Poll: Who's the cheapest among us?

Thanks for the laugh Texases. Nope, that’s not me. I still have a full head of hair. That’s my brother!

Re: the credit card company offers, A few years back I got a letter from my credit card company stating that the amount of credit available to me was being reduced. Since I only used the card for car renting and hotel rooms, and always paid it off immediately, I thought the letter was strange. Then I realized that they were reducing my line of credit not because I had messed up my finances, but because THEY had messed up THEIRS!

When my son was in college, I received a call from him that his car had stopped. I had purchased AMOCO Motor Club for him and he had the car towed back to campus. He told me that the tow truck driver wanted to tow it to a shop and replace the fuel pump, but he didn’t have the money. I thought about my son and figured that he didn’t have much gas in the tank and that the weather was cold. He had driven less that a block when the car stopped, so I guessed that the fuel line was frozen. I recommended that he buy a bottle of gas line antifreeze and pour it in the tank. I then suggested waiting until the weather was above freezing and then try to start the car. He was concerned about the cost and I said that it would only set him back about a dollar. Well, a couple of days later, he called and said that what I suggested had worked and that the car was running and the gasline antifreeze had only set him back 50 cents. He then said another students that worked for the horse stables on campus had the same problem. My son suggested he buy the gas line antifreeze and let the car sit for a day. The other student thought it might be cheaper to throw warm horse manure and straw from the stable under the car and let the heat thaw the gas line. My son told him that 50 cents spent on gas line antifreeze was worth it not to have the car smell like horse manure.

I am cheap, which makes me penny wise and pound foolish sometimes. Some years back, my wife bought me a Black and Decker Air Station which I found very handy for keeping tires inflated. Part of the lever on the chuck broke off which made it hard to put on a valve stem. I could have bought a hand pump for about $8 and taken off the hose and put it on the Air Station. Instead, I bought a new chuck, 2 1/4" ro 1/4" fittings and 6 feet of 1/4" reinforced rubber hose which cost me about $12.
Before my wife bought me the Black and Decker Air Station, my father in law gave me a compressor which I think was for the air horns on a semi tractor. I had a defunct hand tire pump. I removed the hose which was still good and removed the battery cables from a junked battery charger. This made a great tire pump and was much cheaper and I think better than the $10 12 volt tire pumps that are sold in the auto parts section of big box stores.

What you call cheap I call “Redneck Engineering”, MacGyver has nothing on a true Redneck… AND I don’t care who you are, ALL good wrench turners have some redneck in them !

On my 1998 Lesabre there is a known problem with the HVAC programmer which is vacuum activated. Over time the male end of the plug gets soft (NO bad jokes, we all know you are chuckling right now), and will actually collapse under the pressure of the vacuum and default the air vents to defogger and foot. A new programmer is $400… For $1.60 in vacuum tubes, a dyke cutter (again no jokes), and about 30 min of time I cut off the male plug (STOP WITH THE JOKES) and ran the vac lines right directly into the female plug (honestly, again with the jokes?? what are we 3??) and it has worked perfectly for the last almost 2 years…

I am sure we have all fixed exsaust leaks with soda cans right??

Had a tech in my shop make himself a high performance airfilter elbow with a soda bottle…

Every one knows that on a GM OBD1 you can pull codes with a paperclip/small jumper wire no scanner needed…

My shop teacher told me in a bind you can stop a leak in your radiator with egg whites, or pepper (never tried it)

My 81 Camaro runs an electric fan out of a junked Ford Taurus.

Im sure there are others, give me some time…LOL

I think the cheapest, and quite possibly the dumbest, driver I’ve personally seen was when I used to live in OK City and commuted about 17 miles a day one way on the interstate.
Some guy in Moore, OK (adjacent to OKC) had a mid 60s Pontiac LeMans that was nothing special. Beige, dinged up, 4 doors, and a few rust spots, etc.

The car had no windshield at all and I’d see this guy tooling along to work at 65 MPH, apparently oblivous to road debris, police, the state inspection program, and so on.

I’ve passed him a few times in the dead of winter and he would be bundled up like an Eskimo with the addition of a ski mask. Snow, sleet, 22 degrees and there he was with the radio and no doubt the heater on full blast.
It always made me wonder what would happen if he caught a chunk of truck tire or a barn owl in the face at highway speeds.

