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(Car Talk)   Mechanics share their most memorable stupid acts. Share yours   ( divider line
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36591 clicks; posted to Main » on 20 Dec 2004 at 3:21 AM (12 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2004-12-20 10:02:14 AM  
Working at a factory-authorized shop for porche, mercedes, BMW.

Porche 911 turbo

Was working on the brakes and clutch, just pulled out the clutch; was getting into the car and instinct I pressed the clutch before pulling it out of gear to test the linkage. Blew out the slave cylynder since it wasn't attatched to the clutch (since it was out). Had to replace both master and slave.

might not be that great of a deal to some people, till you realize how much the damn parts cost.
2004-12-20 10:03:23 AM  
My first car was a '73 Dodge Valiant which had been sitting in my aunt's front yard for a few years before I got it. It had a few quirks: ants living in the engine compartment, no upholstery, no interior lights (roof or dash), AC rotted and removed, holes in the floor... but it ran! The only thing that kept me from driving it away was the brakes - I found out that the brake lines had rusted.

As it was now my car, I was expected to fix it, even though I had no experience working with cars. So I crawled under the car, in the sand and the ants, and managed to remove and replace 3 of the 4 brake lines. The last one was rusted thouroughly, though, and broke off at a very inconvenient spot. I had to get a drill in there somehow, to remove enough of the end so that it could be removed. However, the angle was such that I couldn't get any large tools in there. So I did the logical thing and removed the wheel.

Once I had the wheel off, getting the broken end of the brake line off was easy. But there was one thing I hadn't realized when I took the wheel off - the drum brakes had expanded and the wheel wouldn't fit back on. And, not knowing anything about cars, I tried to force the wheel back on: I tried using a sledge hammer to knock the wheel on. Of course, it got stuck half on and half off. At that point I gave up and asked for help. I don't remember what my cousin did to crank the brakes back down, but it worked, and after putting in the new brake line, I finally had a working car. It only took 2 weeks of hard effort for 3 hours a day for me to replace the brake lines. It probably would have gone faster if I'd had a jack ;).
2004-12-20 10:06:42 AM  
This is a very recent development... as in day before yesterday. Not self inflicted like most of these, but pretty brutal none the less

My kiddo has his first ear infection so a friend and I took him to the doctor. We paid the extra Saturday fee at the doctor's office where my son was prescribed an antibiotic. We had plans to meet our wifes at Taco Xpress here in Austin. (Locals or anyone who frequently watches Rachel Ray's show on the Travel Channel will know what a treat this is). Before going I went to the pharmacist to pick up his script. Since the thing needed to be refrigerated we swung by the house to drop it off.

As we approached my house, something just didn't quite look right. We simultaneously exclaimed "What the Fark" when we noticed my aluminum garage door was seriously caved in and not a car in site. Also, clearly molded in the door is a perfect impression of the rear bumper of my '96 Honda Accord which was left in the garage.

We darted inside and into the garage from the inside door. My old Accord (luckily the '05 was with me at the time) was scooted up about a foot and a half from where I parked it Friday afternoon (only inches from going through the wall and into my bathroom). The rear bumper cracked and sagging several feet on the driver's side.

I wanted to call teh cops but in my obviously freaked out state I couldn't locate my home phone. Once I finally did I noticed I had about a dozen missed phone calls. All from a guy who lives a couple of blocks away. The only message I had was "This is Lewis, I owe you a garage door man"

I called him back, he came down and explained the situation. He had planned to change the oil in his wife's minivan and let his 15 year old son take it around the block to warm up the engine. His son picked my driveway (the one so steep it's rated a Black Diamond when get any snow) to do a U turn.

Turns out, he stuck in in Neutral instead of Reverse and hammered the gas. I felt a little better knowing someoen was going to own up and pay for the damages but the problem now is that my wife and I are stuck sharing a car until we can get the old garage door hauled off. I'm pretty sure the other car is drivable but it sports a nice scar.

Moral of the story, don't let your 15 year old son do a U turn in a steep driveway... at least not mine!
2004-12-20 10:17:03 AM  
Not a car related project, but a stupid mechanic act.

Years and years ago when I was still deciding which direction my life should go I did a summer job at a local engineering firm. The company made large, industrial grade mixing machines. For a few weeks I was stuck in the refurbishment department. Basically my job there was to clean out the crap that was in these machines prior to dis-assembly and upgrade or repair.

One day we got a machine in that was full of a really sticky mastic (glue). The only way I could figure to clean the thing was spray a flamable solvent onto the machine, burn it off with a torch, and then rub the residue off with a solvent soaked rag.

After about an hour of this I had a large pile of solvent soaked rags behind me. Forgetting they were there I pointed the torch behind me. It took about 2 seconds before I noticed the smell of 50 rags trying to burn down the factory. Fortunately for me I remembered the location of the fire extinguisher and put out the flames before anyone noticed. Sure, there was damage, but I made sure I relocated to another department before anyone noticed.
2004-12-20 10:19:15 AM  
I bought a 2005 Mercedes E500 a couple of months ago and... well, nothing really. I just love that car.
2004-12-20 10:19:29 AM  
I do some repairs on my '79 Triumph Spitfire. One of the repairs was to replace the fuel float in the tank(easy job). There's only 3 ways to put the fuel meter back in. 2 will make it leak, the 3rd is just right(no leaks).

I drive it over to the gas station and fill it up. Guess what, it's leaking. instead of driving it home, I try to fix it there.

