These people share the road with you

Last week a car gets towed in. Customer states the car was in the driveway, it started but died right away, then they cranked it long enough that the battery died. The job goes to one of the junior guys in the shop, a bright young guy with great potential, just not a lot of experience.

He charges the battery and finds the following:
The car started and ran for about 15 seconds, then stalled. It will either start and die or not start at all. Also, there is no instrument cluster operation at all–no warning lights come on with the key, all the gauges are at 0 (even when the engine was running). Also the climate control panel is dead–no display, no blower operation at any speed, none of the knobs or buttons respond. Also both right side windows do not work, and the right headlight is out. There are several fault codes stored in the ECM, but nothing that should cause a no-start. He figures this is probably a complex electrical issue that’s over his head and kicks it up to me.

Before going further I want to talk to the customer and find out if these issues all cropped up at once. Customer states they have been driving the car in that condition for 2 years. (no heat or defroster, must be fun). I ask them how they know how much gas is in the tank. She states they put $20 in every week and they’re sure it’s not out of gas.

I spend some time reading wiring diagrams to look for a common circuit between the failed components, grab a better scan tool, and go to work. Data stream shows fuel in tank at less than 1 liter. Add 2 gallons of gas and the car starts and runs normally.

Service writer calls back and informs them the car was out of gas and reminds them that gas has gone up about $1/gallon over the last few months so $20 now only buys 6 gallons instead of 10. And right now the bill is $149, and for another $250 we’ll be glad to troubleshoot the fault codes and dash and heater operation. She declined to do any other work, taking the car with no gas gauge, odometer, or speedo. We did replace a burned out headlight.


Holy Moley!

I’ve related the story before but for the benefit of those who have not heard it.

A Captain instructor pilot from the local AFB bought an older and very slick Porsche 914. Brought it in for an oil change and tune-up basically. Car ran great.

Over the next week or two he ran the car out of gas three times in the same spot on the roadway. The first time he was given 2 gallons of gas and car was fine. He did this twice more and while never adding more gas felt obliged to blame us for the failures. He would drive on the 2 gallons until it quit…

Apparently the gas gauge needle on flat E, low fuel light flashing, and no gas in the fuel lines three times meant zero to him. And this guy is the one leading the charge into battle when a ruckus breaks out…


Day before yesterday stopped for a yellow light, 3 lane intersection, turn right, go straight or turn left. So I stop, and a guy in the right hand lane blazes through the stoplight turning left from the right turn only lane, go figure, glad I did not jump the yellow light.

Maybe “E” stands for excellence in his book… :wink:

The 914 is a small car, pilots tend to be tall guys, maybe he couldn’t even see the gauge or the light.

But you’d think he’d learn after running out the first time…

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hey wait, doesnt E mean Enough? LOL


Not really surprised by this story .

And, the same folks who believe that will likely shift to R when they’re on the highway if they want to race.



People have different priorities in life and see things differently. I know a BRILLIANT software engineer. Worked for NASA and was considered one of their chief Architects on Shuttle project. Most engineers envy a career like this guy.

I’ve also seen him struggle with the operation of a Coke Vending machine when they added a Credit Card reader.


Hey, as long as the “go” pedal makes it go…

Many years ago, I knew someone who said, “All I know is if I put gas in it, it goes”.
Lack of attention to maintenance put an end to more than one of his cars.
If only gas was the sole thing that a driver needs to know about…

I worked with a guy that would lease a new car every 2 years. He NEVER EVER did any maintenance except adding oil when it got low. Nothing else. I feel sorry for anyone who got one of his leased vehicles.

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Having no gas gauge is no big deal. I put thousands of miles on without same, but does require paying attention to miles driven and filling the tank.

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As far as no gas, I think we have gone >30 days without someone putting diesel in their gasoline fueled car.


A new record, for sure!


Is 30 days a long time for you?

We had a 2019 vehicle in the shop May 13th with diesel fuel in the gas tank. This mistake occurs often enough that the manufacture placed a warning on the fuel door.

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Probably complaining all the time about the little hole to put fuel in with that big diesel nozzle. I suspect we might be seeing big yellow or orange caps with gas or diesel printed on them in the future. My computer guy used to like to add “are you sure?” with every important command just to make sure you knew what you were doing. Maybe someone could figure out the same for gas caps. It could even talk.

For posts asking what to do after putting Diesel fuel in a gas vehicle on this forum yes it is .


I still believe that 90 to 95 % of people who puts diesel in a gas tank is mildly to very distracted for one reason or another and not paying attention to what they are doing.