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What crazy things have you mechanics been asked to do?

I figure this’ll be a fun discussion . . . :smile:

I’ll get it started, now

At the shop I work at, I’m the only one doing the smog inspections at the moment . . . that includes dyno smogs, two-speed idle, and the plug-in test for newer OBD2 vehicles

Anyways, one of my coworkers, who is a little younger, has been shadowing me lately, watching me do the smog inspections, and asking the occasional question. I explained everything I’m doing, what I’m looking for, etc. I even showed him our state’s bar website, and the how-to videos and inspection manuals, which can explain it better than I can.

A few days ago, everything was going fine on a Ford truck, which was getting a 2 speed idle test. Non-OBD2 and too large to go on the dyno, for those who are curious why it was getting a 2 speed idle. Anyways, I called him over and told him the truck was going to fail. He asked why. I said I was at the part of the test where I am instructed to turn on the ignition and observe if the check engine light came on. It did not. I had made sure to leave the ignition off for a few minutes for any pcm “timers” to reset . . . on some GM vehicles, if you have the car running, shut it off and immediately turn on the ignition, the mil will NOT turn on. But no matter how many times I tried, that mil would not come on under any circumstances on the Ford truck.

I explained that when I entered “no” on the computer, that would mean a failure, no matter how clean the emissions. And they were clean, as it turned out.

The guy . . . who’s been wrenching for several years, and apparently even graduated from a for-profit auto program . . . asked me if I can’t just enter “yes” and figure it out later.

I couldn’t believe this guy was earnestly posing this question . . . !

I told him if I did that, there’s a fair chance the guy who had worked on the truck earlier and asked me to smog it, hoping the truck would then be released, might tell the boss “I’m done with this truck and am ready for my next job”

Instead, I entered “no” on the computer, the truck failed, I filed away the printouts of the failed test and headed over to the boss’s office. I told him that unfortunately the truck failed, because the check engine light did not turn on, and that when the other guy fixed the issue, I would retest it. The boss was not upset about the turn of events, I might add. I then found the guy who had been working on the truck and told him the bad news.


I used to reserve Friday nights for taking the wife out to dinner or the kids out for pizza and the arcade or Putt-Putt.
One Friday afternoon the service manager came out into the shop about 4 P.M. and said they had a good customer with a broken down Subaru in an outlying small town about 75 miles out. They were in a gas station and they had determined (or guessed…) that the fuel filter had plugged up. They had a generic filter but could not find the filter on the car.
On that model it was near the LR wheel so I relayed the message to the gas station.

Shortly after the service manager came back out and said they give up; would you go out there after work and change it?
I figured what the heck; it would be a gravy ride and Friday night could be put off until Saturday.

So that begs the question of how was I going to get paid? I was told that I would get the usual rate for a filter change; a whopping .2 hours.
These clowns expected me to drive the back road out and back, killing all Friday evening, for 12 minutes of labor. I was making 15 an hour flat rate at the time so do the math. I would earn 3 bucks for this all evening job.
I told them I was going home at 5 and that Subaru owner could fry in hell.
To add insult to injury they wanted me to use my car and my gas…

All of this was done in dead seriousness. And customers think they have it rough with the dealers… :frowning:


Not very related but had a co worker with computer trouble, IT fixed the computer, and when she left work her car would not start. She was convinced when IT fixed her computer it screwed up her car.


“Can you drill a hole in my bell housing so I can lube my throw-out bearing?”

A car overheated to the point of needing a used engine transplant. “I just changed the oil 500 miles ago, can you reuse the oil filter?”

“Do you do dashboard removals?” Uhh, yes we do. “I had my python in the car and I saw him crawl up under the dash and can’t get to him. I need the dash pulled apart enough to find him.”

While working as a flat-rate mechanic, a Ford E350 cube truck that was too big for our hoists needed the transmission replaced. It failed under warranty and the tech who did the job the first time was no longer there. The shop owner asked if one of us would do the job flatback without flagging any time as it was warranty. Nobody volunteered so he finally paid one of us to do it.


Sadly I am not surprised.