I ended up with half a tank of gas in the trunk and a nervous drive home, almost covered in gas. Yet I have a cigarette anyway after the ordeal.(didn't burst into flames or anything)

Next time, fuel it up halfway at home to see if it's leak-free, and mark up the fuel tank/meter in advance to ensure you're putting it on right.
2004-12-20 10:22:49 AM  
I worked at a body shop & we played practical jokes on each other all the time. Like splicing a wire from the headlights to the horn so next time they turned on the lights, instant fun! Sometimes I would tape home made signs to the back of people's cars like "honk if you love men" which really doesn't sit well with burly manly men that work in body shops.
2004-12-20 10:38:52 AM

I didnt do much dumb and funny things to my car. But these guys did!
2004-12-20 10:39:54 AM  
My very first experience as a mechanic was when I was bout three years old. I should have been playing with plastic tools and wooden blocks, but I've always been very ambitious.
I broke a key off in the driver's side lock, deflated the passenger side front wheel with one of those T-shaped hand pumps (leaving it screwed on released the pressure), snapped off the turn signal arm and a few other things I can't remember.
Fast forward about half a decade. My mother unfortunately, was recovering from a pretty severe auto accident with a broken foot and ankle in addition to other broken bones. My father is an OTR truck driver. The oil in mom's volvo needed to be changed. Having watched my old man many times, I volunteer. Drain the oil, change the filter and using a funnel pour five quarts of oil in the dipstick tube! No wonder why it took so much longer than when dad did it.
Last Friday as I'm driving home in the cold and dark my alternator starts going dead. I know this because my lights are getting dimmer as I drive and my temperature gauge is going very low, just like it did 6 months ago when I replaced the alt with a used one. (Bad bet) Seeing as it's almost Christmas I don't have the $170 to plunk down on a new one right now. After getting home, my GF and I go to the store and buy a small charger that's similar to the one I have that died because my idiot next door neighbors' idiot son tried to start my motorcycle while it was connected. It' s under warrante, but that doesn't do me a drop of good because I didn't send it back yet. Anyway, I plug in the new charger. The light's green - fully charged "WTF?" I ask myself. Refer to directions, they say it may take 2 minutes for the charger to start charging. No prob, don't worry about it. A day later, I get my spare battery out of the shed to charge that as a back-up. I connect that to the charger -- also green. Check 1/2 later, still green. Check the charger, it's been in the "off" position for the last 36 hours! Plug it back in again, immediately yellow light -- charging. Glad I noticed before I tried to go to work this morning.
Last, the somebody else story, an old GF was driving my standard car (all but my first cars have been standard), she shifts from second into first at 35 mph, we screech to a halt. Some how the engine did not blow or munch the valves.
2004-12-20 10:40:06 AM  
I have another, which I take partial credit for, but only because I did not protest enough:

One Labor Day weekend me and a friend decide to go camping in Cherokee Nat'l Forest. He decides to drive his brother's VW beetle, since the brother is away with the National Guard for two weeks. We find a great spot, but have to drive through a little creek to get to it. As soon as we get set up, it starts raining, and rains all weekend long. We had a good setup with a tarp over the tent, so we were high and dry...very high! Smoked weed and drank beer the whole time we were there.
Well, that little creek is now about 3 feet deep. My buddy wants to drive through it to get out, I talk him out of it.
We leave the car and all our stuff, cross the creek on foot and walk 7 miles to the nearest phone and call someone to pick us up. The next day is Labor Day. My friend calls ands asks me to take him back to the campsite and get his brother's VW. I drive him down in my 68 Plymouth Satellite.
The 3 feet deep creek is a raging torrent now, up to our chests and very strong current. I tell my friend, "No friggin' way are we getting that car now," but he wants to try it, and will not be talked out of it. Fine. We get in the VW, fire it up, and he tacs it up and heads for the water. Splash! We make it about 4 feet out before the engine dies, the car fills with water, and starts floating down Citico Creek. Yes, kids, VW beetles do float, even if they are full of camping gear, water and stoner idiots! We climb out the windows, and manage to stop the car from floating away, but all we can do is hold it in place; we can't push it to the bank. I argue for letting the goddamn thing go; Hell, I told him not to try it, and I'm afraid we are going to get killed. Well, God sees our dumb asses and the predicament wer'e in and intervenes by sending us two more country boys floating on innertubes down the creek. They helped us push the Bug out of the creek and up on the bank, and then go off in search of their innertubes.
My buddy hops in the bug and fires it up, and for a wander, it starts! It only runs about 20 seconds or so though, then dies. So I agree to tow it out. We have no rope or chains; all we have is an old bedspread in the trunk of my Plymouth! So we wind it into a rope of sorts, and I tow the Bug about 7-8 miles until we come to a gas station/bait shop place. There we buy some nylon rope and tow the Bug on home.

I figured the Bug was ruined and my buddy's brother was gonna kill him. He took drained all the oil out, and replaced it with new, and it fired right up and ran fine.
2004-12-20 10:43:09 AM  
barc0001: I got my Spitfire when I was 18, with zero auto mechanics knowledge.

10 years later I'm pretty well versed, just from various repairs/restorations on the Spit. An old Triumph(or any british car) is the ultimate teaching tool!

