Home » It’s Wrenching Wednesday: What Wrenching Job Scares You?

It’s Wrenching Wednesday: What Wrenching Job Scares You?

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Cpt. Slow
Cpt. Slow
4 months ago

I recently had to replace a trim piece on my steering wheel. I quickly found out that it involved removing the airbag, which I’ve never had to do before. I found out that I’m pretty scared of airbags. Nothing bad happened, but I was legitimately more careful doing that 20 min job than I’ve been in any other repair situation. It’s certainly not the most dangerous repair I’ve completed, but it was the scariest.

Scott Ashley
Scott Ashley
4 months ago

I live in New England. Anything under the car if the car is 20 years or older. I know I will be fighting rusty bolts. I have seen nuts or bolts so rusty the proper socket no longer fits properly, or rounds off easily.

VanGuy
VanGuy
4 months ago

Autopian staff–just wanted to say that as a non-member (for now), the “Thank you for reading The Autopian![…]” message is more or less defeated on posts like this where the gist of the question is in the title, and I can still see the comment section.

I would think, at best, the comments on these ones should be hidden to non-members, or as a compromise, non-members shouldn’t be able to comment or reply.

Just a suggestion. I dunno if/how that could be implemented.

(My answer to the question, as an apartment dweller, is “anything that’s not interior work”. Plus I hate getting my hands dirty anyway.)

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
4 months ago

So there I was, in the employee parking lot at work. Standing in the empty space of the engine bay provided by the removal of heaps of parts now placed diligently in the bed of my truck.
I had just replacing the water pump, due to it pissing a heavy stream of coolant through a ruptured gasket two days prior.

The ole Ranger had 200,000+ on the odometer at that point.

I could see the timing chain, reach out and touch the troublesome tensioner.

My boss had lent me the company car for my forty five minute commute, but the next morning the marketing department needed it for a trade show.

I looked up at the horizon, judging the clouds, tired and hungry.
Three maybe four hours of daylight left.

Decision time. Put it all back together now and hope I don’t need to do this all over again too soon? I didn’t really have much of a choice.

Five hours later I was home cracking open a cold beer, truck running just fine.

I’m pretty good at taking stuff apart and putting it back together.

My worst wrenching enemies are time and necessity. Hours of daylight available and where the vehicle needs to get me to.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago

I once had access to a garage (lifts, air tools, all the good stuff); the catch was nothing could be left overnight. So at best, if I raced home from work, I could get my car there to have 3, maybe 4 hours to work before it closed.

It was an interesting experience working on a ticking clock like that, esp. as I’d get to points where I had to make the keep going or pack it in now decision.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Wrenching under such circumstances can feel iniquitous, like leaving a wounded comrade behind for your own survival.
Noooo! I was almost there!

Last edited 4 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago

For me, the most stressful was trying to gauge time after I’d gotten going and had a real sense of the repair/my meager ability therein.

Sure, I’d mentally scope it all out first, consult my Haynes/the internet, but it’s another thing entirely when it turns out, say, that the #2 sparkplug in a VW 4cyl is actually located behind a brace so the only way to get it out is to figure out the craziest assembly of extensions and u-joints & then slowly, 3 clicks at a time, ratchet it out. Sigh.

Last edited 4 months ago by Jack Trade
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Then there’s the fun fact that taking it all apart is sometimes an act of desperate aggression.
To put it all back together under similar time constraints is another story.
“How did I manage to do that?”
Tired and frustrated (six hours later).
“How the hell did I take that off?”

It involved an ingenious use of ratchet straps positioned just so…
like a giant pipe wrench…

Never works the same in reverse.

But that’s why I love it.
In this little life, there is nothing more fun and fulfilling than mechanical problem solving.

Last edited 4 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago

I always feel “installation is the reverse of removal” should be another autopian sarcastic t-shirt slogan!

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

On the front. The back of the shirt should read: “insert apocryphal adage here”

Last edited 4 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
4 months ago

I am currently in the process of replacing a wheel bearing on my 2010 VW Passat after putting it off for 4 months.I knew it would be a bitch and I was right. Yes,spring compressors are involved. I have gotten the damn knuckle off after breaking a upper control arm bolt and dismantling the entire rear right so now I have to find the courage to finally replace the bearing assembly and put the damn thing back together.

