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"what I Did Wrong With My Car" Thread


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Thread about stuff we did that are totally dumb ^___^ or things we thought are true with our cars,..

Do tell,. So that others may learn =P

I guess i'll start,..aside from putting my brake pads in reverse,...Lemme take you back a couple of years,. When i was 5,.. I was convince that those pedals in my dads car are like bicycle pedals.. You have to push on them continuously left and right up and down to make the car move,.. (Pedal car) i didn't know that an engine makes it move,.. The vroom vroom sound was in my mind is just like when an elephant is running,.. Rants a lot,...something like that =P

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My shining moment was trying to force the retaining clips into place on a brand new $100 radiator by hammering on them. I thought the sides of the radiator were made of metal and could withstand the force. Come to find out they are plastic (painted with shiny enamel to look like metal) and I put a huge crack in it. Threw $100 down the drain, a very expensive lesson. Best part was ND28 walking out into the garage just in time to see me do it.

As with all mistakes though you live and learn from them. It's all part of gaining experience. Some learning experiences can be costly. Certainly the free "no harm no foul" ones are best but if you don't learn from them then you are apt to repeat them. The same could be said about all experiences in general.

Great idea for a topic Fade. Looking forward to reading about what others have done.

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just for future reference DJ, DO NOT tap anything on ANY radiator, even if it was metal you still run the chance of ruining the tanks.

oh the stupidest thing i ever done with one of my cars was, breaking the black trim peice that holds the switches to the dash on my mazda. i shoulda read your how-to DJ lol

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I agree.. great topic idea. :)

I've done a lot of dumb things, but I think my most embarassing mistake was.. shortly after the ZE went in my car I also changed the wheels (by myself) and the car was all shuddery and I was afraid it was a bum engine. Turns out I didn't tighten the lug nuts enough. It really made the whole car shake like it was gonna fall apart! LOL Thank goodness for the knowledgeable folks on this forum who set me straight. Boy, did I feel stupid though!

Something else I feel dumb about from when I first started driving.. (keep in mind, I got my permit in 1993).. I thought that the numbers for the octane of the gas meant the YEAR the gas was made.. i.e. "89" was gas from 1989, "91" from 1991, "93" from 1993. So the lower octane gas was cheaper because it was "old gas". I never really put much thought into it, and it wasn't until years later when I learned about octane that I realized my mistake. LOL

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I think the dumbest thing I did related to working on a car (not so much in that the mistake was just that blatantly stupid, but that the consequences were somewhat severe) was get careless with the routing of some wiring when installing an aftermarket H/U. I had to wire this thing directly to the battery, as the factory wiring in my VW wasn't thick enough to handle a modern stereo.

Needless to say, the wire got pinched when sliding the head unit into the cage (there wasn't any clearance at the back in the dashboard). It was OK for a few days, but on a ~2 hour road trip from home, I noticed my wipers started running reaaaallly slow in the rain, and my turn signal was blinking slower than usual...and it would sometimes stop. I parked it for a 1/2 hour, then came back outside to move it, and noticed the dashboard was wisping smoke through the ashtray (it had an ashtray that went into the top of the dash, right over the radio). I thought it was my imagination at first, but I don't smoke, and I could smell something burning as soon as I opened the door.

I popped the ashtray out, and could actually see flames burning away at the insulation of the power wire; it was like a candle wick, burning its way up the wire.

I leapt into action, and disconnected the battery (it was under the passenger seat...I always kept a set of tools under the back seat of the VW...it was a VW, and I learned that lesson early). I then huffed...and I puffed...and I blew out the fire (sorry...been reading nursery rhymes to the kiddo), and made sure it was out.

The worst part was it toasted the battery and the alternator, which were hard to find (had to order them from a specialized importer). I also had to try and drive it home (almost 2 hours) with no alternator...so I bought a fresh battery at Wally World, and of course my ignition/fuel pump ran out of juice about 20 minutes from home...had to call the 'rents, who came with another battery so I could limp it the rest of the way home.

So, I almost burned my VW down (if I had come out just 2 minutes later, the whole interior would have been ablaze), and cost myself several hundred $, because I got sloppy and wasn't careful about not pinching wiring. Not a mistake I plan to ever make again.

