I didn’t start fixing cars until I was a freshman in college, and by then, the internet was filling with how-to DIY YouTube videos that helped me get up to speed in short order. Lots of YouTubers spend tons of time making videos to show the rest of us how to fix things, and I think they deserve appreciation. So here’s a bit of that.
For the first few years of wrenching, I used to reference YouTube videos quite often, which is why hitting up the video hosting site is one of the ways that I recommend inexperienced wrenchers build up expertise.
While there are tons of well-known how-to auto repair channels out there, I want to focus my attention on the small ones that focus on single vehicles and have been around for a while. Because of the narrow focus, these channels aren’t likely to become mega channels (after all, I can’t imagine the appetite for lower control arm replacement videos for 1993 to 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokees is enormous), but the work they do is important in furthering car culture because it helps the rest of us keep our cars on the road.
Unsurprisingly, three of the channels I’ll point are there to teach Jeep owners how to mend their machines. The first is a channel I discovered recently after purchasing my ‘Holy Grail’ 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It’s called BARRICADE GARAGE, and though it’s a small operation, the host does stuff the right way all the time, and does a great job describing everything he’s doing. If you own a Jeep ZJ or even XJ Cherokee, he’s worth checking out.
The guy is incredibly thorough. Not only does he describe how the parts he’s about to repair actually work (he even decodes a differential tag in the video above!), but he narrates the repair nicely, uses only the highest-quality parts, and goes above-and-beyond to show tricks and common mistakes to avoid.
That last bit is important, and a major advantage of watching a channel that specializes in a specific vehicle.
I myself watched the lower control arm replacement video above, because my “Holy Grail” Jeep’s passenger’s side one is badly bent, and going to have to be swapped out. BARRICADE GARAGE makes it look easy.
Then there’s NickInTimeFilms, a Jeep Cherokee XJ-dedicated channel that’s been around for as long as I can remember YouTube (the host joined in September of 2007), and the breadth of his body-of-work is absolutely staggering. He owns a 1989 Jeep Cherokee that he’s basically replaced every single part on over the years, and he’s shot video of it all.
If you want to know how to swap a heater control valve on a pre-’97 Jeep Cherokee, NickInTimeFilms has you covered. Do you have a loud tick coming from the motor that you suspect might be a result of some bad lifters? The video above shows you how to take those out.
Any XJ repair you could possibly need help with is on his channel, and the fact that he keeps pumping out detailed video after detailed video despite his rather niche subject matter and modest audience is a godsend to the XJ community.
The third channel I’ll highlight is Bullshitkorner, a hilariously vulgar Canadian dude who likes to curse, wrench and drink beer in his garage. I’ve learned a lot from him, and I don’t just mean that in terms of wrenching; I’ve learned words that I cannot repeat.
Anyway, the point of this little post is to highlight the importance of small, model-specific YouTube channels whose hosts provide a detailed level of expertise that’s hard to find elsewhere. These channels don’t have tons of subscribers (the three I mentioned are at 10,000, 19,100, and 74,500, respectively) due to the narrowness of their focus, but it’s this tight focus that makes them so valuable in helping car owners keep their junkers out of the salvage yard.
Obviously, random people on YouTube aren’t necessarily the best sources for how-to repair guidance (I prefer a decent factory service manuals), but the good ones are a blessing to car culture, and if you’ve got a channel for your specific car that you want to shout out, throw it in the comments.