“Google it.”

It’s become the “Kleenex” of searching the web. The brand has become so synonymous with the product/service that it’s pretty much shorthand at this point.

Looking for something? Need advice? Want to learn how to do something? Google it.

And that’s great advice. I owe a huge debt of gratitude for Google, because without them, I wouldn’t have built my career, nor would I have learned half of the cool stuff I know in life.

But as we all know, there are limitations to what Google can do. Thanks to a glut of information out there – and much of it written and presented in a way to clog up your search results – Googling something isn’t always as effective as it used to be.

Fortunately, I’ve found a great new resource that is rapidly becoming a more powerful tool in my arsenal, and it’s backed by the same stinking company: YouTube.

YouTube versus Google

I’ve noticed in the last year or so that, when I am stumped on a problem, I could spend 15 minutes Googling options and getting nowhere, only to search YouTube and have a 2-minute video explain everything I need to know in less than a minute of searching.

Looking for examples?

YouTube as an Efficient Learning Platform

Last week, it rained heavily around here. In fact, it was probably the heaviest rain I’ve ever driven through in my life. My car is parked outside in the driveway, so it succumbs to any inclement weather that hits the area.

In the past few years, really heavy rains have caused my car to start acting a little wonky. I could be driving down the freeway at 60 miles an hour when suddenly I’ll lose all acceleration for a few seconds. I can usually power through it, but I can tell that the rain is affecting the car.

So the next night (after the heavy rain), I could feel my car struggling as I was backing out of the driveway. The engine was still wet, and it was going to stall. So I parked it and left it for the night.

Saturday morning, as I hop into the car to go pick up some groceries, I turn the key, and the car won’t start.

So obviously, I decide it’s time to do something about this issue.

Originally, I did Google the problem. The general consensus among different car repair forums and discussions was that I should change out my spark plug wires first to see if that does the trick. A quick bike ride up to the car parts store, and I came home armed with six replacement spark plug wires, ready to be installed.

But how to do it? All the text in the world can only explain so much about how to work on a car engine. But YouTube had a quick video on how to do it in 5 minutes. Beautiful!

It clearly was easy to do. Unfortunately, my car being a V6 meant that instead of four spark plugs, I had six, and three were buried inside the engine, under the intake manifold.

I’m no mechanic, so I had to put it off until I knew more about what to do.

Forgetting the YouTube solution, I Googled frantically for the next day or so, looking for instructions on how to replace the spark plug wires on a 2004 Hyundai Sonata V6. There were lengthy instructions with ZERO photos, so I had a hard time visualizing what I needed to move out of the way to get at those back three.

Monday afternoon, I spent a few hours in my garage taking apart the engine – or trying to. No matter how many bolts I removed, hoses I disconnected, and wires I unclipped, the intake manifold just wouldn’t move out of the way.

I ran back inside, getting dirt and grease all over my keyboard and mouse, hunting for a solution to the problem. What was I missing?

But when I jumped on YouTube, I found a 20-minute video of a guy who was replacing the spark plugs on a 1999 V6 Sonata.

Bingo.

I started the video, and immediately, I saw an engine that looked almost exactly like mine. After a few minutes of watching him detail exactly what to unhook and disconnect, I ran back out to the garage, made a few disconnections, removed a bolt that was tucked away out of sight, and popped off the intake manifold.

I continued the job, replaced both the wires and the spark plugs themselves, worked backwards to put the engine back together, and my car was up and running again.

The key? Visual learning.

Sometimes, you just need to see what somebody is talking about, right? It’s easy to read what somebody says you should do, but visual instructions are way better – at least for me.

And while YouTube is full of time wasters, there is some really helpful advice hidden all over the place:

  • Car repair. This is one of the easiest things to find on YouTube. Just search for the repair you’re trying to do, along with the make and model of your car, and you should find something similar to what you’re doing. I used this same trick to help remove a stuck key out of my wife’s car a few months ago.
  • Cooking. Another favorite of mine. Want to bake something? Cook a proper dinner? YouTube has thousands of videos related to cooking. And it’s not just limited to specific recipes, either. When I bought my wok, I found a video on how to properly season it and cook with it. When we hosted Thanksgiving last year, I watched a video on how to best carve a turkey. The list goes on.
  • Seriously, anything. How to get your cats to not wake you up so early? How to use your new phone’s features? How to plant a garden? How to patch drywall? The list goes on. YouTube is chock full of interesting and useful content, and it’s often much easier to find than it is on Google itself.

Added Bonus: TV

YouTube is also a great place to catch content. Because the site supports subscriptions to “channels”, you can keep up to date on anything.

I use YouTube to watch cooking shows, travel shows, educational content, and lots of other stuff. And whatever I’m in the mood for can be brought up with a quick search.

Pair up your new YouTube subscriptions with a Google Chromecast, and you’ve got all you need right on the TV, so you can watch from the comfort of your couch.

I’m not going to include a bunch of links to videos on YouTube or channels. Instead, I encourage you to just hop over to YouTube and spend some time exploring what interests you. You might be surprised at what you find.

What’s your favorite YouTube find?