The Ten Worst 'There, I Fixed It' Car Repairs

It'll take you a lot of time and effort to keep an old car on the road. Or you could just throw some shit together, like Jalopnik readers' ten worst barely-functional ways to fix a car.


Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!

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10.) Duct taping it

Suggested By: Triborough


Why it's terrible: Your goal was to get your bumper back on and keep your car looking respectable. First of all, that duct tape isn't going to hold forever, and your car looks even worse with the tape than without the bumper. But nothing says "duck it and f&@# it" like a little West Virginia chrome.

Photo Credit: Triborough


9.) Trolley wheel replacement

Suggested By: SennaMP4


Why it's terrible: On the one hand, there was some serious work and ingenuity that made this happen. On the other hand, using a trolley wheel in the place of a real car wheel will get you killed. That could be a problem.

Photo Credit: There, I Fixed It.


8.) Jury-rigging your battery

Suggested By: godfathercorvette


Why it's terrible: Whether you're using a bungee cord as a tie down or using home wiring to run your starter, there's no easier way to start a fire than connecting/securing your battery improperly. This fix works for now, but the clamp's handle is pretty close to the other terminal. You may as well smoke at a gas pump.

Photo Credit: There, I Fixed It.


7.) Weird door handles

Suggested By: cdoggyd


Why it's terrible: We like wooden cars here at Jalopnik, but this door handle isn't what we had in mind. The wood is screwed into the body, holding the door closed. Turn it (scraping the paint) and the door opens. Brilliant! We would suggest removing the door for a Jeep-esque open air experience, but that would spoil the car's sweet custom paint scheme.


Photo Credit: cdoggyd


6.) Garden hose tire

Suggested By: StreetsideStig


Why it's terrible: This might get you to work, but the intermittent shower of sparks flying from beneath the car might attract unwanted law enforcement attention.

Photo Credit: Walmart Car Show


5.) Improvised windshields

Suggested By: ThatCrazyGu


Why it's terrible: To be fair, this fix is sort of brilliant. Reader ThatCrazyGu explains:

Ben Slocum and Dillon Van Way in the 2009 Rally Colorado. Rolled their Focus and they needed a windshield since the original shattered. What do you do? Clearly the answer is to take the hatch off, duct tape it to the front of the car and continue racing.


Photo Credit: ThatCrazyGu


4.) Using the wrong fuses

Suggested By: The Stig's Rustbelt Cousin


Why it's terrible: Again, here we are with dangerous electrical contrivances. The Stig's Rustbelt Cousin puts the idiocy of this type of repair into perspective:

I once knew a guy who decided to remove every fuse in the fusebox of his 1985 RX-7 and replace them all with 30 amp fuses, on the basis of "if a 5 or 10 amp fuse is good, a 30 amp will be better."

By the time we put the fire out, he had learned why fuses come with different ratings.


Photo Credit: VivaAntarctica


3.) Toying with T-tops

Suggested By: MR2 Nate


Why it's terrible: Short of spending some cash to fix the seals on T-tops (and, to a lesser extent, sunroofs) the right way, you'll probably never get them to stop leaking. This reader found out the hard way, although it looks like he never tried roofing compound. Duh!

Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote "Hell is other people."

I say that is pretty close, but for me… Hell is leaky T-Tops.

These have given me more "There, I fixed it" moments than I ever thought myself capable of and the worst part was none of them even worked! The T-Tops in my 91 MR2 have been the bane of my existence for the last 6 months. Now, the proper way to fix them is to just replace the old worn tired seals but those cost about $300.00 if you do both sides. So, let's start from the beginning…

In the beginning both the driver's side and passenger side leaked, although the passenger side was much worse than the driver's side. So, I did a quick search on the internets and bought these… Eccentric T-Top Guides. Well, it half-worked. The driver's side stopped leaking but the passenger side was still just as bad.

