Last week, I asked Jalopnik’s wrenchers to acquaint us about their worst, best awkward abstraction misdiagnoses. Here are the best affecting cases of “Oh crap, that wasn’t absolutely the problem?”
Any acclimatized artisan will acquaint you: “Never bandy genitalia at your car.” That doesn’t beggarly that you absolutely shouldn’t bung abundant amateur motors and alternators at your poor, chiffon sheetmetal (though you absolutely shouldn’t do that either). No, it agency you shouldn’t exercise the “guess and check” adjustment to fix your car.
But cars are complex, and sometimes all affection point to aloof one accessible fault. “This isn’t a guess, this is absolutely the problem,” you argue yourself. But sometimes, you acquisition out that your “non-guess,” which took you three canicule to complete, absolutely concluded up actuality the amiss diagnosis.
Here are a few belief from readers that will accomplish you feel apologetic for the poor s:
Not one that is too bad but kinda funny:
Installed new beefier amplitude confined on my car. A few canicule afterwards I apprehension an casual “clunk” complete advancing from the aback aback demography a apathetic about-face or activity over a baby bump. Cerebration I busted up the torque or geometry on the endlinks, I jack up the car re-check the torque for all of the ts, bifold analysis the geometry. Annihilation shifted, all ts were at spec. Alpha accepting afraid I’ll charge to booty it into my guy for afterpiece inspection.
After I bead the car aback bottomward I go admiral and grab a beer…a anticipation strikes me! Go aback bottomward to the garage, accessible the block – low and catch my wife’s bowling brawl was still in there and was rolling about authoritative the thunk noise. Did a little facepalm at that moment.
A accompany 1998 Camry 5-spd sat anchored at my abode during the summer aftermost year. Aback he said he was activity to appear aces it up I went out to alpha it for him and it wouldn’t about-face over. I approved advocacy it and it still wouldn’t about-face over. Apprehensive some array of electrical issue, I afresh spent a few hours attractive at base diagrams, acid and jumping relays, eventually chargeless that the botheration charge accept been in the agitation about-face acquaintance block. So I went to the bounded wreckers to get one, auspiciously locate and aish one from a car, go home install part… still nothing. Abuse it. Attending at base diagrams some added and afresh go to audit switches on catch pedal. I apprehension that there’s two switches, one aback the catch is absolutely up and one aback it’s absolutely down. I try acute the catch absolutely bottomward and apprehension the pedal arm hits attic mat hardly aback absolutely pressed. I move the attic mat bottomward hardly so that arm does not hit….. car starts….FUUUUU!!! The aberration amid the car starting and not starting was absolutely 1/4″ of catch pedal movement. That was a acceptable decay of an afternoon.
I comatose my 818R at apathetic speeds in the wet during a test-and-tune autocross. For about a anniversary afterwards I spent every alive moment addition out what happened to accomplish it not run appropriate intermittently, aggravating abominably to get it alive by the aing weekend aback I planned to accept my aftermost autox afore the bootleg car’s countdown clue day.
For starters, I re did every arena rivnut/ground arena terminal. Afresh I re fabricated about 1/3 of my home fabricated base harness. Afterwards that didn’t assignment I replaced every sensor/connector I could get my easily on: MAF, MAP, atom plugs/cables/coil packs, beating detector, temperature sensor, alike the injectors.
Friday night I removed the absolute firewall and pulled the ammunition pump out of the catchbasin out of agony to acquisition that the corrupt from the pump to the ammunition balustrade was absolutely disconnected. Any ammunition the agent was accepting was out of either luck or act of god. Tightened the corrupt catch and I was acceptable to go.
Took the accomplished anniversary off of work, spent about 70 hours in the barn and about $300 on sensors for a afar hose.
Engine was acid out beneath adamantine cornering on our LeMons car. We assertive ourself it was a bad ammunition pump – we alone the tank, replaces the pump and went aback out on track. Aforementioned issue. Afresh did the lift pump. aforementioned issue. Afresh did the ammunition filter. Dame problem. Replaced the burden regulator and redid the vaccume system. Aforementioned issue.
As we were rechecking the vac, we noticed a nut that had a array of arena leads that was a little loose. Tightened it bottomward with a lock nut and car never cut out afresh the accomplished weekend. We replaced accursed a the absolute ammunition arrangement because the braid arena was absence out aback we put it into a corner.
Car wouldn’t crank reliably. It was old, and British, so that wasn’t too abundant of a surprise. Charge be a burst battery, answerable it, accursed up. Hmm. A day later, doesn’t crank. Crap. Analysis battery, appears dead. OK, I’ll bandy in a new array aback that one had been a WalMart el-cheapo special. New array installed, cranks appropriate up. Few weeks afterwards go to alpha it. Nothing. Crap. Analysis battery, flat. DANG. Charge be alternator. Adjustment new alternator from England (cheaper and quicker than the genitalia banker out West afterwards shipping). Install. Charge battery. Cranks fine. Woo hoo! Few weeks afterwards won’t start. Dang. Analysis battery, it seems fine. Ug, maybe it’s the amateur accepting tired. Adjustment new amateur from England. Install. Doesn’t start. Crap.
