Exhaust Pipe Pearl: Just a Few of the Stories Mechanics Have Collected

Cars are crazy complicated. If you don’t believe us, go out to your vehicle of choice and try to replace the headlight compartments. Most of us elect to take our cars to mechanics to make sure the work is done right the first time, and there isn’t any other damage.
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With billions of cars on the road, there are probably just as many interesting stories that mechanics have collected. Here are just a few of them, from foreign objects to tough jobs to possum nests, they’ve seen it all. So here it all is, collected just for you. Aren’t you lucky?

They Still Need Oil

A lady once brought her car into the shop, complaining of warning lights and difficulty driving. The check engine light of her Prius had come on. Before long the mechanics found the issue – the oil was old. Very old. Like, way too old.

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The mechanics asked her when she had last had the oil changed, and she said never. Apparently, she was under the impression that a Prius doesn’t have a motor (!) so she shouldn’t have to change the oil. The entire engine was in bad shape from running on oil as old as time.

We Found an Object in the Trunk

Hearing loud noises while you’re driving around is usually a pretty bad sign, but “heavy clunking” as one story puts it is even worse.

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One mechanic related a story about a driver coming in complaining about hearing that kind of noise when coming to a stop or when accelerating from a stop. Brakes weren’t the issue, nor was the transmission. What could it be? It was an interesting problem until the mechanics opened the trunk. There was a bowling ball rolling around. At the very least, we hope the bill wasn’t all that much.

Get the Dictionary and Look Up Average

A woman brought her car to the mechanic’s, complaining that it was getting far below the expected 44 MPG average. The car’s computer reported no faults, and the car was about as brand new as possible.

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When asked how the owner knew it was using too much fuel, the owner replied that it was because the MPG dial was going up and down. The mechanic explained she was looking at the moment-by-moment MPG, not the average. For some reason, she thought that this was a trick and complained. She complained for an hour and got nothing out of it.

We Already Told You What It Was

Not everyone who drives cars really understands them. Case in point, the story of someone bringing their car in because of a rattling noise while driving. After checking nearly everything, the mechanics found no issues.

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The solution came while checking the tires themselves – there were some plastic clips on the hubcaps that let them shift around and rattle while the car was in motion. They explained this and offered to replace the hubcaps, but the owner refused and drove off. Five minutes later they were back complaining that it was still rattling. What, exactly, did they expect?

What Do You Mean They Move?

One mechanic replaced a woman’s clutch and returned the car to her, but she had a devil of a time getting the car in gear, repeatedly giving the mechanic an earful every time she failed – despite him demonstrating that everything worked fine multiple times.

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After a few tries, he found she was only pressing the clutch down a quarter of the way because she was so short. They suggested she move the seat up to let her foot reach the pedal fully, and she once again yelled at them, stating that she didn’t know that seats could move.

Little Issue, Big Problem

We’ve all experienced a faulty air conditioner that refuses to help against the burning summer sun. When it breaks – and of course it happens when it’s hot out – fixing it can end up being a huge hassle.

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One mechanic reported that he had to remove a Toyota’s entire dashboard to get at a failed air conditioning evaporator. This hours-long job took hours during a one-hundred-degree heatwave. The problem turned out to be some metal shavings that got inside the evaporator thanks to a manufacturer’s defect. After he was done, he sat in the car, enjoying the cold air until he lost track of time.

One Hole to Rule Them All

Cars use many different fluids. Brake fluid, oil, brake light fluid, and more. They all have specific places to refill them, and if you put them anywhere else, they’re either not going to be a help or do real damage.

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One lady once brought her car in complaining of weird noises. When the mechanics started the car up, it wouldn’t run, and the exhaust system leaked out a ton of nasty sludge. The owner revealed she thought the gas tank was where you put all of the fluids – oil, antifreeze, and everything else. Poor lady, poor car, poor mechanic.

What Is It With Porsche Owners?