I loved the; [quote=“asemaster, post:4, topic:103479”]
“Can you drill a hole in my bell housing so I can lube my throw-out bearing?”

That was great @asemaster !!!

This isn’t car related unless you figure in the drive time;

I had a client that had a old horse that had a chronic lameness, but I had been keeping the horse sound enough for easy short distance riding ( less than a hour at a walk trot. The owner bought a new horse that she could go on longer , harder rides and decided to give the old horse to her sister in Minnesota…210 miles away. After 6 months, the horseshoer and veterinarian in Minn. determined that the horse could not be kept sound and should be put down.

The sister here in Wisconsin asked if I would travel to Minnesota, shoe the old horse…and show the new Horseshoer how I had been keeping her sound. I had been told that my extra time and travel would be covered, including a motel room for the night. The sister in Wisconsin gave me $100 for the room they had reserved for me and Friday night the wife and I took the two hour drive up to Winona Minnesota. The motel had all the best to offer, but we had no real time to enjoy any frivolities. We had breakfast the next morning while we waited for the Minn sister to arrive so we could follow her to the barn where the horse was kept.

I shod the horse as I had been doing and she walked off much more comfortable that when she was first walked over to me. By the way the other horseshoer refused the invite to work with me. Too bad…I guess he knew it all already!!!

It came time for the bill. I wrote out the bill and as I handed it to the Minn sister I told her " you said that you would make the trip worth while, so I wrote the bill as if this horse were in my territory back home. And I’ll leave you, how much to give me for my time and travel".
She wrote a check for the bill, handed it to me along with a envelope and card. She said, thank you, and that she included extra money for my time and travel.

The wife and I headed out the driveway and at the first stop sign, I asked her to open the card and see how nice of a lunch we could stop for on the way home. She opened the card and pulled out a lone… $20 bill.

$20 for 7 hours of driving both ways. At that time it was probably enough to pay for the gas one way. I had expected at least $100.

Taught me a hard lesson not to trust the client to pay a fair wage, for time and travel!!!


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I once extracted the remains of a kitten from behind the pulleys and belts of a lady’s car. It was an unhappy situation for all involved.

I’m not a mechanic but did do a little body work from time to time. We had an elderly baby sitter that drove a 65 Comet and she ran into something. She was beside herself because the estimates meant totaling the car and she couldn’t afford to fix it or replace it. I said I would take it on. Searched high and low for a fender, grill, bumper, and headlight housing and finally found one for cheap. Painted everything. Put everything together along with a new tie rod. Even polished and waxed the rest of the car to match the new fender. The insurance agent just totaled it out and paid her something like $1500 for it. My bill for parts and materials was something like $300. So she paid me that plus $50 for my effort and pocketed over $1000. So that was about 50 cents an hour with equipment used. I told he she needed to have the car aligned so after all that she complained about the bill from the gas station for aligning the car. She was off my Christmas list and fired her a little later. True colors come out with the elderly when money is involved.

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@ok4450, I’m interested in how you said no thanks to that easily declined invitation and what the response was, if any. That could be a good story, too.

I am not a mechanic but was badgered by a co-worker to “help” him fix the myriad of ground-fault problems on his Blazer. I told him all the issues he was having sounded like corroded grounds (rust belt state) and HE should start looking and testing since HE was an electrical engineer. (and a cheapskate) He thought he’d bring the beer and “we’d” fix it. I told him “no thanks” until he badgered me enough for me to quote an hourly rate higher than even the dealerships at the time. After all, I was a degreed engineer and should be compensated accordingly. That finally stopped it.


A friend of mine hasn’t changed the oil in his Scion for the last 3 years because “it doesn’t look dirty”. :confounded:

I tried explaining to him that his local driving/short trip driving pattern was the worst possible type of usage that an engine could be subjected to, but he was adamant about the oil not needing to be changed because “it doesn’t look dirty”.

I know that this guy is really cheap, so I tried appealing to his logic and his wallet by pointing out that free maintenance was included when he bought his Scion, and that proper maintenance could help to avert future repairs. However, he was still adamant that he didn’t want to get his car’s oil changed. As we spoke further, he finally revealed his reason for not taking the car to the dealer for the free oil changes. His reason was that he might have to sit among various minority group members in the dealer’s waiting room while his car was being serviced.