Surely a piece of glass is not priced that unreasonably. Jeez, hit the home supply store and duct tape a piece of Lexan over the drivers side or something. At least there would be something to which a state inspection sticker could be attached. :slight_smile:

Thanks all. I got huge laughs from reading these! My stomach hurts I laughed so hard!

I’ll have to say I think " oldtimer 11 " takes the prize for using a bicycle inner tube to hold the clutch pedal away from the floor, but his many other examples – like when he used heater hose out through the dashbooard and a water spigot to fix his heat control valve, and when his car fell into two pieces in the driveway – all these are great supporting evidence for first prize in my opinion.

Docknic, I’d put your younger bro in second place for his idea to burn the sports section of the newspaper under the hood to dry out the ignition wires. This is something – I must say – I definitely wouldn’t recommend!

Anyway, thanks to all for some good laughs.

Oh, one more thing, “texases” is right the smarter frugal way with frugally fixing Toyota starters is to replace both parts of the contacts. I actually did buy a new set of contacts and the next time I remove the starter motor, I’ll put these in. It won’t be as much fun, but the car will be more reliable. I guess life’s a compromise between fun and reliability.

George…WHY dont you just spend the 5 or 6 bucks and grab yourself a NEW set of solenoid contacts? You’ve been in the solenoid so many X now…it only had to be ONCE…LOL Absolutely silly not to do this…



One more “frugal” story. A classmate of mine in the sixties had his ignition switch assembly and solenoid fail and the complete assembly would be expensive to replace. He worked in a metal stamping plant over the summer and took home an old safety switch with a huge red palm sized “button” and mounted it on the dash.

Starting the car simply meant pushing this huge red button to get going.

Cost? $0 in parts and a Saturday afternoon in labor.

Since my daily driver is in poor cosmetic condition and uses lots of oil I re-bottle and use the oil I drain from my better cars at oil change as topping off oil for it. Been doing this for well over 100K miles and as long as I keep the crankcase full it just keeps on going even with 518,500 miles. This has probably saved me $500 in oil cost over the past 100K miles, which is more than the car is worth.

I enjoy frugality as a concept, even beyond that which is financially necessary. I also enjoy devising my own solutions. I call it “hillbilly rigging,” and it’s something of a family tradition. I haven’t accomplished any impressive or even notable feats, though.

I once used a screwdriver to start my car for about a year when the lock broke. The outside driver door handle was broken, too, so I left the window down all the time. The car was such a piece of junk that nobody tried to steal it. I was 17 at the time and didn’t really need a car. I almost would have been glad if someone had taken it off my hands. I currently have a horn button, which I consider a semi-proper repair, not really rigging. And I bypassed the clutch pedal starting switch. I’ve also done a bit of plumbing work that gets the job done, but a professional plumber wouldn’t exactly be proud of. I like the idea, but I haven’t done anything special.

I mainly wanted to write about the reasons this is done. It could be viewed as a necessity imposed by poverty, or as an expression of laziness and refusal to do the work “the right way.” But I see it as a result of mastery of the basics of the system and the ability to improvise, devising and constructing creative solutions.

I do part, however, from the family tradition when it impairs the function or reliability of safety features (such as the much-discussed taping of a brake line).

8 years and you’ve been jacking up the car and removing the starter, cleaning the contacts and puuting the starter back on?!!

I dont think “cheap” is the right word

Badbearing; there’s frugal there’s cheap and there’s disfunctional/masochistic behaviour.

The value of your time has to be entered into the equation. Even if you are retired, your spouse will put a value on it.

An acquaintance of ours retired and bought a used jaguar; the year that had not seen any benefit from Ford’s ownership. He spent most of his time fixing it. His wife philosophically said it was better than having him drinking at the country club.

