Home » What Is The Most Tedious Repair Job You’ve Ever Done?

What Is The Most Tedious Repair Job You’ve Ever Done?

Tedious Repair Aa Ts
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It’s Sunday, and I’m in a cheap motel in the middle of nowhere — Independence, California. I just spent all day yesterday off-roading the crap out of my 1991 Jeep Wrangler in the White Mountains/Eastern Sierras, and let me just say: My god was that place remote. We drove for 5 hours and never saw a single car on our trail. Anyway, in order to get here, I had to drop the Jeep’s fuel tank by myself, and let me just say: Don’t do that.

The Jeep Wrangler YJ’s fuel tank is held to the vehicle by its skid plate. Modern Wranglers are the same way — when you drop the skid plate, the fuel tank comes down with it. In the case of my old YJ, the gas tank is behind the axle, wedged between that axle at the front, the rear bumper at the rear, the driver’s side frame rail on the left, and the tailpipe on the right. It’s tight, and the fuel tank/skid plate assembly isn’t exactly lightweight, which is why this is a two-person repair job. I, unfortunately, was on my own.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

I’ve spent the last 15 wrenching, often by myself, so I’ve gotten used to it; a combination of strong arms and the right tools means I’ve removed engines, dropped transmissions and transfer cases, and even pulled axles all by myself. These jobs would not be just twice as efficient with a second person; I’d say they’d be four or five times quicker with another set of hands. But alas, I only had two the other day while yanking the leaky YJ fuel tank, so I broke out my trusty transmission jack and got to work.

You can see the transmission jack there on the bottom right of the image above. I drove the Jeep up onto some ramps to give me a bit more space to work, then placed the jack under the tank, and started removing fasteners and hose connections. The fuel tank skid plate, to which the fuel tank is held via some straps, is held to the bottom of the front bumper via some bolts:

Screen Shot 2024 05 26 At 8.33.03 Am

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There are four other bolts holding the front of the tank to a frame crossmember, but that’s all that holds the tank in place. Of course, the fuel lines themselves need to be detached first, because otherwise dropping the tank will put those into tension.

To get the fuel filler hoses off, I had to remove the license plate bracket and filler surround:

Screen Shot 2024 05 26 At 8.38.19 Am

Screen Shot 2024 05 26 At 8.38.35 Am

I also unhooked the fuel lines from the tank going to the front of the Jeep. I took photos to make sure I remembered what went where:

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Screen Shot 2024 05 26 At 8.35.52 Am

With the tank unbolted and the hoses disconnected (along with the electrical connector for the fuel pump), I had to unhook an exhaust hanger to move the tailpipe a bit more outboard, then I had to use a pry bar and literally pry the tank out of the Jeep. It was rough — not that difficult, but just tedious.

Screen Shot 2024 05 26 At 8.31.33 Am

Screen Shot 2024 05 26 At 8.20.52 Am

I wheelbarrowed the tank to a spigot in the Galpin parking lot, hosed off some of the dirt, and then installed a new fuel pump, new vents, and new hoses:

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Screen Shot 2024 05 26 At 8.46.08 Am

Screen Shot 2024 05 26 At 8.47.19 Am

Then I jacked the tank back up with the transmission jack, and pried it back into place.

Screen Shot 2024 05 26 At 8.47.30 Am

Things went back together reasonably easily, but it just required me to lay on my back, strain only muscles I otherwise never use, and lose precious time that I needed for work. But alas, it is done, and the Jeep no longer leaks. And it got me to the Sierras without issue:

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Screen Shot 2024 05 26 At 8.50.37 Am

So, dear reader: What’s the most tedious repair job you’ve ever done? Was it some behind-the-dash heater core job? Maybe a wiring job? Perhaps a transmission valve body rebuild (you poor bastard)?

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Rallispec
Rallispec
1 month ago

Timing belt and coolant lines on a sw20 MR2… You need a few extra sets of wrists to do anything on that car unless you want to pull the engine. Only job I’ve thrown in the towel on and sent the car to a shop to finish.

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
1 month ago

By far, the heater core on a 1998 Hombre (S10). That bitch took 2 of us over a week (working in the evening windows after kids and wives were in bed and nothing else going on). Not surprisingly, the plugs/wires on that little LN2 were also a bigger pain than anything else I’ve done that job to. That said, it was the easiest clutch, transmission, driveline, and suspension to work on!

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
1 month ago
Reply to  Jalop Gold

Chrysler LHS water pump. The book sez, get the AC discharged… they mean it. I thought I could just swing the condenser out of the way. It broke. So, I got the water pump in, but had to have an AC shop replace the condenser. Longitudinal engines aren’t always easier.

