Duh moments while wrenching on vehicles

I’m thinking everyone has funny stories of things that happen while working on vehicles. Let’s hear yours. I’ll go first.

I was helping a buddy change his Diff fluid on his all wheel drive Tahoe. He mentioned he wanted to use Amsoil Severe gear even though it’s fairly expensive. My local Auto Parts store has it so I stopped in and bought four quarts of 75w90 synthetic at $23 CDN per quart.

We did the change but were short on the front diff. We didn’t want to spend the time to go get Amsoil, so we used what was in the corner of a garage and ended up diluting the $23 per quart Amsoil with this:

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2,267
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SD
When I was a teen, I had bought a '78 Datsun B210. I was teaching myself to wrench, and thought I'd tackle a thermostat replacement. Seems like I had to remove an idler pulley assy or something...anyway, got done and I was pretty proud of myself. Had the cooling system filled and went to start the car when I happened to notice the new thermostat laying there. Yep, I'd put it all back together without a thermostat!

JeffKeryk's story above reminds me of one my dad told me. In the early 70s, he bought a used '67 Barracuda. First time he changed a flat, 2 of the studs broke off. Yes, the previous owner had replaced some of them so that on the same wheel, there was a mixture of L and R.
 
I had just bought a V12 E-type Jag, a 4 speed manual. Got my trusty oil drain pan to do an oil change. Pulled the drain plug (which was safety wired!) and let gravity do its thing. Putzed around the garage getting the filter ready, etc.

Went back to the car to put the drain plug back in. The drain pan overflowed, making a gigantic 8 foot diameter mess. That big V12 held 12 quarts of oil.

It was pretty annoying,

Scott
 

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2,374
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Pennsylvania
Your Jag story happened to a friend of mine back in the 1960's. He had a big Jag to drive (actually his dads) but was told he had to do the maintenance on it. SO he put a four or five quart pan under and took out the drain plug. He did this on a cobblestone driveway. Same thing....oil all over the place but with the stones, the oil of course ran down between them. Ever after, every time it raine, oil would come to the surface and coat the stones. You could barely walk on that driveway for years without falling on your kiester!!
 
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Berks County/Pa.
About 5 years ago I was using my 2 foot Mag Lite flash lite working on my Ram. Forgot I left it in the engine bay and went for a rip up the road. Popped the hood when I got back and remembered I left it in the engine bay -- GONE!!!! Spun around and retracked my ride -- nowhere to be found.
 

wwillson

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Naperville, IL
I used to own a 2002 Chevy Suburban, which gave me 150,000 trouble free miles, literally the only thing that ever broke was the driver side window switch.

I did a spill and fill on the differentials about every 30,000 miles. One time when I went to loosen the front diff fill plug it was loose and had backed out about 1/2 way. I forgot to tighten it 30,000 miles before that. It did have a bit of leakage around the plug, but nothing ever dripped. Pure luck that I didn't ruin that front differential.
 
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1,829
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Virginia
Most recently when removing the engine from the '05 Outback we have in the family, I was having a hard time getting the studs on the back of the engine that go through the bell housing and the studs for the engine mounts to line up. I could get one or the other, but not both at the same time (which is kinda the only way to get the engine in). I was truly convinced that I had already loosened the pitch mount on top of the transmission, so I never bothered to double check. Instead I fought with it for over an hour.

My wife came out to help and pointed at the pitch mount (she's not a wrencher or gearhead by any means) and puts a wrench on it and is like "This thingy is still tight. Maybe it needs to be loosened up?"

Loosened it and the engine dropped right in. :mad:
 
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22,679
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Dallas,Tx USA
I remember putting a short shifter in my 300ZX. I dropped the socket down the hole in the transmission tunnel (the place the shifter mounts to). My girlfriend wasn't home at the time so I had to walk to the hardware store and buy a new socket haha. That socket probably still remains there to this day!! The short shifter ended up being replaced back with the factory shifter which was so much better.
 
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had to be back in the late 70's , had a chevy van with the dog box between the seats ...had it opened doing whatever it was I was doing ...needed another wrench , walked into the garage and when I went back out the van was 50 foot down the driveway up against a tree...seems I left it out of gear and no parking brake
 
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USA
3 years ago I replaced the LCAs, driver side axle and sway links on an '04 Sienna belonging to a family member. No one in the family wrenches....so it was me working by myself.

It was hot and I was tired by the time I got everything apart...as it was pretty physical work getting those lower control arms out. Had to raise the engine...blah blah blah.

In my delirious state I manged to install the LCAs on the wrong side, despite clearly being marked. Of course, I didn't notice it until everything was buttoned up and it was back on the ground. The front wheels had so much negative camber it looked like an old Ford Escort with 500 pounds of brick in the back. 4 hours wasted!

The cussing out in the garage alerted my wife that something wasn't right. She popped her head out. I explained angrily what I had done. She said, come on in for the night and work on it tomorrow.