Peter d
Peter d
4 months ago
Reply to  67 Oldsmobile

I farmed out the front wheel bearings on my G37x, simply because I was afraid that they would be corroded and stuck in place – and I didn’t want to use the slide hammer tool most folks recommend for this situation. Next time I might do them myself – the mechanic said they slid right out, and Lisle has a tool that is much closer to a pulley puller where you just turn down the main bolt. I will also need to buy the longest torque wrench I can find – the bolts require a hellacious amount of torque (I am told it is not uncommon for mechanics to just use a pneumatic impact wrench instead of torquing to a number). In some respects I am happy I paid the mechanic – two weeks later one of the new ones needed replacement- which the mechanic did gratis. This car eats wheel bearings for breakfast – currently on the third set at 100k miles (although this is really the only problem with the car) Been debating whether I should attempt replacing the front struts – I would probably also replace the upper control arm and ball joint at the same time so I can just cut out anything that is stuck and in my way.

MrLM002
MrLM002
4 months ago

Fuel injectors, the fear is proportional to how high of pressure they are.

Google image search hydraulic injection surgery and you’ll understand why.

notoriousDUG
notoriousDUG
4 months ago

At this point, nothing.
But I am not here to brag about that and bog on people who aren’t confident about bigger jobs or certain stuff.

I am here to tell you this:
You can do it all.
With the right tools, patience, and some good research YOU can do any job.
It is all nuts and bolts, everything works the same, and everything follows the same rules.

Once you embrace that every job gets a little bit easier because if you know the basics and just keep breaking the steps down it’s always simple.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago
Reply to  notoriousDUG

This. Effectively, a shaved monkey designed and assembled it: you can take that puppy apart & reassemble it.
Granted, early days it seems like every job is an opportunity to spend money you don’t have on a new tool you absolutely need, but it becomes easier over time. It really helps to have a 2nd car so you’re not under the gun because you have to get to work. Not everyone has that luxury—even if they were only $200 piles of absolute shit.

drum brakes are a great confidence-builder for the absolute novice because you have the one on the other side to look at when you can’t figure out how the fiddly bits go together.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
4 months ago

Someone else’s job. I’ve pretty much stopped wrenching on friends cars because one thing always turns into another. When I was younger a snapped caliper bolt meant nothing, but now it’s just not something I want to deal with when trying to save a friend a few bucks on labor.

One of our good friends has a GM truck with a 5v short to ground code. He called a mobile mechanic who said it was the cam sensor. He came out, broke the cam sensor off in the block, said he was “going to get some tools” and never came back. This was one time I was willing to help. Spent two hours under a crusty truck extracting half of a cam sensor from the timing cover that did NOT want to come out, and of course it wasn’t the problem. Car still goes into limp mode a block from home. I have a feeling it’s the EVAP wiring rubbing on the driveshaft. Seems to be a common failure.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
4 months ago

I have a completely rational and justified fear of messing with the timing and balance belts on the (interference!) 944 engine.

rctothefuture
rctothefuture
4 months ago

Automatic transmissions scare me, just because of the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing and it’s all magic.

Rear differentials are something I’ve attempted but never have successfully done by myself. I attempted do help a friend do a ring gear swap on his SN95 Mustang and we got all sorts of bent out of shape. Ended up just swapping the rear axle and leaving the assembly be.

Body work and rust repair I’ll probably never do. I just don’t have the time or resources to do a successful job, so I leave that to the experts. Hell I won’t remove a bumper unless I absolutely have to, just because I hate the fear of breaking any clips or scratching any paint.

NDPilot
NDPilot
4 months ago
Reply to  rctothefuture

X2 on rear differentials. Setting the backlash on the ring gear seems like so much black magic to me, get it wrong and you’re starting over with hundreds of $ and many hours of work out the window. Hence this is one I’ve always farmed out to axle shops.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
4 months ago

Basically everything. I’m in the middle of changing a front bearing which turns out to be a pain in the ass so I was right to be scared. Especially as I damaged the CV joint boot, another job I’ve never done.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
4 months ago

Making it worse by trying to fix it. Works for most jobs.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
4 months ago

With the right tools, there isn’t much that scares me, frankly. Spring compressors can be sketchy, but that’s why they make quick-struts. I have a healthy respect for the weight of the car whenever I have to do something underneath, and I take every precaution (quickjacks AND jackstands AND stick the wheels under the car), but I wouldn’t say it scares me.