Apparently, Porsche owners have some issues. There are lots of stories from Porsche techs about clueless owners who just own the cars simply because they’re famous. One customer said there was a whooshing noise every time she steps on the gas pedal – which is caused by air going into the intake. Which is supposed to happen.

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A different owner complained that his Porsche 911 sounds completely different at 3,000 rpm than his Ferrari does, which means there MUST be something wrong with his Porsche. There wasn’t. There was something wrong with the driver’s head, though.

Really, How Dare They

One field rep for a high-end manufacturer met with a customer who was complaining about speakers always having feedback, buzzing noises, clicks and pops, that sort of thing.

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There were lots of possible reasons why this could have been happening, but the rep discovered that the driver listens to lots of music with intentional vinyl effects. These include, well, feedback, buzzing noises, clicks, and pops. The driver not only demanded that he get a refund on his car, but she went off on the manufacturers, stating that they never should have built such a car in the first place.

It’s the beginning of a New Diet

A woman once brought her few-month-old car in to get it checked out. Specifically, she was wondering about the awful odor coming from the interior. There are a few possible car reasons this could have happened, but none of them were it. The smell was putrid – it filled the entire shop and the mechanic had to wear a gas mask.

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The culprit was a pound of rotten hamburger jammed underneath the middle row, expired three months ago and crawling with maggots. The man who made the discovery couldn’t eat a hamburger for almost six months.

They Aren’t Supposed to be Mirrors

Tires will wear down after time spent on the road, and once the treads start getting shorter, you should consider replacing them for safety.

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One driver, when told that their tires should be replaced as soon as possible (see picture), refused. This despite the fact that it was raining, and the tire was so bald that it was possible to use them as a reflective surface! The shop very wisely decided to have the owner sign a waiver absolving them of any culpability before they let her drive off. Hopefully, the driver managed to get all the way home.

Looks Like They Forgot Something

Usually, when you drive off the mechanic’s lot, the car’s issues have been fixed. Every once in a while, however, the mechanics themselves can introduce new issues, such as what may have happened here.

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A driver went in for an oil change, and then the next day they brought the car into a different shop, complaining of extremely loud noise. As the picture shows, it’s because there is no longer a muffler attached to the car. It’s unclear if the first garage took the muffler, if someone stole it in the meantime, or if something else entirely happened.

We Really Want to Know More

Other than this picture, we have no information about this event. There are some things that we can confirm, however. As you can see in the picture the car is in the garage. That means it was driven there. Most likely. That means that the possum made a nest so solid and comfortable it wouldn’t leave even though engines are noisy, stinky hot places.

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We’d love to know how this was eventually handled. And what the mechanic’s response was. And how the possum got the idea in the first place. It must have been sitting cold for quite some time.

No, Ma’am, That’s Supposed to Happen

An old woman brought her car in, complaining of a whirring sound at the front of the car. The mechanic couldn’t replicate the sound and asked to drive with the woman so she could point it out.

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About ten minutes later the sound occurred, and the mechanic laughed, asking for her to stop the car. He popped the hood and pointed out the radiator fan. The sound the old woman was reporting was the radiator fan turning on and off. The noise is normal, and it’s a good indication that the engine was working as properly intended.

Too Much Is Just as Bad as Not Enough

A woman brought her car in and the mechanic noticed something strange. There was a lot of oil in the car. Far too much. The engine was drenched in it.

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The woman had seen “kids draining oil” (though there are numerous possible explanations for what was really going on) and she put as much oil in the car as possible. All that oil burning is going to create blue smoke, which was why the owner brought it in. There was so much potential for damage that the mechanic had to encourage going to a different shop for the proper work.

Once in a Lifetime

Some vehicles, if kept in perfect condition, can make it several hundred thousand miles, but anything about 200k is going to be dicey. Plenty of vehicles have made it to 300k, but after that examples are few and far between. This car, however, is literally one-in-a-million.

