What is the "least" smart thing you've ever done to a car?

What is the “least” smart thing you’ve ever done to a car? I would have said what is the “stupidest” thing you’ve ever done, but I’ll bet that at the time, it did not seem so stupid…

This topic came to me when I saw the following web site and the “innovative” ways folks have used their imagination to address an issue with their car.

OK, I’ll bare my soul first. I’ve told you all about my first car, a 1954 Dodge Meadowbrook, that I bought in '65, a year before I could even get a driver’s license…

But what I did not tell you is that about a year after I started driving, I received several tickets for driving on “bald” tires. I did not have the money to buy new tires and back then, there were no businesses that sold or rented used tires. In retrospect, I do not know why I did not try to scrounge up old tires from a gas station or hit up a junk yard for tires…

I knew I had to get some tires before going to court to pay the fines because the county judge had a reputation of asking if the problem had been fixed and he would stop court and go outside and take a look. He did that to me a month previously when I was ticketed for “inadequate” exhaust. I had replaced the stock muffler with a “resonator,” which is a shorty muffler that can really give your car a much “beefier” sound. To my dismay, too beefy… I put the old muffler back on and sure enough, Judge Tepedino (who I appeared before about 10-times over 4 years…) did ask if I had fixed the muffler and was the car outside, I said I did fix it and we went outside. Because my '54 was like a “quiet purring kitten”, he fined me only $5.00.

Interesting side note to the muffler story; a couple of guys I knew also had been ticketed for various violations (speeding and no brake lights) were there and I stayed until they were seen so we could all go out later. Another guy also was ticketed for a bad muffler, when he was asked if he fixed the muffler, he kind of sneered, “Yeah…” When asked if the car was outside, he said no. Judge T. fined him $25 and when he asked why he was fined so much When the “other guy” (me…) was only fined $5.00, Judge T. said, “He fixed his muffler, I do not believe you did…”

But, back to me being “less than smart” (actually really Stupid). A neighbor had an old, really old pickup in his back yard. I seem to remember it being a late 1940s Studebaker. His kids played it, and it was there when he bought the house. He told me the tires still held some air and if I put it up on blocks so the kids could turn the steering wheel, I could have the tires. I took one look at them and my '54 used 14" on dodge rims, these were 16" and they were huge. My neighbor said don’t worry, maybe the bolt pattern will fit.

So, this is the first moment of “Stupid is as Stupid does…” I do not pull one tire and check to see if my spare with fit the truck, I jack up the truck, remove all four tires replaced the tires with cement blocks. I even blocked up the front end so the steering wheel would spin lock to lock…

The moment of truth comes when I try to fit the truck tires on the Dodge. The trucks bolt pattern is much wider than the Dodge’s. My neighbor looks at it and says he can fix it, he’s seen this done before. He goes home and comes back with a big chisel and hammer and starts cutting into the rim to make the lugholes oblong, so the rim will fit the smaller bolt pattern, after 5-minurtes of chopping into the steel, the rims fits my dodge.

We get some big washers and put the lug nuts on backwards and Wa-La. I’ve got “legal” tires for my court appearance. My Dodge originally had black rims, and these rims were red. I spray painted them black to match the back rims and the spray paint kind of concealed the washers and the backward lug nuts.

One particular note is that these tires on the front end stood a lot taller than the back tires, which was kinda cool. However, our chopping on the lug holes did not make for e a symmetrical mounting of the tires. Both tires turned a bit off-center. When I drove real slow, the front end would slowly raise and lower like a boat does when you travel into small waves. When the tires were out of sync, the car sort of rocked with the left side rising as the right side lowered…

I could not drive the car over 40 as the off-balance tires really started to thump. But they were cheap…

So, how long did I drive on these, about three weeks. I was hot-dogging around a left turn when the right front rim rips through the washers and lug nuts. The wheel gets jammed into my wheel well, and we slide off the road. Luckily, other than denting the backside of the fender and deforming the wheel well, there is no other damage. I jack it up, put my bald spare on and limp home, not knowing if the left wheel would hold up.

I got my first charge account with Western Auto and bought five new tires.

OK, so Stupid is as Stupid does… As a teenager, I never thought about the consequences of making these “old, really old” tires fit a car they were not made for and in retrospect, I’ve got to wonder why my seemingly mature, intelligent adult neighbor thought this would be a good idea.


My grandfather had a spinal tumor, left him paralyzed, my sister and I got to share the car, figured we had to add so much oil to the 61 Olds dynamic 88 no need for a change. I got to trade it in on a new used car, my dad saw it dead on the road a few miles from the dealership. I then learned in Auto Shop class it does not work that way. Thrifty neighbor would get drain oil for free to do his oil changes. He knew better than I at the time I guess.

When young and dumb, I tried sneaking parents’ 1965 Olds 98 land yacht out of the garage so I didn’t start the engine, put it in neutral, one hand on the steering wheel while standing outside with the driver’s door slightly open and gave a slight tug to start it rolling. Physics took over and faster than I could react gravity rolled the car on the tiny incline backwards and deeply impaled the bottom corner of the open driver’s door in the garage wall just beside the open garage door.

Car wasn’t damaged but that slit hole in the inner part of the garage wall remains to this day.

Dad never said a word, he just let me stew and sweat over being found out which was worse than if I’d been chewed out and grounded. :rofl:


That is a condition that many–if not most–of us suffered from when we were younger.

That brings to mind a quote from Mark Twain.
He said …
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.
But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in just seven years.”



that’s so true. when I was younger I thought I was smarter than my father in a lot of ways. I was wrong. now I think my kids feel the same way about me.
I tell them that they might not know it but everything that they have done, and everything that they are going to do. I have been there and done that.


I tell them: your future is my past.


