What Are The Worst Conditions In Which You've Ever Had To Fix A Car?

December is here, meaning Michigan has shifted into a wintry hellscape. And, because of some poor planning on my end, I’m now wrenching on my $800 Jeep Grand Wagoneer in my rock-solid, snow-covered backyard instead of in my garage. It’s true misery.

One hundred yards. That’s all that’s separating my 1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer off-road proejct, Project Redwood, from the lukewarm comfort of my garage. OK, actually, there’s a little bit more than just 100 yards in the way, namely a charred carburetor and a seized rear brake drum. Also, there’s no room in the garage right now, because my Willys CJ-2A has no fuel tank and worn kingpin bearings:


Looking at that photo above, I’m reminded that my garage is a bit of an oily shithole, anyway. So it’s just as well that I’m stuck wrenching in my yard in 20 degree weather. Still, I keep dropping sockets into snow, and it takes five minutes to find them. Also, every time I grab a wrench or any metal part on my Jeep, my hand goes numb. That’s normal, right?

Unfortunately, I’ll be traveling a lot in December and January, and since the Easter Jeep Safari is earlier this year (it’s in late March), I can say with certainty that I’m already way behind on getting this Grand Wagoneer ready to not just off-road, but tow the Willys 1700 miles.


The plan was to get the woodie into my garage so I could walk in there during work breaks and tinker a bit. But now, after The Great Fire Of 2017 set me back a bit, there’ no way in hell I’m just nonchalantly going to wrench on the SJ-platform Jeep. Any work I do in these conditions requires at least an hour of loin-girding, another hour motivating myself by listening to the sweet rumble of a running AMC 360 on YouTube, and maybe a look at that motivation Shia LaBeouf video.


Suffice it to say, progress is slow over here on Michigan’s premier hospital for ailing Jeeps. But I’m sure I’m just being a baby, and that many of y’all have had to deal with worse. So let’s hear it: what’s the worst environment you’ve ever hard to wrench in?

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About the author

David Tracy

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).