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I've been fairly lucky, but had a couple of instances. First was a routine oil change. Car up on ramps (X1 Hyundai Excel at the time), undo sump bolt, let oil drain into pan while I went inside for a coffee. Come back out, screw off old oil filter, apply thin film of fresh oil to gasket of new oil filter, screw on new oil filter, take oil filler cap off and pour new oil in. Guess who forgot to put the sump bolt back in? Well, at least it was only cheap 40W/70 oil, and the engine kind of got a flush in the process :P Have to keep my eye out with the FE engine as I unscrew it from above the engine, not from below like all other cars I've encountered (with the exception of the BMW 318i that has a screw off cartridge)

Talking of that BMW, it belonged to a former work colleague and her fiance. Her father disapproved of the engagement, assaulted her and kicked her and her other half out. They decided to drive to Sydney (1000KM, 620mi) with effectively the clothes on their backs but didn't think her car would be up to the trip, and couldn't afford a mechanic to look at it. I changed the oil, filter, plugs, passed on leads (A$430 for four freaking leads... aftermarket at that!) and fixed a leaking brake hose for them. My wife gave them some food and supplies and I went to test drive the car. Well, it was stumbling and hesitating like a mofo. Idled fine, but accelerate from a stop and it was shuddering kind of like a cross between an electrical and fuel issue. Once a certain RPM was reached everything was fine. Turns out moron me temporarily removed the HAI hose from the snorkel to access something better and forgot to reattach it. The AFM had a cardiac arrest trying to accurately detect the air amount :(

Another couple have been witnessed helping others on the side of the road. When I was working in Stanthorpe I passed an AR Telstar with its hood up on the side of the road. As Tank is essentially the same car, I spun around to see if he was OK. Young guy, P Plater, had an electrical problem. He had the brilliant idea of taking all the ignition leads off simultaneously and couldn't get the firing order right again :lol: It turned out to be a bum lead to #3 cylinder, as the one on Tank stopped the jolting on his car. Another was a poor Korean backpacker that had bought a "bargain" AU Falcon for $500, complete with RWC done only three weeks ago. Stopped on the side of the highway. Had a look under the hood... and backed away. Electrical wiring exposed, more oil leaks than the Exxon Valdez and no coolant in the radiator. He didn't understand what he had done wrong. When I explained to him that he was ripped off by a dodgy mechanic and that people in rural Australia tend to buy Japanese and Korean made cars instead. He asked why. I then had a lengthy chat with him about how Australian production line workers treat it as "just a job" and there's no culture of perfection like in North Asia, that reflects on longevity and reliability. Helped him get in contact with the Department of Transport to dob in the mechanic, as alll RWC inspections are valid for two months.

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Darn,.. Now i know im not the only one who forget stuff,..=P

Had this one time when i decided to engine wash my car,. I was very careful about water getting into the disty,.. So i removed all the plug wires from the disty and wrapped it in plastic then towels then more plastic,.. Tied everything at the base then proceeded at blasting the whole engine with my new pressure washer (all the while laughing maniacally---- cant help it)

After two hours of scrubbing,.. I went and washed it down pat everything dry (even used a blower =P) and put it back together,..^___^

Then i decided to drive around just for fun,..but after me engine started,.. It splutters then died,. Tried restarting but it would only turn the starter,.. I turned the key so many times i killed the battery,.. Even borrowed my dad's battery,.. I was almost at the brink of insanity,.. I think i also flooded the cylinders too,.. I was like "whaaaaat the helll!?!" The whole day,..trying to figure out the problem,.. i even went and thought of the ECU having probs or the sensors,.i almost took everything i can remove from the engine bay,..

Then my brother walked by and ask what i was doing,..so i told him,.. Then he turned the key,.. Same thing happened,.. Then he went infront of the engine bay,..removed my plug wires,.. Blow on them at both ends,.. Blown on the disty and reset,.. Turned the key and it started like nothing happened,...................

"Your plug wires are wet,..."

I was like,...

O.o eh?

Felt really dumb,.. I was so concerned about not letting the disty get wet i forgot to not let the actual plug wires get wet,.. >___<

I was so embarrassed,. I coulden't open the engine bay again for the next four weeks after that XD

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Can you get plug wires that form a better seal Fade? I pressure clean my engine bay all the time and there's never an electrical issue... I'm using Bosch ignition leads.

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I've done lots of wrong things. The most memorable was when I was rebuilding my 289. It was the first engine rebuild I had attempted and a Chevy guy was helping me. Seems there are some differences between Ford and Chevy with one key difference being the thrust bearing for the crank. He told me where it should go and it didn't fit. Hammer time and a couple of minutes later, I realized this couldn't be right. I ruined the thrust bearing and had to buy another set. I learned that if you have to force something into place without the knowledge of knowing that you have to, it isn't a good idea.

Another one that didn't end badly, but could have easily done so was when I ran the 1 or 2 gauge wire to my trunk for a battery relocation. I drilled through the firewall without really paying attention to what could be on the other side. I lucked out and ran the cable. Probably should have thrown a rubber grommet in the hole, but jagged metal is just as good. It didn't dig through the wire, but I can only imagine if my main cable ground out.

And finally a recent one with the Miata. My front timing covers were dirty as hell from the various oil leaks. I decided I should wash it. I know, I'll use hot water! I didn't understand why they wouldn't fit anymore until I realized the hot water warped the plastic. I had to order another set from Mazda.

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Can you get plug wires that form a better seal Fade? I pressure clean my engine bay all the time and there's never an electrical issue... I'm using Bosch ignition leads.

