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Old 11-18-2018, 05:41 PM
341 posts, read 284,016 times
Reputation: 971


Years ago I was on my break at work, when a group of us started talking about our "break-down" stories (no not personally buy our cars) At the time, I lived in Miami so there is a LOT of wear and tear on cars due to the volume of traffic and miles to get to places. I remember we all were laughing till our sides hurt - as we each told our stories. It's good that we could laugh but at the time - there is nothing worse than a noise from your car and lights from the dashboard coming on.

So tonight I thought I would love to read some of your stories - what is the WORSE story of your car leaving you stranded?

Me? I was going home from a terrible night with my ex. We broke up but still couldn't cut ties. Yet when we were together it was completely depressing. You started seeing they were moving on and that didn't include you. I decided to go home. I got in my old Buick (broken hearted) and jumped on the expressway. It was late at night, and as I curbed around 95 by the airport - I remember feeling something fall out of my engine and whatever it was, I ran over it. The check engine light came on and my car lost power. I about fell over - that area was awful to be in and I was on an expressway.

I stepped out unsure of what to do. I called my ex who didn't answer- so there I was 11 p.m. on the side of a freeway, by the airport, with no AAA or money. It was luck..and I mean it...a tow truck pulled over with two men in it. To make a long story they towed my car to my apartment (that was far away) for 20.00. As they were giving me a lift, they gave me advice on my ex..move on (which I did)

It could have been worse and I have many stories of my cars leaving me in the middle of the road and such...oh and the thing that fell out of my car...my timing belt. The car was junked.

What's your story?
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Old 11-19-2018, 02:18 AM
Location: Los Angeles
4,822 posts, read 6,987,758 times
Reputation: 6434
I think this is gonna be a long post.
I don't have one story, I have three.

In the early seventies(73 I think) I had a 69 Ford LTD wagon.
I was driving through the Santa Monica Mountains, on a somewhat deserted country road.
Going up a slight incline, I heard a pop in the engine, and steam was pouring out from under the hood.
I pulled over, thinking a hose came loose, or had a split in it.
When I opened the hood, I couldn't believe what I was looking at.
The entire top of the radiator had split where it is welded to the core of the radiator.

It left a gap about an inch wide, the width of the radiator.
Back then no cell phones of course, and I was out in the middle of nowhere.
Thank Christ it was in the daytime.

I thought for a minute as to what I was going to do.
Didn't want to just leave it there, because most of my tools were in the back, which could make easy pickins for a would be thief, if one happened along.

I rummaged through my stuff in the back storage area, and the only thing I could fine was a bucket of spakle.
That's the stuff you patch holes and cracks in walls before painting.

I said too myself, "****, this will never work", but then, it was all I had.
I proceeded to fill the gap with spakle, and when finished, waited three hours for it to harden.
I always carried a couple of gallons of water just for emergencies like this.

Said a short prayer, and drove away, driving so as not to build up to much pressure in the system.
I put the radiator cap on, but did not tighten it .

I made it to a farm house , and asked if I could get some more water.
I was about 25 miles from my house.
I stayed off the freeway, and occasionally stoped to see if the spakle was still holding.
It was, and I finally made it home.

Second incident was in 1980 on a trip cross country.
I had a 79 Trans AM, (twin to the Bandit), and after three weeks in Boston, was headed west , back home to Los Angeles.
In Iowa, I would guess about 20 miles east of Davenport, I puled into a rest stop on the interstate, to take a break, and check oil and water in the TA.

I put a little water in the radiator, checked oil, and trans fluid, and sat for about ten minutes before leaving.
As I was backing out of the spot I was parked in, I had to stop and let this dude hauling a race car go by.
I pulled next to him when he parked, and commented about the Nova he had on the trailer, then left.

About ten miles from the rest stop, the car started running rough I pulled over to the shoulder, and steam was coming out from the hood.
Popped the hood, and immediately noticed the radiator cap was missing.
Obviously I had forgot to put it back on when I added water at the rest stop.
The engine was pretty hot.

Here I am, parked on the shoulder of the interstate, with nothing but miles and miles of corn, on both sides of the road.
Those who know Iowa, know what I'm talking about.

My intention was to let the engine cool down, then with the gallon of water I had in the trunk, I hoped I could make it into Davenport.

I'm standing next to the car, hood up, when who drives by, but the dude hauling the race car that I had seen in the rest stop,
He backed up, and off the shoulder and asked what happened.
I explained I had forgot to put the radiator cap on, and all the water leaked out.

He said, "Not to worry, I got plenty, and a cap you can use".

