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Old 04-12-2006, 03:07 AM
haasman's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 3,097
Mistakes, errors and generally dumb things while repairing cars

Here’s mine:

Years ago, after cleaning front wheel bearings in a SafetyKleen I dried them off with compressed air. At once it started to spin on the end of my finger. It started spinning faster and faster, making a really cool and loud whining sound.

I noticed a tech close to me flailing his arms that I mistook for encouragement. I continued blasting the bearing with air and in that instant it exploded a frightening crack!

Bearings shot all over the shop. Broke windows, dented tool boxes and trash cans.

Miraculously missed me, two other techs and two very expensive cars.

Dumb, very very dumb


'03 E320 Wagon-Sold
'95 E320 Wagon-Went to Ex
'93 190E 2.6-Wrecked
'91 300E-Went to Ex
'65 911 Coupe (#302580)
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Old 04-12-2006, 04:04 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 482
Few days ago I was doing cap, rotor, wires, plugs, other stuff on my 300SE. Had the radiator out to make the job easier. After all the work was done (but before we replaced the radiator), I started the car up to test it out. Figured that the thermostat was pretty much closed, not much coolant would get out in the five seconds I had the car running.

Forgot about the ATF lines to the radiator. ATF everywhere. Wondered why my friend had a bad look on his face after I revved it a few times.

Also, last time I changed the oil, I didn't double check to make sure the old oil filter's gasket was removed. So I had two gaskets there. Backed out of the driveway, only to notice my neighbor yelling something at me. Got out of car and saw this:

About a gallon or so of Castrol Syntec on my driveway. Not good.
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Old 04-12-2006, 04:37 AM
Gary Ganaway's Avatar
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 367
Replacing rear shocks on my 380SE in my garage All went well until I was done and lowering jack and for some reason the car was not lowering as it should. Realized I had left rear door open and its edge was gouging into the garage wall holding car up. Fortunately was able to jack car up and release it but have about a 6 inch long 2 inch deep gouge in the wall but at least the door is still attached to the car.
95 E420 ( 76K) SOLD
85 380SE(125k)
95 SL500(72k)
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Old 04-12-2006, 06:23 AM
kbannister's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: North East, MD
Posts: 113

Just finished putting in a new timing chain and got everything bolted back where it belonged. Had to remove the Rad. hose because of a stripped socked head. NEVER paid one bit of attention, poured fresh antifreeze into the jug, looked down and realized I had just put in the "RED" stuff instead of the green. Getting flushed today..............
I really gets fun when they all don't run

84 500SL
99 Jeep XJ
93 Jeep YJ
03 Custom Softail
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Old 04-12-2006, 06:33 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 783
Stupid things

I was working on my 300SD in my garrage and had the hood in the full upright position. I needed more light in the engine compartment to see what I was doing so got in the car and backed out without lowering the hood. The top of the grille cleared the top of the garrage but got stuck on the "bulge" that the grille has in the center. I was driving slow and noticed I snagged the garrage and stopped. I tried to lower the hood but managed to get the car wedged in the opening. I was able to drive the car back in and only dented a grille strip and ego.
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Old 04-12-2006, 09:50 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Baton Rouge La
Posts: 2,632
Had a Honda Civic station Wagon. was changing the rear gas filter and when i turned to get a closepin to pin the hose, i let the hose go...gas hit an incandescent light bulb. Garage caught on fire, smoke through the house.

Allstate insurance was great. I was out of the house for nearly 3 months.

Fortunately, the 280se was in the driveway.

I didn't work much on cars for 8-10 years.

Never use a light bulb for a lighting source.
1989 300ce 129k
( facelifted front,updated tail lights, lowered suspension,bilstein sports, lorinser front spoiler, MOMO steering wheel, remus exhaust,stainless steel brake lines). (Gone)

1997 s320 154k (what a ride). Sold with 179k miles. Replaced with Hyundai Equus

1994 e320 Cabriolet 108k

1972 280se 4.5 153k Owned for 12 yrs, sorry I sold it

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Old 04-12-2006, 10:03 AM
Posts: n/a
When I was 16 I had a Datsun tryck that I used to beat the crap out of.
1952 cc motor weber 32/36 dgev carbs, thunderbird headers, totaly tricked. I wanted to take out yhe helper leaf spring to soften the ride. Had it up on jack-stands, axle detached, pounding on the frame that I has twisted using a sledgehammer. My mom comes out of the house hollering about all the noise, I crawl out from under the truck. BOOM the truck came off the stands.
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Old 04-12-2006, 10:06 AM
TX76513's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Brandon, Mississippi
Posts: 5,203
Olde but a goodie. Spent the better part of a morning changing a fuel filter. Several trips to Auto store trying to buy the right ring clamp to remove the fuel find out you just remove the bolt on top. Duh!
15 VW Passat TDI
00 E420
98 E300 DT
97 E420 Donor Car - NEED PARTS? PM ME!
97 S500
97 E300D
86 Holden Jackaroo Turbo D
86 300SDL
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Old 04-12-2006, 10:56 AM
G-Benz's Avatar
Razorback Soccer Dad
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Dallas/Fort-Worth
Posts: 5,711
...another oldie...