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The person who posted the picture stated the customer had been bringing the car in for regular checkups ever since about 200k miles, and casually asked for a tire plug when the mechanic found this. Even as a mechanic you don’t see it that often, and of course there had to be proof.

Ah, the Classic Car Company

Admittedly this isn’t the kind of problem you can fix very easily. Thankfully, it’s also the kind of problem that doesn’t affect the car in any meaningful way. It’s also pretty funny.

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Joop. Go on, say it out loud. Bet you’ll get a smile, no matter what you’re doing. Whenever you’re feeling down or you’re having a bad day, just remember — Joop.

Everybody is Happy Here

We’re struggling to come up with a time when stealing is ever morally right. But sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants. This picture is a pretty good example.

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Dropping your car off with a couple of happy pups inside is going to put a smile on any mechanic’s face, even if there’s a non-zero chance that you will suddenly have fewer pups to take care of. Such valuable cargo needs to be protected, so it’s a good thing that the owner is getting the car worked on. Don’t want anything happening to these happy little doggies.

Spring For a New Spare

Hopefully, you never have to use your spare tire, but that’s just not how life usually goes. Rolling the old thing out and using it to get yourself to a shop for a real replacement has to happen every once in a while.

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But here’s a friendly reminder to make sure the spare doesn’t last too long, such as the example in this photo – which was made in West Germany. A country that no longer exists. And hasn’t since 1990. It appears as if the picture was posted in 2018, which still meant the tire was twenty-eight years old.

Did You Scream Out Loud? We Screamed Out Loud

Never, ever, EVER drive on a tire’s rim. Just don’t! We see you thinking about it, don’t. As this picture proves, the damage is immediate and expensive.

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This thing happened after just three days of driving. The owner of this car thought he didn’t have a spare tire, so he just…drove right on the rim, almost certainly causing far, far more damage than we can see. Also, he did have a spare tire. It was in the trunk along with the jack. Show this to anybody who knows anything about cars and you’ll get a yelp out of them.

Just Fix the Car

One mechanic got an urgent request for repairs of a car’s A/C unit, but the damage was a bit odd. There was a hole in one of the flip-down trays under the air conditioning controls. Another hole in the a/c box had something rattling around in it.

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Yes, your original thought was correct – that’s a bullet. The person who brought the car in didn’t give any other details, and the mechanics aren’t being paid enough to ask questions about that sort of thing. They just did the work and went on with their lives.

Always Nice to Have a Good Description

Powers of description are an underrated trait, and this is a perfect example of why. Maybe the owner of this vehicle wasn’t able to tell WHY the rear brakes were making sounds like “Dory from Finding Nemo talking to the whales,” but a car’s rear brakes shouldn’t be making that sort of sound no matter what.

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It’s a pretty good bet that the brake pads have just been worn down, but with that kind of horrendous noise coming out, there might be something else going on. Cars shouldn’t sound like a fish, and especially not Dory.

“It’s Not THAT Hot!”

Car engines can get pretty hot. It’s one of their big things. Temperatures reach into the triple digits of celsius, more than two hundred Fahrenheit or hotter. That’s why it’s so important to have a working temp gauge – too hot, and your car will be in trouble.

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This gauge, however, is either very, very broken, or the car is very, very hot. We’re going to go ahead and say it’s the first one. Plus, it’s only seventy-three degrees outside – it would feel much hotter if the engine was actually that warm.

Yeah, I’m Not Going to Drive That

If — for any reason whatsoever — you have to put a big sign on the steering wheel of your car to make it drivable, that car is not drivable! Especially if it says something along the lines of, oh for instance, that the accelerator pedal gets stuck to the floor and you have to pull on a string to get it unstuck.

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We shouldn’t have to point out how incredibly unsafe this is, and we also hope that the picture that was taken was when it was in a garage, getting the problem fixed as soon as possible.