/would kill for a TR-8 convertible.
2004-12-20 10:44:58 AM  
Not a car, but a stupid farmwork story. Was bailing hay one day with my farm boss (who was driving the tractor) when the bailer jammed. For those not familiar with farm equipment, this is the thing that scoops up the hay from the field, chews it up, ties it and kicks it about 20 feet into the air, onto the wagon pulled behind it. Well, we go through the safety checks before pulling the jammed bail out and wouldn't you know it, there was still hydraulic pressure in the system. As soon as I yanked on the bail, I was instantly catapulted about 10 feet into the air and landed with a nice, soft the middle of the hay wagon. If I had reached around from underneath, my arm would have been shattered and if leaned over a bit further, my head would have been crushed from the kicker.

//remembers fondly of simpler times while slaving away at a not so fun cubicle farm
2004-12-20 10:59:44 AM  
Working at a car lot, something great happens about every week. Cars go through showroom windows a lot. Dumbass service customers will drive there cars into the service garage door while it is in downward motion (not pretty).

There have been a million accidents, but the queen mother of them all was when a salesman was puting a new Avalanche back up on the curb for display, and instead of hitting the brake, he punched the gas, sending it flying backward into a perpendicularly parked Diesel 3/4 ton. Both vehicles were in motion for a good 20 feet. The total damages were over $25K. It was awesome...
2004-12-20 11:01:07 AM  
In my younger days we were on our way back from Oakland in Pittsburgh and my friend was driving a rental car back from this all night drinking binge decides that hitting a plastic Giant Eagle grocery bag would be fun to do as it crossed in front of the car. ( a little target practice ) The next thing I know, there is a loud bang and the car leaps in the air. and smoke starts pouring out of the engine. It turns out that the plastic bag was actually a large rock rolling down the hill onto the road. He looks at me and says do you think we should stop? At this time the engine is not smoking anymore, but it is making this real loud clanking noise. I replied, you can stop here, or it will probably stop on its own in another second or two.

He decided to stop and then another large bang and the car jumps again. This large rock was still under the car and as we pulled over it shot out from the back bumper. He was really glad that he invested in that "extra" insurance on the rental. It pulled off the oil pan and transformer pan. What a mess.
2004-12-20 11:03:02 AM  
Couldn't get my car to start for about 4 days, so I had my GF drive me, I was looking under the hood everyday after work trying to figure out what the problem was, neighbor walked by, took a look, the batterycable had come off. Yup.
2004-12-20 11:04:41 AM  
The dumbest thing I did behind the wheel was on my honeymoon.

We were in the Smokey Mountains on a one-lane road when a farm truck came in the opposite direction. He pulled over slightly to let me pass and I tried to go around. I got most of the way around when I realized that it wasn't going to happen. The other driver realized it too so he threw it into reverse to try to give me more room. Unfortunately, that is exactly where the front quarter panel of my car was. I watched in horror as the flatbed truck gouged a nice deep dent in my Corolla.

Fortunately, the damage was entirely cosmetic and we were not stranded in Bumfark, NC without a car.
2004-12-20 11:05:26 AM  
Changing the fuel filter on an old VW bus, catching the little residual gas in a coffee can. Using the wrong tool. Didn't disconnect the battery. Cresent wrench meets terminal on either starter or alternator. Sparks ensue. El Nino saved my life, for if the vapors had been allowed to collect... That was over 15 years ago, and I still don't like to think about it any more than that.
2004-12-20 11:08:28 AM  
My brother works for a family-owned garage, and here's a story from him.

The garage - 2 brothers, one is a mechanic, the other is a hydraulic engineer (?) who thinks he is a mechanic. They constantly fight over ways to fix cars. The engineer works in the office and always misdiagnoses cars (receives the complaints from customers, gives the mechanics what he thinks is wrong with it, argues with the mechanics when they determine he's wrong - he is wrong 90% of the time)

Before this engineer started working in the office full-time, the mechanic's wife worked there, and the engineer hung around "helping". One day the mechanic started an oil change and some other work on a car. He emptied the oil, and pushed it out into the lot to wait for parts. He put a marker on it, so that it wouldn't be used. The wife had to do an errand, so engineer takes the marker off the car and hands her the keys. She got a few blocks before her husband received a call. Luckily, the engine didn't break, or else they would have owed a new engine.

My brother hates that guy.

Stupidest thing ever done in a car is getting out of the car to clear the windshield and just putting the e-break on - leaving it in gear. Oops.
2004-12-20 11:18:54 AM  
'68 Firebird, 400 big block. Friend and myself were on a main road about 1 mile from home when the retaining bolt for the distributor went. What happens next? Distributor spins freely, yanking every wire from its plug and creating quite the rat's nest.

Both being flat broke, we decided that the only course of action was simple, yet Jackass-like in its execution: We would limp home with one of us under the open hood, holding the distributor in place. I drew short straw on that one; one foot on the manifold, the other on the valve cover, holding on for dear life.

We made it, but not before a nice gentleman stopped alongside us to say, "I've seen alot of things on the road, but nothing like that."


'76 Monte Carlo, on the return trip from Killington, Vt. Passenger side floor was rotted to the point of being able to see the catalytic converter beneath your feet. Somewhere near the VT/NH border, the Monte decided to give up 3rd gear, leaving us with only 1st & 2nd. It was then that we decided to test the limits of 2nd, reaching 60mph and holding for miles at a time while the tired 350 whined at 6000rpm. This was all going just fine until we smelled something burning; not the usual oil/antifreeze/gasket smells common to dying engines, but something altogether unfamiliar.