I worry more about seized/broken bolts or fragile NLA parts than anything. I don’t want to be stopped cold and have to leave it sitting half-finished. So I won’t even start taking something apart unless I’m reasonably sure it will come apart, and more importantly, go back together.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

You’ve described me pretty well – I’m fairly paranoid about getting under my cars and do all of that (I chock the wheels too even), but what really unnerves me is that since I live in an apartment with an underground garage, I constantly worry about getting going and then have something ruin the entire thing.

On Thanksgiving evening, I changed the oil on my Focus, and had a creep of dismay in the pit of my stomach when I was having a really hard time getting not only the drain plug bolt out and but also the filter off. It had had its last one at a shop, and as usual, they tightened both waaay too tight.

I eventually did wrench ’em both free, but it always irritates me as I contemplate not being able to finish what I’d started PLUS having the inner shame of having to take her to someone else to do.

Last edited 4 months ago by Jack Trade
JerryLH3
JerryLH3
4 months ago

I think I would likely be a little apprehensive the first time I do any timing belt work. The reason being is every piston engine car I’ve owned or my wife has owned was either for a short enough span to not worry about it or had a much longer living chain. And rotaries are famously known for not having a timing belt.

Given that I currently have no welding skills, I suppose anything that requires that is completely out.

Tbird
Tbird
4 months ago

Timing belt on my 2005 MDX. When my big impact gun at 95 psi failed to break loose the harmonic balancer bolt I called no joy and took it to a shop I trust. The $600 in labor seemed like a good investment. I generally hate suspension work since I don’t have a lift and live in the rust belt.

Tbird
Tbird
4 months ago
Reply to  Tbird

I’m not a great painter either. I can do basic rust repair and prime but my finish coats look terrible. That is why said MDX has pebble finish/bedliner on the lower portions. Western PA winters and salt.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago
Reply to  Tbird

In many cars the engine rotation is such that you can brace a big breaker bar on unibody or subframe and just bump the starter to break it loose. I know your pain, though, as a buddy & I once broke a fairly hefty SnapOn 1/2” extension on a crank pulley bolt

Tbird
Tbird
4 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Seemed high risk, low reward. To be completely honest is did not really have a full weekend to dedicate to complete the job right. Shop found and replaced worn upper motor mount on the job anyway.

Clark B
Clark B
4 months ago

Rust repair. I’ve serviced/replaced/rebuilt nearly every other system on my 1972 Super Beetle, but I haven’t addressed the rust. People tell me to buy a welder and learn myself. But it doesn’t just need a patch here and there or new floors (unusually for old Beetles, they’re very solid on my car). There’s rust around and on the frame head, and the structural heater channels as well, and in all of the wheel wells. Not a good “learn yourself” type of job, and I’d be afraid of getting in way over my head or screwing up the alignment on an important structural component.

With my new job, I have a lot more disposable income coming my way. I’m starting a savings account for the Beetle so in the next few years, I can strip the car down and send the shell off to someone who knows what they’re doing with a welder. I’ll do everything else, all the cleaning and repainting of the undercarriage and all suspension components, rebuild the suspension, brake system, etc. but the rust I won’t touch.

Oh and bodywork. I did bodywork on the aforementioned beetle when I was 17. It looks okay from 20 feet but it’s nowhere near perfect. I’m more impressed at how well the $600 paint job I got has held up in the 13 years since then. I’m kind of glad it didn’t turn out perfect though, it’s nice not having to worry about rock chips, door dings, people leaning on it, etc.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
4 months ago
Reply to  Clark B

I’m with you on rust, I’ve always hired someone to do it – but two of my cars have the cancer and I can’t find anyone who will take on the job – nobody wants to do that work anymore. Maybe someone will fix rust on a 40 year old Porsche but nobody will touch a 10 year old Escape or a 20 year old Volvo.

I’ve pretty much decided it’s my next skill to learn. I know how to weld, but I’ve always shied away from painting and especially body filler.

Clark B
Clark B
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

I guess I’m pretty lucky owning an old VW, not as many people work on them as they used to but there’s still plenty who do. I’m not very active in the local VW club but I know there’s a couple people there that do welding. I wish you good luck!! If the work on the Beetle wasn’t so extensive I would probably be learning how to weld too.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago

Keep me out of getting Electra fried. So easy to screw up and cause all kinds of hard to find damage.