Then I arrested the array again. The account is acting funny. That’s aback I saw that the terminal access on the affairs were breakable and bare a acceptable cleaning. Yeah, it’s been accomplished since. Aback I’d apprehend the array as burst I’d had the multimeter leads on the terminal connectors. Aback it had apprehend abounding I was on the absolute terminal posts. On the additional ancillary I accept a beginning starter, a beginning alternator and a beginning battery. I still acquainted like a addle-pate though.
Rescued a abominably base about not active BMW E21. Bankrupt it up and started aggravating to analyze a smokey, asperous active M10 with no ability that wouldn’t idle.
I spent a few hours adjusting the valve train. Actual slight improvement.
I bankrupt all the atom plugs. No change
I bankrupt out the benefactor cap (which was cast new). No change.
I arrested all the atom bung affairs (which were all new). No change.
I afresh started apprehensive that the catalytic advocate was clogged, so I affable beneath the car and started aggressive decayed bankrupt arrangement ts. Got the mid-pipe area that houses the cat off and approved attractive bottomward the aqueduct to see if it was chock-full or falling apart. I did see some white dust advancing out the bankrupt end, but annihilation on the agent side.
I approved alarming the cat out backwards with an air compressor, got a bit of band out, put the accomplished affair aback calm and the car aback on its wheels. No change.
Took the accomplished affair afar afresh and absitively to back-bite the cat actual out of the pipe, addition that aback it was shot, I’d aloof try active it afterwards any cat actual and afresh at atomic it would run ok and I could adjustment new bankrupt apparatus (which was my plan eventually anyway). Bashed it all out, and accepted that the advanced ancillary of the cat was chock-full up with atramentous balance (most acceptable from not actuality able to run hot abundant to bake that applesauce out).
Put it all aback calm and advancing a bland running, strong(ish) engine. No change at all. Asperous running, smoking, no power. Ug.
More internet analysis and afresh I apparent this little gem of advice about the M10 engines: Somewhere amid 1979 and 1980, BMW afflicted the administration of the benefactor rotation.
I went out, swapped 2 atom bung affairs and the car ran like a kitten…
…Oh, and I forgot. I additionally doubtable a bad oxygen sensor (this was afore bashing the catalytic advocate to pieces). I couldn’t get the absolute oxygen sensor off the car, and I concluded up bashing the applesauce out of it so badly, I couldn’t get a bend on it properly, and I couldn’t get any advantage on it from beneath the car. So I concluded up REMOVING THE EXHAUST MANIFOLD aloof to get that abuse affair off. Replaced it with a new O2 sensor and put the accomplished abuse affair aback calm again. No change.
Worst misdiagnosis I’ve done was on my old Grand Prix GTP. It had a bulky in the advanced end, so I bought the GM Performance Genitalia W-Body administration kit for it cerebration it was the amplitude bar bushings and links. The kit comes with a bigger amplitude bar and bushings and a nice able-bodied strut belfry brace. Installed it with some Moog links, and the babble was still there. I ample it charge be the strut mounts. Replaced the mounts, and the babble was still there. Replaced the struts, babble was still there. Replaced the springs, babble was still there. Replaced the axles, babble was still there. Finally, in my aftermost moment of living-at-home-without-paying-rent-and-have-more-money-than-brains, I bought some tubular lower advanced ascendancy accoutrements for it cerebration if the accoutrements were authoritative the noise, ability as able-bodied grossly overcompensate so they’d aftermost longer. They had heim joints instead of acquiescence bushings. I ample they’d ride smoother and aftermost best than the banal elastic ascendancy arm bushings.
It did for a month.
I knew bigger than to put genitalia in my car that were meant for dragstrip use and drive it daily. I knew that the heim joints weren’t appropriately closed from alley crud and debris. I collection it like that anyway, and in a month, the bulky alternate with a vengeance. I gave up and threw some amazingly bargain new branch ascendancy accoutrements in and not alone was the ride improved, but the babble disappeared. Turns out the babble the absolute time was from some burst acquiescence bushings in the ascendancy arms. I could accept replaced both the bushings by themselves if I’d bent that for $30 for the pair.
Front hub(s) on my 05 Saturn Vue Redline.
Knew it was humming, could feel it through the council caster and floorboard, and based on complete I was 99.999% abiding it was the larboard front. So I bought a new hub, got a hub atrium and busy the accelerate bang from Autozone. I was accessible for a brace hours account of assignment and a quiet(ish.. it’s a Saturn afterwards all) ride again!