Looking down, we saw that the red-hot catalytic converter had ignited a section of carpet through the rotted floor, and was spreading. We pulled over and grabbed handfulls of snow, shoveling in until the fire went out and the converter cooled. After catching our breath, we got back on the road, keeping it down to 40mph or so. Naturally, all of this had taken quite the toll on gas mileage, and since we were both broke (again), we ended up trading the car's 6x9 Pioneer speakers (hardcore tech at the time) for a tank of gas.

Made it home. Gingerly.
2004-12-20 11:19:03 AM  
I once tried to change a tire on a modestly inclined driveway. It was an ancient Dodge Dart that had one of those shiatty bumper jacks, and I had gotten the old tire off and was leaning down to put the new one on the wheel. Suddenly there was this CRRRREAK and, much to my horror, the car (which was inches away from my face) started rolling backwards. I instinctively threw myself backwards and out of the way just as it fell onto the concrete with a gigantic WHAM! and scraping sound.

The worst part was that I didn't have another jack, so I had to let it sit there as a monument to my dumbassery for the whole day until my roommate got home with his jack. And at this point, of course, the car was still on the same inclined driveway, so I had no choice but to jack it up again and slam the new tire on there as fast as I could.

/i am teh dumbass
2004-12-20 11:21:26 AM  
Bad car experience.... bad bad bad bad

One time I was out in my driveway working on my car naked and my testicles rubbed up against the exaust manifold.

Bad Bad Bad Bad Bad.
2004-12-20 11:24:46 AM  
Not as worthy as some of the others but I'll add one of mine anyways. Its long and boring, but you have nothing better to do (like me) or you wouldnt be screwing around on fark...

I was about 16 (1987-ish) and had an old '64 Dodge pickup. For those of you wishing for a mental image, it was a step side and colored in about 18 shades of rust and primer. I think that the gross vehicle weight was somewhere just shy of Anna Nicole Smith.

The speedometer and odometer had been removed which made judging the speed interesting. In fact, most of the dash had been removed. Fortunately the gas gauge was still present and still worked. In fact, I could watch it actually go down as I drove. I think that it was getting around 4-5 miles per gallon, if I were going downhill with a strong tail wind.

The mufflers where held in place by a couple coat hangers. I know this because the bottom of the bed was missing and even an untrained eye could ascertain that the coat hangers were by far the strongest pieces of metal back there.

Anyways, I had opened up the hood one spring day to change the plugs. Like a good little mechanic, I went ahead and disconnected the battery, including the aftermarket rubber tie down 99 cent strap that held the battery on place.

So, the plugs are changed and the battery is hooked back up. I perform a quick pre-flight check... Engine still under hood? Check.

It may not have been the most extensive checklist, but it had worked up until this point.

The truck fired right up and I was off. I made it a whole two blocks before I turned into a parking lot. As I turned, I heard the most gawd awful noise just as the engine died. It wouldnt even turn over at this point. So, being the rocket surgeon that I am, I opened the hood to see if there was any blaring problems. There was. Evidently, I had not put the 99 cent tie down back in place and the battery had decided that it wanted to move. Into the fan blade. Both were shot. I was literally surprised about how far that fan blade had sawed into the battery.

Its almost funny how something so cheap as a 99 cent tie down can be so important. Almost.
2004-12-20 11:32:00 AM  
I was replacing the lube in my manual transmission. Got it drained just fine. Went to add the new lube and poured it into the wrong hole. I wound up with a very well lubricated clutch. Took months to burn that shiat off. :(
2004-12-20 11:34:14 AM  
Damn you all for making me laugh! I just had my appendix removed yesterday, and after reading this thread I am in a whole lot of pain.
2004-12-20 11:38:52 AM  
I was working under a raised snowmobile, when the gas tank started leaking a small stream of gasoline.

I take a quick look around for a container to catch the gasoline, and I grab a large styrofoam cup...

It melted and I still lost all the gas.
2004-12-20 11:43:32 AM  
While working for a classic car enthusiast my co-worker, a true genius, had just removed the gas tank off of a Rolls Royce.
For some reason he wanted to get a clear look at the inside of the tank so what does he do? why, just what any other Harvard graduate would do.
He removes the gas cap from the tank and proceeds to light his zippo lighter and try and hold the flame as close to the inside of the tank as possible all this after he had just dumped in an extremely combustible chemical into the tank to try and clean it out, so
The ensuing explosion was so loud i thought someone had blown off a 10 guage shotgun. his hair was on fire, pieces of shrapnel lodged in his chin also lodged in the roof of the shop. he had a very bushy unkept beard prior to ignission it was now black and mostly burnt off. his eyebrows were gone and his face was pitch black (after lighting the zippo and holding it to the tank opening he had naturally put the tank opening as close to his face as possible to "get a good look inside"
2004-12-20 11:51:09 AM  
I once mistook the steering column of a Buick LeSabre for a young Gina Lollobrigida. If she hadn't honked lord knows how long I would have continued my passionate lovemaking, geez was my face red. I was a hair's breadth away from asking her to marry me.
2004-12-20 12:10:40 PM  
Another dumb thing that I did in the mountains of N.C.

I tried to find Dill Falls in the Nantahala Nat. Forest in my 1983 Oldsmobile 98, nicknamed "Moby, the white whale". The map said the access road was "high clearance" only. Since the Olds had better ground clearence that the Corolla, I figured I'd give it a go.

