Share your worst repair screw ups

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    Sang Kimskim3544

      I admit that I screwed up last week and I found the alternator mounting bolt on the floor this morning for my Maxima.

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    • #453921

        1998 town and country front strut replacement. after removing the front strut i let the wheel hub just drop resulting in the axel being ripped out of the transmission with all the fluid draining out all over the parking lot.

        1997 Chevy cavalier top radiator hose replacement. i was having trouble removing the hose clamp due to limited place and the clamp was facing down. i climbed under the car to get a better angle on the clamp. i meant to just remove the clamp and then climb out from under the car to remove the hose but when i removed the clamp the whole hose came off as a result i took a face full antifreeze. not a very pleasant day.

        1992 Chevy beretta cylinder head removal. as i was removing one of the bolts out of the side of the block (cant remember the exact bolt i think it might have been water pump.) i ended up rounded to the head of the bolt with a 6 pt socket. i was using a 15mm when i should have been using a 14mm.


          well to be honest i’m still a tad new to the field despite the advanced things that i am able to do lmao,

          Oldsmobile cutlass supreme brougham – this was my first time ever working on a car trying to replace a fuel filter (keep in mind that the engine has a carb)
          i felt like a complete moron because i did not see the second bolt which was covered by wires, i turned the big bolt at the base of the carburetor and in turn i twisted the hell out of the fuel line that went from the fuel pump to the carb and had to get a new fuel line lol about the only real screwup i have had so far, i am not saying i wont make any in the future because its natural that everyone has an “OFF” day


            200? Mercury Sable: Replacing the steering rack, as the old one developed a large crack somehow. Spent nearly half a day trying to loosen the lines attaching the PS pump to the rack using a prybar and a crow’s-foot wrench. Found out that if I had simply lowered the subframe a whopping two inches I would have been able to just a regular line wrench on the lines and would have had the rack out of the car inside of two hours.

            2000 BMW 5 series: Replaced the radiator due to a large crack in one of the seams. Bled the cooling system, no other leaks, engine getting to the proper temperature, nothing but cold air coming out of the vents regardless of the temperature readout on the dash. Turns out that there is a secondary air temperature control on the dash between the center vents that is used to adjust the temperature coming out, rather than the climate control panel down near the gear shift.

            Early ’90s Nissan Sentra: Attempting to replace the driver side CV axle due to a torn boot. Spent the better part of an hour trying to pry the axle out of the transmission. Tried putting the nut back on the end of the axle and using a slide hammer. That didn’t work either. I wound up removing the passenger side axle and using a long brass punch to drive the axle out of the transmission. After I got everything reinstalled, I decided to look on Mitchell OnDemand to see if there was an easier way. The directions, as given by Nissan, say that to remove the driver side axle the passenger side axle has to be removed and the driver side driven out with a punch. I could have saved myself a whole lot of time by reading the instructions first before fighting with it.

            I’ve got more stories, but I’ll post them up later as I remember them.

            Sang Kimskim3544

              This one just happened last week. Working on Maxima I turn the drive adjusting bolt the wrong way and it snapped – came out in two pieces. W-|
              So I have been driving my back up car for a week and on Thursday I lost the brake pressure (both calipers replaced and bled the brake three weeks ago) Now I have to find the leak.


                Ok, here we go.

                1989 Chevy 1500: Replacing the water pump on my brother’s truck (that I had sold him for CHEAP), and it was about 1 degree out, so I was obviously in a hurry. I had the gaskets glued to the water pump, and failed to realize it was 1 degree out, so the RTV didn’t cure too fast. Luckily, my brother, who was watching, saw the gasket drop out of place on one side, and double lucky, didn’t say a damn word about it, so it obviously leaked. Almost kicked his ass when he said, ‘What about that gasket that fell off?’ Came back the next day under calmer circumstances, when it had jumped to 5 degrees Fareinheit.