I figured he had maybe a five gallon can in his truck.
He pulled out a hose from the trailer, connected it to a valve on the trailer, and stuck the hose in my radiator.
The trailer had a pump on it.
The entire bottom of that trailer was one giant water tank,
I would guess it held a couple hundred gallons of water.

Here I was, wondering if a gallon of water would get me into Davenport, miles of corn as far as the eye can see, and this guy shows up with a tank holding a couple of hundred gallons of water.
Talk about luck.
I wonder what the odds of that are.

Made in into Davenport, and had to have a small pin hole welded to stop a small leak.
The rest of the trip back to Los Angeles was uneventful.

Event number three.
In 1982, I bought a 78 Continental Mark v.
I still had the TA, but the Continental was a fantastic deal, and I couldn't pass it up.

Actually kept that car for 20 years., and when I sold it, the new owner flew here, and drove it back to St Louis.

I had the car about 10 years, when one night I was on my way to Las Vegas.
I went there often with the mark v.
It was about ten at night, not a whole lot of traffic.

I was midway between Barstow, and Baker, when because of the headlights on the truck following me, I noticed smoke coming out the exhaust, then a loud bang, and the sound of metal scraping. I knew from the sound exactly what happened.
A piston rod had broken, and I knew by the sound, it was lying in the oil pan.

At that time, California freeways had call boxes about every quarter mile on all freeways.
I called, and a tow truck picked up the car.
Drove it to the tow yard, then the tow truck driver took me into Baker so I could take the greyhound back to Los Angeles.

This yard was not a repair shop, so I told the guy I would come back in a few days, and tow the car home.

Got the car home, and had already ordered a new long block from Pep Boys, cause I knew what had happened, and knew when I took the oil pan off, I would find a piston in the oil pan, which is exactly what I found, along with fragments of the rod.

A week later, the Continental was running like new.(well basically, it was a new engine.)
At least the block and heads were new.

I thank the good Lord for giving me the knowledge it takes when working on cars.
Over my lifetime(I'll be 80 in January) I have replaced 5 engines.
Three on my vehicles, and two for a friends.
To this day, the only one that does any work on my pickup, and Corvette is me.
I trust no one when it comes to repairing my trusted vehicles.

Matter of fact, tomorrow is oil change day for both the truck, and Corvette, and I will be under them, doing what has to be done.

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Old 11-19-2018, 03:57 AM
Location: on the wind
4,403 posts, read 1,656,322 times
Reputation: 15673
Got a good one, though I was only a passenger. The story is long and the wreck more of a series of progressive failures over a period of two days.

Went deer hunting for the first time with a classmate in college. Jon and I hadn't known each other long so I knew he wanted to make a good impression on me. He had a tag for a special late season doe hunt several hours' drive away.

Friday: 5:00 pm. Jon picked me up in front of the dorm in a massive rust-red (not sure how much of it was paint) International crewcab 4x4 PU with a home built brush bumper on the front. The brush bumper was primarily attached to the truck with rope. Either that or the rope was holding the hood down...didn't quite have the nerve to ask. We roared off in a cloud of bluish smoke and headed for the Cascade Mtns.

Friday: 5:30 pm. On the way through the foothills there was a bang, grinding noises followed by scraping and squealing coming from the front axle. Broken U-joint. Jon walked to a phone and called an uncle for a tow home. The uncle showed up in a nearly new Lincoln Continental and said he was embarrassed to be seen towing the red wreck, but he did it. Thank goodness we had a lot of rope along.

Friday: 10:30 pm. Jon and I had spent hours under the truck trying to replace the U-joint without success. Jon cheerfully states "Oh we won't need 4 wheel drive where I plan to hunt." Famous last words if I'd ever heard them.

Saturday: 1 am. We are rumbling and groaning our way over the pass through wet gloppy early season snow. The windshield wipers had given up the ghost an hour earlier so we had to hop out and scrape the ice off the glass every few moments. At least it gave us frequent enough exercise so our toes didn't freeze. The heater in the cab hadn't functioned since 1967. Jon started filling my neophyte ear with all sorts of ground rules about ethical hunting. Not shooting from roads, being selective about the doe's coat color/condition indicating she might still be with a faun, fair chase, you name it.

First night without sleep or a hot meal.

Saturday: 5:30 am. Well, Jon said, aren't we lucky! its just about hunting hour! Let's get going, OK?

Saturday: 12:00 pm. We have stalked 4-5 deer unsuccessfully. Jon was so intensely focused that I saw all the deer first and had to point them out to him which he didn't really appreciate from a complete novice. He'd watch each one and decide not to take the shot for one reason or another. When he did take a shot he missed. The red wreck refused to start and we had to flag down a passing car for jumps twice.

