Share your dumb maintenance errors!

Joined
Oct 17, 2014
Messages
1,947
Location
SW Ontario Canada
When I was a teenager working at the full service Chevron station, old Chev comes in needs both oil and water. I removed the oil cap from the straight 6 and the rad cap at same time...proceeded to pour 10W30 into the rad !! the two openings were lined right up the middle of the engine bay.....so the owner got a free cooling system flush.

Never did that again.

I was still in my teens, doing a waterpump on my grandfathers 1964 Chrysler New Yorker with the 413. Got it all done and was tightening the hose clamps, screwdriver slips from my hand and slides down into the rad and punctures a cooling tube. My dad made me pay to fix it, even when I was doing the WP for no labour charge.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2018
Messages
1,346
Location
Berks County/Pa.
As a teenager, changed the oil on a lady friend of mine. Purchased the wrong oil filter. Soon as it started -- I did not look under the car and almost all the oil drained out. Replaced the oil & filter on my dime. Now -- first thing I look at when I initially start the engine on a fresh oil change. Lesson learned!!!
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
12
Location
Vic, Australia
The best lessons learned are those leaned the hard way. This one (actually a series of 3 in the one event) is 30 years old and it has never be forgotten.

My wife, not long married, had a work Christmas function without partners so I decided to do some maintenance on a new to me 2nd hand car. I had done some of it immediately after purchase (engine oil and rear diff) but had left the manual transmission. I decided I had some time and our TV didn't work in any case so I drained the manual transmission. One of my mistakes that night, and one I have never repeated to this day, is that I drained the oil before cracking the fill point bolt. When I went to fill it not only did I find that I hadn't cracked the bolt but that the person who last did it (I bought the car 2nd hand) had rounded it. After much swearing and carry on I did get it off and got the tranny filled again but have NEVER again made the mistake of draining a compartment (engine, transmission, differential, transfer case etc.) without cracking the fill point.

2nd mistake that night was not having everything for the job laid out in the garage ready to go. I had left the manual transmission oil in the house. This would not normally present a problem but my internal door from garage to house slammed shut due to a gust of wind. Normally, not a problem but...the door handle lock must have been in the engaged/lock position. As I was the only one home, all other doors were locked. This would not have been a problem but my keys were with my wallet and new manual transmission oil in the (locked) house. Found a bathroom window was not closed but it was one of those small windows and I only just fit in to get into the house to get keys and the oil.

I eventually got everything done and at midnight picked up my wife from her function. I was still in a filthy mood, smelled of oil and told her not to ask any questions.

I have self serviced for more than 30 years now and I have never made those mistakes again. It was a series of unfortunate events but a lesson (or lessons) that was learned. I now lay out all tools, parts and oil out neatly before starting the job. I leave my keys in the centre console of the car and I always remove the fill point bolt before I do anything else.
 

Pew

Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Messages
1,507
Location
Illinois
My friend and I were replacing a bunch of parts in the passenger rear suspension of the Evo. I took off one of the bolts to the lower control arm and it swung down and he saw it early enough to move his face barely out of the way. I don't know how it didn't hit him actually.

Replacing rotors and pads on the evo and started on the driver front. For some unknown reason I decide to press on the brake pedal with the caliper off the car and pop came out the pistons. A 1 hour job turned into 3 days.

Not mine but a friend's story: he was replacing something on the rear diff of his Jeep XJ and only had his jeep in park with the e-brake off. The moment he took off the u-joint it started rolling down the driveway, ran over him, chased it down the driveway, tripped, and skinned his knee pretty bad (left a mark on the sidewalk LOL). The same friend got his finger crushed between a bottlejack and a car.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2005
Messages
247
Location
Montague, NJ
All these post bring back a lot of early day memories.
I was adjusting the brakes on my '64 Jetstar 88 and didn't have a brake spoon so I was using a flat blade screwdriver. I was spinning the tire using the screwdriver and it got wedged between the ground and the tire. Needless to say it went right through the old thin teenager worn bias tire.
 
Joined
Apr 22, 2018
Messages
1,147
Location
MA
I did the first OC at 5,000 miles on my wife's 2019 RX 350, the dealership did the second at 10,000 miles and I did the third at 15,000 miles. The jackass at the dealership overtightened the plastic oil filter cover (and I suspect did not lube the o-ring). When I went to remove it using a specialized adapter that fits perfectly, I needed to put so much force one of the stupid plastic pieces that fits into the adapter broke off. I was pissed off at this point and just wanted to get it done so I loaded up the new filter and O-rings and hand tightened the cover down until it hard stopped. I filled the engine with oil, got in, and started the car, and after about 20 seconds the low engine oil light came on. I shut the engine down and my 15-year-old tapped on the window to tell me there was oil coming out the bottom of the car. Yup, there was a hole in the cover. It was Sunday afternoon and the only oil filter cover I could find was nearly an hour away. My wife cleaned the 6 quarts of oil off the garage floor while I was gone and 3 hours into my 15 mins oil change I was right back where I started.