After tackling ruts and mounds that would make many SUV's cry, the 98 made it there and back, even though it bottomed out a few times. When all was said and done I checked under the car. I found out that I had ripped the downshift switch off my transmission and dented the oil pan. Fortunately, all I had to do was reconnect the switch and the oil pan damage was negligible.

In conclusion, I learned that early 1980's GM B/C body cars are not "High Clearance Vehicles", but they are tough muthafarkers.
2004-12-20 12:18:49 PM  

We were all in the car, it was my turn to drive. The car had one of those teacher-brakes on the passenger side, so the Instructor could stop at any time. "Make a left. make a right" he said. Left, right, check. "Now we're coming to an stop sign, slow down and stop." Great. I put my foot on what I thought was the brake. But wait, we're going FASTER. "Brake" said the instructor, I panicked and pushed down harder on what I was CERTAIN was the brake. How could this be, we went even FASTER, rocketing through the intersection (thankfully empty) The car headed straight for the Stop Sign across from the intersection, the tire went right on the metal post and WHAM, Down came the sign, no match for the multi ton behemoth, bent over 90 degrees at the base. Stunned I found the brake. "maybe I better drive back to the school" my instructor said.

Sadly they still tell this cautionary tale at my HS in drivers ed.

That's the only accident I've ever been in, that was 16 years ago.
2004-12-20 12:19:16 PM  
I used to work in an auto-parts store and I wish I could remember all the stupid things I witnessed.

Probably one of my favourites was one day when my friends girlfriend came into the store. I watched her walking up and down the aisle's for about 15 minutes looking for something. Having no luck she finally comes up to the counter sees me and asks "where do you keep the Red Blinker Juice"?
"The what" says I.
She told me that her back blinker for turning isn't working anymore and that Tom(my friend) sent her to the store to get a bottle of red blinker juice refill.
Turns out that he and some friends were working on her car and she kept bugging them wanting to help, so he decided to get rid of her for awhile.
I did call and warn him that she was on the way home when she left.

Another good one was when car auto starters first came out. Being in Canada these things sold like crazy, everybody wanted one for winter.
About 2 months into winter we noticed that we were selling about 5x the number of windshield wiper motors than usual.
Turns out that nobody was reading the manual that came with the starters. They'd drive home with thier wipers going and shutoff the car. The next morning the wipers would be frozen to the windshield, the person would use the auto-start, the wipers couldn't move and the motors would burn out.
Good deal for us.
2004-12-20 12:19:23 PM  
This is one of my funnier car sagas. I've got a bunch. Most are driving related, a few are mechanically inclined.

I've been told multiple times, "damn, you scare the hell out of me with your driving but you're the best I've ever seen!" by first time passengers. Guess growing up in Florida does that to ya.. heh. My top driving accomplishment as of yet - driving 3,600 miles across the country in 3.5 days from Orlando to Portland in my '78 Mercury Grand Marquis with the help of a lot of Siberian ginseng. (Another story.) This one is a 2-part story, so dig in!

Case in point: In 1998 my friend who had just bought a '79 Ford Thunderbird with a rebuilt 5.0 motor, ice cold AC, cherry interior (in almost perfect condition) and decent peachy-flesh colored paint job. This car would Ride. One night, he and another mutual friend were driving around drunk on I-4 after buying big sandwiches (duhhh). While adding on the condiments, my friend's eyes dart below the dashboard ... and he drives off the highway, plowing right through a tall metal light pole, knocking it clean over and dropping the car's front bumper.

The impact knocked my other friend face-first into the windshield since he had no seatbelt on (duhh x 2). This caused a nice spiderweb effect on the glass. With no major damage to my friend's face or the car, they simply pull out of there in reverse and then haul ass on the highway to avoid the dreaded FHP.

He takes the car to a mechanic, telling him what happened. Of course, since it sounds dramatic the guy tells him the front end is toast and it's going to be $3,000 to fix it. "The frame is bent".

... fast forward about a year later. I go to the guy and tell him I'll take the car off of his hands for $200.00. He agreed. I took it down to Firestone and had them do an alignment on it - the car drove straight as an arrow and there was now a need for a Bumper. With some help I ended up putting 2 4"x4" pressure-treated timbers stacked on top of each other on this baby using some serious lag bolts. Nice and heavy. Underneath the car I saw 2 strange triangle-like pieces of metal which sort of looked like this:


and were just attached to the body. Couldn't figure what they were for - my best guess as to draw ice away from the front wheels, maybe (?).

I decided that they would be great as metal spikes on the front bumper! oh yeah. A real cowcatcher, now. People would really trip out over this car.

Anyway I drove the car around happily for several months. Loved it. I could hang out the window all I wanted and it would just roll straight on down the line.

One night after working late I was just joyriding around ... I hear this hissing sound and my headlights starting narrowing. I pulled over and figured out the the vacuum dashpots that hold open the T-bird's 'eyelids' over the headlights were going out and it wouldn't be long before the 'eyes' were closed. So, I dutifully applied some good ol' duct tape from the trunk and they held open fine for the time being.

Being stubborn and not wanting to halt my joyride, I kept driving around. Coming back near my house I decided I wanted to go buy some beer to go with my smoke (oh yes!) and then the duct tape slipped a bit and the lights narrowed again. I stopped in front of my house and left it in park with the engine running. I fixed the duct tape and then remembered my money was inside the house ...