                2006 Suzuki Forenza: My kid’s mom’s car. Front pads and rotors. I somehow managed to bend one of the caliper hardwear slides, and I thought I had re-bent it to straight. Two months later, she said the brakes were grinding. The pad hung up on that side (go figure) and she waited until it ground into the new rotor before she mentioned any problems. On a side note, have you tried finding parts for a Suzuki Forenza? Good luck.

                1997 Cadillac Deville: This was when I was 18 and working as a lube tech-light line tech. Noone had taught me about checking for the oil filter gasket before after you removed the old filter, and I double gasketed the new filter. Started the car. The Northstar motor holds 8.0 quarts of oil, which came gushing out. What a mess.

                1986 Ford Escort GT: I had spark and compression, and no fuel. I replaced the fuel pump. No go. Then someone told me to check the fuel pump shut off in case of emergency. I had stalled the car hard trying to get out of snow, and tripped the circuit. I reset it, and it fired right up, with a new but unneeded fuel pump. This was pre-college, so I didn’t know crap about diagnosing circuit integrity.

                1993 Geo Prizm: I was putting a clutch in my pizza delivery ride. I have really big hands and forearms, so I don’t always fit into tight spots. At the time, I didn’t have tools to get the shift cables off, and I couldn’t fit my big hams in there. I had to call my best friend over just to remove this linkage, and again once I got it back together. Since then I have purchased the bendy-neck wrenches and universal joints so this won’t be an issue again. Hopefully…

                Those are my worst. There have been other things I have mis-diagnosed because it was a 50/50 chance of this part or that, most notably was a new Ford Focus EGR problem. I guessed bad solenoid, and it was the position sensor.

                We all learn from our mistakes, and hopefully never make them again.


                  There has been many, but this is the worst:

                  MB 310 diesel – Someone else had done a cylinder head job recently and forgotten to tighten the bolt for the camshaft sprocket. I replaced a few bent valves, timing chain, sprockets and so on, all while muttering over that useless idiot who had left a bolt lose like that.
                  Got it all together, took it for a test drive, but didn’t get very far. The crankshaft pulley wasn’t tightened, bent valves AGAIN…W-|


                    Quoted From Sparkz:

                    There has been many, but this is the worst:

                    MB 310 diesel – Someone else had done a cylinder head job recently and forgotten to tighten the bolt for the camshaft sprocket. I replaced a few bent valves, timing chain, sprockets and so on, all while muttering over that useless idiot who had left a bolt lose like that.
                    Got it all together, took it for a test drive, but didn’t get very far. The crankshaft pulley wasn’t tightened, bent valves AGAIN…W-|

                    ouch. well your best bet would be to explore every aspect (at least that’s what i do because i have a fear of making mistakes)


                      My biggest mistake, although i blame some of this on the last owner or tech who serviced the brakes.

                      A 2002 Nissan Sentra SER with the QR25DE (stay away from these engines as the 03 to 06 engines are prone to failure).

                      Front brake job. 1 caliper bracket bolt broke on the driver and passenger side of the vehicle….

                      Moved onto the rear brakes. Again another damn bolt broke!!

                      Turns out the previous owner/tech had use red thread lock on all the bolts! The bolts had basically rusted in place.

                      I should have used heat on all the bolts but they broke very easily. So i am to blame there.

                      So drilling out a few broken bolts later, and replacing a rear caliper braked and caliper, it was all good.

                      What a mess though.

                      I hate breaking bolts A:(


                        Quoted From SarahCraziness:

                        ouch. well your best bet would be to explore every aspect (at least that’s what i do because i have a fear of making mistakes)

                        I’m just going to tell you now, mistakes will happen. How you manage those mistakes is what makes you a good or bad tech. Just be a pro, and own up to your mistakes. Fix them, and you will be set. You will also gain alot of respect from your peers.

                        Also, as a female tech, don’t let any old bitter guys tell you you can’t do it.

