Where It All Started: Part 1
So, where do I begin? I suppose if you are reading this, then you have an interest in who EricTheCarGuy is and where he comes from, so I’ll just get to it. I’ve been into cars for as long as I can remember. When the Gary candle Newman song “Cars” came out, the line that stuck out to me was, “here in my car, I feel safest of all”, because that is exactly how I felt. Not only safe, but more importantly, at home. I moved around a lot from New York to Texas, so it was only fitting that I would call the family cars in my life home. From there, I grew up and developed an interest in the fine arts. I know that’s a stretch, but it started when I was a teenager. I got in trouble a lot, and as a result, I got grounded a lot. As a result of that I spent a lot of time in my room drawing pictures. I got pretty good at it in fact, and soon learned to paint and sculpt as well. I even won a few art contests and painted a large 24′ mural at the high school I went to in Yorkshire, NY. It’s still there today I think.
Where It All Started: Part 2
So, I set off to art school to try and “find myself”, and become an “artist”. Well, while in college, I found I had more of an interest in chasing girls and drinking than I did in getting my work done. I still did OK, but I just wasn’t into what I was doing, and all I could see was 4 years of boredom and then hopefully the prospect of becoming an art teacher. Besides drinking and girls, I also liked movies, scary movies to be precise. Then, one day I found out I could get a job as an artist working on scary movies. The thing was, I had to move to Pittsburgh, and I was going to school in Buffalo at the time. Oh, and did I mention that I also had a 1 year old son at 20? Yea, that too. Well, the decision was made and I was headed to Pittsburgh to learn the finer points of industrial design and special effects make up with hopes that I would one day get a job in the movies. Yea, that was a nice dream, but this is me we are talking about here. I actually did very well my first year. I loved the work, the school and the city, but life as it is had other plans for me, and shortly after I started my first year of school I ran out of money and had to drop out.
It was a dark time indeed. Here I was a 22 year old with little prospects for the future, and I don’t know if you know this, but it’s not exactly easy to find a job as an artist. But I did find a job making fake trees for shopping malls. Yes, you did read that right. I actually grew to like it till I got laid off, and then I bounced from one dumb job to the next, mostly in the fast food industry. Yea, it’s a real “career choice”, I know. I was broke, behind on my child support and student loans (yea they actually wanted me to pay them back even though I couldn’t get a job in the field I went to school for, the irony was not lost on me I can tell you), and if not for the kindness of friends, I would not have been able to eat or even have a roof over my head at times. Yea, it was that bad. One day, one of those friends got me a job painting houses. It was good work, and I had a great time working with my closest friends all day, but I don’t like heights, and it always seemed I was 100 feet off the ground hanging on for dear life, painting some stupid window no one would ever see as if it were the Sistine Chapel. I had to do something else for a living, as I had pretty much hit rock bottom in my financial and personal life during that time. I needed a change.
So one day, I opened the phone book and started looking at schools. I was interested in schools that I could graduate from in a short amount of time, and get a REAL job when I was done without having to wait around for my “career” to start. That was when I found Rosedale Technical Institute, which is a school with an 18 month automotive program. I figured I could work on cars since I had already been working on my friends’ cars and trucks for pizza and beer. I had also been servicing my own vehicles for years because I couldn’t afford to have anyone do it for me. Also because, let’s face it, not all mechanics are on the level if you catch my drift, which makes them not the easiest people in the world to trust. So, I called up and made an appointment to tour the school. I was in love. I finally found something I knew that I could do, and felt that once I left that place, I could get a good paying job, finally pay off my crushing debt, and be able to see my son on a regular basis, which was something that really wasn’t possible during that time. I paid my application fee ($10) with rolled up change, because it was the only money I had, and it was the best money I ever spent. I went to school every day, and in fact, in the entire 18 months, I only missed 4 hours because I had to be in court. But as soon as I got out I headed back to school to finish the day, because I was that dedicated. I worked hard, studied hard, and graduated with honors at the top of my class. I even made a speech at my graduation, and it was one of the proudest moments of my life, because not only my mother and some very close friends were in the audience, but also my son. It felt good to stand there in front of all those people, but especially my boy, because I knew he could see how hard I had worked to turn my life around. It was a good day, one of my best really.