I decided to just reach inside the car and shut it off while I went inside. The problem was, when I went to turn the key, I bumped the shift lever, which was very sensitive, and *somehow* it went all the day down to Drive! The car had a high idle speed, and starts taking off quick ... I try running next to it, holding onto the seatbelt, trying to jump inside and shut it off or get it in neutral or Something!! Soon the car was moving too fast and I was left to just run behind it, chasing it down the road cussing and yelling.

Remember that perfect alignment I mentioned before? The car started to bear to the right just _slightly_ and point it at my neighbor's new truck. AAaaa! Even louder screaming and cussing while running my ass down the road after it.

It barely missed the truck and planted itself in a ditch in front of a neighbor's house, utterly wiping out their mailbox and tearing up their lawn with the "cowcatcher" in the process. It was in steeply enough that one rear wheel was in the air, still dutifully spun by powertrain. I climbed inside thinking I might have some slight chance of backing it out since one wheel was still on the ground. I put it in reverse and gently tried backing up .. I got a little movement but a very hesitant click-click-click from the rear differential.

I hopped out, and being very pissed at this point figured "I'll take care of it in the morning" and went home to burn my sorrows away.

I probably should have woken someone up at the place it landed in front of, but instead I saw myself driving my 4WD '71 Cadillac down there ('76 Suburban chassis and gear underneath) and pulling it home. "Nah, these people won't mind that my crazy machine is lodged in their plot!", I said to myself.

Wrong. Early in the morning I head down there and see the car's gone ... I just went home and called up FHP, and yes, they had towed the car to an impound yard, and yes, I had a ticket for reckless driving (add one onto the pile). The little kid that lived at the house that the T-bird landed itself in front of would always look at me so crazy when I would drive by! I think that he liked seeing the car in his ditch and then seeing it driving around like it was no big deal. Why yes, I am a most suitable role model for today's youth! The stuffy 'rents, on the other hand, would give me this cold glare. Ooo!! Scary!

So I went down to the impound yard and checked out my ride. It had sod, dirt and grass stuck in weird places all over it. I started it up and tested all the gears in the impound yard - no problems! Try doing *that* with your crappy modern car! I paid a few hundred dollars and got it out.

The car was going great until July 10th, 1999 when I was broadsided by some Chinese guy in a 1-ton Ford van who ran a red light under an I-4 bridge at about 65 MPH and slammed into the front left fender.

He hit me so hard the rear end of the car jumped to the left and actually smacked into the side of his van. I had a bit of whiplash after that, and it threw off my hat and glasses, no less. My friends were behind me in some mid-80s POS Chevy Cavalier ... If they had been the ones to get hit like that, they probably would have been killed or seriously injured. I was glad he didn't hit me in the driver door, that's for sure. The impact snapped the wheel right off the axle and damaged the engine beyond repair.

So it went to The Great Junkyard In The Sky to become a parts car. I used the $800 the insurance company gave me for it to buy a 1977 Chrysler Cordoba for $300 and a new set of all terrain tires for it. Damn that car was fun to drive in the woods, but that's another tale.

Note: I currently have my license suspended several different ways in 3 states, but I'LL BE BACK ... heheh. My girl drives me around everywhere (I love her to death) and she always says "I can't wait for you to drive again!" hahaha. She's seen me drive across the country and can't wait to do it again. BUT, I do not drive drunk under any circumstances. I may be pretty crazy behind the wheel, but not *that* kind of crazy.

To be honest, I really am good at driving - sometimes just a little too fast and crazy for the local lawman. I've been in * 9 * car collisions, and just 1 was my fault. I ran into the back of a giant cube van in aforementioned Cordoba at about 5-10 MPH during rush hour on Valentine's Day 2001 because my girlfriend at the time was ... _distracting_ me. Oh, how I love life!! AND DRIVING!!!! AAARRRRRHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHHAAHHAHAHAHAAAAAA !

2004-12-20 12:20:58 PM  
I worked for a boat dealership and we had a boat show in a nearby town about 20 minutes south of our shop via interstate 57. One of our guys was supposed to take a small pontoon to it. He was the type of guy who works very fast but doesn't always get all the steps completed in a project. He backed the pontoon trailer under the pontoon, jacked it up and then ran off to do another task before leaving for the show. Long story short he takes off without strapping the pontoon down. He gets about half way to the show and as he hops over a small hill on the interstate the wind hits the deck of the pontoon and it flys off the trailer. Amazingly enough it bounced twice and slid to a stop almost directly in line with the interstate. Our guy stops, cranks the trailer down, gets the pontoon back on it and heads for town again like nothings wrong. Manitou makes strong pontoons.
2004-12-20 12:22:02 PM  
I once had a job installing mobile telephones. This was before cellular phones. I had mounted the radio in the trunk of a nice new Jaguar and had run the power cables up to the engine compartment. Normally we would connect the cable directly to the battery. But I found a nice convenient stud on the firewall that was connected to the battery. Well, the socket I was using to loosen the nut slipped and shorted to the fuel injection manifold. This arced a hole in the manifold and sprayed fuel all over the firewall. The spark also ignited the fuel. So, I had just set fire to a 60K automobile. I quickly grabbed the fire extinguisher and put it out before there was any damage. We patched the hole and took the car down to the car wash. The guy was impressed that we installed his phine and even had his car washed. We just smiled and told him it was part of our service.