Zorah
Zorah
1 month ago

As a young shade tree mechanic the job I still have visible scars on my knuckles from was replacing the A/C accumulator dryer on a 1989 Ford Tempo. It was jacked behind the engine so all quick connects were impossible to get to and I was generally unsophisticated about things like releasing motor mounts and pushing engines out of the way. And after I was finished it still leaked. Very difficult and disappointing. I did do other successful r134a conversions because AC was my thing back then.

William Sheldon
William Sheldon
1 month ago

’98 f150, heater core. Took two competent mechanics two nights from 12-6am. First night remove, 2nd night replace mini-rad and put it back together. One of us on each side, took forever. Felt as if the entire truck was built around the heater core.

White block volvos with awd (v70r), collar sleeve replacement. very rusted, had to make tools to remove it while in the driveway on my back and with very little leverage or room to swing anything.

xc90, rear driveline replacement, exhaust out, frozen bolts, 3 days on my back in the driveway with a pending cross country move looming. oof.

Same vovo- dealer sold me a car with a leaky windshield. Seemed fine when i drove it for test drive, even the sunroof drains were clear. Stinky christmas trees should have been the warning sign to pay attention to. Wasnt until i really started throwing it into corners that i heard the water ballast sloshing about. Removed entire interior, including carpets to air it out in the colorado sun. Good opportunity to 100% clean all the things and previous family’s patina on everything. Just for my kids to destroy the interior.

More engine swaps than i can remember. I suffer from “WYIT” Wwwhile You’re In There Syndrome, emphasized with the extended W sound to give it that extra old man flavor. These projects just lead to innumerable head/heart/wallet aches for 1-2 years as i go from “couple weekends swapping in new engine” to “um, honey, we should get another car, this one’s got massive problems and its going to take me a while”.

Most heavy equipment repairs in the middle of nowhere can get real tedious, real fast. Especially when the env construction/stream restomod job is on the clock and multiple agencies are waiting for the excavator to run again.

Pre-unit triumph Amal carb rebuilds. Performed on the side of the road.

This response is giving me PRTSD, Post-Repair Traumatic Stress Disorder. I should quit remembering the hassle and celebrate the mobility wins that came from the tedium!

Onward!

SkepticalDad
SkepticalDad
1 month ago

I tried to fix the pin that holds one of the struts on the rear liftgate of my old Jetta station wagon. The pin screws into a loose nut inside the D-pillar, and sure enough, I backed it out too far and the nut dropped in the inaccessible depths of the pillar. I spent HOURS fishing it out with a wire and realigning it, using two wires like a surgeon. Dropped it several times.

Ricardo
Ricardo
1 month ago

in my time on the tools I will nominate installing a new carpet and underlay on a 1982 E32 7 series.
Lots of screws, lots of interior bits and clips and all of it was old and fragile. Took 2 days with 2 guys full time.
Also I should add that the reason for the carpet and underlay replacement was that the car had been in a flood and water had got up to the height of the dash board. This meant that the carpet and underlay stunk like a mouldy jumper.

Phil Layshio
Phil Layshio
1 month ago

Currently swapping the entire rear suspension in my 1990 Jaguar xj6 with that from an ’89 parts car. We’re on weekend 3. Weekend 4 happens in a few weeks.

Abe Froman
Abe Froman
1 month ago

I disassembled my YJ down to the frame, completely removing the tub, refurbishing all components and reassembling. Because the body was off, fuel tank removal and cleaning was easier than your experience. I can’t imagine doing that one with the tub still on. Many people have taken to cutting a hole in the “trunk” floor to access.

My most tedious job was during this same YJ project, where I replaced all suspension components. Every bolt was seized and rusted. Every bushing fused to metal. Once the old was removed and the new was going in, it gave me hell the whole way. It’s on my list of “don’t want to do that again” things.

05LGT
05LGT
1 month ago

Wiper stalk repair / replacement / nope, repair on a 240Z.

Cam.man67
Cam.man67
1 month ago

Anything on my IH 856, but since I’ve done it more than once, I’d have to say the PTO clutch. You first start by draining 17 gallons of hydraulic oil out the bottom of the tractor, with barely enough clearance to switch 5-gal buckets once they fill. You will make a huge mess. You might lose the drain plug too.

The clutch assembly is located on the rear of the tractor and, thankfully doesn’t require actually splitting the tractor. It’s still a colossal pain to remove. I think it weighs about 150 pounds and has no jacking points. Given the age of the tractor, often it also won’t separate from the tractor without liberal hammer usage.