While I was in school, I worked at a full service gas station pumping gas and renting moving trucks. I actually got fired from that job, because I got caught working on someone’s car on a weekend while no one was there. I was told I was there to pump gas, not work on cars. But within 2 days I had another job, and this time as an actual mechanic working in a real shop and NOT pumping gas. It was the best job I’d ever had. The name of the place was Bob Mathews Import and Domestic Auto Repair, and it was where the REAL learning began. It’s one thing to learn the theory behind auto-mechanics, but quite another to apply it to the real world. Under the wise tutelage of Bob and my other coworkers, I learned what it’s really like to work on cars for a living. And it was AWESOME. I could not wait to get up in the morning and go to work and see what was in store for me. Sure, I had trouble from time to time, but that was the fun of what I was doing. I was getting dirty, and I wasn’t flipping burgers or cleaning up after messy disrespectful people. I was working on their cars and trucks and respected for it. To this day, I’ll never forget what that felt like. The song says, “life is what happens while your busy making other plans”, and the other plans for me came in the form of a move to a new city, Cincinnati. I didn’t want to leave Pittsburgh, but I did (because I was engaged to a really great girl that got a good paying job in Cincinnati) and settled into a new life in Ohio. When I first got there, I took a break and sat around for about 2 weeks eating frozen waffles and playing video games before I decided to get a job. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but while in school, I worked 7 days a week for a little over a year to make that happen. “Vacation” or “day off” were not a part of my vocabulary it seems, and when the time came, I really needed to collect myself, especially since I missed Pittsburgh and all my old friends so much. After my little “vacation”, I went looking for a job. I just cruised one of the local streets that had a bunch of car dealerships on it and filled out an application at every one. I came home to a ringing phone and in a little more than 4 hours I had a series of interviews lined up. After talking to several of them, I settled on an Acura dealer not far from where I lived, and the rest is history.
I ended up working at that dealer for a little over 8 years in all and did pretty well there. I got restless at one point and took another job that I thought had better prospects. I left the dealer for about 2 years, but ended up coming back because that didn’t work out the way I expected, but it was all on good terms. Something about that dealership just drew me in, and I was used to the place I guess. It wasn’t all great though. The thing about a dealership is that it’s a large organization and nothing like the mom and pop operation I had come from in Pittsburgh. There was paperwork and responsibility, politics and other technicians that I didn’t always see eye to eye with. There was also the flat rate system, and to top it off it was a team flat rate system, and that presented its own set of challenges. I also noticed that I didn’t know my customers any more. They were just numbers on a work order, and life was about racking up the flag times as if it were some kind of competition. The entire place seemed to be addicted to money, and somehow the customer came second in so many instances that it was sometimes hard to even admit that I worked there. I learned to live with it, and did the best I could to maintain a certain amount of integrity while still trying to make a living, which is not as easy as you might think if I’m honest. But working on and driving around in the latest models does have its appeal. I ended up getting married during that time (to a different girl, long story there too, but it all worked out for everybody in the end) and having 2 more kids. Life seemed fairly predictable, and for the most part, happy. Then, one day, a funny thing happened. This is where the story gets complicated so I’m sorry if this part of the story is short on detail. A car came into the shop that a coworker of mine ended up accidentally damaging. In short, he blew the engine. It was an older car owned by a good customer, and I made the suggestion to offer to take full trade in on the car and offer the customer a new car in its place. At first, management didn’t go for it, and they wanted to fix the car, so they got a new engine for it and we were going to install it, but it didn’t turn out that way. They ended up selling the customer a new car and taking his in on trade. This is where it gets really complicated. At the time, I knew of a woman that needed a new car and didn’t have a lot of money, so I proposed to the people I worked for that I could come in on a weekend, put the new engine in the car, and the dealership could sell her the car. I would get paid by her directly for putting the engine in, and the dealership would profit from the car sale and everybody would be happy. I got paid for the job, and the dealership got out of a bad situation and didn’t have to pay the labor to put an engine in a damaged vehicle that they were now responsible for. They agreed, and I came in that weekend. I installed the engine, and it ran great. The car was in good shape really, and now had a new engine. I felt pretty good about how I handled the whole thing really. Then, shortly after she had bought the car, she came into the parts department to pay for the engine. I told you it was complicated, because apparently what the dealership had done was sold her the car separate from the engine because the engine was on the parts department’s books and the car was on the sales department’s books. When she came in to pay for the engine, there was no invoice for it. In fact, it had been closed out by someone that worked in the parts department, and it just so happened he went home sick that day and was not able to answer for why the invoice had been closed out. If that hadn’t happened, I might still be at that dealership. But, the next day when I came in, I was called into the office and fired along with the person from the parts department. They really didn’t have an interest in hearing what I had to say, and I left feeling… well, let’s just say it wasn’t my best day. I went looking for another job, and got one working as a manager at a ‘chain’ repair facility. It was OK, but slow, and the pay sucked. I spent a lot of time watching Oprah and daytime television on the TV in the waiting room. I then got a job at the ‘other’ Acura dealer in town, but it was slow as well, and when the work is slow and you’re a technician working on flat rate, you don’t get paid. In fact, I ended up filing for bankruptcy as it was my only choice, because I just couldn’t keep up. I lost my house, a couple of rental properties, my credit, and a life that seemed comfortable and happy. I wasn’t alone in this however, because a lot of people lost their jobs around that time. In fact, this was the fall of 2008 and not a good time for anyone in the US or in the rest of the world for that matter. So, this got me thinking…
During my tenure at the dealership, I started to get restless and needed a “hobby”, especially after I quit smoking. It turned out to be video production. I started out videotaping my friend’s weddings on weekends, and I really liked it. I had been doing this for about 6 years when I lost my job, and thought, “Why not give that a go instead of getting another job as a mechanic?”. Trust me, I was pretty much done being a mechanic at that time, and perhaps you can understand why. But as I said, it was the fall of 2008 and there was NO business to be had at all despite my efforts. Once again, I went for the “hail mary”. While talking to my wife one night, I said, “I wonder if I could just start making videos about how to fix cars?”, and EricTheCarGuy was born. I had been on YouTube for about 2 years under another channel at that time, and I remember seeing a video that Davidsfarm did about the checks he was getting from the YouTube AdSense program. It was about 7K a month if I remember right. Well, this got me thinking for sure, so in January 2009, I started ETCG and posted my first video, “Episode 1, Creds”. Things were slow at first, but I started to find my wings and gain a solid subscriber base. I wasn’t making any money with it yet, but I was working a lot of freelance video jobs to make ends meet. I did more weddings, football games, some corporate stuff, plays and dance recitals. I even traveled around videotaping dog shows for a while. And then one day the email came, and I was officially a YouTube partner, and able to make money off of my videos. It was a great day, and I felt that I was on to something that just might be my future career, and, if I played my cards right, maybe even more.