Always disconnect the negative battery lead FIRST!
2004-12-20 12:28:32 PM  
Not car-related, but in metal shop (which I totally sucked at), I once didn`t check if the tip of the oxy-acetiline torch was screwed on tightly before lighting it up. It made a huge ball of fire come out the end, and I dropped it and ran away. The shop teacher came running over, laughed at me, and carefully turned it off. Yeah, I didn`t get a good grade in that class.
2004-12-20 12:30:25 PM  
This is a pretty funny scenario, but would have been much funnier to anyone who may have witnessed it....

I was driving my grandmother's car, and holding my cigarette in my left hand (easy access to window for ashing), while said hand rested on the steering wheel. Well, I hit a bump, and dropped the cig into the steering column...not sure what to call it, but there is a hole down there (at least in mazda proteges) and the cig was no longer visible...but the smoke was.

So, I did the only thing I knew to do...I released the tilt steering, and slammed the steering column up and down until i could assume the cigarette was out.

Never told my grandmother, and actually did it again another time.

/wondering how many cigs are in there....
2004-12-20 12:31:28 PM  
This happened to my friend - honestly. He bought his first new car - a 85 Mustang. Not long after having his new vehicle, he finally got the nerve to ask this hot chick out on a date. From what I am told, the evening was going VERY well. So well, in fact, that they were going to go and find a secluded place and test the springs in the back seat. After leaving the bar, my friend and his now horny date, got in the car, he put the key in the ignition, turned the key, and nothing happened. The car would not turn over. Not a sound - not even a click. Just dead silence. Fearing major embarrassment, my friend popped the hood to see if there was something wrong (not that would help because he knew dick about cars). After 15 minutes of turning the key, looking under the hood, fiddling with wires, he decided it would be best to call his father. His father showed up 15 minutes later and did all the same things my friend did because he is even more useless when it comes to cars. All this time the hot and horny chick was starting to cool off. Knowing that what once promised to be a rewarding evening was slipping away, my friend was starting to panic. He wasn't concerned about the car being busted, he was worried that he was going to miss out on some dunkin' donuts this evening. Anyhow, his father finally conceded that he couldn't fix the car so he called CAA (the same as AAA in the States). At this point 45 minutes has passed since leaving the bar. 20 minutes later, CAA showed up. They explained the problem to the driver, told him what they had done, and said they were at a lost as to why the car wouldn't start. The driver went over the car, got inside and started the car immediately. Dumbfounded, my friend and his father looked at each and then looked at my friends hot (now every cold) date and asked the driver what sort of magic did he just conjure up. His response, he moved the gearshift from Drive and put it back into "Park". The 'Hot Chick' never went out on a date with him again, my friend decided to take some night courses on cars; his dad still gets the dealer to change his wiper blades.
2004-12-20 12:31:39 PM  
When I loaded the bodies in the trunk of the caddy, I forgot to put down plastic to catch the blood.
2004-12-20 12:31:50 PM  
I remember driving the tank of an Oldsmobile (Cutlass) to Drivers Ed with Grandpa in the front with me and Grandma in the back. Grandpa needed to stop at the local auto store, so he had me pull into the parking lot. He then instructed me to push the brake, which I got confused with the gas (hey- I was learning)! We went thru the front window of the business; took out the whole front of the store and the security system. It was classic; right after we stop, Grandpa turns to me and says "No- I said the brake". I was mortified and vowed I never wanted to drive again. Grandpa, however, made me back it out and, after talking with the auto shop owner, made me drive the car to Drivers Ed. I couldn't stop shaking the entire day and my family STILL won't let me live it down. I am now a licensed private pilot, so I'm glad I learned that whole don't-give-up lesson.
/love my Grandpa
2004-12-20 12:35:49 PM  
Back when I was a teenager, I took my Camaro out to a friend's house to change the oil. His family lived in a very fancy house in the best neighborhood in town. So we changed the oil in his driveway, and of course I forgot to put the drain plug back in. (Blame the weed we were smoking...) We had to scrub for two days to clean the mess off his driveway.
2004-12-20 12:43:00 PM  

For my part I've been in 4 wrecks with 3 cars. (That's right folks, I've managed to wreck on car twice.) To my credit, the first wreck was from a sinkhole in the road. And the last wreck caused only cosmetic damage to my brand new car.

And me wonders why I let the wife drive all the time...

2004-12-20 12:47:15 PM  
Broke a spark plug off on my Sunbird. Then, when I tried to extract the remaining part of the plug, just threads mostly), it fell INTO the engine. I almost went insane.

Luckily I found a decent mechanic who somehow got the plug and the metal schards out of the engine for about $300.
2004-12-20 12:53:57 PM  
2004-12-20 09:42:13 AM discopope


And just like the christmas wreath, my christmas spirit would never be found again.

Best line yet.

My stories...

Worst mechanical mistake was not mine, but rather my tendency to trust others. I had a mechanic (supposed bimmer/benz specialist) check out a grey model (german only model - imported) bimmer before I started regularly driving it. Mechanic says everything is fine, and I start enjoying the best car I have ever driven. Little do I know that among the items checked on this car is not the timing belt. On an E30 bimmer you have to be very careful to change the timing belt regularly. With probably 100k+ miles on this belt (unbeknownst to me) it breaks while I am doing about 65. When my dad and I get the engine apart we find valves stuck through two of the pistons. It is a grey model, there are only a few other cars in the country, and no spare engines this side of the atlantic. I cried for that car.

