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Stupidly obvious things we've missed


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Inspired by Mr HubNut's rotor arm...

...how many of us are willing to admit to similarly stupid things they've missed when fault-finding?

 

A couple of years ago I was servicing the Capri. The alternator was failing, and was going to be the next job. So, after having replaced all the service parts (points, plugs, oil, filters etc) and it failed to start, I thought the battery had drained again. I checked (ha) through everything I'd done, then brought the Nissan around to give it a jump... clipped the jump lead to the earth on the engine and wh- oh....

IMG_20191109_144748.thumb.jpg.4231f72a49ec2b54db0183d7f64cf80d.jpg

 

 

Who else wants to confess?

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Father and I were doing an oil change on our old Jazz. We had just mopped the floor of all the spilled old oil, made sure everything was clean and tidy, and began to fill up the engine with new oil.

We poured 5 litres in with nothing showing on the dipstick. As I went to fetch another can of the stuff, I hear a loud "OH SHIT WE FORGOT THE SUMP PLUG!", rushed over and found 5L of oil now draining down the freshly mopped floor! One £16 more expensive learning curve for the both of us...

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Last week I finally replaced the thermostat on the Volvo, it sits in a cast elbow in a housing that is off the block.  I was busy filling the expansion tank which is the other side of the engine bay with new coolant which was taking a long time to fill up.  I became aware of a puddle around my feet.  I loudly shouted "BOLLOCKS" to an empty industrial unit, and ran to get a 12mm socket and ratchet and nip the elbow up tight.

There is the (I'm sure apocryphal) story of an engine bottom end rebuild being done, but the sump pickup tube gets left on the bench.  The engine gets refitted to the car and started, but the the oil pressure light won't go out.  The DIY mechanic/professional mechanic (the story varies) tries revving the engine to get the oil pressure up and then realises their mistake when they look at the bench.  Not done that (yet!)

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Trying to start an X1/9 one evening.  It would barely turn over.  I checked the battery, cables, starter, anything else I could think of.  Put a jump pack on it, all sorts of things.  Still would barely turn over and nowhere near fast enough to start it.

Then it dawned on me that it was -5c outside, and the car only had water in the cooling system.  The water pump was frozen solid and the starter was trying to force the belt over a siezed pulley.   Yep.  That's not going to start.

One split front-to-rear steel pipe later, and the car was basically scrap.  What a moron.

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Probably done a few daft things but one that always sticks his after doing some work on rear brakes on my prestine n15 gti I was getting cocky with my mechanical skills I whipped through the job, dropped it off the jack under the rear beam and forgot to put the handbrake on first. 

This was on my parents quite steep drive. It rolled backwards and dragged me trying to stop it down the low brick wall, scratching and scraping me to bits and then rolled onto the flat into the garage and stopped when it hit my dads tool chest. Luckily the only damage to the car was a paint chip on the boot lid and my body took a week or so to grow more skin.

Another one but wasnt my fault but while fitting a decat to my first mr2 turbo the stud was winding out of the manifold and hitting against the oil cooler, so I removed the oil filter, then the oil cooler, got the space I needed for the stud to come out, fitted said decat, wind the bolts back in, another mate turned up who was the self professed mr2 bestest mechanic in the world. 

He refitted the oil cooler and filter while i was under the car connecting the exhaust back up.

Came to start the car up and oil erupted from the oil cooler like Deepwater Horizon. Matey hadn't tightened it back up. Last time he held a spanner for me.

 

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My first experience of stretch bolts was after doing a head gasket on a 1.4 Astra.  Not liking the idea of torque + 90 degrees + 90 degrees, I thought I'd just torque them to a sensible figure. And snapped the first one I tried it on. 

New head bolts please...

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I did hear about a service being done on a Toyota Prius at a garage.

The car was put on a ramp, lifted and the oil was draining when everyone went off for tea break.  Not realising that for some reason, the ignition had been left on.  The Prius detects low voltage and turns the engine on automatically .... while the oil is draining out.  

New engine needed.  Expensive.  Tricky phone call to customer too.  

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Age and experience are no barriers to stupid mistakes...

Christmas Eve, when I took Huggy for his ill-fated run out... I checked all the fluid levels before setting off... and failed to notice that I hadn't put the cap back on the power steering reservoir properly.    Somewhere on the way to Ulverston it made a bid for freedom.  Bugger!

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Just now, eddyramrod said:

Age and experience are no barriers to stupid mistakes...

Christmas Eve, when I took Huggy for his ill-fated run out... I checked all the fluid levels before setting off... and failed to notice that I hadn't put the cap back on the power steering reservoir properly.    Somewhere on the way to Ulverston it made a bid for freedom.  Bugger!