I will never let the dealership change the oil again and the RX 350 and Tundra both have metal oil filter covers now. I have changed the oil several times on both as well as some other Toyotas and never had any issue getting the oil filter cover off if I was the last person to put it on.
 
Joined
Mar 2, 2004
Messages
3,087
Location
Kentucky
I was replacing rear struts on my '96 Maxima. I had a heck of a time getting the bottom mounting bolt off, I finally resorted to screwing up the bolt and using a hammer to drive it out (thus ruining the threads) because it was so jammed in there.

Once it popped free, the whole suspension on that side came crashing down. Like an idiot, I had jacked the back of the car up using the rear axle (solid axle on this car) instead of the body. So the bolt was bearing all that weight which is why it was so stubborn.

I quickly realized what I'd done wrong and fortunately it only cost me a stripped bolt and a hit to my pride. Nothing was damaged in the process and I still have all my limbs and digits. I've since learned to jack once, check twice!
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2010
Messages
2,304
Location
california
Today, I went to replace my external fuel filter for a 15PSI TBI system. Unscrewed it from frame rail and some gas spit out the hose clamps.

Went and got my strong headlamp and some good reading glasses.

Looks like fuel has been soaking the frame rail.

The 5/16 flexible fuel line is done.

The rusty fuel injection hose clamps are bottomed out and I can easily spin the hose on the barbs, but not pull it from the barbs.
One section of hose appears way older than the other two. Same ID but different OD. Could be 1989 original hose.....

Had enough room to put an additional worm clamp or each spinning hose, and put it back together.

Ordered 5 feet of Gates barricade fuel injection hose, and all sorts of fuel injection hose clamps.

I should not have attempted to replace the filter without having closely inspected the hoses and clamps first.
Should have had all new parts in hand and saved myself the wasted time today.
 
Joined
Dec 10, 2013
Messages
743
Location
Kuala Lumpur ,Malaysia
Trying to remove my 3rd brake light held with 3M tape, I pried it with a small screwdriver, started realizing I could break the rear glass. I stopped Immediately, but did see a small smudge at the tape area where I pried, it looks like I dug into the tint film. I am still unsure If i have chipped the glass or its just the tint. I aint gonna remove the 3rd brake light just to find out.
 
Joined
Mar 3, 2021
Messages
21
Location
AZ
Late last year, did the brakes on new to me used car I just got, long story short, cross threaded one of the lugs when putting the tires back on. I found this out a few weeks later when I went to rotate the tires back on one side as they were when I took them off, thats when I learned of the cross thread. I wasnt sure if it was cross threaded or the cap on the 2 piece junk lugnuts came lose so I went full force using my drill( not impact) and snapped the stud .

Decided at that point it was best to take in to a shop, so on the short trip to the brake shop, the broken stud ended up snapping off a piece of the parking brake...I think it was the piece the cable attaches to and engages the parking brake.
 
Joined
Jan 4, 2016
Messages
1,629
Location
NC
My alternator went out on an IS300, and once car died I happened to be close enough to my job at the time, Autozone. So coasted with dead car into the parking lot. Removed the alternator and something sparked. Realized that I forgot to unplug the battery. Unplugged and continued the alternator replacement in the Autozone parking lot. With new alternator and reconnected battery cables the car started, but every single light, indicator, dash, were all dead. Turns out the spark that I saw earlier blew the main power fuse. That turned out to be harder job than the alternator replacement... But once all done - she was back to life as normal. Still don't understand how everything was dead, main power (100-150 amp?) fuse blown, but the car still started with the key... It did run weird though.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2019
Messages
44
Location
Athens, AL
I did the oil pump, pickup tube/screen and pan gasket on my 1996 f150 4.9L I6 2wd. Had to remove EGR and jack the engine to the firewall to get the pan off. Got the job done checking every step twice before moving on because this job was a royal pain and I didn’t want to go back in there. After finishing up and successful test drive I started cleaning up and found one nut left on my bench. I instantly knew it was the nut that secured the pick up tube to the block. It was torqued properly to the pump and wasn’t too long of a tube so I said forget it. I keep the nut at the top of my work bench as a reminder.
 
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
165
Location
Close to arctic circle
Once i actually forgot to put engine oil in during oil change, the oil lamp did not go away to my surprise. Then i realised what i have forgotten, turned engine right off and filled it up. Engine ran for few seconds so no real harm was done, vehicle served its purpose for many years before being retired.
 
Joined
May 9, 2010
Messages
2,922
Location
Illinois, U.S.A
I was replacing a door lock actuator and closed the door with all components (other than the latch) removed. That was a fun night...
 
Last edited:

MrLemonade

Thread starter
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
249
Location
USA
I was replacing a door lock actuator and closed the door with all components (other than the latch) removed. That was a fun night...

Reminds me of that time I was warming my car up in the driveway, and locked my keys inside. That was a fun wait for roadside to come and save me...
 
Joined
Jan 20, 2013
Messages
2,093
Location
Ontario, Canada
I almost lost my fingers on one hand changing a window motor in Ford. I wasn't paying attention while I was loosening the motor bolts while holding the regulator inside the scissors. I pulled them out at the last second. Idiot.
 
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