What crazy things have you mechanics been asked to do?


A Toyota pickup was towed in to me with an inoperative clutch. When the engine was started it sounded like a barrel of rocks rolling downhill and the truck would not move.
Upon disassembly I found the throwout bearing exploded, the pressure plate grenaded, and hunks of friction material broken off the disc.

The elderly truck owner vehemently insisted that I “patch it all back together.”. No way that will or can happen. I finally had to call the guy’s son to talk some sense into his dad. The son finally told me to put it together right no matter what it needed and he would foot the bill. Done, and the truck was fine.

A year later there was a knock on my door one Sunday evening about 10 o’clock. Some younger guy standing there whom I had never seen.
He told me that his boss (the elderly truck owner) had told him to talk to me about whether or not I was going to stand behind the head gasket job I did on the truck.
What head gasket? I did a clutch; nothing more. The young guy left a little humbled but I assured him I wasn’t upset with him at all. I did feel very sorry for the young man being put into that position.


Trust me, it’s not just mechanics who are subjected to that type of bizarre logic.
Many years ago, when I returned from my 30 minute lunch break, one of the secretaries related this incident that had taken place in my absence:

Mr. X: I want to see Mr. VDC.
Secretary: Mr. VDC is at lunch right now. Was he expecting you? Do you have an appointment with him?
Mr. X: No, but I need to speak with him.
Secretary: Well, if you would like to wait, he can probably see you when he returns in about 25 minutes.
Mr. X: So, he’s got one of those cushy jobs where he can take lunch anytime that he wants?

Note: Mr. X arrived at ~12:05. Imagine the nerve of me to have taken my scheduled lunch break at noon!


Man, that is an incredible story. It’s incomprehensible to me how clueless some people can be. In what universe does any of that make sense? I can’t even imagine being asked to do something like that so I applaud your composure under the circumstances. And like you pointed out, in the end, it actually cost them more than it would have to just pay you for your time. Who would rather line the pockets of someone else over their employees anyway? Astounding…


Don’t have to be elderly to have any of those problems…the bad habits just git set a bit deeper with age!


Years ago while waiting at the auto parts store a couple of guys took a jug of antifreeze that had stop leak in it (remember that stuff?) and asked how it would work on a gas tank leak. The guy behind the counter grabbed the bottle away from them and said NO NO you can’t put this in a gas tank. The counter guys knew their stuff and gave great advice on repairs. Not sure what would happen today @ a McParts store


On a dare I once installed a Ford LUV engine and transmission in an old Ford Falcon Ranchero. I was happy when I saw it disappear as it headed home and very happy that I never saw it again.


What would happen today . . . ?!j

The doofus customers would probably complain to the manager . . . and maybe even on social media . . . about the store clerk who wouldn’t sell them the item


I once broke down a mile from home. The fuel line was clogged. I used a sports drink bottle as a temporary fuel tank. I zip tied it under the hood to the fender and cut the fuel line and inserted it into the bottle. I drove home and fixed it correctly.

I welded a cam plug in the end of the camshaft on a small diesel motor in a tractor after taking off the front cover. I attached the ground clamp directly to the cam to prevent arching across the cam bearings. That engine is still running strong.

My grandpa tells stories in the model t days that would make the safety guys heads explode. They could not afford antifreeze so they used some sort of alcohol.

When it was cold out, they would take a pan of hot coals from the fire place and put it under the engine to warm it up before hand cranking.

His model t needed crank and rod bearings frequently. They used strips of pig leather as bearings.


My mother bought a car for me to get from home to college and around town once there. She got a great deal on a 1969 Chevelle Malibu in 1973 before the school year started. We got it from a dealer, and I went to pick it up. The whole staff kept making snide comments about giving cars away and I eventually decided they were talking about my car. I drove it home and a couple days later left for college. About half way there it started bucking and stalled. I got it to a gas station and they checked the car. They said someone had put the sintered metal fuel filter in backwards and it clogged. They put a new one in the right way and I had no trouble. I talked to my mom about it and discovered that her boyfriend played golf with the dealer. Beau beat the pants off the dealer and for repayment the dealer had to reduce the price of the car by the debt to make it even. Apparently the dealer was not too happy about the deal and had the car set up to fail. I wonder how the conversation with the mechanic went. Maybe he had a shady mechanic on staff for deeds like that and rolling odometers back.

Her beau must have been some golfer. He often showed up at the house with new to him golf clubs, color TVs, and many other items. He was a really nice guy, too. Just one problem: he wanted to get married and wouldn’t let go. She dumped him saying she “didn’t want to take care of some old fart in his dotage”. Go Mom!


I had a guy call the tire manufacturer I worked for who complained about the ride of his 2 year old Audi Sport. The car had 40 series tires on it. He thought that since it was an expensive car, it ought to have a cushy ride. I told him - hoping to dissuade him - that simply changing tires wasn’t going to fix the problem - that he would need to change the wheels to a smaller diameter - and he expected us - the tire manufacturer - to do that.


My Father’s first car was a new 1926 Model T roadster. I always thought he was kidding about the leather bearings.


I assume those leather bearings were a “make-do” repair. The car used babbitt bearings for the crankshaft.


Re leather bearings, I don’t know when Ford went to insert bearings on the Model T engine but there was a shade tree patch job for badly worn rod bearings and a worn rod journal for engine with inserts that began in the 30s and possibly lasted until the 50s. When a rod bearing failure was indicated removing the rod cap and installing a new bearing with a piece of leather between the cap and bearing shell eliminated the ‘rod knock’ and kept the engine running for a while longer. One of my grandfathers was a mechanic during the depression working at a Ford dealership and patching up old cars on weekends on the side. As best I can recall the Model Ts that he spoke of had babbit rod bearings. Chevrolet used babbit bearings well into the 1950s. I sometimes wish I had paid better attention to my grandfather’s tales from the ‘good ole days’ of the depression.


A few months ago they profiled a machinist in “Oldtimer Markt” . . . some of you will know this magazine

This guy made babbit bearings for classic engines, and not surprisingly it’s somewhat of a lost art


Agree with the “lost art” comment. My local machine shop has had a Marmon V-16 engine in the restoration process for a year with the current wait being for the poured babbit bearings.


Back in the days before Ethylene Glycol, the ONLY thing available as an automotive antifreeze was alcohol. In fact, Pep Boys was still selling alcohol-based antifreeze up through the early '70s!


Ethylene glycol is alcohol. You can tell by the -ol at the end of the name.


I was referring to the old stuff that you had to drain at the end of the winter season, lest your radiator boil over. I believe that it was made from either wood alcohol or–possibly–denatured alcohol.
Pep Boys referred to their product as Flotex.


I remember when Dupont marketed two different antifreezes–one was called Zerone and was methanol non permanent​ antifreeze and the other was Zerex which was ethylene Glycol which could be used year round.


John Muir (The author of VW Repair For Compleat Idiots) said he was involved in a shop bet about how long it would take to drain a VW Rabbit’s crankcase of oil, only using the dipstick, dip the stick, remove the oil, repeat, etc … as I recall it didn’t take as long as you might guess, maybe 2 1/2 hours.