We asked Jalopnik readers to tell us about times they brought ruin and destruction to their own vehicles. These are their very worst stories. Read them and learn from their mistakes.
[Welcome to Countersteer, our new feature for 2016! We ask you to tell us your greatest stories of success and failure, then we pull the very best of them to share with the rest of the world.]
Each of these stories will seek to tell a bit of a lesson, so we only pulled a handful from this mega collection of misdeeds and mistakes. Read through the whole comments right here to see what else Jalopnik readers have done wrong.
Reader Ike B’s story is true for us all.
When I was younger and stupider I was driving my 1990 BMW 525i with a 3.5 M30 in it and went over a concrete island at the end of an offramp in the rain at suicidal speed when the bald tires responded to hard braking by sliding like I was on ice.
All four wheels shattered
All four tires exploded
All front control arms broke
Front and rear bumpers shattered
Driver’s front fender mangled
Right front strut broke clean in half
Left front strut went through the hood
Airbag deployed, causing arm burns
The impact was so violent the chip in the ECU popped out of its socket
I still drive that car. It required...some alignment work.
Reader Shirosake is fine now, after much of his body was replaced with titanium.
RV parked in the road on a blind, 60 MPH corner. Almost died that day. In the hospital for a month.
...just short circuits, as reader Nkuhn1995 explains.
Put a one wire alternator on my ‘66 F250 and left the old alternator wires hanging... Turns out the arced and almost burned the truck down. It’s still sitting there with the burnt wires.
The price of budget racing is sometimes higher than expected, as Jalopnik reader Brain Silvestro discovered.
Remember that Fiesta we drove across the country last week?
I completely destroyed it early last year while wheel-to-wheel ice racing it.
Drove it straight into a 3ft tall ice barrier, then was rear ended. The car drove, but not straight. The rear twist-beam (I think that’s what it was) was bent, so the rear wheels were not facing straight. That needed to be replaced, along with both bumpers, and one headlight. No frame damage though !
Let reader FesterPesterMisterBoo’s mistake teach you to never leave a car on cruise control when road conditions are variable.
I was young, dumb and driving a rear wheel drive 1993 Ford Explorer Sport with no airbags and limited ABS on a stretch of I-20 that was subject to flooding. I forgot to mention the cruise control was set to 75mph... hit some standing water under Moreland Ave on I-20 east bound, did 3 360’s (or as someone put it a 1080) straightened out just in time to hit a retaining wall with the passenger right corner, slid up the wall 4-5 feet and came to a rest. Stumbled out of the car, chain smoked about a dozen cigartettes sitting on the rear bumper of the car waving off people stopping to ask if I was ok. Then drove the remaining 130 miles to Augusta, GA doing 45 mph with the front wheels wobbling as if they were about to pop off. Fun times.
Learned my lesson, now I only use cruise control when the roads are icy!
The irony of this story from reader StalePhish’s buddy is perfect.
I was up at Team O’Neil Rally School with a friend doing some winter training. He touched a cone in slightly the wrong way and it ended up getting jammed up under the engine and ripped off a coolant hose, making the radiator completely bleed out in the snow. One of the race mechanics put it on the lift and made some temporary quick repairs by cutting the hose shorter. We were out of AAA’s towing distance so he made the call to try and drive home. He stopped at the store and picked up gallons of coolant fluid and had to make a stop every 15 minutes or so to refill. I’m pretty sure all of it, many gallons worth, was left on the highway on the trip home.
Upgrading a car is more than just adding power, as reader C-5M Load Smasher discovered.
It was my first time taking a high horsepower front-wheel drive car (my beloved RSX with turbo) to the drag strip and I subsequently shattered both axles when I got a great launch and both slicks hooked up immediately. This broke other things as well and sent little pieces of half shaft and cv joint flying all over the place under the hood
How reader slickrick stayed out of prison I do not know.
Killed my Saab 9000 Turbo back in highschool. Friend of mine got a novelty detective blue light (Like you see in the old cop shows where they throw it on the roof) and we decided it would be great to pull people over with it while trolling the back roads of Vermont in the middle of the night. We would hide in a dark driveway, wait for a car to go by, zoom after them, tailgate them for a minute then throw on the light. The guy would pull over and we’d hang out behind them for a minute then drive by really slow with our fat friend’s ass hanging out the window. Once completed, we would speed away. Problem was, a guy decided he wanted to chase us in his Sentra and I had to put the pedal to the metal to escape. My Turbocharged Saab with 201,000 miles on it decided that this was the last straw and borked the oil line going to the turbo which then fried itself. It also thought it would be a good idea to pop a headgasket at the same time. And that is how the mighty Saab gave it’s life for a couple of high school dumbasses who were hell bent on killing themselves.