After 3 different removals, I finally figured how to sketchily attach it to an engine hoist so I wasn’t holding the entire weight of the assembly. Oh, and the pickup tube for the pump most likely will be damaged on removal.

Once out of the tractor, the pto clutch assembly is a bear to disassemble. It seems relatively straightforward until you realize the whole thing is held together my snap rings and the factory service manual recommends a 20-ton hydraulic press to compress the clutch pack enough to get the biggest snap ring out. The first 2 times I used a skid loader, but the second 2 times I did this job I built my own threaded press.

After everything is disassembled, it’s annoyingly easy to put back together. Just time-consuming. Then you’ve got to get it back in the tractor which almost always damages the gasket.

All told, I’ve done this repair 4 times in 10 years. The shortest I’ve ever done the repair is about 7 hours.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam.man67

No offence, but WTF are you doing that you have had to replace the PTO clutch 4 times in 10 years? My dad and brother farm with a lot of tractors from the 70’s and have rarely had to replace a PTO clutch. I am certain the IH 1066 has never had PTO issues.

Cam.man67
Cam.man67
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

Should have clarified. Twice it was the pto clutch, twice it was the shaft that broke. I can’t make heads or tails about why the pto clutch would fail twice, only thing I can think is poor-quality replacement parts. It’s not like the tractor gets used hard, all I do is bale with it. As far as the shaft, the first one I’m blaming on 50 years of metal fatigue, and the second time was totally my fault, I parked the tractor at a bad spot, the parking brake didn’t hold, and the baler jackknifed.

Last edited 1 month ago by Cam.man67
Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 month ago
Reply to  Cam.man67

Haha. That makes more sense. Though square balers can be pretty rough on the PTO with the watchamacallit for packing the hay in, and the flywheels are pretty massive to get spinning. I may have also broken a PTO shaft in my day

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 month ago

My BMW E12 needs a new heater control valve. This is not the most tedious job I’ve done only because I’ve been putting it off for a month – it’s the most tedious job I *will* do. It’s easy enough to see the valve if you remove the knee panel on the driver’s side of the dash. If the knob linkage is broken (as mine was), you can even reach down while driving to open and close the valve manually. But to R&R it? If you stick your head to the left of the clutch pedal and peer through the pedals, you can see the valve and the water lines that go into the back of it. Each line is held on with two 9mm nuts. There is just barely enough space to get a low-profile ratcheting box end wrench on the two nuts you can see. Those are easy enough to remove. The third you can half-see and the fourth you can’t see at all. To get those, you have to get a cheap 9mm open end wrench, clamp it in a vice, heat it up and hammer a 90-degree bend in it 1 3/4” from the end. Then you reach over the top of the valve, feel for the nut and feel the wrench onto the flats, turn about 30 degrees and repeat ad infinitum. Eventually the nuts will come off and either fall out, in which case stick a rag underneath to help prevent them from getting lost, or try to catch them with a magnet. Then you can take the valve out, replace the O rings and put the replacement on. Then you get to start two small nuts completely blind (I have no idea how I’m going to do this) and installation is the reverse of removal. THe alternative to all this is to remove the AC system and them remove the heater core and blower assembly, which is hours of work.

Lardo
Lardo
1 month ago

I get that the fuel itself cools the pump. But WTF reason is there for the fuel filter to be in the tanks on many vehicles? I guess these days it’s not much of an issue. But there seem to me to be no good reason for the “design”.

Jblues
Jblues
1 month ago

Wiring. Wiring is the WORST. Especially when you are un-doing somebody else’s crappy wiring.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 month ago
Reply to  Jblues

I’m not much of a shade tree mechanic, but I know for sure that electrical is where I draw the line. Anything involving wires and current, I just “call the man” and get out my wallet.

I know my limitations, and I have a healthy and quite rational fear of accidentally releasing the sacred smoke from any automotive electrical component. I know full well that once the sacred smoke comes out, there’s no putting it back in.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
1 month ago
Reply to  Jblues

UGH… I couldn’t agree with you more.

I had to buy an entire chassis harness for a Chevy Express van, meaning the same harness connected everything on the engine, transmission, fuel pump, evap system… all the way back to the rear abs sensors.

Doing that underneath a van with close to 300k on the clock, I came back in the house looking like I came out of a coal mine that had collapsed. Never again.

On a good note, I was shocked I could get an OEM harness for a vehicle that old for a price much lower than I expected.

