Car Disasters

We’ve all had 'em, and I thought given the collective number of miles driven on this site, that there are probably some pretty good ones here. What crazy car trouble have you faced, and what quick thinking / creative solution did you use to get through it?

Not car; but years ago with the first tractor I owned, the dealer never told me (Assumed I knew; big mistake) that brakes only operated on the rear and it needed to be in 4wd to brake the front wheels through the transmission. I headed down a very steep hill logging road through the woods in 2wd with a load of very heavy 1.5 inch stone in the bucket…as the speed built up, I hit the brakes and nothing happened as the rears just started dragging. A dozen saplings through the woods and a torn up road way later when I lower the bucket and rear blade, I climbed off pretty shaken. No real quick thinking when it happened, I just froze and did a lot of cursing; that always helps.

‘‘The pit stop’’

Not a disaster per se just a flat tire, but with four band guys in the 92 Explorer we made short work of the tire change.
Straddled an object in the road no bigger an oil filter but it hit the undercarriage and flew askew -bonketyBam- and took out the right rear tire.
flupflupflupflup to the side of the road.
" OK guys, PITSTOP ! " I said.
They look at me with those ‘you talkin to me ?’ eyes.( guitar players hate to get their finger nails dirty )
Even more confused when I pop the hood ( for a tire change ?)

" You go find some rocks the block the opposite tire, you get the jack out from the left quarter panel. I’ll get the handle from under the hood, And you start to loosen the lugs "

With the flat still on the ground the lugs break free with ease.
Other guy blocks the opposing tire from rolling.
I’m lowering the spare from beneath the rear bumper as another lines up the jack under the rear axle.
After lowering the spare I hand jack man the handle and he starts cranking it up as the lugs are fully removed as I roll the spare into place.

BAM ! ten minute tire change by 3 guitar players and a drummer > ( at 3 am after the gig )

I had a 48 chevy PU deluxe 3 window (I wish I still had it), anyway me and my friend were driving and it slowed and died. Nothing we did would keep it running, if we poured a little gas in the carb it would fire then die. We discovered the fuel pump was plug with dirt. Later I discovered a hole on the top of the fuel tank that let in dirt and all kinds of other stuff.

I looked in my tool box and found a thin coil of plastic tubing, a few tools, wire, but nothing we could use to fix a clogged fuel pump. So 30 miles from home we started walking, we were about a mile from the truck when I found a 2 liter bottle. I picked up the bottle and told my friend we were going to drive home, he gave me a funny look but followed me back to the truck. I siphoned fuel out of the tank, filled the bottle, then I used the wire and hung the bottle off the mirror and cut the fuel line and the tube just slipped over the end of the fuel line. The mirror was higher than the carb so I started a siphoned from the bottle into the carb. I fired up the truck and drove home. Every few miles I?d pull over and refill the bottle with fuel. It got us home. And the good news is that while refilling the bottle I found a 20? logging chain that I still have.

My opinions are subject to change with new facts.

Now that’s what I’m talking about. Great story. It’s amazing what you can use to fix a car up in a pinch.

I was driving my 67 datsun 1300 pick up on the city streets. I came to a stop sign, put on the brakes, and heard a bang from under the hood. I used the hand brake to stop, cause the foot brake had failed. I got out and opened the hood, and found the sender for the brake light had ruptured. It was bakelite, and mounted on the fire wall at the brake line splitter.
I closed the lid, got back in and drove home. My son who was with me was freaking out, but I had the manual transmission, and the hand brake, and I was able to choose a route that was all level or up hill. Not much of a problem really, but it is memorable.

Given enough motivation you can fix just about anything.

My auto shop teacher had a few stories during his time in africa as a minister that included using nylons for a belt, making a rotor out of a cork and paper clip and fording a stream using the starter motor to finish the crossing after the motor died, (older vw van), mine was my 72 ford pu towing my 71 nova with all our belongings from Grand Forks ND to Southern IL, there I was 15 minutes before the NAPA closed on Saturday,buying a gas pump for the truck to be replaced in the parking lot at a balmy 14 degrees, naturally gloves were too much of an obstacle to use, and at 14 degrees with the wind and leaking gas my hands sure got cold. One other time some friends and I were in their winnebago when the throttle cable broke, nearest source 150 miles away, so 150 miles including mountains with one person controlling the throttle with a lawnmower throttle cable and the other one driving.

I was pulling into a gas station in my '72 Vega in ‘76 and the entire right rear dropped to the ground. The rear axle had slid completely out of the housing. That was one of the Vegas’ many special traits. A lot of them did that. The “C” retaining clip in the differential assembly had a habit of falling out, freeing the axle.

The aluminum block was another problem, glad you are still with us!

Pulled off the road to answer nature’s call and locked my self out (with no shoes on and motor running, out in the middle of no where) broke window with ball mount to get back in.

That is a classic!

You can’t write that any better!

Both incredible stories. I know those Illinois winters all too well.

Not the end of the world, but a definite challenge and learning experience for your son I would say.

My brother owned a 1971 Datsun pickup and the frame rusted through. He needed the truck, so he jacked the truck straight, put a 4 by 4 between the two parts of the frame rail that broke, used 2 C-clamps to hold the 4 by 4 in place and kept on driving the truck. He finally found a truck with a good body but a bad engine, so he switched the engine to the “new” truck. When the frame rusted through on the replacement truck, he finally gave up. He thought that the engine, though, might even last through another truck.

Thanks. Me too.

The early Vegas had countless problems. The idle stop solenoid braket would break and the solenoid would fall into the accelerator linkage holding it open, the cooling system capacity was inadequate, the heater hose routed around the engine chafed on the engine, I could go on and on. And mine experienced every single one.

Not a disaster, but a challenge, the clutch cable on the '86 Hyundai Excel broke, about 20 miles from home. I was able to shift without the clutch and get through town without stopping.

A bit of a disaster with the Hyundai was the battery. It died repeatedly, and once 25 miles from home. Couldn’t push the car fast enough to start it. Those were the days before cell phones, at least before I had one. I got to enjoy a 25-mile stroll to get home.

My '79 LeSabre had a fun habit of getting its secondary throttle plate stuck open, just barely, but enough. It happened to me twice, each time in town near home. I was unable to stop without shifting to neutral, and unable to kill the engine. Not wanting to let the engine rev itself to shreds, I negotiated stops with neutral and the ignition turned off, with the engine barely idling. Made my way to my grandmother’s house and put the bumper against a large tree. I left the transmission in drive and got out and pushed the throttle arm and closed it.

Also, yesterday I broke two wheel studs, in one day. I felt two nuts stick, and decided that if I was going to break something, that was a good time since I had time to fix it. I forced them, and they both broke. I had to remove the hub assembly to have enough room to get the new studs put in, but it was still a fairly minor job.

I had brake failure years ago in a '79 Fairmont, on a highway at 55, going down from an overpass, toward traffic stopped at a red light. Downshifted, used parking brake, passed stopped cars on the shoulder, then crept to a brake shop (those were the days before I’d tackle a brake repair myself.

Fun times.

Yes, this is a great story. And you got a chain out of the experience.

I had a comparable experience. I parked too close to a building and couldn’t open the door on that side to get in. The door on the driver’s side was broken and couldn’t be open from outside. I didn’t consider the building blocking the passenger-side door when I left. Fortunately I was able to unlock the trunk and push down the back of the cheap back seat and climb in that way. Yay for cheap back seats.