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Wild Car Stories

Whats the strangest thing you’ve ever seen a car do, or the most incorrect repair job you’ve ever seen?

A few years back I was over a friend’s house and another friend had left their car in the driveway when they went out of town. All of a sudden, the car turned on. This was an early 90s sedan of some sort, and didn’t have a remote starter installed. Never found out why that happened, but we just let the car run till it ran out of fuel.

Hard to pick the most incorrect repair job I’ve seen. I’ve seen some good ones.

This wasn’t a repair, but a friend had a supercharger installed on his CRX by a professional mechanic. He couldn’t figure out why it ran so crappy and wasn’t developing the power it should have when he got it back, until he opened the hood and poked around, and discovered one of the vacuum lines plugged with a golf tee. We figured the mechanic didn’t know where to attach it, so he just plugged it and hoped no one would notice. He must have made a habit of it, because he went out of business long before retirement age.

The worst result from a repair job was from another friend who changed his brakes just before taking his car onto a race track. He forgot to stab the pedal a few times while still in the infield. Got it onto the track, hit the first corner, braked, and discovered he had no brakes. Drove it straight off the corner and hit a bump, ended up rolling the car over its hood onto the roof. He came close to dying that day.

Of course, I’m not immune to acts of stupidity myself. The guys from my car club still make fun of me for something I did like, 15 years ago. We were on our way to a camping/race watching meetup. We pulled off, and as car guys are wont to do, we all popped the hood. “Hey Shadowfax, why is this pair of pliers hanging from your ground wire?”

I’d been changing hoses the day before, using the pliers to squeeze the hose clamps off, and being the absentminded dork I often am, just left the things on top of the engine. Somehow they managed to slide off and get caught on the ground wire rather than falling through. I still have those pliers today, and thanks to that day I still triple check all over before I close the hood to make sure I haven’t left anything behind. :wink:

The worst thing that I ever witnessed was a '70s era Cadillac, parked at a gas station, with the most extreme positive camber that I ever saw on front wheels. If I had to estimate, I would say that they were leaning outward at the top by ~20 degrees, which I didn’t even think was possible.

Hopefully the car was there in order to correct the weird camber.
I would hate to think that the car had just come out of their service bay!

The worst thing that I ever did was to fail to fully tighten some lug nuts while rotating tires.
I was interrupted by a phone call and failed to do the job properly, and–yes–I did drive a few blocks before I discovered my oversight.
Yes, I gave myself a huge dope slap over that one.

I attended diesel school in the early 70’s. It was a Vo-Tech school and the state paid most of us $75 a week to attend. The man who taught the diesel class liked to have contests among his students and engine assembly was his favorite. We were given a week to tear down, repair and reassemble diesel engines from several different makers.

The work areas were all lined up in a row and each one had a different brand of diesel engine. On this particular week…I was assigned to the Detroit Diesel and my job was to assemble the piston, rod and rings. The assembly crew had the job of assembling the engine. We rotated jobs on each engine rebuild so we were in a constant learning process. One student was out due to an illness and this made the following an exercise in futility for our crew. The heads were installed and torqued on the last day and after lunch…the engine tests were conducted.

The Mack engine team got their engine fired up and the instructor took careful notes on any leaks, engine noises and pressures. He then moved on to the Cummins engine and it roared to life. He took careful notes and then moved on to our Detroit Diesel. The engine turned over with authority but it never started. The instructor stated that we had no compression and all eyes fell on me because I assembled the pistons. It was then that I checked in the storage cabinet and all of my pistons and rods were still where I left them. The guy that was sick had the job of installing the pistons and he was not there. Somehow…the guys that installed the heads never noticed the missing pistons. They were the only ones that received a failing grade that week along with the assembly supervisor who never noticed the empty cylinders either. It was a lesson learned for all of us albeit a hard one. The other teams made fun of us for weeks after that.

This is noit weird, but some hot rod enthusiast in the 50s installed a set of high compression head on an old Ford Flathead V8. Unfortunately, his draft tube was virtually plugged and during the first performance road test, the old engine had so much blowby that is blew the oil pan right off!