Radu D
Radu D
4 months ago

If you want to lose your sanity … try replacing the suspension arms on an Audi with aluminum knuckles …
Mine was brand new in 2006 … and currently the bushings are a little bit cracked … Guess I’ll wait for some more deflection.

JurassicComanche25
JurassicComanche25
4 months ago

I havent tried bodywork, so i will leave that out. But I hate electrical work most- finding draws, shorts, and ungrounded bits. I sold my 92 grand prix when it started having early 90s GM problems since i didnt want to deal with it.

David Iuliano
David Iuliano
4 months ago

As I write this, my 2008 Focus’ transmission is sitting next to it in the driveway as I replace the clutch. Yeah. Front-wheel drive clutches are an absolute bear. Questioning my wisdom, and, frankly, my sanity at this point.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  David Iuliano

Yikes. I’ve got a 2010, and I’d been wondering what it would be like to do. So yeah, I think I’ll preemptively admit defeat and take it somewhere.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I did the clutch on my TR6 back in the day, and it was a satisfying experience. That being said, my wife’s 2005 Cooper S is going to the shop. The satisfaction is not worth disassembling the entire front of the car.

David Iuliano
David Iuliano
4 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

I’ve done them in my Miata (failing pilot bearing), my Volvo 1800ES (seized throwout bearing), and my Jeep J10 (smoked clutch when I bought it)… this is a whole different experience.

Parsko
Parsko
4 months ago
Reply to  David Iuliano

The “clap” when you mate the tranny to the block upon assembly is #chefkiss.

I’ve done two Audi B5 clutches, one completely alone. FWD is a breeze compared to this. I have 3 to do on each of my cars at some point in the next few years.

KYFire
KYFire
4 months ago

As I’ve gotten older, and my cars have gotten older, I have to admit pretty much everything at least makes me nervous. What should be 10 minute jobs turn into 2 hours. It’s a combination of vehicle designs only intended for assembly and not serviceability and of course rust and corrosion.

One upcoming item, I need to replace the CV boots on my 20 year old 4Runner, I know that in getting to those I’ll run into other issues, I dread the amount of time, busted knuckles, stuck bolts, and wondering if it’s worth it in the end.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago
Reply to  KYFire

Great point about serviceability. Most of my confidence and what I will call my competence I gained during 2 decades of owning 123 & 126 Mercedes. 95% of those cars parts were built & installed with an eye to later access. For the starter you need like 4’ of extensions with a universal, then rotate the starter some specific degree. Go turn the steering wheel the other direction, and a notch in the ‘frame’ magically appears for you to drop it out. Mind blown.

3WiperB
3WiperB
4 months ago

Most suspension stuff (I leave that to people with lifts and air tools), internal engine things (timing chains, etc.), and paint/body stuff. I’ve taken engines in and out of cars, and done a few clutch replacement, an oil pump, and valve adjustments, but I’m intimidated by digging any deeper into an engine. Like you say, maybe it’s too high of a cost for failure.

Tbird
Tbird
4 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

Yes, rust belt suspension work SUCKS without a lift. I have air tools and have done timing belts, head gaskets, etc… but the ungodly tight clearances in new cars are a nightmare.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
4 months ago
Reply to  Tbird

The lack of space to work on a newer vehicle takes all the fun out of it for me. I never enjoyed working on my daily driver, the stress of needing to have it done by Monday morning removes the joy.

Drew
Drew
4 months ago

Obviously, I’m expecting a lot of people to chime in with something about spring compressors.

Well, now I’m not going to do it. Other than that, I fear any sort of body/paint work for a very different reason. I’m going to mess up. It’s going to look bad. I’m going to try to fix it. It’s going to get worse. I’m going to get frustrated. Everything will get worse.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
4 months ago

Paint. Its not that I am not detail oriented enough, its that I’m not patient enough.

Tbird
Tbird
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

So much this

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
4 months ago
Reply to  Tbird

Thirded.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

Yep. Tried on my sandrail. Bounced between misting it cause I was trying for flash coats, and coating it like I was applying bed liner. After our refinisher finished laughing at me, she did the job in under an hour. I paid her by doing brakes on her daughter’s car & have stayed in my own lane ever since

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