Whatever Works

Most of the stories on the list are going to have to do with the cars themselves, but not all of them. This picture, for instance, might look like something out of a police bust, but it’s just how one customer paid the one thousand-dollar repair bill.

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According to the original poster, the owner of the vehicle works at Sonic, and paid the entire bill with “mostly 1s and 5s.” No one is happy having to shell out that much cash for a big bill, but being able to pay for it out of pocket is pretty unique.

Dogs in Cars = Fun Stories

When you have to bring your car to the shop, there are lots of reasons for bringing the dog along, too. Even if it’s just to take a nice relaxing walk while the work is being done.

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You might also leave the pooch in the car, as this owner did, which gave the mechanic quite a fright. The driver hadn’t actually revealed the presence of a snoozing dog in the backseat, meaning all parties involved got startled. At least the dog pulled a pretty funny face.

We Don’t Know What’s Going On Here and We’re Afraid to Ask

If anybody wants to clue us in about why or how this is happening to that poor tire, then we’re more than willing to listen. It looks like it’s a combination of pumping far too much air into the tire and some sort of rubber bubblewrap.

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Did this happen naturally or was it something that the driver did? Was it accidental or on purpose? We just hope that the person who was in charge of fixing this took it nice and easy – bursting tires are extremely dangerous.

Who Knows What Happened

This car is a rental that someone checked out, and then the police brought it back. That is not hail damage. The side of the car, the windows, and the tire all took damage from a shower of bullets.

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These kinds of pictures always bring up so many questions – was the person who rented the car involved in the shootout? Was this just a random event? Did the driver encourage this kind of activity? We’d hate to think so, but there are lots of kinds of people out there. Maybe they just hated Malibus.

You’d Think This Would Be More Common

That little compartment on the passenger side of the vehicle will often contain maps, charging cords, napkins, the car’s registration, and a lot of other stuff, but they rarely contain their namesake: gloves. The mechanic who submitted this picture had been working for sixteen years, and this was the first time he had opened the glove compartment to actually find gloves.

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And there are even two different gloves, most likely his and hers options. Maybe the car was brought into the shop to fix a broken heater. That or this was a classy convertible.

When You Really, Really Want to be Safe

Private security is a huge business, and being safe while you’re driving is just as important as walking around outside. One mechanic had a Tahoe come in that was built for keeping people as safe as possible – in the picture you can see the driver’s side window is about an inch of solid glass.

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Apparently, the rest of the vehicle was just as armored. Whether it was an A-list celeb who used this car, or it was for someone who just can’t stop looking over his or her shoulder, it’s sure to be a nice load off the mind.

That Will be a Hundred Dollars

If this list can tell you anything, it’s that cars are complicated. If you don’t know how to rotate your tires or remove your car’s battery, you can go to a mechanic and get it fixed for a fee…and then there are the stories of people who don’t seem to even want to learn about their car.

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Such as this story, which begins with a car’s passenger-side window stuck halfway open and ends with the mechanic turning off the window lock. Thankfully, not a big deal.

Going Above and Beyond

This picture comes from a mechanic who said that a sweet old lady brought the car in for some work, and also asked them to apply the license plate decal for her – her tired old bones made it hard to bend down and work on the ground.

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The result was this inch-thick pile of stickers, which must date back decades, likely back to the twentieth century. We wouldn’t be surprised if it goes back even further. Of course, the mechanic probably cleaned all the old stickers off, but not before snapping a pic for posterity.

Party Car!

Boy, that’s a lot of warning lights for a car to display. Something pretty ridiculous must have happened to this vehicle to get it in such a state. We don’t know the real reason, but the driver stated that all he did was listen to EDM once, and the car couldn’t stop raving. We certainly aren’t going to ask any further questions.

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Thankfully, the fix is pretty simple – just play a Yanni album and the car will calm down. Also, is that an analog clock on the right side of the console, there? That’s pretty neat.