I got a call from a relative years ago, she aid all the exterior lights on her car were flashing on and off at 3 second intervals. Sure enough when I got there, even though the car was parked and the key removed from the ignition, headlights, tail lights, turn signal lights, all were flashing like a Christmas tree. An old car even for then, a 40’s Nash I think. I couldn’t figure it out, but later the mechanic who eventually fixed it said there was a short in that circuit that was causing a circuit breaker to turn on and off, making it work like a blinker.

One of my old time ones, I could have gotten another 2 or 300 miles out of my tires if I did not have to drive across your gravel parking lot to get an estimate for new tires, now they are flat and I have to get new tires.

I put a late 60’s early 70’s Deville on a rack and noticed the left rear frame rail had rust holes in it. It was fixed with a broomstick, mechanics wire and chicken wire and glue.

This may not be a unique story but it was really funny at the time;

When I was thinking about buying my first car, my friend who already owned one told me, “You know, you will save a lot of money if you can do your own tune-ups and maintenance.”

Then he announced that for my first lesson he was going to show me how to change the oil in a '65 Volkswagen Beetle (30w).

He parked his bug next to the curb in front of his house and then reached underneath with a socket wrench and removed the plug and drained the oil. Then he showed me how to remove the round plate to replace the filter and gasket. I watched as he emptied and poured fresh oil into the air cleaner and started pouring oil into the engine. I knew at the time that this was a valuable lesson to learn from the master and that I would always remember this day.

He was about to begin pouring in the second quart when I noticed a liquid was running down the street’s gutter. I asked him, “What’s that?” He looked down and then up at me and said, “OH SH!T!!! I forgot to replace the oil plug!”

He jumped down next to his car and found the plug and started to screw it in, but he was so anxious that he couldn’t line the plug up to allow him to tighten it. All this time oil was running out of the hole and down his arm and getting all over his shirt.

Eventually, he was able to fix things and finish the job. He told me that despite the technical difficulty he still saved money.

When I stopped rolling over on his front lawn laughing until my sides hurt, I asked him, “How much did you save?” He said, “I saved a few bucks for sure” (If I remember correctly, oil was about 35 cents per quart at stores back then).

Then I asked, “Did you take into consideration the amount you paid for your shirt?”

“#&&!!$$ Y*u!!”, he answered.

I learned a lot that day.

I don’t know if it’s strange or funny, but my '64 Fairlane suddenly started pouring huge clouds of thick white smoke and making a sound like an M16 on “auto” when I stepped on the gas. You guessed it: the diaphragm had ruptured on the vacuum modulator and it was burning tranny fluid. Lots and lots of tranny fluid.

Oh, I just remembered one. A buddy had a '70 Camaro in canary yellow with flat black spoilers and lakepipes (this was in '71). His air filter got dirty and he threw it away, never bothered to replace it. One weekend we took a drive to Winnipeg (from North Dakota) and on the way up the border guards looked in the air filter canister and saw the filter missing. They must have taken note, because on the way back across the border they pulled us over and took what seemed like half the car apart. Those were the days when it was common for young guys to smuggle pot across the border in the air filter canister.

Several years ago my dad went to start the 88 grand voyager which was being used only for the home depot runs or whenever we needed to haul something large. The rear window washer came on and never shut off. Kept going until the fluid ran out. I think he ended up pulling a fuse or otherwise just disabling the system (we only used the van a few times a month at most)

Compared to everything else that went wrong with that van over the years this was at least harmless.

I’ve got a ton of them but an odd one I saw a few times involved the old VW Rabbits. There was a problem with the left front fender radio antenna grommet and during times of heavy rainfall it was possible for water to seep inside the car and into the fuse block which was mounted about where the driver’s left knee would be.

This would short out the starter solenoid wiring from the fuse block and lead to several scenarios.

  1. The starter would crank until the battery was dead and/or the starter motor was fried.
  2. If a manual transmission car was left in gear with no park brake set the car would take off on it’s own until the battery died, the starter fried, or the car would ram into something; or all of those.

One of them was towed in once with a smashed front end after an event like this and which took place in the middle of the night. The woman owner of the car called the police in the morning to report a stolen vehicle and the PD found the VW about a block away nosed against a utility pole after jumping the curb.
It was slightly downhill from the residence so the car managed to pick up a fair amount of speed on the way… :slight_smile:

I had a former telephone company 1975? Dodge b100 van, It was a slant 6 van, it had manual steering, manual brakes (4 wheel drum if I remember correctly) and an automatic. The rear brake lines rusted out so my mechanic plugged the rear outlet of the master cylinder so the van only had front brakes, It drove fine and stopped ok thanks to the fact it had self energizing drum brakes.

