin H.

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Thousands of customers saved on average $887/year on their car insurance with Jerry

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