Ask any gearhead, and they’ll likely tell you that there’s something innately fascinating about cars. Gazing upon various models with a mix of admiration and subtle judgment, learning about individual parts and how they function, and of course, getting under the hoods of their own cars and going work all form the backbone of this wholly unique way of life.

It’s captivating, and if you’re not already immersed in the culture, it can also be somewhat difficult explain. But explain we will–today, we’re going to delve into the unbridled passion of being a gearhead and why it’s so much to learn about and work on cars.

What Is A Gearhead?

First, it’s probably a good idea to dispel some misconceptions about what being a gearhead entails. There are some who might tell you that you have to be an encyclopedia for every piece of car knowledge and trivia that’s existed since the first automobile was invented in the late 1800s. Others will proudly proclaim that the kind of car that you drive dictates your worth in this arena–in other words, you need a flashy one that meets a series of criteria on an arbitrary checklist (like having a manual transmission) to have any sort of standing.

Neither of these assumptions could be any further from reality. A gearhead, in the simplest terms, is just someone who loves learning and takes joy in applying that love to the mechanical workings of automobiles. The car and respective level of skill are but secondary factors to the truest component–having passion for what you’re doing. This, incidentally, is derived from several sources.

What Is A Gearhead?

First, it’s probably a good idea to dispel some misconceptions about what being a gearhead entails. There are some who might tell you that you have to be an encyclopedia for every piece of car knowledge and trivia that’s existed since the first automobile was invented in the late 1800s. Others will proudly proclaim that the kind of car that you drive dictates your worth in this arena–in other words, you need a flashy one that meets a series of criteria on an arbitrary checklist (like having a manual transmission) to have any sort of standing.

Neither of these assumptions could be any further from reality. A gearhead, in the simplest terms, is just someone who loves learning and takes joy in applying that love to the mechanical workings of automobiles. The car and respective level of skill are but secondary factors to the truest component–having passion for what you’re doing. This, incidentally, is derived from several sources.

The Passion Comes From The Challenge…

Learning how to work on your car might not be rocket science, but it does require a certain investment of time to become proficient. The first time you attempt to remove an intake manifold, replace an alternator, or perform any equally “nerdy” operation on your car, it might fill you with some unease at first. Once you complete the task successfully, though, fear gives way to joy, and you’ll probably be motivated to find out what else you can do with a bit of know-how.

Add a friend into the mix, and the fun multiplies. Imagine, you and a good buddy, standing over the hood, bantering playfully about your next move: “Hand me the adjustable wrench…” “…Are you crazy? Use the socket & ratchet instead!” Granted, this sort of interplay can come from almost any kind of activity, but there’s something magical when you’re working in unison to repair or upgrade something you’ll be driving later. Which brings up another interesting point.

…But It Also Comes From The Nostalgia

There was once a period where just about everyone knew a little something about the bare basics of a car’s inner workings. As automobiles become more complex and car culture, to an extent, evolves, that’s becoming less of the norm and more of an exception. It’s far more common to see car owners taking their vehicles to the shop than popping open their hoods themselves, even for tasks as basic as an oil change.

Part of the fun in being a gearhead comes from the knowledge that you’re continuing a tradition that maybe, sometime in the not-so-distant future, will be something of a lost art.

The Best Part Is That Anyone Can Do It

As long as you’ve got the passion for learning and are willing to put in the time. Get yourself a set of tools, buy yourself an old car to work on (if you don’t already have one), and start soaking up as much knowledge as you can. You’ll find that the more you learn about working on cars, the more passionate you’ll feel about them overall.