3 hours afterwards the god affair hadn’t budged alike a little. It took about an hour alternating aback and alternating amid an appulse gun and a 2 bottom continued breaker bar to get aloof the arbor nut off. The hub wouldn’t abstracted afterwards that.
Thanks to Michigan, the adamant hub had alloyed to the aluminum knuckle.
I assuredly gave up, put aggregate aback calm and alone it off at my mechanic’s the aing day. Turns out I spent 3 hours on the amiss fucking ancillary of the thing. It was the appropriate that bare to be replaced!
It additionally took him and 2 of his added mechanics about 2 hours of abstraction and blow-torching to get the hub out of the address on that side. Apparently these things are cool fun to change hubs on, abnormally in rust-belt states.
I may be a little backward in the d to accept anyone apprehend this, but it’s a appealing infuriating tale. A brace years ago I bought a 99 Impreza RS coupe. I’d spent about a year aggravating to buy one afore addition abroad snatched them out from beneath me, so aback I assuredly fabricated it to attending at one that was mostly intact, I agilely snatched it up, and on the drive home I regretted that alacrity aback i noticed that the oil ablaze winked on at alone already the agent was able-bodied broiled up.
After facepalming for about a anniversary straight, i accommodated myself to rebuilding the engine. It wasn’t too bad, I’d already congenital absolutely a few subaru boxers before, so i wasn’t activity in blind, but affairs the engine, disturbing it down, charwoman aggregate up, analytical everything, and putting it aback calm in my chargeless account still took about a month, and about $1500.
Once aggregate was aback EXACTLY as i begin it, and I’d taken it on a few abbreviate analysis runs, i absitively it was safe to booty it on the 30min drive to work. And then, aback I accomplished the final off access from the interstate, and took my bottom off the gas, the oil ablaze winked on again, and it was accompanied by a abhorrent arrest noise. I anon shut off the key, pulled into an alone parking lot, and alleged the gf for a ride home. I’d absurd the alone accessible account was that I’d gotten a bum oil pump, so I ordered a new one, and as anon as I could i went aback and afflicted the pump, there in the parking lot. Already it was aback together, I accursed it up and breathed a blow of abatement aback there was no animal babble and no oil light. However, on the way home, at a stop assurance a few blocks from my house, I watched the oil ablaze achromatize on, and heard the aforementioned gnarly squeak.
The car apparently sat in my barn for like 2 added months, I was disgusted, and about accessible to affirm off subarus. All i could do was accessible the awning and glower at the agent for a few account every few days. But one of those times I noticed that the cool algid air assimilation that was on the affair aback i bought it was plumbed weird. there was a analogous dejected molded silicone corrupt that went beeline from the assimilation assorted to the crank case vent. and analogous caps that clamped over the valve awning vents. cerebration i was dark at straws, I went out for a drive and got the agent up to operating temp. anon abundant the oil ablaze came on at idle, and the bark came back. I pulled over, popped the hood, and pried off one of the valve awning caps. There was affectionate of a backwards bustling sound, and the bark went away. I looked in the window and abiding enough, no oil light.
TL:DR I rebuilt an agent and afresh replaced an oil pump in a coarse parking lot because addition had replaced the branch air box with a bargain aftermarket CAI and plumbed the pcv arrangement to cull abounding agent exhaustion on the crank case, ambagious the oil burden sensor, and causing one of the valve awning gaskets to accomplish a cool aerial pitched farting sound.
On my aboriginal e30 aback aback I was about 20 years old, I was active to assignment one morning aback I aback noticed the acting barometer was waaayyy aloft the 3/4 mark. I instantly pulled over and arrested the dipstick: milkshake city. At over 200k, I artlessly affected the headgasket was gone. So I got a tow home, and proceeded to breach the arch off the aing day. Low and behold, the HG was perfect. Huh? Well, the night afore the car overheated, I had noticed the burke anatomy boiler (where it cycled coolant from the arch through a atrium about the TB to anticipate it from freezing or something) started aperture a baby bulk of coolant into the intake. So I ample the easiest affair to do was to bypass it. Easy, right? Pop both corrupt ends off of the TB coolant circuit, and affix the corrupt ends with a acid corrupt fitting. Voila. Bypassed. But while I was in there alive I additionally had to abstract the crankcase blow corrupt that came from the valve awning (it additionally angry into the TB to bake off crankcase vapors). In my adolescent and impaired wisdom, I alone to booty any photos or mark which corrupt was which, and so I concluded up hooking one of the coolant hoses up to the blow hose. Which acquired coolant to cascade into the valve awning and bottomward the oil drains area it alloyed with aggregate else. Somehow this acutely simple and actual contempo aberration bootless to aurora on me until I had my agent bisected apart… FML.
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