Saturday: 4:30 pm. We arrived at a USFS logging road closed by a barbed wire gate. Jon explained that the gate didn't really mean we couldn't use the road during the deer hunt. Drove for miles up an increasingly narrow crumbling roadbed and came to a halt in front of a bulldozed rock pile. Never saw a sign of any deer. Cliff on the uphill side, drop-off on the downhill side. Jon endlessly levered and rowed that truck back and forth trying to turn it around.

It's important to recall that this was the longest crew cab I'd ever seen to date. It is also important to recall the front axle U-joint lying peacefully on his front porch at home. Finally the truck's weight caved in the edge of the roadbed sending us sliding downhill, through brush, over several logs, and into a barbed wire fence. The brush bumper didn't survive intact. Once the engine coughed into silence I heard hissing from the two punctured front tires. By this time it was getting dark.

Saturday: 5:30 pm. Jon finally stopped swearing, inspecting the tires, attempting to back the truck up, gunning the engine, and sat staring straight ahead, slightly bug-eyed at his bad luck in front of a girl he'd wanted to impress. I had started to wonder if I was going to need self defense.

Sunday: 2:00 am. We have been walking down that road in pitch dark. Of course our one flashlight from the truck's glove box lasted about 45 minutes. Jon was morose and humiliated. I kept trying to cheer him up reminding him that at least it wasn't snowing, there were probably no mountain lions around, there was a partial moon. We finally reached a paved highway about 4 am.

Second night without sleep, second day without a hot meal.

Sunday: 4:30 am. Two bow hunters in a gloriously warm and functional Jeep picked us up, fed us jerky, pickles, and Mountain Dew, and drove us all the way to our stranded red wreck miles away. They winched the truck onto the roadbed, changed one tire, pumped up the other as much as possible, and followed us all the way back down to a closed gas station on the highway.

Sunday: 5:00 am. Woke up the owner of the gas station and groveled on our knees for a tire repair. He overcharged us but fixed the flat cursing stupid college kids the entire time. Well, guess what? It was hunting hour once again and this was the last day of the special hunt. However, both of us were punchy from lack of sleep so Jon decided we could pitch a temporary camp along a tiny creek he knew of, catch and cook up some trout, and take a short nap.

Sunday: 6:30 am. Jon caught and roasted 4 tiny trout and had just loaded fish and eggs onto tin plates when I spotted 3 fat does staring at us from across the creek. My hunting instructor was oblivious once again. I bit my tongue. Should I tell him about the does or not? Did I want to eat and take a nap or not? I told him. He leaped to his feet with a shout, grabbed the gun, spooked the deer and all 4 of them bounded away in different directions. I waited there dozing over the cold trout for hours, occasionally hearing distant gunshots.

Sunday: 11:00 am. Jon shows up muddy and bleary-eyed, surly and silent. Not quite dragging the gun stock in the dirt behind him but close. No deer evident either. We silently packed up the red wreck which did start this time, and headed for home. A few deer pranced across the highway in front of us and the previously selective hunter screeched to a halt on the shoulder for brief violent excursions into the bushes hoping for a last ditch shot at something. No more tips and explanations about being an ethical harvester of large game animals. Jon could barely meet my eyes. I was afraid to ask him a thing.

Sunday: 6:30 pm. We finally made it back over the mountain pass where it was snowing as usual. Again, hopping in and out of the red wreck to scrape ice off the windshield. Jon deposited me in front of the dorm again, cold, wet, exhausted, and starving. I had to spend that night cramming for a veterinary medicine exam at 8 am the next morning.

Last edited by Parnassia; 11-19-2018 at 04:12 AM..
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Old 11-19-2018, 04:07 AM
8,914 posts, read 7,419,954 times
Reputation: 11906
I’ll try to keep this one short. 1984 mom buys a new Dodge Diplomat that was driven by the dealership’s sales manager. Dad and I told mom this was her car and so she’d have to maintain it so it will last. Dad at the time was an off shore oil field worker so sometimes he’d be gone for weeks at a time. I was in school dealing with my own stuff. Few years later mom tells us her car is running funny. Few questions later we discovered she had never had an oil change nor any other service done to the poor beast. We were lucky to get to the dealership without a tow truck (my uncle was one of the senior mechanics at that dealership). We got all the necessary service work done but that 318 cid engine and 3 speed automatic transmission never ran the same.
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Old 11-19-2018, 07:10 AM
16,630 posts, read 17,779,623 times
Reputation: 23864
Had a truck catch fire while driving. I smelled the smoke but it had this tar smell. Looked at the gauges in he temp was over red. Pulled over and like a dummy I popped the hood.
Yeah that didn’t work too well.
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Old 11-19-2018, 07:42 AM
Status: "Getting older everyday" (set 22 days ago)
Location: Willamette valley, oregon
2,620 posts, read 682,673 times
Reputation: 3589
We had a 1964 slant six Dodge. Pretty beat up. We decided we wanted to move to Idaho where you could rent a house for $50/month. We quit our jobs, hopped into the Dodge and headed out of Seattle for northern Idaho with about $500 in our pockets. We got a little past Northbend, Washington and the Dodge threw a rod. We had it towed to a car lot and bought a 1963 Buick Special. That car got us to Idaho and lasted another 10 years or so.

