So we've seen plenty of rants about buying cars, recommending cars to buy, dealing with people who don't like recommendations that you give (Sell the kids, buy an Aston instead). But there is one thing that comes with the territory of being "The Car Person" especially if you have a penchant for older cars and working with hand tools. One thing that hasn't been discussed yet.
One of your friends asking: "Can you fix my car for me, please? I think it just needs an oil change..."
Normally, my policy was as follows: You supply the parts, you pay me 1/3 the labor rate of the dealer ($25/hour isn't bad, mind you, for never seeing this car before), and if you keep me company in the garage, I'll fix your car. However, you will be tasked with looking things up on Google, or supplying the factory service manual. Only exception is if you have a car like mine (RamblinRover's 300D is the only one which comes close, of my friends). And if I don't feel comfortable doing something, I'll tell you and I won't do it (seems fair to me).
Then I had the tangle with the GM 2.2L inline 4 (Iron Duke descendent, Opel design). Normally these engines have a spacious engine bay to sit it (Think S-10 pickup). But on an '02 Cavalier, the oil filter is on the back of the block, facing the firewall, and you have to contort yourself to get into the space with the filter, or start removing stuff off the top of the engine.
Yeah, I'm not even touching that.
It's one thing if the maintenance parts are easily accessible (Easy as defined as a mind 1990s F-150 with the Windsor V8), or if it's something that someone else is comfortable doing (i.e. I'm helping them out with the job). I draw the line at something that could easily turn into a full day of me disassembling and reassembling someone else's car, especially if I have never seen that kind of car before.
I feel bad not being able to help my friends out, but I think it's a relief, as cars tend to be like computers:
"Well, you touched it last, so you obviously did something to break it."
That would put too much strain on a friendship. Especially if someone asks for beer or money to be involved.
So it's decided. I'm not fixing your car for you. I will let you fix your own car in my garage, and if you want, I can help you. But that's where I draw the line.
I value friendship too much to be responsible for your transportation.