I did that with the oil cap on my 1st Sierra, after spending days getting the engine bay squeaky clean

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Lemme see;

Battery lead insecure (check), Vital piece of ignition system removed or disconnected (check), sump plug not refitted (check), coolant hoses not tightened (check). I reckon I've done most of the stuff on this list so far. You can add brake pad put in the wrong way round (god knows how I managed that) and butchered the hub nub on a mini trailing arm (reverse thread). 

I fitted a bigger engine to another Mini, but couldn't get drive. Spent ages examining the clutch and diff mechanism then realised the splined drive plate in the hub was worn completely smooth.

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On the subject of Minis,I used to work for a Mini specialist a long time ago.Returning after picking up parts one morning I wandered into the workshop to find the boss and the other mechanic struggling to start a dead Cooper.No electric at all.They were convinced that it was a wiring/ignition problem and had all the column apart etc.I casually asked if they knew the earth lead was off the battery.Cue much swearing.

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In a drive a long time ago.......

My second car, a Mk3 Cortina 1600XL. Blew the engine. Fitted a secondhand replacement. This went well* and took all day, with the biggest problem getting the engine back on to the input shaft. A lack of engine crane, gravel drive and outside in the cold/wet did not help, and it just would not go. After several hours, it finally went on, so was tightened up and work on the ancillaries and wiring continued. By now it was nearly dark, but everything was almost ready for a start. Decided to leave it until the morning so I could check everything in daylight before going for it. My brother came out to help tidy the tools away. "Where do you want this putting" asked my brother holding up an object. Wandering over with the glow from a rapidly failing torch, I was delighted* to see him holding the clutch actuation lever complete with thrust bearing. Oh good.

Next day the engine came out again, rest of clutch fitted and amazingly the engine went back on easily. By late afternoon, the first start was made, and engine sounded good. Put foot onto clutch for the first drive and the sodding thrust bearing fell off the lever. 

Next weekend, out it came again, the thrust bearing (which is a press fit in the lever) was permanently installed by peening over the lever and back on the road it went.

I was working for Ford at the time, and over the next 2 years I spent a fortune in parts and huge amounts of time upgrading it to the point it was still to this day probably the best sorted daily I have ever owned. Bought in 1981 at 9 years old, it rewarded my efforts by failing the MOT in 1985 for an almost total lack of boot floor, inner sills and inner wheel arches. Sold for parts to a friend who stripped off the new stuff I had fitted and bridged the rest. Despite it all, I still have fond memories of my Daytona yellow reg GAP 678L.

I have never had a Ford again as a keeper. Don't plan on doing so either!

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I remember I had done the timing belt on the Corolla, and I was so pleased with myself I took it out for a quick run around the block. I then noticed the temperature needle hit high. Got home, opened the bonnet, even had the standing fan on it to cool it. Couldn't think what I did wrong, until I remembered I had emptied the coolant as I had planned to do the water pump, but never did. I was lucky, it never suffered from HGF because of it. Still going strong etc.

Then when I did the clutch etc on the same Corolla, put it all together, and the car would not start. It would click, but nothing. I thought the battery was knackered, so I bought a new one but no. Same as before, it would just click. Can't remember what happened, but I realised that the steel plate that goes between the engine block and gearbox had shifted, and was pushing the starter motor down in such a way it couldn't throw out. So I took the gearbox off, giggled the plate, fitted it back again, and the car started first time on the old battery. Returned the battery to Halfrauds, said it was faulty. 

Then there's the welding. I couldn't tell I had no gas. Now I know!

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First solo oil change on my Mk2 Cortina , I’d been helping my Dad since I was 10 doing jobs on the Land Rover .  Land Rovers didn’t have spin off oil filters, I didn’t know there was a rubber seal in the box...

Probably did it good having a good flush, the trail of oil from my Mum’s drive to the end of the street was there for years.

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3 hours ago, eddyramrod said:

Age and experience are no barriers to stupid mistakes...

Christmas Eve, when I took Huggy for his ill-fated run out... I checked all the fluid levels before setting off... and failed to notice that I hadn't put the cap back on the power steering reservoir properly.    Somewhere on the way to Ulverston it made a bid for freedom.  Bugger!

did that with the fuel cap for the Temporary fuel tank fitted to REV (my Invacar), I felt like a right tit I did (especially as its not my fuel tank!)

thankfully a scurry of shitters combing the field soon found it! :) 

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Minor one compared to above, but I remember one Friday evening I topped the oil up in my old Peugeot prior to heading to a job early Saturday morning.

Next morning set off, got a couple of miles down the road when there was a clonk from under the bonnet and I spotted in my mirror something rolling away and disappearing into the hedge.  Stopped and looked under the bonnet...yep, I hadn't put the oil cap back on and had left it sitting on top of the engine!  Bodged a replacement over the filler hole when I got to my destination and replaced it from the scrappy on the Monday.

