Sometimes your car thinks that it is just too much and decides to take a nap. Or die. In the middle of gridlock traffic, in the middle of nowhere. Or it decides to just stay home. You then need to take your car to the shop.
In this story we will tell you tales of horror from real car mechanics. Here are the best examples of “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade” moments. The original article is from Popular Mechanics. Enjoy!
A defect can cause other defects
“Air conditioning systems are supposed to keep you cool, but when they go bad fixing them can be anything but. I had to remove a Toyota’s entire dashboard to get at a failed AC evaporator–in 100 degree heat. The culprit? A few metal shavings got inside the evaporator from a manufacturing defect. I gotta say I spent a few extra minutes in the car verifying the fix once I was done.”
-Kevin D, San Jose, CA
Zip ties are for BDSM. Not engines.
“My customer told me that he had to jump start his car almost every day, and swore it was because his alternator was bad. The local parts store told him the same story and tried to sell him a new one. I popped the hood and solved the problem in about 10 seconds. Both battery terminals were loose, and the B+ cable was zip-tied in place! I replaced the missing bolt and tightened both ends down. Not surprisingly, the car fired right up.”
-Alex B., Grand Prairie, TX
Curse of The Black Pearl
“Exhaust systems filter out some nasty stuff, but I’d never seen one this bad. After a quick test drive I verified that the car was down on power and making a rattling noise, common symptoms of a failing catalytic converter. I dropped the part to take a closer look, and as I did something fell out of the pipe: a rock-hard log of built-up carbon that had formed around a broken filter element. It was kind of like a pearl, except completely black and not worth a penny.”
-Chris C., Spring Hill, FL
Give Your Brakes A Break
“A dangerous car problem I see all the time is brake pads and rotors worn beyond belief. Most people are good about replacing pads when they start to squeal, but others keep driving until they can barely stop at a red light. I’ve seen rotors worn down to the vanes, or so rusted that they snapped off the carrier. A few times I’ve replaced pads worn past the metal backing so the piston was the braking surface. It’s crazy how people play with their safety like that.”
-Shaun F., Phoenix, AZ
“Changing a car’s oil and oil filter is supposed to be easy–a seasoned technician could do it in their sleep. Usually the filter unscrews by hand or with a wrench, but whoever installed the filter on one particular Escalade I worked on forgot to lubricate the gasket, and it felt like it was glued to the engine. I had to punch through it with screwdrivers to get enough grip. By the time I finished I was covered in oil. It’s the simplest mistakes that cause the biggest problems.”
-Chris A., San Diego, CA
Test. Not Diagnose.
“Sometimes I’m reminded why it’s smart to get a second opinion. Before the customer booked with me, a specialized shop diagnosed her transmission as having no fluid pressure and immediately recommended replacing the entire unit. All I had to do to get it shifting again was replace the fluid and clogged filter. ‘Diagnose because you know’ rarely works – good mechanics take a closer look to verify the problem.”
-Bret M., Concord, CA
Glad 2B Alive
“It’s always wise to do a few basic checks before you head out for a road trip. I did an oil change on the car of a client who was about to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Mechanically the car was fine, but his tires were worn down to the threads. I told him to save his luck for the casino and get the tires replaced immediately. He could have had a blowout at any moment.”
-Ricardo H., Los Angeles, CA
Too. Darn. Hot.
“With decades of experience under my belt, I feel like there aren’t jobs that phase me anymore. But what I do feel are weather conditions that make working in the field miserable. In my area it’s normal to see summer temperatures well over 100 degrees–I saw 124 degrees on my dash recently. Still, I gotta do what I gotta do to get my customers’ cars in good shape.”
-Steven L., Glendale, AZ
Alternate Universe Alternator
“Some cars are like an onion: you have to peel back the layers to get to what you need. Alternator swaps are usually straightforward, but the job on this Volvo took over four hours. It’s buried at the bottom of the transversely-mounted engine, so I had to take off the front right wheel, get the brake out of the way, shift the suspension, pull out the drive axle, and move some fuel lines and heat shielding to access it. Then I had to wrestle the alternator through a tiny gap to get it out of the car. At least the charging problems were fixed once I was done.”
-Chris M, San Francisco, CA
“Usually, the more information I have the better, but this one didn’t take long to solve. All I knew going into this appointment was ‘Car overheats; won’t start; smoke coming from engine.’ When I popped the hood the source of the problems was instantly clear: a short to ground had fried the alternator terminals – they looked like burnt marshmallows. I’m glad I got to this car before the problem got any worse. Especially with cars, when there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
-Terry S., Tempe, AZ
The only thing we can leave is: Please, work with your mechanic. Tell them everything. Everything!