T-Tops: 1 — Me: 0

The problem with the passenger T-Tops was the place where the window glass met the T-Top had developed about a 1.5mm gap that would let water in. My garage was a mess and not wanting to deal with it immediately I figured I would just get a car cover and make-do til I had time to clean the garage. Well, it seems that for some stupid reason car-covers let water through… WTF?! Didn't realize this ‘till I had left it covered like this for a week of rain. Now the passenger seat was really soaked.

T-Tops: 2 — Me: 0

Next I tried cutting open the end of the weather-stripping and threading a piece of aquarium tubing inside to try and beef it up and close the gap. No dice, still leaked.

T-Tops: 3 — Me: 0

I then tried wedging a length of coaxial cable in behind the weather-stripping to close the gap. Still leaked and the coaxial cable wouldn't stay put.

T-Tops: 4 — Me: 0


T-Tops: 5 — Me: 0

Engine gasket repair fluid…

T-Tops: 6 — Me: 0

Duck Tape… (Wouldn't stick b/c of the Vaseline and gasket fix fluid)

T-Tops: 7 — Me: 0

Finally, I had a stroke of genius. I took the door strikers and drilled out the screw holes so they could sit ~1.5mm closer.

Final score:

T-Tops: 7 — Me: 1

Photo Credit: Toyota UK


2.) Brick as engine mount

Suggested By: LandofMinos: Oh, my God.- I am ready. I am ready for your best. Oh, my God, what happened?- I don't know, man. I just got here myself.- I think he broke his leg. - I want to find out what's happening.- Max, can you hear me?


Why it's terrible: Replacing something pliable with something hard is never bound to end well, particularly if it's shoehorned into some odd crevice.

I remember hearing of a bloke with an old Holden EK ('61-'62) with an inline 6 cylinder engine and standard 3 on-the-tree gearbox. He wanted to replace the 3 speed with a Toyota 5 speed gearbox. But didn't have a cross member to suit. Without it, the gearbox would drag on the ground.

So what does he do? He installs the 5 speed (out of a Celica) and sticks a house brick behind the head of the engine. Basically wedging the brick between the engine and fire wall! Which sort of held the back of the engine up off the ground. So now, the gearbox is being held in up the front by engine mounts (via the engine) and the rear being held in by a house brick (and partially the diff).

Every time he went over a bump, the rear suspension would compress, which sent movement down the drive shaft, pushing the whole engine/gearbox assembly upwards, which would then come slamming back down against the brick creating a monstrous 'thud' behind the firewall.

It was only a matter of time before the now structurally stressed firewall would fail disemboweling the car at speed. Which would've been a scary sight to behold, but thankfully the mechanic who told the story prevented the idiot owner from driving it until it was fixed properly.


Photo Credit: Chris Keating


1.) Beer can engine block plug

Suggested By: SmartAspen Could Have Bought 1.31 V6 Mustangs Instead


Why it's terrible: If you're using a beer can to plug a hole in the block, it's probably time to send your beloved jalopy to the crusher. But some folks opt to keep on keepin' on, 'til the bitter end.

Bought a '75 D100 for $500 to use as short term transportation while I fixed up my other hooptie at the time. Kind of a spur of the moment decision while heading back from a salvage yard trip with a friend. Made a funny knocking sound, but the salesman on the corner lot assured me it was a normal sound for the age and it had a lot of life left in it.

Three weeks later, as I was driving home from my friend's house late one night, the knocking got worse and then suddenly....


Much to my surprise...I make it home [with a gaping hole in the block]. The next day I take a second look in the light. I've got a few hours to get to work, but it's 25 miles away. I've got beer. I've got silicone. I've got a couple quarts of gear oil.

Yep. Silly-coned a beer can over the hole in the block. Backwoods engineering, sponsored by Bud Light. The hole was right next to the exhaust manifold collector so the crank was flinging oil on the exhaust any time the engine was running. It still leaked like crazy, and still had the mosquito fogger thing going on, but this let me get about 30-35 miles to the gallon; of oil. I drove it like this for almost two weeks until I gave it away.


Photo Credit: Dodge

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