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What's Your Biggest Self-Repair Fail?

If our cars could talk, what would they say? I think if mine had a voice, it would scream "NO! NOT YOU! NOT YOOUUUUU!" whenever I walked up to it with a box of tools.


See, like most of you, I love to wrench on my own car. The problem is, I'm not very good at, usually due to a combination of incompetence and a willingness to half-ass the job.

I once tried to replace a burned-out turn signal bulb and ended up cutting my hand pretty badly trying to remove the housing. I actually got blood all over the headlight bulb, which started smoking when I turned it on. (You know, because of the blood.) At least I've never destroyed a transmission or something.


So what's your biggest self-repair fail?

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Oh boy do I have a doozy.

Okay, so I have an '85 Lotus Esprit. When I first bought it a few years ago, it was in very good shape, but needed a few things. Nothing major, but enough. I was also not mechanically inclined at all. I had a shop that did, like, 99.999% of my work, but I just couldn't avoid poking around. Mostly I contented myself with obsessive detailing (which I'm very good at), and leaving the rest to the professionals.

Anyway. In the first six months of ownership I had my shop replace the turbo, the exhaust system, water pump, timing belts and tensioners, rebuild the carbs, rebuild the brakes, replace the clutch and flywheel, do the cooling system over with silicone hoses, change the hydraulic lines to steel braid... and a bunch of other stuff too. You get the idea.

So I have the car finally running pretty good at this point. But. I'm walking around Autozone, and I see one of those 'super lubricant' things that are supposed to help engine compression and give you more power. And I vaguely remembered my mechanic saying something about wanting to check the compression at some point, or something. So, I figure, what the hell. I'll get a can of this stuff. Worst case, it doesn't do anything. And if it works as advertised, the car will run even better. Flawless logic, yes?

So I go home and pour in the recommended amount for a 4-cylinder engine, and take it for a test drive. Where my car immediately proceeds absolutely vomit oil, as though someone shot a hole through the crankcase. Seriously, so bad.

Soo... it did the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do, and totally killed one of my cylinders. Oil got into the intake system, into the new turbo, everything.

An engine rebuild and $15k later, I learned my lesson. Don't touch anything.