Adjusting the timing and installing a new belt on the old VW motor. You can statically time VWs just by rotating the crank while watching the rotor (and I had a degree pulley on the crank). Usually just took a socket wrench to turn the bolt on the alternator pulley to work the crank pulley over (attached via the belt).

Decided to start up the motor after the adjustments, and suddenly, WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!....the sound of the still attached socket wrench spinning on the pulley and the handle banging on the inside of the decklid!

Eventually it flung loose and catapulted over to the neighbor's yard!
2009 ML350 (106K) - Family vehicle
2001 CLK430 Cabriolet (80K) - Wife's car
2005 BMW 645CI (138K) - My daily driver
2016 Mustang (32K) - Daughter's car
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Old 04-12-2006, 11:09 AM
Cabernet red, actually
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Willamette Valley, OR
Posts: 503
This one happened to me just a week ago. I was changing the oil in my 300D for the first time. Everything was going well until I gave one of the bolts on the oil filter housing too much torque and broke it. But even with one side unfastened, I figured what the heck, I'd circulate the oil through the filter.

Well I ran the car for about 30 seconds and ended up with about 3.5 liters of oil on my driveway, which coincidentally is about 10 feet from the well we use for water. D'oh! I had to dig it all out.

1985 300D Turbo, CA model
248,650 miles and counting...
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Old 04-12-2006, 11:42 AM
The Workshop MB's Avatar
Mobile ASE Master MB Tech
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: california
Posts: 55
Some years ago, working on one of those engines with the dual plug design (plugs on both sides of the engine), well, I thought I was blowing all the fuel out of the cylinders by shuting down the fuel pump and removing the spark plugs and cranking it over. IDIOT, I forgot about the plugs and wires on the other side, cranked it over, got jet streams of fire that shot over the fender and engulfed the hood.

That is when I decided to focus on one make of vehicle.....
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Old 04-12-2006, 12:04 PM
Ali Al-Chalabi's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Knoxville, TN
Posts: 1,837
I was working on my C280 inside the garage and had the 2 front wheels on ramps. When I am done, for some reason I get the bright idea to roll the car backwards off the ramps with the driver's door open. The driver's door caught the support column in the middle of the garage and the entire weight of the car was supported by the driver's door with the car about half way down the ramps. Bent the hinges and the door frame and door shell.
Ali Al-Chalabi

2001 CLK55
1999 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel
2002 Harley-Davidson Fatboy
Merlin Extralight w/ Campy Record
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Old 04-12-2006, 12:11 PM
yal's Avatar
yal yal is offline
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: New York, Long Island
Posts: 2,707
Decided to take a closer look at my rear rotors. Didn't feel like walking down to the basement to get the hydro jack so I used the MB one. Forgot to wedge the tires!
Car rolled back and and missed catching my leg by inches. It ended up bending the rear dust protector and sitting on the lower control arm.

Had to use the hydro jack lol
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Old 04-12-2006, 12:15 PM
Pete Geither's Avatar
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Western Pa.
Posts: 2,417
While welding underneath an old Mustang, I managed to touch the gas tank with the end of the electrode. Instant hole, with a stream of burning gas coming out. Managed to get it out before any real damage was done. Still get chills over that one.
95 SL500 Smoke Silver, Parchment 64K
07 E350 4matic Station Wagon White 34K
02 E320 4Matic Silver/grey 80K
05 F150 Silver 44K
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Old 04-12-2006, 12:32 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: NJ
Posts: 1,182
Had 4x4 trooper front wheels up on ramps. I couldn't reach one grease nipple on the rear driveshaft so I reversed a 1/4 rotation of the wheels or so...forgot that the trucks front wheels were now on the slope of the ramp and started to jack up the rear to get the truck level for rear diff fluid change...truck rolled back over me.

82 300D....went to MB heaven
90 350 SDL....excercising con rods
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