Being the jackass that I am....I said no. I went in the house took 3 shots of Fireball and took my butt back out there. Another 3.5 hours later it was done.....again. My sure my neighbors loved my 1am wrenchin'. That old Chicago impact is loud!
 
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5,032
Location
NJ
A few years ago had a flat tire driving home from the airport. Just flew back from Italy and wasn't thinking clearly. Went righty tighty instead of lefty Lucy and snapped the stud on the side of the road. Finally got it changed and stopped at a local tire store to get it fixed. Guy said they didn't have a stud listed for a 2015 Camry in their book and it would be about $50+ to replace it if they could figure out what to use. Even though I was jet lagged and irritated with what I did and not thinking clearly, I knew what was way too expensive. Next day I went to AZ, bought a set of studs and easily replaced the broken one. Glad I saved the lug nut and threw it in the trunk instead of the woods.
 
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2,572
Location
Kentucky
I was replacing rear struts in my '96 Maxima a few years ago and I was having a lot of difficulty getting the last bolt out, the bottom one.

When I finally did get it out after a ton of cursing and frustration, that side of the car collapsed down on top of the axle. I stared it for a few moments wondering what the heck just happened.

Like a moron, I had placed the jack and stands at the bottom of the solid axle, so all I had accomplished was compressing the suspension and not really raising the vehicle. It's amazing I didn't damage anything on the car, I lifted the vehicle the right way, swapped the struts over and all was well.
 
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179
Location
SW Missouri
3 years ago I replaced the LCAs, driver side axle and sway links on an '04 Sienna belonging to a family member. No one in the family wrenches....so it was me working by myself.

It was hot and I was tired by the time I got everything apart...as it was pretty physical work getting those lower control arms out. Had to raise the engine...blah blah blah.

In my delirious state I manged to install the LCAs on the wrong side, despite clearly being marked. Of course, I didn't notice it until everything was buttoned up and it was back on the ground. The front wheels had so much negative camber it looked like an old Ford Escort with 500 pounds of brick in the back. 4 hours wasted!

The cussing out in the garage alerted my wife that something wasn't right. She popped her head out. I explained angrily what I had done. She said, come on in for the night and work on it tomorrow.

Being the jackass that I am....I said no. I went in the house took 3 shots of Fireball and took my butt back out there. Another 3.5 hours later it was done.....again. My sure my neighbors loved my 1am wrenchin'. That old Chicago impact is loud!
A few shots of Fireball always seems to take the edge off of whatever is going on does it?! Lol
 
Your Jag story happened to a friend of mine back in the 1960's. He had a big Jag to drive (actually his dads) but was told he had to do the maintenance on it. SO he put a four or five quart pan under and took out the drain plug. He did this on a cobblestone driveway. Same thing....oil all over the place but with the stones, the oil of course ran down between them. Ever after, every time it raine, oil would come to the surface and coat the stones. You could barely walk on that driveway for years without falling on your kiester!!
But the good thing is, weeds didn't grow in the spill area.

Good stories all.

Scott
 
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14,333
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Central NY
In the late '70s a friends Olds (don't really remember) had a flat. I had to use all my young muscles to remove 1 of the lugs.
It snapped off. Turns out it had an "L" on it.

Ha! I almost went through that with one of my trailers! I bought a 1982 Coleman popup frame and converted it into a utility trailer. I have a 1986 Coleman popup that has regular threads on both sides.

Was putting a new wheel/tire on the left side of the 1982. Couldn't get the lugbolts to break lose. I got one to move a little, it turned a little then I couldn't get it to turn any more. I didn't want to try to tighten it, figuring it was so corroded up that if I tried to go the other way it would just snap and break.

Broke out the torch, heated them up and still couldn't get them to break lose! Ended up deciding to try tightening the one that I got to move to see if I could break it free and it spun right off.

My eyesight is pretty bad ... I didn't see the L on the lugbolt.
 
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5,042
Location
Los Gatos, CA
Ha! I almost went through that with one of my trailers! I bought a 1982 Coleman popup frame and converted it into a utility trailer. I have a 1986 Coleman popup that has regular threads on both sides.

Was putting a new wheel/tire on the left side of the 1982. Couldn't get the lugbolts to break lose. I got one to move a little, it turned a little then I couldn't get it to turn any more. I didn't want to try to tighten it, figuring it was so corroded up that if I tried to go the other way it would just snap and break.

Broke out the torch, heated them up and still couldn't get them to break lose! Ended up deciding to try tightening the one that I got to move to see if I could break it free and it spun right off.

My eyesight is pretty bad ... I didn't see the L on the lugbolt.
Great pic of John Prine. A National Treasure... Ray Charles is another.
 
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293
Location
Rochester, NY
About 5 years ago I was using my 2 foot Mag Lite flash lite working on my Ram. Forgot I left it in the engine bay and went for a rip up the road. Popped the hood when I got back and remembered I left it in the engine bay -- GONE!!!! Spun around and retracked my ride -- nowhere to be found.
I did the same thing... The Maglight was resting on one of the pullys and when I discovered it a few days later, it had a nice shiny ring on it. Still works!
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