BTW-The apartment was $190 a month, not $50.
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Old 11-19-2018, 07:46 AM
Status: "Getting older everyday" (set 22 days ago)
Location: Willamette valley, oregon
2,620 posts, read 682,673 times
Reputation: 3589
I forgot: I was driving the Buick and smoking. I threw the butt out the window where it blew back into the back seat. after 10 minutes or so I smelled smoke and realized the back seat was on fire. I pulled over, extinguished the seat and threw it away. I think I always used the ash tray after that.
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Old 11-19-2018, 07:49 AM
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
28,562 posts, read 51,047,228 times
Reputation: 29044
A friend and I had just gotten back into California, where we lived, after a 2-1/2 month 18,000 mile summer road trip in 1971 when I was 19. My car, a 1964 Buick Skylark Wagon had done pretty well, 3 flat tires, a bad u-joint, and a turn signal switch that all happened at convenient times/locations. Now we were on a lonely wooded and narrow, winding road along the river near Albion, when there was a sudden BANG followed by POP POP POP . . . . until I pulled over and shut off the engine. I opened the hood and looking around discovered that one spark plug was missing, the wire just hanging there. We walked back along the road and found the spark plug still intact at the side and with the threads from the aluminum head still on it where it had blown out. With another 175 miles to home, I had to come up with a temporary fix. Poking around in the car I found an old wrapper from Doublemint gum, which back then were actually aluminum foil. I removed the washer from the spark plug, wrapped the foil around the threads, and managed to get it to catch enough threads to hold for the trip home.
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Old 11-19-2018, 10:55 AM
Location: Brawndo-Thirst-Mutilator-Nation
15,431 posts, read 15,370,554 times
Reputation: 11144
Best, they are all quite crummy IMHO.

When I was young and dumber than I am now.....I had bought a nice T-bird for about 1K cash. Ran out of gas on a hill.....got out to so what the heck was the problem. Well, forgot to set the parking-brake and my nice T-bird rolled into the ditch, snapping the rear-differential in half. No more money to get it fixed, went to the junkyard.
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Old 11-19-2018, 12:31 PM
Location: Huntsville
5,353 posts, read 3,645,921 times
Reputation: 6049
When I was 17, a group of friends wanted to set me up with a girl that lived about 2 hours away. Reluctantly I decided to take a shot and go meet her (my dad was out of town so of course I wasn't going to tell him where I was headed). About an hour into the trip my 1988 Camaro's battery died when the alternator died. The temp gauge had also begun to creep up on it. I made it to a gas station off the interstate that just happened to have a part store in the parking lot. Nothing else for miles around. Unfortunately the part store was already closed for the night and there were no cell phones.

As a last ditch effort since I didn't have anyone else to call, I got the gas station to let me borrow their phone and I called the girl. She drove down to meet me and it took about two seconds to realize that they were pranking me. She was hideous to be nice.

Anyhow, faced with it being winter and with nowhere to go she offered to let me stay the night at her house. We got to her house about 2am and once we got to her room and I was able to show enough disinterest that she stopped making advances at me, she let me sleep on her floor. About 4am she woke me up and shoved me in her closet. Apparently her dad (police chief) was getting ready for work and didn't know I was there.

At 6am, I convinced her to drive me back to my car telling her my dad was going to be on his way, where I sat and waited for the part store to open. I swapped batteries in the freezing rain and drove the car without wipers or headlights back home. About 40 miles from home the car began trying to overheat, but I refused to shut it down. Desperate to get home I kept driving the car with the temp gauge pegged until the car blew the headgaskets. I rolled in the driveway when it finally gave up the ghost.

It was the most relieved I've EVER felt to be home and something I can remember vividly to this day almost 20 years later. It was also the best money I had ever spent to get a new engine versus the risk of being stuck with her for any length of time.
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