In this post, we present different stories told by mechanics about the weirdest things they have found while performing a checkup or maintenance for their customer’s cars.
7 stories that will shock you, make you laugh, and I am sure you will never forget story number 4.
Towel in engine oil gallery!
The first story by David Rudko shows us that maintaining your car is not a party with your friends, but it is a precise process. He tells us that a beautiful Chevrolet Chevelle parked during his usual working routine. The owner said that the car was running ragged as if there was a problem with one of the cylinders.
He tested the car and noticed that the oil pressure was negligible, so directly to the front and opened the hood to check the oil level. He immediately noticed how clean and shiny was the engine bay. Using the oil dipstick to check the oil levels, he saw some soft material at the tip of the stick. Repeating multiple times and getting the same material out every time, that wasn’t a good sign.
What is found?
He raised the car on the lift and started draining the oil. The oil was thick and viscous that is absolutely abnormal to have. After completely draining the oil, he found that soft piece of material. “What the heck am I looking at?” he asked the completely embarrassed owner.
He said it was on a Friday night when my friends and I changed the intake manifold with a new one. Having some beer and enjoying the night. But on Saturday morning, I remembered that I laid a shop towel on the oil gallery but didn’t remember if I removed it before replacing the new manifold or not.
Cotton fibers were all around the oil pump and everywhere else. He ended up changing the cam and filters as well as a new oil pump.
The apricot seed in fuel tank!
In 1991 Charlie Escobar was given a 1979 Datsun truck that would run great, and at a random time, it would just die. He started checking the air inlet, the spark plug, the fuel, and anything related to this trio that are responsible for engine running.
They checked the fuel pump and the carburetor, and they were all fine. So what was the problem?! They tried it several times, and it would die at random times. Whether it was accelerating, decelerating, or turning, it would just die unexpectedly.
What is found?
Then he was told by his father to drop the fuel tank out. He did that, and it was an easy task. He drained out all the fuel when he started hearing a rattle inside it. They could hear a sound as if something was spinning inside the fuel tank.
Surprise! It was an apricot seed with a perfectly “O” shape that was causing the problem. It would be sucked into the fuel inlet line at random times, causing the engine to stop.
When the truck dies and the pump stops, the seed would go back down to the tank, and the engine will normally work.
Who did that and how? We still didn’t know.
Charlie ends the story by saying, “I still have the seed in a small jar in my shop. It is a symbol for me, a symbol to keep an open mind- to be humble and never begin to assume that I can fix everything.”
All Car Fluids in the gas tank!
This is a small but funny story that a Reddit user has mentioned. He says that he took semesters of automotive classes in college. And they would fix cars for people that don’t have money to pay for parts or labor.
So one day, a lady came in her car that was making a weird noise. So we started checking on basic things and then started it. It made a weird noise, and a lot of sludge and smoke came out of the exhaust.
After further investigation with the lady, it turns out that the lady started to have some problems with the car, so to fix it and make sure that the car is not running low on any needed fluid, the lady decided to add some to it.
What is found?
She thought that fuel opening was the place that everything goes through. She started adding some oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, and even windshield washer fluid, and all of these through the fuel inlet port!
What a great mixture!
Condom as a reservoir cap!
Rafa Sacarello tells us this funny story. He says that around 1982, he was surprised by a visit from his friend and a doctor to his shop. He was asked to fix an Alfetta GT that had a broken flex joint in the propeller shaft.
What is found?
He took the car into one of the service bays and opened the hood to let the engine cool down before starting the job. He was surprised and started laughing immediately when he saw a condom that was used in place of the brake liquid reservoir cap.
The customer said that he changed the brake fluid today and didn’t tighten the cap correctly. And on his way to the shop, the cap fell down, and he heard it. He immediately stopped the car and looked around where he found a gas station.
So he went there and bought a condom to take the place of the cap to avoid any slippage and damaging other parts.
Clever but hilarious!
V8 engine with only 7 pistons!
This time Mike Broberg will tell us about the V7 truck. He says that during the 1970s, a guy came to the workshop with his 10 years old Ford truck 302 V8 asking for a tune-up.
And as usual, they replaced all the parts, connected them to the oscilloscope, and started the adjustment process. Only to discover that there is a misfire in cylinder number 5.
After multiple tests, they decided to remove the valve cover and see what was the problem with that cylinder. They found no problem with both valves, so they removed the intake manifold to discover the shocking truth!
What is found?
They found that the runner of cylinder 5 was completely blocked internally. This was a manufacturing fault that they have casted it completely during production.
This guy has been using his V8 truck for 10 years but as a V7 truck!
From 8 piston to just 1!
Tim Hairston tells us this story and describes it as “the worst catastrophic failure of an engine that I have ever seen.” It all began when a customer arrived at his shop with a towed car. After some questioning with the owner, he tried to turn the car, but no start.
The engine was making some ugly noise, he says. Nothing was clear for him, so he asked to tear down the engine, and he got the owner’s approval. After taking the head off, this was the moment of truth.
I forgot to mention that this is an eight-cylinder engine, or it was.
What is found?
Tim says that after taking the head off, he found seven out of the eight pistons missing! Yes, you read it right, seven missing. He directly called the customer over the phone and asked him, “when was the last time you changed the oil?”. He answered, “Umm, I don’t know.” But Tim now knows exactly what happened.
Tim completed the tearing down process until he found the seven pistons (or what looks like pistons) down in the bottom of the oil pan.
The customer agreed to install a new engine (no other option) and was instructed on how to take care of and maintain his new engine.
Key inside the air filter!The Problem
This story that happened with Terry Turner is something that could happen with a lot of us, so be careful. He says that he got a call from his brother-in-law one day, saying that Terry’s sister was driving his 1976 Chevy Nova when suddenly the engine started whacking loudly.
She turned off the car and called her husband. He asked if Terry could come over to look at the car. He took his tools and went. He started tearing down the engine, intake and exhaust manifolds, and then the valve cover. All the pistons look perfect and clean, with no sign of violence.
What is found?
But he noticed some small pieces of metal on every piston’s head. He realized that they were brass and they had machined grooves on them. He started flipping those pieces of metals in his hand, trying to figure out what are they, and then he knew.
He asked his brother-in-law: “Bob, do you keep a spare door key in the car?”
Bob answered: “I always keep one in the air cleaner.”
It turns out that his sister locked herself out of the car during her trip that day, used that spare key that Bob used to put in the air cleaner housing (outside) the air filter element, but she returned it to the air filter housing (inside) the air filter element.
The key was bouncing around until it was sucked into the carburetor and then through the intake manifold. They took the car to a local shop for a complete valve job, and the car was super again.
Those were some of the mechanics’ stories from their adventures inside the car’s engine’s bays. What stories do you have to tell us?