My best recovery consisted of me spinning out on a snowy road doing 40 mph in morning rush hour in Northern VA. I recovered it doing 30 mph in reverse, staring at the people who had been following me. They all slowed to a stop and let me do my 3 point turn and continue on my way. I was shaking something fierce when I got to work, but it was a damn fine recovery (ignoring the fact that my dumb arse was driving too fast to begin with).
2004-12-20 12:56:54 PM  
British and barc0001: my dad bought me a 1979 Triumph Spitfire when I was 16. I suspect it was his idea of keeping his 16-year-old daughter off the road.

During my first drive in that car with Dad, we were cruising down the street with the top down, having a blast. Suddenly I noticed some small round objects bouncing away from the driver's side of the car and skittering across the road. I didn't think anything of it until the car convulsed violently, then lurched off the road, stopping short of a chain link fence. The front driver's side wheel had fallen off. Those "small round objects" were lugnuts. Lesson: never put plastic washers behind the lugnuts.

Also, one of its finest quirks was the crossed wires in the steering wheel, which made it the horn honk frantically every time I turned a corner.
2004-12-20 01:01:39 PM  
Was working on my Pontiac Firefly changing the oil when the wrench slipped and I whacked my wrist on an underside corner of the frame. Hurt like hell so I climb out from under the car and try to shake it off, which is when I realize I've painted a stripe down the side of my car.. The sharp corner had gone into my wrist and hit a pretty good sized vein because the blood was just pouring out. Being the rocket-scientist that I was, I tried to tie my arm off with my belt and drive myself to the hospital. Got about two blocks before I started to pass out and managed to flag the next car that came by down to call for an ambulance... duh...
2004-12-20 01:05:31 PM  
I tried to rebuild the engine of a 67 Cougar GT (390 4bbl) when I was fifteen, wtihout any real knowledge of what I was doing. Took pistons out from underneath, figuring I could get away with just doing hte rings and rod bearings.
The real problem was the twisted crankshaft (from years of brake torque burnouts , no doubt). Blew it up on the highway doing a hundo the very first time we took it out.
Damn shame, a car like that would be worth a fortune now.

Also very much endeared myself to my first real girlfriend by enthusiastically trying to leave a drive-in theatre by going over rather than along the ridged areas too quickly in a 71 Dodge Charger. Bounce ripped off the muffler which twisted round and put a hole in the gas tank. I had to soak my best disco era duds in gasoline lying under the thing to tear the reamins of the muffler off. Then fretted all the way home about the trail of leaked gas I was leaving, visions of a stray match igniting it and me having to race the flame.

Carol, if by any chance you read this, I am sorry and I still love you. Damn, that girl could kiss.
2004-12-20 01:06:09 PM  
I bought my first car in 1982, a '76 Ford Mustang II, with a manual transmission. Since I didn't know how to drive the car I asked my dad to back it up the driveway for me so I could wash it. He jumps in and starts to back the car up the drive, he lets the cluch pop out and the car comes screaming up the drive....he never shut the driver's door when he got in. The door hits a stump on the side of the driveway and completely rips off the car and crashes on the hood of the car.

The car spent 2 weeks at the body shop before I ever got to drive it. Then for the next two years I continued to abuse that poor car....poor ole car.

2004-12-20 01:06:18 PM  
Did you know that brake fluid is flammable?

I was topping off the master cylinder in my dad's 1982 Toyota Corolla wagon which was still hot from use.

As I poured some fluid from the bottle into the master cylinder, I must have spilled a bit onto the exhaust manifold. Not realizing that I spilled fluid and hearing a sizzling sound, I bent over to see what was up.

Damn near lost my eyebrows when the sizzle turned into a flash of flame which went out as quickly as it started. No damage other than to my underwear...
2004-12-20 01:08:19 PM  
Last summer my dad and I made a trip out to Kansas from Indiana. Along the way, my alternator seized up and snapped a belt. We got it towed to the nearest shop, and the owner tells us that it'll take three days to get the car back. It'd take at least a day just to get the alternator.

My dad has to be at a meeting at 7 am the next morning. So he plays his ace in the hole. "Well, I'm a traveling man and just hoped that maybe we could work something out." (Secret Freemason code omgwtf!)

Bingo. We were back on the road in six hours. He had one of his mechanics personally drive 60 miles to pick up an alternator for my car. On our way back to Indiana we got together with the guy and treated him to dinner.

Apparently, the Illuminati spends most of its time dealing with minor mechanical malfunctions.
2004-12-20 01:09:47 PM  
I also had a Ford Fiesta fall on my ankle and pin me while I was changing brake pads.

I yelled, for the only time in my life, "Help!" because I couldn't lift the car off my ankle. That left a mark.
2004-12-20 01:11:14 PM  
True story: not quite mechanical, but carical.

I once rented a car in CA, while suffering both terrible guts' ache and severe allergies. Later that day, I went back to the rental lot to drop off the car, feeling very sorry for myself. I had to join a line waiting to have the car inspected, fuel level checked, etc., etc. My guts were killing me so, just as one of the "checkers" strolled over, I took a huge, and I mean huge, swig of peptobismol. Unfortunately, I also had an uncontrolable urge to sneeze at that very second. Accordingly, I sprayed the inside of the windshield and much of the front interior of the car with pink slime (snot+pepto), while the checker looked on in astonishment. Realizing the total "Me-ness" of the situation, I then burst into hysterical laughter.

He was pretty good about it really, after I had grovelled, explained what had happened, and it cleaned it up as best I could.
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