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I know next to nothing about cars. I know the front end, and the back end, and I know where the gas goes. That's about it. I want to learn more. How things work inside the engine. How to change my oil. All the things that every American man should know.

Does anyone know of a workshop or seminar type of class in the Baltimore or Atlanta area that could get me started? I found a class on auto restoration, but that was more body work than Auto 101, which is what I need.

Have you tried a local county college? They often have courses similar to what you want. I would suggest getting some books. A Chilton's or similar manual for the car you are going to work on will help a lot. It gives brief explanations of what things are and how they work, and then procedures on how to fix or replace them.

Also look for basics type books that give an overview of the systems in a car. Once beyond the basics you can really dig into your engine and learn how to fix bigger problems than basic maintenance. How to Rebuild Small-Block Ford Engines is a good book, as is it's counterpart for big blocks, How to Rebuild Big Block Ford Engines. Very detailed and informative, but of course doesn't apply if you don't have any of those engines.

The best way to learn is to just play with your car. Get a book that tells you the basics, or have a friend explain how engines work. Then go ahead and tinker with yours. Go ahead and get a timing light, spark plug socket and a set of feeler gauges and give your car a tune-up. Next time you need brakes go ahead and replace the pads or shoes yourself. Most things that will go wrong with your car can easily be done at home in a couple hours.

Whenever something breaks fix it yourself, with your trusty Chilton's manual in hand to help guide you. Don't be afraid to buy the tools to fix the problem and spend a Saturday on it. It's the best way to learn. Besides, which would you rather do, spend a hundred bucks on labor for someone else to do it or spend a hundred bucks on tools which you may very well need for future problems or projects? Not to mention walking away knowing more than you did when you started. So get a good book, read it, and don't be afraid to play with your car.

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