                        I only mention this because when I was an 18 year old kid, I was a lube/light line tech at a Cadillac dealership. We had a female tech on our lube-tech crew. She made one mistake, and was almost immediately laid off. She had double gasketed an oil filter, and it obviously drained 8 quarts of oil on the floor. I had made the same mistake myself, and was given a second chance. I guess I feel I owe the female techs of the world some help, as I still feel like I should’ve said it was my bad. The management didn’t care, and let her go. I don’t want you to give up if you get hosed like that.


                          I haven’t had any major screw ups, probably because I work like old people do you know what…

                          2003 Mazda Protege. Changing the air filter. I opened up the air box and lifted the top up just a tad so I could pull the old filter out. I replaced it, and went on with my day. Later, the car developed a loud hissing, like a garden hose. I had a sneaking suspicion what it could be, and I was really disappointed when I found out I was right. Turns out the snorkel split when I lifted the top of the air box a couple inches. I had to go out and buy a new one, which was equally as flimsy. Next time I’ll tie a splint to it!

                          A:(Cheap chintzy design.

                          2003 Mazda B3000.

                          Oil change from hell.

                          I ran the engine for a couple minutes to warm the oil. Crawled underneath with a couple metric wrenches and find… nope, it’s standard. I forgot, I was working on a Forzda.

                          Drained it out with no problems. I as annoyed to see I couldn’t access the filter from the bottom. I was comfy under there, laying on a nice piece of carpet. I got up and was pleased to see that the bottom of the filter is angled down and away from the motor. I like this because the oil doesn’t spill out all over the place when you start unscrewing it. I reach down and.. ouch.. ahh! Burn myself a couple times on the exhaust manifold. I start turning the filter, it comes off easily, which I was happy to see. Finally.. it’s free! Now *struggle* to *struggle* get it *struggle* past the *struggle* manifold without tipping it over. No dice. With one hand holding the filter, I used the other to jam a wad of paper towel into the end of the filter so I could turn it completely upside down and fish it through the manifold. That was harder than it needed to be.

                          On to the filling. Throw the funnel into the filler neck, and fill it up with oil. Funny thing though, the filler neck is on a peculiar angle and the funnel doesn’t quite like it. So the the funnel full of oil… yeah, it tipped over and spilled all down the inner fender and dripped out onto my nice, luxurious piece of carpet. It then made it’s way through the carpet to my nice, clean garage floor. I spent the next few minutes shoveling cat litter the way a politician shovels.. well you know where this is going.

                          I got it all cleaned up though and everything was great, until a week later (a week of sitting), I discovered it was leaking something else all over my brand new drive way, and the climate control unit stopped working.

                          L:D Anyone want to buy a 2003 Mazda B3000? Auto, CD player, 121000 KILOMETERS.. 25


                            The most recent for me would be my current Astro van, nicely equipped with a V8 installed by the previous owner. Another mans project as I find out is probably the worst thing I could have purchased to replace my old trusty Dakota. This summer, for whatever reason the van developed a coolant leak on the way to work on a fine Saturday morning. The reason I knew this was, we had stopped for donuts and coffee on the way in on our 25 mile commute. Look at that, steam from under the hood. So, we put some coolant into the engine and watch it pour out. That’s not good. So, I topped the overlflow up completely and put as much fluid into the radiator as I could and hightailed it back home. You’d think that I would have noticed the temp rising on the way in, as I have an actual temp gauge in the van.

                            Well, you see, a day before I was going to replace the knock sensor, but had mistaken the coolant temp gauge sensor for the knock sensor. The knock sensor has a wiring harness that goes to the sensor, the coolant temp sensor has a wire coming out of the sensor to the wiring harness. I had pulled that stupid wire off the sensor with no way to reattach it. Hey, the van had been running just fine, driving a day or two without it wouldn’t be a problem until I had gotten a replacement part right?

                            Apparently not. Ends up the drivers side gasket failed on the water pump from a loosened bolt. And that Water pump proved to be my nemesis as well. I replaced the gaskets 3 times before I finally got it to stop leaking. I had so much trouble getting the heavy cast iron pump in place and getting the first two bolts started that I kept damaging the passenger side gasket. I finally got smart and made two long bolts with the heads cut off and a slot cut on the end so I could unscrew them from the block with a short screwdriver. I slid the waterpump to the block on the bolts and used blue loc-tite on the threads. Thought I’d never deal with the waterpump again.