Reader Chairman Kaga has a whole epic of his first car, a $1,000 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle that you should read right here, but this bit at the end about painting it is great.
I became frustrated with the mis-matched paint on the hood. I grabbed a few cans of Krylon beige from Wal-Mart and sprayed away. No primer, no prep. Just some masking tape and newspaper, and rattle rattle rattle. I know now how to do a quality job with some spray cans. I’ve actually repainted my Honda’s bumper to a finish that’s virtually indistinguishable from factory. The beetle looked like a demented alien clown ejaculated on the front of the car, and his virulent seed had caused a chemical reaction that findamentally altered the texture, color, and integrity of the remainder. I had the whole car repainted by the husband of a lady I worked with. Paid him $150 and a few packs of Camel Lights. It was ugly, but at least my friends didn’t call my car the cum bubble.
What can go wrong for a BMW can go wrong for any of us, even those like reader Vizzini driving a near-perfect Porsche 911.
Recipe for Disaster
1 mid-twenties (F) January morning
1 off-camber uphill corner on poorly-maintained county road
1 nonexistent drainage system that permits runoff to run freely across poorly-maintained county road at apex of corner
1 driver who has driven the same road everyday to work for years
1 rear engined sports car
Pinch of other cars
1 sturdy roadside tree
Mix: cold morning, bad road and drainage system to create thin flow of water across road at apex. Drive several cars through water flow, dispersing water past apex to freeze into large patch of black ice. Add rear engined sports car at posted road speeds; accelerate after apex water flow, but while still within unseen black ice field. Begin gentle but uncontrollable clockwise rotation of rear of car. Increase rotation rate by striking roadside tree with sufficient force to trigger airbags and collapse front end of car. Spin once, park by side of road. Retire car.
Optional: accept healthy insurance payout, buy newer car of same type ... with all-wheel drive.
The legendary Bill Caswell of $500 BMW rally car fame sent this one in, explaining how his “friend” turned his life around towards safe trackdays and autocrosses. At least they were wearing helmets.
I had this “friend” that was 18 or so and his mom had an Acura Legend with the larger sport wheels and tires deal and the thing was fast for the early 90’s. North of Chicago were rapidly expanding subdivisions. In the wealthier neighborhoods these things looked like racetracks with big rolling hills and high speed sweeping corners. The best part was some were setup for one entrance with like a gatehouse meaning no traffic once you were inside. Even better was the way they built and sold the homes. They would pave the new streets and leave them there for months with no homes.
This friend of mine used to go up at night and lap the place at inappropriate speeds, usually with three of friends in the car. They really had no idea how stupid they were. At some point someone was afraid of them all knocking heads and grabbed a motocross helmet. Well no one wanted to be the only guy without a helmet so next thing you know, they were all wearing motocross helmets hot lapping a closed subdivision in the middle of the night while cranking tunes. In an Acura Legend.
Then the tire blew out... Then the tire left the rim... then the rim hit the ground sending a wall of sparks up along the side of the car blocking the view out the window. My friend was still in control crabbing down the street trying to stop in a massive slide. He almost had it when the tie rod snapped and the wheel kicked all the way back and caught the pavement sending them into a violent spin. They hit the fire hydrant going so fast that they actually hit it twice. First with the front end of the car which served the bolts and popped it into the air. Then the back came around and hit the hydrant like a baseball.
All the airbags went off. The front of the car was mess. A few minutes later they realized the back of the car was totaled as well. They said it was so weird to be sitting in a field with both ends of the car crushed and no solid object in site. Apparently they knocked that hydrant out of the park because it was over a hundred feet away on the other side of the road.
They didn’t have cell phones back then and were miles from anything. They tried to change the busted wheel thinking maybe they could secure the tie rod enough to limp the car home in idle. Except their clumsy friend pushed the car off the jack by slamming the trunk and the jack blew off through the door splitting it in half. the car was sitting on its rotors totally fucked. My friend got a few tickets for the ordeal and moved onto auto crossing and track days.
This one is from reader Pending Approval. We all understand.
It was the early 00’s, and I just got done watching Fast and Furious for the 42nd time....
I hope you enjoyed this week’s Countersteer, stay tuned for more next week!
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