I only have one kid and me and her know she is smarter than me :laughing:

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The least smart thing I’ve done to a car….was probably cornering my beloved 89 mustang GT 5 speed manual at around 80 mph, kicking the rear end out (purposefully and repeatedly) countersteering, popping a rear tire off the bead, and subsequently spinning it into oblivion and ultimately upside down. A great car that I was too young to really deserve. Oh yeah, and the whole personal safety aspect in that event…well, no seatbelt, Saturday night…. I was too young to appreciate life and limb too, but God kept me around for some reason that is yet somewhat still unclear!


I was driving an old cube truck (10-ton, about a 12’ bed) for a farmer-friend. It wouldn’t start one morning in town. Downhill was behind me and I wasn’t strong enough to push it up, so I pushed it backwards, ran after it as it got rolling, jumped in, threw it into reverse, starting it just feet from a neighbor’s car. I was exhilarated then, appalled now.

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hmmm … well one time the idle air control gadget on my Corolla broke, always idling too high. A replacement unit was going to take some time to find, so I decided to use duct tape to cover the opening inside the throttle body that fed the idle air control as a temporary solution. This worked fine for a few days, when all of a sudden driving in city traffic the car became basically un-drivable, lurching, stalling, more lurching, more stalling. All I could do to limp home. Turned out the duct tape adhesive couldn’t take the engine compartment temperatures and unglued, and now the duct tape was randomly flipping up and covering , then uncovering the opening for the actual throttle valve.

Personal reminder: Don’t use duct tape for repairing throttle bodies … lol …

I revised the temporary solution by switching to high temperature rated metal foil tape.

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Was sitting in my late sixties something Dodge Charger 383 watching 2 pickups unsuccessfully trying to climb a sand hill. I bet one of them $20 that I could do it with my car. Unfortunately he took me up on it
I got enough speed to climb it with enough speed to crest the hill with front wheels leaving the ground. When the front Wheels landed I lost all steering from broken suspension. Miraculously missed trees. Filled my air cleaner, 4 bbl and transmission with sand. Last time I ever drove that beauty. But hey, 20 bucks is 20 bucks.


‘duct’ tape is not duct tape - don’t know how it got that name - it’s a similar color? I have some special tape from the auto store for high-temp repairs, helped a stranger patch his radiator hose once; haven’t needed it myself.

After reading all these great stories of “Less than Smart Things You’ve done to a Car,” I was reminded of this idiot that was stationed in my Air Force Unit back in the early 1980s. The Air Force will move your household goods (weight limits apply by rank…) when you had a Permanent Change of Station (PCS).

The Air Force started a program a few years earlier called “Do It Yourself” (DITY) Move. This program is based on the service member moving their own household goods (furniture, washer, dryer, cloths, beds etc…) and they would receive a portion of the moving expense, based on the weight. After packing up your stuff, you would get the truck or trailer weighed and after delivering the furniture to your new home, house, or apartment, you would then get the truck or trailer weighed again and the difference was your shipping weight and you would be paid accordingly. The big advantage here was if you let the Air Force move you and you went over your allotted weight limit, you would have to pay the AF the difference. If you went over your weight limit during a DITY move, you would receive the max allotment for your rank, but no penalty for going over the weight limit.

So, now that I have laid out the basis for this story. It should make more sense…

A married Staff Sergeant (E-5) in my unit was PCSing and decided to do a DITY move. He and his wife really had little more than a sofa, bed, a chair, and not much more… He was authorized 9,000 pounds and he estimated that his stuff came to less than 1,000 pounds. Then he and his buddies brain stormed and he decides to rent a large U-haul truck and put his car in the back and get paid for the shipping weight of his car. Back then, the U-Haul trucks had humps in the back where the wheel-wells were.

To get his car loaded, he built wooden ramps to drive his car over the wheel-well humps. He drove to a loading dock, backed the truck up and drove his car up onto the ramp. He then starts driving his car into the truck and his front wheels easily roll over the wooden ramps he built. What he did not consider was that as his front wheels passed over the hump and rolled back to the floor of the truck, his car high-sided on the humps and his front wheels just hung dangling over the front of the humps. Now he was stuck, no matter how fast he spun his rear tires in drive or reverse, he was hung up with the rear of his car outside the truck.

He then drives off, with his car hanging off the back of U-Haul looking for help. He does not get far, the local police pull him over, they will not let him drive the truck like that, they contact the base security police (SP), the SPs notify the First Sergeant, the unit Commander, and a whole bunch of other folk. It soon becomes evident that he is trying to cheat the DITY system and defraud the Air Force…

It did not go well for him. He received an Article 15 (a type of punishment that is like a “misdemeanor” verses a “felony”), he lost a stripe, and lost the PCS move… How do I know all this, I and the whole squadron had to sit through a very long presentation by this individual (part of his punishment) and then it was followed by a briefing given by a Lawyer from the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Office. Our Commander was furious; he was humiliated, and constantly reminded about this by his peers. And that was probably the longest Commander’s Call I ever had to sit through…

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Great phrase. Lots of memories from my youth fall fit this.

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Somebody, not me of course, once forgot to refill the oil in an engine after an oil change in a fleet truck. Got 3/4 of a mile down the road and the truck started making a horrendous noise. Figured out the issue, added oil, got it back to the shop, but the damage had been done. engine was toast.

I… errr… he was very glad that the boss didn’t fire me… errr, him that day. That was a darn good engine up to that point, too.

:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


I don’t know why God keeps me around. I am miserable, and really don’t want to be here anymore.

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I am sure he has a plan for you. things will get better. just like when you have a injury and your in a lot of pain. a year later you don’t even remember the pain.

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I don’t know I hope been feeling like this for a long time.

we all feel like this at some point in our lives. like the saying says… time heals all.

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Ok, it’s been going on too long.