These days, cars are increasingly complex — for years, many have more than 100 million lines of code — and drivers are less inclined to fiddle with them, instead opting to book service with a professional auto technician. (If that’s what you need, you know where to do it!)
Some folks, however, are up for the challenge. And a challenge it is — in addition to properly diagnosing the issue, sourcing the right parts, and needing the right tools and technical skills to complete the modification, finding detailed information about the vehicle’s systems can be another burden entirely.
As Steve Balistreri, founder and CEO of DIYauto.com, said, “The current situation is like a town without a library. We want to build that library.” Not one to balk at a challenge, he and his brother, Nick, have done just that.
DIYauto.com is an enthusiast-built encyclopedia of automotive knowledge focusing on DIYs, builds, and hard data, set to change the way enthusiasts work on their cars. Frustrated by the difficulty in finding specific information from a vast and fractured landscape of enthusiast websites, Balistreri started the project using lessons learned during his experience as an automotive engineer. With help from hundreds of gear heads, thousands of DIY and build articles have already been donated to the project.
Here’s Balistreri , answering some questions about his new project —
What have you built at DIYAuto.com?
We’ve made an enthusiast-built automotive encyclopedia. Its a website structured so people can find information about their cars quickly and easily. Every vehicle has its own page with photos, videos, data tables, and DIY and build articles. We’ve taken all this info that is hidden in obscure places around the internet and put it at people’s fingertips.
What were some of the most difficult records to track down?
They were all somewhat difficult to find. Most of the articles are on forums, so they aren’t organized or indexed in any way which makes them hard to track down when you need them. We get permission from the author for every thread we add. The difficult part was the sheer number of threads, and the fact that up until now finding and adding these threads was a very manual process. With the new site people can add what they’ve written to the site on their own which will make it much easier for the site to grow.
Were there any outside parties that were exceptionally helpful, like museums, large companies, forums, etc?
We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the very positive responses we’ve gotten from the authors of the articles that have been donated. 99% of the people we contact are very happy to donate what they’ve written to the project and send us other things they’ve written and give us tips on other people to contact. This is great because these car enthusiasts are the site’s audience and it couldn’t exist without them.
Who’s your audience for this site?
The site’s audience is anyone who is interested in cars. We have DIY articles on doing basic things such as an oil change or replacing a taillight bulb, to very intensive things like engine swaps and transmission rebuilds. We also have build journals for a huge variety of cars, lots of hard data and videos. Whether you want to look up how to change your suspension, or read about who designed the Chrysler Imperial, or see how many VW Beetles were produced for example, we will have that info.
Is there a particular brand that’s most-searched / you anticipate will be most popular?
When we started seeking out articles to build the site we concentrated on the main “enthusiast” vehicles as those would be the ones people will mostly be looking up. We’ve found lots of cars that we didn’t know had an enthusiast following. I’m not a huge Lexus person for instance, but our Lexus IS pages have tons of build threads. We’ve found some interesting groups of people, there are a lot of guys around Sweden and Norway who import old Lincolns and Mercurys and fix them up. The car enthusiast community is diverse and global so it’s been really interesting seeing all these groups we didn’t know about before.
Where do you hope DIYAuto will be in five years?
In five years, we hope it will have grown into the largest, most trusted place to find automotive information. Whether someone needs to find a quick piece of info in a couple seconds, or wants to spend hours browsing the site looking at build threads, we want to be the go-to place. We want to be a real positive force in the auto-DIY enthusiast community.