Inspired by a recent post over on The Concourse, which was itself inspired by a very good tweet concerning personal injury stories, I got to thinking about the dumbest things I’ve done to damage my car. A car is a little bit like a small-scale mech suit that we slip on to provide humans with the power of high speed ground travel. My 2009 Mazda3 is a little bit like a Gundam, if you think about it, but way more boring. In that way, my car is something of a second skin, and I’ve damaged it in some really dumb ways.
So, the car idiot is here to tell you his car idiot story. It was two years ago nearly to the day, and I was doing some last minute maintenance to the aforementioned Mazda3, including a rear brake pad and rotor swap. It was quite late and I had to leave quite early the next morning to make the five-hour drive to Laguna Seca for the vintage races. I was excited to be finished, I was exhausted from a particularly taxing brake swap job, and I was getting quite tired by dint of having been awake all day and into most of the night.
As I buttoned everything up, I was starting to get that giddy feeling when your project nears completion. Finish the last of it, slam the wheels on, lower the jack, torque the lug nuts, and toss the tools aside to be cleaned up at a later date.
Because my long trip was the next day, I wanted to get the new brakes bedded before I went to bed myself. The roads in rural Nevada are quiet and empty around midnight, so I wheeled out of my neighborhood and went out to the main road that cuts across empty desert. The brake bedding procedure calls for gentle acceleration up to 60 MPH and several repeated rapid stops from speed. I stepped on the brake pedal hard, and I immediately knew something was wrong when I heard a loud clang!
It took me a second to realize what had happened. A loud clatter echoed around the cabin of the car, then a loud thunk came from the region of the hood. It was dark, but the road ahead was suddenly illuminated by scattered sparks and a large metal projectile.
It would seem that after I had finished re-installing the wheels, I had set my Craftsman torque wrench on the roof of the car in the dimple between the top of the roof and the hatchback spoiler. When I slammed on the brakes, the five pound chromium/molybdenum alloy shot forward maintaining a forward speed of 60 MPH.
To this day, there are two dents where the wrench skidded across the roof, a large gash in the paint where the tool slammed into the Mazda’s hood, and a large road-rashed torque wrench mounted to my garage wall to commemorate the dumb things I’m capable of in a fatigued state.
Chime in with your own dumb car damaging stories in the comments.