I drove it like that for a while until one day I was slowing down turning into a rural driveway in the woods and a front line blew. Between the total loss of brakes and manual steering I clobbered the mailbox and hit a tree. The old dodge never had any seat belts and I and my friend hit the dash going about 10mph. It hurt.

The windshield washer went out on my 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass. On this car, the windshield washer pump was part of the wiper motor. Being the cheap skate that I am, I found a “universal” one size fits all washer pump at WalMart. When I installed the pump, it immediately started pumping when I turned on the key. The only way to get it to stop was to hold in the button for the windshield washer. The pump worked exactly backwards. I spent an hour going through the service manual I had for the car and finally realized that the button completes the circuit to the ground and the line to the pump built into the wiper was always hot as long as the ignition key was turned on. I finally did find a way to connect the pump so it worked properly.

I was riding back to campus when I was a college student after an expedition to another campus. The driver owned a 1950 Pontiac straight 8 and when we were about 20 miles out, a rod bearing started knocking loudly. We pulled into an all-night filling station, had the oil drained out and 90 weight gear lube put in the crankcase. We did make it back to campus, but the next day, a wrecker appeared and towed away the Pontiac which was never seen again.

My brother had a 1971 Datsun pickup truck and the frame broke. He put jacks under each side of the break and got the broken ends to line up. He then took a 4 x 4 and a couple C-clamps and bridged the gap. He drove the truck until he found a Datsun truck with a blown engine. He installed his engine in the truck with a blown engine and had a road worthy pickup for a while. Unfortunately, the frame on that truck was ready to break and at that point, he gave up.

Not very wild but I went to school 200 miles from home. I was driving my 59 Pontiac back home one night and the generator went out. Of course I needed lights and made it about half way before the lights were too dim. So at about midnight I pulled in to a 24 hour restaurant and station, got a hamburger and had the battery charged. Pulled in home about 4 am with the lights getting pretty dim again but made it. I think the hamburger and fries were about $1.25 and the charge about $1. I’ve always been taught to have money in my pocket. A junkyard generator was about $10 the next day.

Back when I was a kid growing up in Los Angeles…I was 17 years old in 1986 and was heading to my girlfriend’s house at 6:30 on a Sunday morning (that’s a different story). I was on the San Diego Freeway doing about 60 when I see a strange thing approaching in my rear view mirror. A Chevy Nova with no hood, in the left lane, must have been doing close to 80, with a guy sitting on the fender leaning over the engine, I assume trying to tune the carb or adjust the timing. He had one hand on the hood hinge and a tool in the other. I almost drove off the freeway watching this.

I’ll give the guy credit, he was wearing goggles.

@asemaster – As my father used to say, “Glory his guts but damn his judgment.”

The largest goof I ever made was not studying up on hydrogen sooner! Simple and easily doubled my mileage for less than ten bucks! Still on the same peanut butter jar of water I started with a year ago! No ill effects to my car as yet but its a throw away with no reverse so what the heck! The little 4 banger thinks it’s a V8 and catches hell to prove the point! Less voltage than one dash light blub uses produces more than needed to do this with the correct 2 plate design I came up with! No little feat in perfection but lucky in seeing a good thing and doing the research instead of listening to the slackers doubts and the down play by big companies trying to make a buck! Used as produced is safe as a glass of water! Making better quality air for engine consumption produces more power and MPGs as to not having to mash on the throttle so hard to go at any speed! A molecular device converts with out any wires but produces too much when raining or heavy dew in the mornings! Warmer evening dew seems to work just fine! Any one who tried and failed at this exchange was probably producing too much to go with pump gas already in place! Bubble size and numbered less than 10 per 10 seconds is not much! A grain for thought is the way of perfecting this extremely volatile gas mixed with air before consumption! How much energy our bodies must burn to need so much water daily! If water runs short it want be from hydrogen production this way! Cleaner, quieter exhaust, greener all the way! Even my oil stays cleaner longer!!! Why try to compress and tank fuel that is safe used as produced as an aide to all fuel burning engines, now!