That’s Not the Right Kind of Driver

For most of us, the way we start our cars up is with a small piece of shaped metal called a key. Keys are pretty handy, since they will only work with one or two things, and you can’t use any key for any lock.

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We don’t know why one owner went off-script, but according to this mechanic’s picture, somebody brought a car in and provided a screwdriver as a way to get the engine started. With any luck, one of the reasons the car came in was to get a new starter assembly.

Is That a Cheep Fix?

Strangely, car engines are the place to be for some small kinds of animals. You’re usually going to find rodents, but stray cats will sometimes also hunker down for protection from the elements. That makes this pristine bird’s nest (and a trio of eggs) an even stranger sight.

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Birds will often make nests anywhere they can find some shelter, but a car’s engine seems out of the realm of the ordinary. A few things have to be true: the car has to have been in disuse for some time, and the trunk had to have been open that whole time.

Come On, Ferrari

As one of the pieces of the engine that is more likely to be replaced, the car’s battery is usually set in a spot that is easy to reach. If you’re on a trip and need a jump, you don’t have to, say, take an entire wheel off. Which seems to be how one Ferrari model set it up, and shame on them.

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A job that most amateurs can do with a little bit of knowledge suddenly becomes a full day of work. Well, while you’re in there you might as well do a tire rotation and a brake check.

This Truck Only Travels at LUDICROUS SPEED

Lots of people take the opportunity to decorate their cars. There’s plenty of space on most trucks, vans, and SUVs, and you’re going to be traveling all over anyway, so you can give pedestrians and other drivers something to look at.

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The designs can get goofy, such as this truck’s tailgate. It features two characters from the 1987 Mel Brooks science-fiction comedy spoof on Star Wars “Spaceballs.” Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet and George Wyner as Colonel Sandurz love the feeling of speed.

A Model 2008 Ribeye

When one mechanic heard that a customer was going to drop off their BBQ to get work done on the brakes and bearings, the mechanic thought the customer was joking. As you can see in the picture, not so.

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Thankfully, the work seems like it will be pretty simple. There’s no engine to get around. Jacking it up might be a bit of a problem if it’s an uncommon shape, however. The best part about this job is if you do good enough work, you might get rewarded with some carnivorous delicacy.

If You’ve Ever Wondered What the Underside of a Tesla Looks Like…

There it is. As fully electric cars, Teslas do a lot of things differently. Of course, they still have brakes and lots of other traditional car parts so they’ll still need regular work done, but they don’t have to go about the traditional car standards.

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Keeping the undercarriage sealed off does offer a few other advantages, too – the parts that are down there will take less damage on bad roads, and parts can’t be stolen as easily. On the downside, it’s a lot harder for mechanics to access the parts if something does go wrong.

We’d Almost Hope So

No matter how much work engineers put into them, engines and cars will never be perfect. You can have a smooth ride all the way up to sixty or seventy, but once you hit three digits, you’re going to feel something.

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The note left for the mechanic on this car says that the customer has made it to three digits and beyond, but at a hundred and thirty miles per hour the car vibrates. Yeah. Duh. Hopefully, the mechanic rolled his eyes, poked around a little bit, and said nothing can be done so please stop driving that fast.

There’s Even a Term For It

A woman apparently brought her car in for a new battery, and then the next week came back saying that ever since the new battery, her car has been doing weird things. Case in point – that new red line that appeared on her car’s tachometer.

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If you have ever driven a car, you may recognize that every single car ever has one of them. When you “red-line,” you’re pushing your car too much. Anyway, the woman wanted a refund because the shop had messed up her car, and without a doubt, she got laughed out of the building.

They Don’t Belong in an Engine

One customer came in with a car that needed a jump just to get moving almost every day. The owner suspected the alternator, and so did the local parts store. A heroic mechanic looked and found that both of the battery terminals (the lines to the battery) were loose. In fact, the cable that went from the fuse box to the battery was zip-tied in place. Talk about a facepalm moment.

