DIY Disasters

Periodically I post here about some funny (or not) things I see at the shop.

Customer has a 2003 DeVille that’s an extra car, hardly driven. Visitors are coming for Christmas, so he goes to fill the gas. On the way home the low coolant light comes on. He gets home, opens the cap and sees no coolant. He tops off with what he has at home but it’s still not enough. He takes his other car to go get more coolant, all in all he adds 6 (SIX) gallons to get the coolant up to where it’s just below the cap. He then starts the car, and it makes a loud clanging sound and quits and all the coolant comes running out.

Now I’m thinking that this cooling system, if bone dry, might hold 3 1/2 gallons, how did he get 6 in there? Yup, he removed the oil cap, poured 6 gallons of coolant into the engine, and started it up.

In November we had a 2005 Ford Freestyle in for some sort of driveablility or transmission complaint. This car has a CVT transmission. I diagnosed the car as having a bad valve body, which includes all the electronic switches and sensors that makes the trans work. We gave the customer the estimate to fix the car, he declined and drove the car home.

Last week he tows the car in, says he replaced the mechatronic valve body and now it won’t even start. Also it leaks fluid now but he doesn’t care about that. Initial testing shows that the main wiring harness isn’t properly connected to the trans. We fix that and now have communication but the car reads “R” no matter where the shift lever is. We go to pull the pan, find 2 pan bolts broken in the case, and DIY Guy has taken 2 self-tapping sheet metal screws and tried to drive them in NEXT to the broken bolts. But he was crooked. So now he has a trans case broken in 2 places with sheet metal screws sticking out the side and JB Weld covering the screws. We pull the pan and find he installed his new valve body without removing 2 of the old fluid tubes, resulting in them being smashed together and ruining his new valve body.


He’ll be the guy who tells people “those crooked mechanics wanted $2,000 but I spent $300 in parts and fixed it myself”


I used to work with a guy that tried to do his own auto repairs. The nearby Shell service center begged him to stop and offered him a discount if he’d go there FIRST because THEY kept getting his half jacked “repairs” dragged in when he screwed them up.


The phrase “know your limits” comes to mind with the valve body replacement. Adding coolant should be within the limits of…anyone who can read an owner’s manual…?!?


Those kind f DIYers know just enough to be dangerous.

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Not to mention what is printed on the cap he removed to add coolant— yellow letters that say “OIL”.


Your reply reminded me of this old puzzler:


That made me think of the old 710 cap too

Yes, the 710 cap!

On a serious note, even when adding windshield washer fluid I double check the cap though I have done many, many times.

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Yup! Because I am aging, even though I have owned my current car for 11 years, I always double-check the cap before adding any fluid.

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He got 6 gallons of coolant into the engine?

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Went to a used car lot, guy had tried to fix a trans seal leak with bondo, and it was still leaking. In the olden days a bud tried doing his drum brakes, tried attaching the spring with a screwdriver, it slipped off and got his eye. Thought he blinded himself, but luckily after er visit only ended up pushing the lower eyelid up under the upper eyelid and got stuck. Hate to think how many people would have avoided disaster by wearing safety glasses.

I have done more drum brakes with a screwdriver than I’ve done them with a spring tool. I’m not bragging or saying that’s the correct way, just stating a fact. I have better tools now, but only one of my vehicles has drum brakes…and the springs are different than the traditional drum brakes. GM has a single spring design on my 2005 Sierra. Oh well. I didn’t have that single spring tool when I did my brakes (didn’t know I needed it until I got in there). Had to resort back to the big screwdrivers. I did get to use my spring tool on the one “normal” spring.,2005,sierra+1500,4.8l+v8,1431206,brake+&+wheel+hub,drum+brake+hardware+kit,1752

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I’ve improvised with not-the-right tool often, sometimes regretted it. I’ve noticed it’s almost always cheaper to buy a tool than pay a mechanic, my only exception being tires, which I didn’t want to try with spoons, didn’t want to have the real tool hanging around to use once every 5 years.

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[quote=“RandomTroll, post:14, topic:181429”]
I’ve noticed it’s almost always cheaper to buy a tool than pay a mechanic, .
I was give some very good advise many years ago if you need a expensive or special tool rent it if you need it a second time rent it if you need it a third time buy it.

Thanks, remembered that when I started reading it.

They had another, with someone going into a parts store looking for something for their friends truck, which they calledd a “fiso.” Eventually the counterperson realized they were talking about a Ford F150; now whenever I see one, I say it in my head as a “fiso”-ugh, and I hope you don’t!