So, in addition to an elderly person’s true colors being revealed when it comes to money, their true colors can also be revealed even when they are not going to have to spend any money.

I finally gave up on trying to give this guy advice on car maintenance, investing, medical care, etc. as he almost always manages to stumble into the least advantageous decision as a result of his inherent prejudices and preconceived notions.

Go figure!

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@jtsanders, originally I balked at doing this but only for a second. I figured that I would clock in while leaving and clock out when I got home; drawing straight time for doing not much more than driving.

When they told me I would only get .2 hours for a fuel filter change I was standing there in numbed silence for a few seconds. I then asked “Are you serious about .2 for 150 miles of driving and I furnish the car and gas?”.
When they said yes I was pissed off that they would even consider mentioning something so asinine.
I told them the Subaru and its owner could fry in hell before I went out there under those terms.
“But,but…but…he’s a long time customer and a great guy”.
“Fine. He will still be a long time customer and great guy next month but I’m not doing it. Period. Someone, him or you, can pay me straight time or I’m going home at 5”.

Come 5 I never heard anything further so I clocked out and went home and cleaned up to take the wife and kids out.

On Monday morning I came in to find the car sitting outside the shop door where the tow truck had dropped it. I jacked it up, changed the fuel filter, and in less than 5 minutes total time the car was running fine.

I don’t know what the tow bill was for that distance but I would think it was considerably higher than the bill for just paying me in the first place.

The disgusting part about it all was that the service manager didn’t seem to think there was anything off base about what they were asking me to do.

I thought you’d tell him off, and he deserved it. If it was so important to the service advisor/manager, he could have done it himself.

If it was so important to the service advisor/manager, he could have done it himself.

That sounds doubtful

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And here’s another true story that happened just today. A woman brings her car in to have A, B, and C checked out. We inspect the car while she is waiting, and I come to the waiting room to give her news and prices. She decides to do A and B today and C can wait. She asks how long it will take. I reply “The car should be ready around 2:30. It’s 11:50 now and all the guys clock out for lunch from 12 to 1.” She looks at me, seemingly annoyed, and says “I don’t think I should have to wait around an extra hour because your guy feels like taking lunch now.”

I hope your case was accidental. I once wrote a repair ticket for one of my guys that read: “Car towed in, customer saw cat go under hood of car, then drove car and belts came off.” Stupid and sad.

Yes, it was accidental @asemaster. The couple’s cat had an unplanned litter and the wife was searching for it when her husband left for work. When the husband noticed a burning smell he guessed what it was. But I didn’t find the remains until I removed the belts and the water pump pulley.

We always had cats when I was a kid. They used to love to sit up on top of the tire when the car was in the driveway. Yeah, you can imagine.

I’m not a mechanic, but an engineer co-worker of mine was complaining during a group lunch that the radiator on his 14 year old VW GTI kept springing a leak. He’d replaced the radiator 4 times in the course of a month at that point. He said couldn’t figure out why all the replacement radiators he was getting from the parts store were bad form the get-go. I mentioned that maybe the radiators weren’t the problem, but something was causing the cooling system pressure to rise too high, like the head gasket was leaking exhaust gasses into the cooling system.

He said before the whole group “George, you don’t know anything about cars!”

A few weeks later he drives into the parking with a new Saturn. So of course I asked him if he bought a new car b/c his GTI sprung another radiator leak. His reply: “NO! I CHOSE TO BUY A NEW CAR!”

Later I find out indeed the radiator had sprung another leak. :slight_smile:

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@Bing My wife and I came home one evening from a wedding reception and an hour later when I went out to the garage, a little black kitten went tearing across the floor. We have an attached garage and the overhead door is always closed. We surmised that the kitten rode in under the hood of the car. I managed to trap the kitten and she was with us for 14 years.
I was in a TV repair shop when a customer brought in a TV. The customer had broken the neck off the picture tube and wanted the repairman​ to glue it back on. This was before the days of flat screen TVs.