So, now we have come full circle to the present, and as of this writing ETCG has over 15 thousand subscribers and has helped more people than I even know about all over the world, and for that I am very proud indeed. It’s one thing to overcome adversity with hard work, but quite another to come up with an idea that you THINK will work and then make it happen with hard work. When it does happen, IF it happens, it’s a feeling like no other. In fact, I’m back to loving getting up in the morning and going to work. As for the future of ETCG, I hope this website is a testament to my dedication to taking ETCG as far as it can go. From here on out, it’s all about giving you the best auto repair videos I can make, and giving you the information you need to get the job done and get you down the road. I plan to keep developing and growing this website and ETCG to make EricTheCarGuy.com THE go-to place for automotive information, accurate and easy to understand information at that. I want people coming to the ETCG website to feel like they have found a friend, a friend that just happens to know how to help fix their ride and get them on their way. That’s what “staying dirty” is all about really. You can’t get much done by staying clean when it comes to fixing stuff in my experience. So come on in and stay a while. Thanks for taking the time to read this far into my story, as it is my hope that if you’re down and out, you might find some inspiration from it, and find a way to move forward to bigger and better things. I know I have, and I hope you can too.
Welcome to the future of DIY auto repair
Welcome friend, welcome to the future of DIY auto repair. Most of all, welcome to the EricTheCarGuy universe. We don’t judge or play favorites here. We just want to help, and make your life a little bit easier, and perhaps even broaden your understanding of that set of wheels you rely on so much.
It’s been about 4 and a half years since I started ETCG and I’ve decided to give you an update along with this new website. In that time I’ve been able to help a LOT of people, and things have grown quite a bit since I started. As of this writing I have more than 225K subscribers and almost 40 million views. To be honest, those numbers really blow my mind. When I started ETCG I had hoped to be successful with it, I had no idea how successful it would become, or how many people I would eventually reach with my work. A major part of my success is due to you. The fact that you watch weekly, participate in the discussions on my social networks, participate on the forum, share videos with your friends, share your ETCG experiences with friends and neighbors, means that EricTheCarGuy will continue to thrive and grow well into the future. This new website is my gift to you. It contains my first ‘major’ writings concerning automotive help and brings me one step closer to that ‘book’ I talked about so long ago. It was difficult to do all that writing, especially since I have difficulty reading and writing (dyslexia). But to be honest, I kinda got into it toward the end and the more I did it, the better I got. One thing that’s come along with this new ‘fame’ is a LOT more questions from you. You might just be asking one question but there are quite a few others asking one question also, it adds up. It’s gotten to a point where I can no longer keep up with all of them. Overwhelmed would be an understatement. That doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on helping you. Far from it. It’s my hope that these articles are able to help you get instant answers to your automotive questions. I put a lot of effort into organizing the information in a format that is informative and easy to navigate. Don’t worry, it’s not all words, I’ve added images and videos to help create an interactive environment that I think is easy to follow and entertaining. So please, if you have an automotive related question, check out those articles first. You just might find your answer today instead of waiting months for me to answer your email. And for those of you that have been waiting for an answer to your email for some time, please accept my apologies.
Besides the new website, I have several ideas for the future of ETCG that I think you’re going to like. I have ideas and plans for new videos, articles, and shows as well as new and exciting additions to EricTheCarGuy.com. Just know that I’m always thinking about you the ‘audience’ and how I can help you with your automotive repair needs using every means at my disposal. Now that you’ve helped me get to where I am, I plan to take it as far as I can.