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Kawasaki GT550 commuter hack, over 100,000 miles, but running well. Checked the oil, topped it up with about 50ml, then off. Got about 20 miles when oil light came on, so stopped (just where A120 joins the M11. I had left the filler cap off. Right boot and leg of leathers drenched in oil (how the hell I never noticed I don't know). Plus the whole rear end of the bike was oil coated.

Relatively short walk to the petrol station, bought 2 litres of oil and a few microfibre cloths. refilled oil, wiped bike down, microfibre stuffed in filler hole, and foot stuck on top. Made it to work, bike never suffered, and gained the first wash it had had in about 10,000 mles.

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Changing a duff battery on my Beetle, back when it was roadworthy... installed the battery, still sod all happening when I turn the key. Checked the battery cables were attached firmly, then checked all the fuses... got the multimeter out, no voltage at the ignition. Started tracing the wiring from the battery to the ignition to check for shorts or breaks...


Turned out that I'd become distracted during the swap over, and I'd actually just put the old, duff battery back instead of the new one. :D  I only noticed when I went to move the "old" battery out of the way that it was suspiciously clean for a used battery...

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Had a Daimler Sovereign 2.8 30 years ago. Thought I’d do an oil change. It didn’t have the usual screw on filter which I was used to- it had one of the cartridge types. Whipped the cover off, changed the element and put 14 [yes 14] pints of the finest Castrol GTX into it. Started up and then wondered what the splashing sound was. Turned off and the ground was covered in a nice coat of GTX. Bother I thought, I didn’t tighten it up properly. Another  nearly 14 pints later it did the same. Oh double bother I thought. I then realised I’d put the new sealing ring on top of the old one. 14 pints later it was fine.

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3 hours ago, bunglebus said:

I did that with the oil cap on my 1st Sierra, after spending days getting the engine bay squeaky clean

I’ve been there too! 
It was a customers car, I think it was a Renault scenic or something, did a full service on it, topped up the oil and ran it out of the garage. The foreman did a quality control check on it but when he came back he said it stunk of burning oil so you better take a look... opened the bonnet to find the oil cap missing and oil splattered all over the engine bay! Took me hours to clean my mess up.

Went to jump start my sisters car one night as she’d got stuck at college with a dead battery. Connected up the jump leads, thought I’d give it a few mins to get a bit of charge in. Wait! Wtf is smoking! I’d only connected the jump leads the wrong way round! They got so hot the insulation melted off of them. I was not best pleased, although it was night time and I couldn’t see bugger all - in my defence.

Tried to get my freshly restored Capri running last summer. Couldn’t get it to fire despite checking and rechecking everything. Not even any attempt to spark. This was one of those occasions where you just refuse to see what’s right in front of you! I’d checked and dismissed the issue, other people mentioned it and I’d dismissed it. I even had a brand new part to hand to prove and resolve the fault... but I’d convinced myself it was something else far more complicated. 
It was the old points not closing fully! They were a bit shitty and burnt and weren’t quite closing up unless you forced them together. I even had a brand new electronic ignition set I intended to fit to replace the points/condenser.
Funnily enough after I found the points not closing, I fitted the electronic kit and it started almost straight away! Stupid sod! 
 

 

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I broke a tooth in half taking a wiper arm off the omega. 

I ended up . With an inch or more deep  and 2 inch long cut in my arm taking an engine out of a mk3 cavalier. With my forearms caked in oil and blood and wrapped in a tea towel the a&e staff at Aintree Hospital, were not impressed. 

I ended up with no brake fluid in a mk2 cavalier because I'd swapped the front calipers and not fitted the copper sealing washer on the hose. 

T heres so many things that I'm proud* of. 

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The stupid mistake we all made was to start working on cars in the first place.

Far better for you to stay out of it and keep your hands clean.  Then you can have a social life, get a nice job in an office, meet a better class of people, go the right parties, crawl up the right backsides, get a better job in a better office, get a bigger more expensive house, have more complicated relationships with more difficult wives/mistresses/insert preference, get a new Audi every year, and generally treat everybody else like shit.  It's not rocket science.

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I've seen more than my fair share of things being done stupidly obviously and wrong working for main dealers over the years.

Starting engines in the workshop with no oil in is quite common, one was a Yaris 1.4 D4D that wrecked not only the engine but turbo etc. Customer was over the moon....

Salesmen putting jump leads on the wrong way has happened loads, cue a number of expensive ECU's and red faces...

One of my old demonstrator Octavia TDI's went in for a check over prior to sale, car was recovered by the AA next day with a gearbox fault, turns out they'd left the oil cap off, it had fell down onto the top of the box and jammed the cables / linkage up. Customer was well happy with that...

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