Jblues
Jblues
1 month ago
Reply to  Jblues

What makes wiring the WORST:

The instructions were translated from Chinese and are printed in 4pt type on a booklet the size of a gum wrapper. With illustrations.The pink wire with purple stripe and the purple wire with the pink stripe will destroy the entire vehicle if mistaken for each other.Tracing wires. Losing track and having to start over.Cutting wires. What if I cut the wrong one and totally brick the car? What if I cut it too short?Stripping, twisting, and splicing wires. Turns your fingers into hamburger.Soldering. Small spaces, hot iron. One hand for each wire, one hand for the solder, one hand to hold the iron. That’s four hands and I only have two. Did I remember the heat shrink tube before I started? No, of course not.Can’t see what I’m doing. I’m lying upside down under the dash.Not enough slack in this wire.THE WIRING DIAGRAM WAS WRONGWHERE’S THE FUCKING GROUND?Where am I supposed to get 12V from? The one labeled power wire already has 10 additional wires spliced into it.Where’s the fuse/relay for this wire?G** D*** it, I broke the connector block.Finding an extra unconnected wire after wrapping and zip tying up the bundle of wires you just finished splicing.There’s no way to route this wire through the car to where it needs to go.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jblues
Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
1 month ago
Reply to  Jblues

Use Wago connectors as you are messing around (keep it under 30amps total!), and then use butt crimps with heat shrink on the final job. a decent multimeter makes anything short of a complete harness replacement pretty easy to do. Agreed on the not cutting anything unless you are positive about what it is!

TheBadGiftOfTheDog
TheBadGiftOfTheDog
1 month ago

It’s a toss-up, for me. I once replaced a broken frame on a Jeep CJ-5. It took about a month to disassemble, clean, inspect, and reassemble, along with an engine rebuilt since it was out and accessible.
Alternatively, I tore out the wiring harness from a late 70’s Bronco and put in one of those American Autowire full chassis kits. That also took about a month of after-work hours and weekends.

Who is the Leader
Who is the Leader
1 month ago

This is a tough one. It took me three entire days to revamp the front steering knuckles in my 1985 Mercedes 300D. This was due to me being (A) completely inexperienced (B) without the proper tools and (C) trying to make a rented ball joint press that was too big to fit in the space fit in the space. Eventually, I got it, but I practically tore my hair out trying to press those lower ball joints in with half a mil of clearance and a super weak impact that wasn’t up to the task.
That took longer but wasn’t as tedious as rebuilding the vacuum actuated HVAC diaphragms buried under the dash in that same car. It didn’t fix the problem so I’m still rocking no A/C AND no heat in my daily.

Curtis Loew
Curtis Loew
1 month ago

Can’t you just use the lifts inside the shop? Or was this done outside in the parking lot just for the story?

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
1 month ago

Two stand out:

1) rear subframe bushings on a 1985 300ZX. They do NOT come out easily. Your choice is either a) remove the subframe and use a press or b) drill/cut the old one out. Not having the press or the ability or space to yoinck the subframe, I chose option b and proceeded to get coated in black rubber dust over the course of an afternoon.

2) oxygen sensor, rear bank, SVT Contour. I have mentioned this before. I am a big guy with big hands and thick forearms. I worked trying to get that damn sensor out for two hours. Then I saw my neighbour, a Class A mechanic. A small, Vietnamese Class A mechanic. With small hands.

Two minutes later, I was done.

Spectre6000
Spectre6000
1 month ago

Most tedious was regearing an axle for the first time without knowing actually how to read gear patterns. The ASE Master Tech that was helping me didn’t know how to read them either. No one in the car club did. All the “how’s my gear pattern” threads on the entire internet seem to be nothing but pictures and guesses with no indication of what is being read or how (or even if the people proclaiming them “good” even know what they’re talking about). All the pictographic “this is good this isn’t” charts don’t actually say what’s good, or why, or what’s being looked at exactly, and all have ideal examples. I went through dozens of shim combinations before I finally got someone (chief tech at Yukon) who could explain to me not only what was acceptable, but what MADE IT acceptable. For someone as perfectionist and engineering minded as myself, especially when it’s the wife’s daily and our only “reliable” car, that was a LOT of stupidly tedious work.

James Davidson
James Davidson
1 month ago

We lost second gear in our 1974 Land Rover Series III 88. That meant removing the transmission in an underground parking garage on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (NYC). The transmission sits above a frame member and does not drop down, it goes up. To start, you remove the front floor panels, the levers, the tunnel cover and the entire front seat box (three seats across). Disconnect the drive shafts, hydraulics, linkages, bell housing, etc. and then everything (transmission, transfer box and overdrive) goes up and out the driver side door. It must all weigh 300 – 400 lbs all together. That part was brutal!