                            Ho HO! My fate with the cooling system wasn’t finished with me yet. Believing that I had finally exercised all the previous owners demons out of the van, I decided to give it a shake down acceleration test up the on ramp one night on my way back home. Sure enough, half way up the ramp, I see a hugh cloud of white smoke plume out of the back of the van and the temp gauge starts to rise. Seriously?! I pull over where it’s safe and have the wife bring me out some water so I can find out where it’s leaking from, because it’s dark and I can’t tell where due to all the coolant.

                            Here, it ended up beign that I blew the bypass hose off the water pump because when I had put the hose back on, I ended up putting the hose clamp on the ridge of the hose connector instead of past it. Fortunately, I carry a toolbox in the van and got it fixed in 10 minutes and drove the van home.

                            Sometimes it’s easy to lose focus on one detail because you are so focused on overcoming another obstacle.


                              There are a few, but this one comes to mind. The first time I ever did an oil change on a 3rd generation Cavalier, from underneath I unscrewed the HOT oil filter and tried to get it out straight down between the engine and the crossmember. No dice, I didn


                                Only one incident in my short time working on cars has actually been a drastic one, costing me almost $200. I was replacing the rotors and pads on my 90 Lincoln Towncar. This is the type of rotor where the whole rotor is the wheel hub, also. There is an inner, AND outer wheel bearing in these set-ups. Well…I only found the outer bearing when it popped off the spindle, and never thought to look for an inner one (I’ve never had experience with this type of rotor before). Needless to say I installed the new rotors, installed new pads and also had decided to replace the calipers. Well you can imagine what happened next; for the next two weeks I was attempting to diagnose why I had virtually no brakes, why there was a constant grinding sound, and excessive smoke coming from the brakes. I did everything from bleeding the brakes multiple times, bleeding the master cylinder (thinking air was trapped in there), and even went back to the rotors to make sure they were “fine” and had to chisel off brake pad that had rubbed off so far onto the spindle that it didn’t hit me that the material wasn’t supposed to be there. It was only when one day I finally saw the wheels were literally cock-eyed (they were leaning from top to bottom). I drove the car home and had asked my father (who has been a car enthusiast for almost 50 years) about what had happened. He then asked me the subtle question, “You did replace the inner bearings right?” and my reply was…”What inner bearings?”. “Joe…go check those old rotors. I bet you will find inner bearings in them.” And sure enough, I stuck my finger in one of the old rotors and turned…and a bearing turned with it. S:-o

                                Needless to say I bought new rotors, and since I toasted the calipers from all the stress of driving on one bearing, I had to replace those too. I got a pair of new rotors for $100, and a pair of new calipers for $45. The “new” rotors which were now destroyed from being ground on the spindle, had to be discarded since the new wheel seals would not fit on them to accommodate the inner bearings, so I consider that a $115 loss and the calipers I paid another $45 to replace the first time were also destroyed. So maybe it was more than $200…needless to say…I learned my lesson, the hard way.


                                  I’m still inexperienced in the automotive field. My DC2 has really been my guinea pig and I’ve had a few mess ups.

                                  My biggest one though, I was trying to install an MSD ignition system, using a coil, cap, rotor and stock points. I finished hooking everything up but when I went to go start up the car it wouldn’t turn on. I spent hours messing with it and I ended up killing the battery. I had also blown my stock coil and burned the ICM. Had to replace those and a fuse. Replaced them and still nothing. So I called a mechanic and he got my car to turn on but it ran extremely rough and he said I would have to get my engine rebuilt. Called another mechanic and he said my timing was way off and he set it back in and now the car runs OK. Still need to get the valves adjusted though.

                                  This one cost me tons of cash and a lot of stress lol


                                    I wish I could remember my worst mistake! If it was not for the mistakes, I probably would not have learned anything yet.

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