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Thankfully, all the mechanic had to do was replace the missing bolt and tighten everything down. The car fired up without a second thought.

Good Luck Selling That One

The purpose of the exhaust system is to get rid of stuff that the engine can’t use. If the exhaust system isn’t working right, all that junk will just hang around. One mechanic gave a car a test drive, finding it was low on power and making a rattling noise from the exhaust.

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Usually, that means a failing catalytic converter, but upon closer inspection, something quite unexpected fell out of the exhaust: a hunk of carbon that had formed around a broken filter. Like a pearl from an oyster, except totally black, disgusting, and worth nothing at all.

Don’t Let the Brakes Go

When it comes to car problems, conventional wisdom says there are two to address as soon as possible: the brakes, and the transmission.

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One mechanic has said that most people will get brakes replaced when they need to be replaced, but others will let rotors wear down and get so rusted that they snap off. Others he’s seen have been so worn down that the actual braking material was the piston behind the pad. If your car is having trouble coming to a stop, make sure to take it in or you could end up being in a lot of trouble.

This Is Supposed to Be the Easiest Job

Most mechanics could change the oil with their eyes shut, and many people chose to do it themselves instead of bothering a mechanic. It’s usually easy thanks to the filter cap, which unscrews by hand – or by wrench if it’s on there good.

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One mechanic told us that when he was changing the oil on an Escalade, whoever installed the filter didn’t lubricate the gasket, meaning the gap was practically glued to the engine. Thanks to a screwdriver and some elbow grease, he got it unscrewed, but ended up exhausted and covered with oil. Yikes!

Try a Second Opinion

Though it isn’t common these days, some mechanics might be trying to pull one over on you. For big jobs, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion. For instance, one woman had been told by the first shop she visited that her transmission didn’t have any fluid pressure, and recommended replacing the entire unit – a long and incredibly expensive job.

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At a second shop, and all the mechanic did was replace the fluid and fix the clogged filter. Amazingly, the car started working again, just the way it should. It likely saved the owner thousands of dollars.

Don’t Leave Your Safety to Chance

If you’re about to head out on a long trip, it’s a good idea to give your car a once-over to avoid potential mishaps.

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One mechanic, while changing the oil for a driver who was about to make the drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, found that the car’s tires were worn down to threads – making the chance of a flat tire or a dangerous blowout higher, especially on those hot desert roads. The tires got replaced and the gambler got on his way.

Nothing Stops the Heat

After enough time as a mechanic, most jobs become pretty rote. Changing the oil, rotating tires, changing air filters – it’s all pretty in-and-out as far as experienced mechanics are concerned. Still, one mechanic who lives in Arizona stated that the weather often becomes the biggest issue. He’s seen temperatures in the triple digits frequently, and once even recorded it at an eye-popping one hundred and twenty-four degrees!

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Doing any kind of work that sort of heat is a tall order, but doing physical work around hot engines, in open garages? Good luck with that.

Like Making It to the Center of a Tootsie Pop

Depending on how your car is constructed, some simple jobs can become unbelievably tiresome. For instance, changing the alternator on a Volvo proved to be a harrowing task for one mechanic, who had to take off the front-right wheel, move the brake out of the way, get around the suspension.

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Next on the list; remove the drive axle, and move a number of fuel lines and heat shielding, all just to access the alternator! Then he had to actually remove it, wrestling it through a tiny gap. After that, it was put a new one in and put everything back. What a hero!

Well, There’s Your Problem

For most mechanics, having more information is always better. Sometimes, however, it’s pretty easy to see where the issue is coming from. One mechanic had just a little bit of information going in: the car was overheating, won’t start, and there was smoke coming from the engine. All it took to find the problem area was popping the hood.

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Thanks to a short, which had melted them down, the alternator terminals had fried and looked like burnt marshmallows! Thankfully, everything got fixed before it could get worse. Smoke often leads to fire, as conventional wisdom tells us.