The entire assembly went in the back of a rental car and I drove it to D.A.P. Enterprises in MA, where Al Tocci and his team repaired our transmission and had it ready for me to drive home with the next day. D.A.P. now appears to be part of Performance Unlimited in VT.
https://www.performanceunlim.com

Back in the parking garage, I reversed all the steps and everything worked perfectly! The only reason I was actually able to do this is that the the two men that ran the parking garage were both from Jamaica and absolutely loved our Land Rover. Thanks Alton and Norman, if you are still out there! 🙂

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
1 month ago

A couple of jobs…with same car.

My 1982 Buick Skylard had a minor engine fire due to the fuel leak. The fire melted the “noodle salad” (a.k.a. vacuum-activated emission control system). Oh, all right, let’s buy the vacuum tubes by yard at the Home Depot and reconnect them. That ought be easy job, right, huh?

Nope, the vacuum tubes were totally melted. The Haynes and other repair manuals did not show the diagram of which one went to which. I had to

I had to visit several sales centres and junk yards for days to locate the specific X-body car for the specific year and with the specific engine. When I located the exact one, I took the Polaroid photos and made the diagrams.

After I connected the vacuum tubes, the car didn’t start until the mechanic told me I had the spark plug cables in wrong places on the distributor cap. When the car did start, the engine had a very prodigious appetite for the volatile remainders of dinosaurs (5 to 8 mpg city on good days). My father told me to get rid of it because it was ridiculous to pay for full tank every two days.

Another job was replacing the broken bolt that attached the subframe to the body. Easy peasy job, right, too? Nope! The cosmic dimbulbs at General Motors felt it was good idea to leave the fucking bolt with head on the top of the subframe where it wasn’t accessible at all. To remove the top half, I had to cut the sheet metal in the firewall. However, determining exactly where to cut the sheet metal was fool’s errands. I ended up cutting a square foot and the pedals prevented me from peeling back enough to access the bolt through the opening.

No wonder the warranty repair has escalated in the last forty years…so it’s cheaper to junk the vehicles or declare the total loss for minor damages.

lastwraith
lastwraith
1 month ago
Reply to  EricTheViking

“Skylard” seems like a beautifully appropriate spelling miscue in this case.

Last edited 1 month ago by lastwraith
EricTheViking
EricTheViking
1 month ago
Reply to  lastwraith

The misspelling is intentional. The car is nothing but shitbox on the wheels…

lastwraith
lastwraith
1 month ago
Reply to  EricTheViking

Aha! Well played.

Last edited 1 month ago by lastwraith
Greg R
Greg R
1 month ago

In the 80’s, I had a Ford motor-home/bus with a front mounted engine and had gearbox issues miles from anywhere. I managed to drop the box onto my chest and roll it off. Luckily we were towing a car on an a-frame, so I took the box in the car into the nearest town and found a mechanic. This guy was quite busy as he was the only one in the area. He fixed the box late in the day, then came out to the bus to help me fit it back in. It was dark by the time we finished.

J Wamsley
J Wamsley
1 month ago

C4 corvette heater core. As I found out on the forums, you can do it without removing the entire dash. You do need to remove the passenger seat so you don’t pretzel your back, and you need to tape an Allen wrench to an extension to get at the topmost screw. That screw did not go back in during reassembly. People say GM started with a heater core on the assembly line and built a corvette around it.

Sklooner
Sklooner
1 month ago

Awd Volvo 850 fuel pump about the same as this job just drop the rear subframe too

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
1 month ago

Honestly, it sounds crazy but the most annoying thing I’ve dealt with was just changing the freaking air filter on my Lotus Elise. It was easy enough to get out, but then I couldn’t get the tabs to line up on the box to put the new one back in. It took me like 2 hours a shocking amount of scraped knuckles. No one should bleed that much from a damn air filter

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

Yeah, but at the end of it, you’ve got a Lotus Elise.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Technically s/he already had one st the beginning too

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Had. Sold it a few years back but yes, owning it, even just for the year was amazing!

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

The hot ones are always the most high-maintenance, aren’t they?

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

For what it’s worth, even everyday cars can have a similarly terrible setup – my Ford Focus has a seemingly similar deal. The box is so annoying to get fully closed that it’s even come back from the dealer partially unlatched…

Who is the Leader
Who is the Leader
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

Somehow, my air filter for my 85 Mercedes 300D has become one with the filter housing. It’s very accessible and easy normally but it just won’t come out no matter how hard I pull. Weird since it’s not held in by anything and the filter is only like 6 months old. I feel you.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
1 month ago

Not that the job itself was incredibly difficult, it was the conditions. I replaced the clutch cable in our ’76 VW camper bus, during a blizzard at about 5 degrees F. No covered garages available, so I did it in a parking lot that didn’t slow down the wind one bit.

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