Hrm... I'll clarify my post, since it seems to have thrown serious sand into the vital parts of several of our resident automotive techs.
Cars and computers are two opposite ends of the same logical problem: cars are not complicated
, but they are quite complex
. An internal combustion engine is, at it's core, a very simple device with a lot of "improvements" hanging off of it. Computers, on the other hand, are extremely complicted
, but not very complex
In either case, both require the same thing: knowledge. The actual work is simple and straightforward. Just like mathematics, it's nothing but progression and patience. I defy you to tell anyone who's only computer experience is buying a Dell off the shelf, plugging it in, and surfing e-mail, to build you a functional gaming system within a specific budget. They can't do it-- at least not instantly, and not without the potential for screwing up a lot of expensive hardware. However, if they are willing to trade time for money, they can quite easily build a system after spending several hundred hours reading and researching. Remember, while it may be a "snap together" operation for you to build a computer as an experienced user, it's because you have a vast knowledge database concerning computers, and if you want to keep building them, you have to keep up on that knowledge. Of course, once you have the basic level of knowledge, it's just a matter of updating it once in a while.
Cars are EXACTLY THE SAME.
Once you know the lingo, it's just another field. Now, as Enahs and others pointed out, if you have no interest in cars, it'll likely not appeal to you, and you'll not even bother to learn the information. If, for example, you go messing around with some advanced maintenance procedure in a modern engine without understanding the process thoroughly, researching it, and talking to people who've done it, you're likely to screw something up, over-torque something, or otherwise make an expensive mess of things. That's true of any procedure, from installing a new throttle body to changing a fuel filter to installing a wet NOS system. But it's mere knowledge-- a monkey can turn a wrench. Just like with computers, if you dive in uninformed, you stand a good chance of screwing it up. Is a higher level of knowledge required to hot-rod a car than to flush the radiator and change the hoses? Sure. Same is true of building a super-fast game box versus changing out a case fan.
My point is simply this: I've been a gearhead, (and still am), and I've been a computer nerd (and still am.) Both require a specialized knowledge base, but having hung around with both groups of people for years, I can honestly say that they are both extremely intelligent groups. Notice, however, that I DO NOT include you average autotech in that statement. There are smart autotechs, I'm sure. But many of them are hose and belt monkeys, not mechanics.
I stand by my former comment, and Enahs' advice: ANYONE can do routine maintenance and base-level repairs, even on a modern engine. Just find the information before you dive into it. Comparing some moron who starts wrenching on something he doesn't fully understand just because he's "computer smart" to someone who takes the time to read the information about the car, research procedures, and talk to others is not a fair analogy.
The point I was trying to make is not that autotechs are idiots-- even though some are. My point was that most people who read this site--and thus likely build their own computers--are more than intelligent and well-educated enough to gain the knowledge for working on cars. It's just a matter of desire vs. time vs. money. If you're happy spending $1,500 on a tune up, good for you! Go for it. But while it may take you ten hours of research for you car type and another six hours to change the plugs the first time around, you'll know how to do it the second time and save yourself a lot of money. And there are plenty of sites out there on this wonderful information and research tool called the internet where you can find detailed procedural descriptions-- complete with "we made this mistake, so we're telling you how to avoid it" information. Just look around.
------ 11) Thou Shalt Not Whine --