The seal wasn't the issue =P since it was disconnected,.. I should have covered the ends after removing them,..hmmm that is sort of the lesson there >__<

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About 10 years ago I drilled a hole in my dash bezel which you can still see to this day. I installed a switch to power a red neon light under the passenger glove box area. Got the wires mixed up when installing the switch and wired it up so that the switch shorted out the first try. All of the wiring from the neon light to the switch and then through the firewall to the battery terminal cauterized itself in a puff of smoke. I basically turned all of the wiring into a superheated defroster line. The wiring melted the plastic on them and then got so hot they turned red light a light bulb filament. The car filled with smoke in about 5 seconds so thick that you couldn't see anything. It took me about 10-20 seconds before disconnecting the battery. That is what happens when you get your + and - backwards on a switch being fed directly from the battery without any fuses or diodes in the line.

Pretty much looked like this for about a minute. All because I was trying to install a neon light and a switch on the dash.

img-365330-1-Smoking-car-w1.jpg

The switch and lighting were never in any way connected to any of the fuses or circuitry of the car. I have no worries about that day doing any damage to my PCM or anything like that. Luckily I kept it separated from the cars electrical system.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just spent a day installing a new fuel pump in the car only to find out that it didn't work. I assumed it was a DOA fuel pump but no... I forgot to plug the connector on the pump to the assembly before installing it into the tank. Wasted 6 hours but hey I'm a pro at dropping the fuel tank now.

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Not about my car,.. But,. I spent the whole day dismantling mier (125cc motorcycle) coz i cant make her start,.. After about six hours,. I found out i forgot to turn on the safety switch >___< darn

That's whatcha get for not eating breakfast

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Well this morning, bleary eyed, I woke up for work. We're experiencing a record cold snap here, this morning was the coldest morning since records began 130 years ago - 7 below zero. Tried starting a carburetted engine in that? In my tired stupor, I incorrectly diagnosed the problem. Turn the key, nothing, no click, no nothing. Blamed the battery. Jumped off the missus' Elantra... nothing. Then idiot me realised the no click was the starter motor. Had a tantrum at 5:45AM and threw at a ratchet at it. Tank fired up! :sleep:

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rod through the oil pan in a Lexus ES300 completely destroying the engine =3=

Why was the rod through the oil pan?

funny story. the engine had an awful ticking sound. theres a garage literally 500ft down the street, but instead of towing it i decided to drive it down. the car died after driving 200ft. ended up having to get it towed for the next 300ft. the garage mechanic was the one that stated i made a hole straight through the engine and thru the oil pan--this ending its life. shame too, it was a comfortable car.

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Some of these are familiar moments... Then there's this...

I had a Suzuki Swift, and the front struts were shot. I could get them replaced on warranty, but I had installed them myself. Properly. Using all the proper tools one is supposed to use when removing springs from struts. So I got these replacement struts to put in from the parts store, and another place has tools for borrow, but the spring compressor was out on loan for the weekend.

Using a complex and utterly unsane and insafe combination of bearing pullers, 2x4s, snipes, levers and other amazing tools like our sharp wits after a dozen beer, my friend PJ and I decided we could change my struts. Screw the spring compressor...

We got it done. We bounced a strut nut off the roof at a jillion miles an hour once (even made kind of a ricochet sound), and then we

got more cautious, and the contraption slipped once more even after the hasty in-field re-engineering in the middle of the night. Damn lucky we didn't take our heads off.

-

I also changed the cv shafts on that car one winter. In January. On the street. 10pm and it was -30C. Not particularly dumb, but not particularly fun either.

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Yeah count me out on that lunacy. Lucky you didn't get injured or killed. Now you know just how much force is applied to those struts and how fast they will shoot off of there. It's like a shotgun.

Here's a good video that shows just how much force is behind that strut tower and why you absolutely want spring compressors. They made this video on purpose to show their rookie "what not to do and why". This was actually part of a lesson and thankfully everyone else in the world can learn from it too. I'm glad they made the video because it's the only example like it that shows how much force a spring is loaded with. You can always tell people what not to do but they'll always be curious as to why until they see it for themselves. This is why when ND28 and I shot the video on installing new struts we both approached that project with the proper amount of respect for the spring. Respect the spring because it can kill you.

Thanks for sharing the story. That must have been one hell of a show in the garage. Glad no one got hurt. Learn your lesson? :P

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I will probably recall more later but my most recent debacle was deciding to finish changing my daughters break pads after it got dark with a barley working flash light rather than finding or getting a good one. I put one of her pads on backwards . Thankfully she notice it immediately , I turned it the right way round , no damage done ......Still embarrassing . Ahh another one , I was drilling a small hole in my radiator support and drilled right into the wiring harness ......poor lil MX6 would try to start itself with any movement of the key/switch and the starter would keep running. I finally realized what had happened and repaired the harness .

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