Docnick, I had a VW Rabbit Diesel that I did the same thing too. It would not engage the starter with the key, so I add a push button start for $5.00… I was WAY ahead of my time :slight_smile:

Not sure if this counts or not, but here goes anyway. I have a coworker who has been milking a failing clutch slave cylinder in his F-150 for the last few weeks. He had been constantly adding fluid to the master cylinder and frantically pumping the pedal to try and keep driving this thing. Another coworker referred him to me, and as he was driving to my house, and having trouble finding it, he was complaining to me over the phone about his fluid-adding-and-frantic-pumping routine at every stop sign. I asked him why he didn’t just add fluid, side-step the clutch once, and probably be able to drive on for the duration of the trip trouble-free (Fords need this treatment any time the slave cylinder is bled, including when they are constantly bleeding themselves as his is doing). He didn’t know whether to be overjoyed or to kick himself for not knowing or trying that before. His truck also has needed a steering column ever since someone tried to steal it and broke everything. He just removed the ignition switch from the column, stuck a piece of metal in it to use as an actuator, and slides the switch to “run”, “crank”, or wherever he needs it. He seemed amazed when he started telling me the story, explaining how to start the truck, and I jumped in it and fired it up before he could tell me how to do it. I had the exact same setup in a truck I had as a teenager. Fortunately, this guy’s F-150 is currently in my garage waiting for parts for a proper repair of the clutch hydraulics.

After mulling this over some more, I don’t think I can come up with anything on my vehicles that would classify me as to cheap to properly fix. In emergency situations I’ve done some weird things to get by for the very short term but that’s about it.

About 15ish years ago I had an older carbureted Subaru 4WD and had made a trip one Sat. to a cycle shop about 120 miles away to do some dealing on MC parts. On the way home the fuel pump decided to go belly up about 70 miles from the house on a highway to nowhere. The pump was only a year old too. Darn, and it was going on sundown so what to do.

About 10 minutes later a brainstorm hit. I dumped out a 1 gallon jug of water I always carried for emergencies, pulled a length of rubber hose from my bag of misc. that is also carried, and did a roadside fix, of sorts.
The gas tank had a drain plug so I drained enough to fill the jug. I lashed the jug onto the driver’s windshield pillar and routed the hose under the hood to the filter connection. I sucked on it to get it siphoning and voila, a gravity feed fuel system.

The sun in the west was bright enough to illuminate the jug and let me know how much gas was remaining. When it would get down to a less than a quart I’d stop, remove the jug, drain more gas, and repeat the process.
This was a bit crude but it got me home without walking or waiting forever for a tow truck. If I had waited on a tow I’d have been there until midnight.

I have a few more.
My first car was a 52 Plymouth I bought for $20 . In the Fall we rented a cabin in Alleganey State Park (yes, the spelling is correct). While there ,the fuel pump diaphragm ruptured. I had blown a tire on the way down and removed the blown tube to cut a fuel pump diaphragm out of it. I had an awl in my tool kit and made holes for the screws around the outside and 2 tiny holes in the middle to hook the spring into. My father in law said " that will never last the 70 miles home" I said, it doesn’t have to. It only has to get me the 5 miles to town to get a fuel pump.

For a while, my car and all my children’s were various slant 6 Mopars that came to us as a temporary respite from the junkyard. I used to deal with blow-bye by punching small holes on the highest point of the valve cover, and when I junked one I would keep all the good parts, including a couple of heads to use on the next ones. I also kept the trunk and hood to replace the rotted out floor pan or other sheet metal on the new one. Although “new” is used in the loosest sense.

I had a starter from my 56 Desoto Hemi that I used on 2 slant sixes and a 61 Dart 318, a wiper motor from a 66 Valiant that I used on an 81 Horizon that needed only a stack of washers under one bolt hole and a hood latch from the same 66 Valiant that fixed my son’s 95 Dodge minivan.

oldtimer; that’s why “junk yards” are now called “automotive recycling centers”!

When our 1941 Chevy finally bit the dust it still had a good engine which my brother-in-law was given to power a welder in his farm workshop. The rearview mirror was also recycled to our Chevy pickup truck, the front seat became a lounger in our farm workshop, and so on.

Living on a farm allows you to do these things; in a city there are strict bylaws to prevent people from storing wrecks. Our by-laws forbid anyone to have a car on the street or in their driveway without current plates. If you want to put it in your backyard, that’s allowed.

Docknick- As you may have guessed, I grew up in farm country. Make do or do without was the motto for everyone. Where I live now we can’t even have a junker in the backyard under a tarp. That is why I used to buy similar cars and save the parts on shelves in the garage. These days I buy new cars.